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What's The Difference Between THC and THCA

THCa vs THC-O Differences

Most cannabis enthusiasts are very familiar with THC or “Delta 9”, as it is typically the key component consumers focus on when choosing cannabis products. The formal name for THC is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and it is the cannabinoid best known for its mind-altering effects.

What a lot of users aren’t aware of is that THC comes from a raw acid, THCa. THCa, also known as Tetrahydrocannabinol Acid, is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. Although THC is considered to be a psychotropic cannabinoid, THCa and THC share a very similar chemical composition.


The differentiating factor is that THCa contains an additional carboxyl group that prevents it from fitting correctly into the CB1 receptors and therefore does not produce the intoxicating effects that would cause a consumer to feel “high.”

THCa vs THC-O Process

THCa is a “precursor” of THC, while THC-O is an “ester” or modification derived from THC. THCa becomes THC through a process called decarboxylation. This is when heat and light remove a group from THCa and as a result, alters the chemical structure, thus creating what we know as THC.

Chemical Structure To THCa

This new THC structure is now the correct fit for our endocannabinoid system and CB1 receptors that produce that classic feeling or “high” we associate with THC. THC-O is a little more complex to produce because it is a hemp-derived synthetic cannabinoid which is made from cannabinoids using a series of well-established processes.

Compared to THCa which involves one step for decarboxylation to occur, THC-O involves a series of several controlled processes 

Benefits of THCa vs THC-O

If THCa is considered to be non-psychotropic cannabinoid which does not necessarily cause any noticeable effects on the body or mind, you may be asking yourself, “what are its benefits?”. Raw unheated cannabis, containing the THCa compound, has been considered by some to be a super food.

Anti Inflammatory

It is common for consumers to juice fresh cannabis or add it to a smoothie for health benefits. Similar to foods like avocados and Greek yogurt, THCa is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties due to the role it plays in modulating the autonomic nervous system. THCa is still in its early stages of being researched, but it has been said to have the potential to ease arthritis, chronic joint and muscle pain, and other physical ailments.

THCa and The Fight Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

A study that was completed in 2017 uncovered that THCa may also have the ability to help protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, due to having neuroprotective properties.

Another study that was conducted in 2020 resulted in the discovery that THCa can be used as a potent anti-emetic, meaning it has the properties to increase appetite and decrease nausea, even more so than


THC and CBD. Unlike THCa, THC-O is considered to be a psychotropic compound, and according to consumers, it is said to be up to three times as potent as Delta 9 THC. 


When deciding which product is better suited for you, weigh out your objective. What are you hoping to achieve? If you are looking for long term benefits – THCa may be the best fit for you.

If you are searching for an easily accessible product with more of an immediate, euphoric result, THC-O products may be your best option.

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