In the world of cannabis, you’ve likely come across terms like THCA and THC, especially when perusing lab results for different cannabis products. These two acronyms represent critical components of the cannabis experience, but understanding the difference between them can be quite enlightening. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the science behind THCA and THC, exploring their properties, how they’re measured, and what sets them apart.

Total THC

The Sum of Components When you inspect lab results for cannabis products, you might encounter a metric known as “Total THC.” This figure represents the combined concentration of various THC compounds, including THCA, Delta-9 THC, and Delta-8 THC. It’s a crucial number, as it serves as a key indicator of a product’s potency.

Total THC = THCA x 0.877 + Delta-9 THC + Delta-8 THC = 32.45%

Let’s take a look at the lab results below of our THCA flower. Bear with me as I draw your attention to some numbers in the results. First, you will see Total THC at 32.45%.  So this particular sample had the following:

THCA vs THC. Lab results example

Why did we go over the math behind Total THC? Notice how THCA is calculated, 87% of THCA is converted during decarboxylation into d9 THC. Next time you happen to be in a recreational marijuana state look at the package of the dispensary products, it will be labeled with total THC, total cannabinoids, and maybe terpene percentage. Occasionally, they will have Delta 9 THC labeled specifically and you can expect to find the percentage slightly higher than Reefer THCA flower.


Breaking Down THCA:

THCA, or Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid, is a precursor to the psychoactive compound, Delta-9 THC. In its raw form, THCA is not psychoactive, meaning you won’t experience the typical “high” associated with cannabis. However, THCA’s potential lies in its ability to transform into Delta-9 THC when exposed to heat—a process known as decarboxylation.

THCA is not psychoactive, meaning you don’t get high from consuming THCA. However, THCA exposed to heat is converted into Delta 9 THC; a completely natural, innate process. Similarly, if you eat marijuana or hemp you will not get stoned, this is because THCA is the predominant cannabinoid present in the raw form of cannabis.

thca vs thc

THCA conversion to THC Delta 9. THCA is decarboxylated when exposed to heat.

THCA + Heat -> Delta-9 THC

Understanding the Conversion: What’s fascinating about THCA is that approximately 87% of it converts into Delta-9 THC during decarboxylation. This conversion is a natural and inherent part of the cannabis experience. When you smoke or vaporize cannabis, you’re essentially activating the THCA, turning it into the psychoactive Delta-9 THC.

THCA (87% conversion) -> Delta-9 THC

THCA Hemp Flower: The world of THCA hemp flower is a realm of meticulous cultivation and continuous lab testing. The goal is to harvest the plant at a precise moment to ensure that the THCA doesn’t degrade into Delta-9 THC during the curing process. This careful timing allows growers to provide users with a product that is rich in THCA, making it ideal for those who seek the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the high.

In summary, THCA and THC represent two different facets of the cannabis plant. THCA is the non-psychoactive precursor that can convert into the psychoactive Delta-9 THC when exposed to heat. Total THC, as seen in lab results, encapsulates various THC components, providing consumers with a comprehensive measure of a product’s potency.

Understanding the science behind THCA and THC empowers consumers to make informed choices and appreciate the nuances of cannabis products. So, the next time you explore cannabis offerings in a recreational marijuana state, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what those lab results mean and how they impact your cannabis experience.

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