Interested in starting your healing journey? Speak with an admissions counselor now
We're Hiring!
Apply for Jobs Now

What is THCa?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in marijuana that causes people to experience a high. Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused substances in America, aside from alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 52.5 million people abused cannabis in 2021.

While marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational use in some states, it remains federally illegal. In places where THC is banned for use under state laws, people have begun selling other forms of cannabis that have not been restricted yet. One of those cannabis products is known as THCa.

THCa (tetrahydrocannabinol acid) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that comes from the marijuana plant. On its own, this substance does not have mind-altering qualities. This is why it is legal to sell and use in the states where marijuana is not.

Even though it is legal, that does not mean it is safe. THCa is not regulated by the FDA, making its adverse effects widely unknown. Additionally, once you heat it and smoke it, it turns into a potent form of THC.

What is the Difference Between THC and THCa?

THCa is known as tetrahydrocannabinol acid. It is the acidic form of THC before it has been heated up. As a result, it does not cause mind-altering effects when someone consumes it in its raw state.

THCa and THC have slightly different chemical structures. With THCa, the carboxylic acid group is in the first position between the hydroxy group and the carbon chain. It is a precursor to THC and has many similar chemical compounds.

Even though it does not produce psychoactive effects, consuming THCa can lead to:

  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue or drowsiness

On the other hand, THC is already psychoactive. Consuming it will cause symptoms like dizziness, drowsiness, feelings of euphoria, and increased hunger. Some people might experience adverse effects when they consume it, like anxiety or paranoia.

Why Do People Use THC-A?

Some people use THCa to experience the potential benefits of THC without the mind-altering effects. For example, the benefits of THCa might include relief from chronic pain.

Studies have found that consuming THCa can lead to the following pharmacological benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects for chronic pain
  • Appetite stimulating effects for eating disorders or those undergoing cancer treatments
  • Treating sleeplessness for those with insomnia
  • Antispasmodic effects to replace muscle relaxant medications

While new studies suggest that THCa is beneficial, the evidence is not yet substantiated enough to be considered as a treatment. Since it is not regulated by the FDA, there is no way to tell what adverse effects the substance can cause.

THCa is legal, which means you will not get in trouble for purchasing or using it. However, you should proceed with caution until further studies are conducted and the risks are widely known.

What Happens When You Smoke THC-A?

One of the main reasons people purchase it is because heating and smoking the substance converts THCa into THC. When someone smokes it, it binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and creates a mind-altering effect. In other words, smoking THCa causes the substance to turn into the traditional delta-9 THC found in marijuana.

The effects of smoking THCa might include:

  • A euphoric high
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Impaired memory and cognition
  • Dry mouth and increased thirst
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Increased appetite

That said, people sell THCa in states where marijuana is not legalized as a “loophole”. Selling it allows consumers to find a legal way to smoke weed. Unfortunately, this can be dangerous, as there are no regulations when it comes to the manufacturing of THCa.

What are the Risks of Smoking THC-A?

Since THCa is unregulated, there are risks associated with smoking it. For example, there is no way to tell how potent it will be once you smoke it.

Additional risks of smoking THCa include:

  • Potency – THCa is not regulated so there is no standardized testing or quality control. As a result, the potency of the substance can vary greatly and there is no way for the consumer to tell how strong it is before smoking it.
  • Contamination – When a substance is not regulated, there are rarely any protections put in place to ensure it does not get contaminated before packaging. Your THCa could be contaminated with a wide variety of things, including pesticides, heavy metals, mold, and other dangerous chemicals.
  • Lack of Information – Unregulated goods do not have protocols for their labeling information. THCa packaging might not have the correct dose, potency, ingredients, or potential side effects listed.
  • Legal Issues – While most states do not have bans placed on THCa, it can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You could get in trouble for purchasing or possessing it depending on your local laws.
  • Safety – Since nothing is regulated, there will not be quality control during manufacturing. This could lead to incorrect handling or poor safety practices that put your health at risk.
  • Consumer Protection Issues – This substance is not regulated, which means there are no consumer protections. If people begin experiencing adverse reactions or side effects, there is nowhere to report them. Additionally, product recalls cannot happen if a shipment of the substance is contaminated.

Keeping all of this in mind, there are plenty of examples of why you should not misuse THCa. If you are addicted to marijuana products and that is causing you to resort to using this substance, consider professional addiction treatment. Drug rehab programs can help you learn how to live a full and healthy life without feeling the need to abuse cannabis products.

Find Help for THC-A Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from cannabis or THCa abuse, it’s time to seek help. Many people believe that you cannot get addicted to marijuana, however, this is false. Cannabis addiction is very real and often requires professional intervention.

At Mandala Healing Center, we can help you overcome THC addiction. Contact us today for more information on our drug rehab program.