THC vs THCA: Everything You Need to Know

There are three main chemicals that marijuana smokers need to be aware of. THC, THCA, and CBD. These stand for tetrahydrocannabinol, tetrahydrocannabidiolic acid, and cannabidiol. Each one has an important role in the process of growing, harvesting, refining, and consuming marijuana.

In this guide, we’ll be explaining what each one is, giving some examples of high-THC strains, and highlighting the differences. That way, you’ll know everything you need to and be on the way to understanding THC vs THCA.

We’ll also compare both of these to CBD so that there’s no chance of confusion when you’re looking for the right marijuana strains.


What Is THC vs THCA

THC is one of the most well-known and sought-after ingredients in marijuana. It’s responsible for creating the psychoactive effects that marijuana users know and love. There are many cannabinoids inside marijuana strains, and some have more THC than any other cannabinoids.

Some strains of cannabis are specifically grown so that they have high amounts of THC in. But when it comes to knowing about THC vs THCA, you’ll need to know that THC is the product of THCA.

Because of that fact, THCA needs to be activated so it produces THC. One common way of doing this is to expose the plants to a large amount of heat. This is known as thermal decarboxylation, which we’ll be covering in another section.

Interestingly, what this means is that if you tried to chew on some fresh cannabis that had just been harvested, you wouldn’t feel any of the effects of that strain!

Strains that will produce a lot of THC from this process include Super Skunk, Blue Dream, and AK-47.



Before we move onto the THC vs THCA debate, we need to take a look at THC vs THCA vs CBD.

We’ve had a brief look at THCA vs THC, so you’ll now know what both of these compounds are and what they do. But this doesn’t cover what CBD is or does.

CBD does not give you the highs that THC does. In other words, it’s not psychoactive. The reason it’s still of interest to so many people is because of the health benefits it provides. These can include relieving pain, reducing anxiety, and even helping the symptoms of cancer.

High THC Marijuana Seeds

Understanding THC vs THCA

One of the reasons that people end up comparing THC vs THCA is because they’ve either heard of one and not the other, or heard of neither. It’s important to have an understanding of both to know why the differences are important. 

The main point to note when looking at THCA vs THC is that not all of the THCA will be converted to THC. Anywhere from 30-70% of the THCA may not be converted when you smoke it.

This is why cannabis strains like Gorilla Glue and Banana Kush, which are some of the highest THC strains on the market, only list THC levels of 26-27%.


THCA vs THC: The Differences

Now that we’ve covered what is THCA vs THC, and understanding THC vs THCA, we can move on to a discussion of their differences. These occur in two main areas. The health benefits, and the decarboxylation process.

Health Benefits

A major difference between THCA vs THC is this. THCA is usually converted into THC which gives cannabis smokers the psychoactive effects they enjoy. But when it’s left unconverted, it has a huge range of health benefits.

That’s why some people consider raw cannabis as a kind of superfood, even going so far as to make smoothies with it!

These health benefits are:

  • Anti-inflammation – THCA will reduce inflammation, which helps with illnesses like fatty liver disease
  • Neuroprotection – THCA is good for the brain, and will help stave off diseases that decay the brain
  • Appetite enhancement – THCA can boost the amount you eat while making you feel less sick
  • Reducing body weight – THCA is said to help people control their weight

So it’s no wonder that people are adding this to their yogurts and teas. It can also help with particular illnesses as well, like pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.



Another big difference when comparing THC vs THCA is the decarboxylation process. THCA doesn’t go through this at all, if left alone. If it went through this process, it would become THC.

There are several ways to complete this process, and these are:

  • Sunlight – the heat and light of the sun will convert the THCA to THC
  • Storage – at room temperature, this process will occur over time. It can also be put in solutions of olive oil or ethanol to speed things up
  • Smoking – When you light a flame and smoke cannabis, the THCA is converted extremely fast
  • Vaporizing – You can use a vape to complete decarboxylation efficiently. The best temperature is 315 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vape pens – These usually have THCA that’s mostly converted already, so you get a headstart
  • Dabbing – If you’ve got THCA that’s crystallized, dabbing will convert it
  • Baking – if you bake a sheet of weed in the oven at 230 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, it will convert it to THC

With THCA that you want to use, you can’t benefit from any of these as it would get converted to THC. That’s why people leave cannabis raw if they want to use the THCA.



We’ve covered THC vs THCA vs CBD, understanding THC vs THCA, and what is THCA vs THC. We’ve also looked at the differences and summarized them. Through doing all this, you’ll be able to understand what people are talking about when they mention any of these chemicals.

If you want to get the best effects of THCA, then you can grow your own cannabis plants and store them raw. If you want to do the same for THC, the best approach is to grow those plants and then decarboxylate them using one of the methods above.

Click here to buy marijuana seeds from I Love Growing Marijuana.