THCa vs Delta 9: What Are The Differences?

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By this point you’ve probably heard of THC. Or at least some form of it. But have you heard of THCa? What are the differences between THCa and Delta 9 THC? If you’re already confused, no need to worry – we’re here to help!

With so many three-letter names like CBD, THC, CBN, and more, it can be difficult to determine the differences between all the building blocks of the cannabis plant. The differences in these cannabinoids can be crucial to identifying what might work best for you. 

Key Takeaways
  • THCa and THC are very similar but have some distinct differences. 
  • THCa must undergo a process known as decarboxylation in order to become THC. 
  • While research and evidence is fairly new, there is promising potential for the uses, applications, and benefits of THCa. 

Let’s take it back to the early days of elementary school and start with a vocab lesson.

What is Delta 9 THC?

You’ve probably seen a lot more THC products in recent years (like these Delta 9 THC gummies) – and for good measure. A lot of these products combine the benefits of CBD plus THC so your body gets double the plant-based power. 

And thanks to growing popularity and loosening regulations, these products are available just about anywhere. 

So, what is Delta 9 THC? For starters, it’s the same infamous cannabinoid we’ve all come to know and love: THC. Or as it’s known in the scientific community, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. 

Nowadays, manufacturers have found new and innovative ways to create high-quality products using cannabinoids in both marijuana and hemp plants. Most THC products are made using marijuana. But thanks to continuing innovation and emerging technology, now there’s products derived from hemp, often referred to as Delta 9 THC. 

It’s the same cannabinoid, just sourced from a slightly different plant. That slightly different plant is known as hemp, and is considered federally legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill allowed for the growth, cultivation, and eventual sale, of hemp and hemp-based products (like CBD and delta 9 THC). The hemp plant itself must be grown in such a way that results in less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. 

Now thanks to the passing of that bill, these products are legal and available to order online direct to your door! That’s because these products (just like the plant) still have less than 0.3% THC by dry weight of the final product. 

Most of these Delta 9 THC products come with 5 mg THC or 10 mg THC, but some do offer higher concentrations. The amount of total THC by percent compared to the entire weight of the product is still less than 0.3%. That’s why hemp-based delta 9 THC is considered federally legal whereas marijuan-derived THC is still illegal. 

Of course, states are allowed to decide if these products are legal and available for purchase within their state borders. 

What is THCa?

THCa, also known by the scientific community as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in live cannabis. Wait, what?

Basically what this boils down to is the idea that THCa does not induce any effects and is found in the raw form of cannabis. It’s a live, raw cannabinoid that is an essential building block of the entire plant. 

THCa is one of the latest discoveries, with some studies dating back to 2017. This study in particular discusses the potential uses, applications, and benefits of THCa. Since it’s been less than 5 years since it’s research, there is still a lot of information to learn about the uses of THCa. 

Once THCa is heated, it is then converted into THC. This happens through the process known as decarboxylation. This process can happen through a number of ways:

  • Room temperature exposure
  • Sunlight exposure
  • Heat exposure through smoking, vaping, concentrates, etc. 

Once THCa undergoes a heating process (like a lighter) then it becomes the cannabinoid we all know and love: THC. 

Does THCa Turn into Delta 9 When Smoked? 

This is one of the most common and frequently asked questions. Thanks to the process known as decarboxylation, yes! 

THCa does turn into delta 9 when smoked and causes the structure to change just slightly. This is what results in the high associated with THC. 

As the kids would say, decarboxylation is fire … literally! Without fire, there is no THC. And without THCa, there is no THC. 

The next question everyone wants to know, is THCa stronger than delta 9? Let’s dive right into it and find out. 

Is THCa Stronger Than Delta 9?

Because THCa is found in live, raw cannabis, it doesn’t have any psychotropic effects – meaning it does not induce any high. So in that sense, no. THCa is not stronger than delta 9. 

THC is more potent (or stronger) than THCa, simply because it can create the high feeling in a faster amount of time. THC interacts with a specific set of receptors found in our brain, while THCa doesn’t have as strong of an effect on those same receptors. 

While there are benefits and uses of THCa, most users are looking for the high associated with THC. 

THCa Benefits

So, if no high is induced, what are the benefits of THCa? Since this cannabinoid was only recently discovered and researched, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly how it works. But that can be a good thing! 

Some anecdotal (and early) evidence suggests that it may have neuroprotective qualities that may help with some underlying diseases. Just like other cannabinoids (like those found in popular CBD products), THCa can also help with overall well-being and balance. 

Think of it as a more natural supporter of everyday well-being. It's something you can add to your daily routine to compound the benefits you're already getting. 

THCa Side Effects

As with most cannabis and hemp-derived cannabinoids, side effects will vary for everyone. But for most, there are little to no side effects. For those that do experience some, they may include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue 
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness 

As you can see, most THCa side effects are fairly mild. But remember, studies have only begun to explore the many uses and applications so be sure to do some research prior to using any products. 

One of the main takeaways from both hemp and marijuana is that there is still more research to be done! 

How to Use THCa

Now that we understand exactly what it is, how do you use THCa? As we all know at this point, simply put a fire or flame to THCa (raw cannabis) and you’ll experience the wonderful world of THC. 

But, can you really use THCa products? If so, how? 

The simple answer is yes. There are several ways to consume THCa:

  • Juicing
  • Tinctures
  • Edibles 

Most products will utilize THCa in its raw form, allowing your body to capture the benefits of natural plant material. Think of it like enjoying the raw form of any vitamin or mineral. Before it undergoes a process, it’s naturally found in its raw form. 

While the question of is THCa stronger than delta 9 is obvious at this point, there are still a lot of positive benefits to using raw cannabis products. You just need to find the right products and routine that work best for you!

The Difference Between THCa and Delta 9: The Complete Wrap Up

Now you can walk away and tell all your friends about what you learned in terms of the difference between THCa and delta 9. Although they are quite similar, there are some distinct differences that should remain at the top of your mind when making a decision of what works best for you. 

Due to the non-psychoactive nature of THCa, CBD products may be the perfect alternative for you! And with so many to choose from, you can find the one that matches your routine the best. 

Some like to add a​​ boost to their mornings and start with a simple drop of CBD oil tincture or pop a tasty delta 9 gummy. 

Others need time to wind down and relax at the end of the day, opting for a nighttime routine that allows them to get a full night’s sleep. 

We all know that THC induces a high – albeit they may vary for everyone. On the other hand, the other well-known cannabinoid cousin known as CBD could be the perfect match. 

Things like CBD oil or CBD salve might be the right option for you if you’re looking for a natural boost without the high. 

Whatever you may be looking for, find the product (or products) that work best for your and stick to your regular routine for the best results! 

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