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You’ve heard of THC, and while they may sound similar, THCA actually has drastically different properties. Unlike THC, THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. As marijuana dries, THCA slowly converts to THC. Heat expedites this conversion in a process known as decarboxylation, a fancy word that describes what happens when you smoke or vaporize flower.
If you’ve purchased lab-tested cannabis, you may notice that the most abundant cannabinoid is either THC or THCA, either of which can stretch between 12-20% on average. While THCA is the more accurate label for flower that hasn’t been decarboxylated, they essentially mean the same thing if you assume the patient intends on smoking or vaporizing the product. But will this chemical misrepresentation make a difference when patients start to discover the unique medicinal properties of THCA?
There isn’t enough research on THCA to definitively state what it can treat and with what degree of efficacy, but preliminary research and anecdotal evidence suggest that THCA will play a pivotal role in cannabis medicine as the industry propels forward. Here are some of the potential benefits studies have started to unveil:
Other possible medicinal avenues supported by patient stories include insomnia, muscle spasms, and pain. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for more studies to substantiate all of the above benefits before we can fully understand what THCA means for the future of cannabinoid-based medicines.
Every high-THC strain that has not yet been decarboxylated contains THCA, and these cannabinoid levels are particularly high as a live or freshly harvested plant. For this reason, raw cannabis parts are popularly juiced for their THCA benefits (sweet potato pear smoothie, anyone?).
We’re still waiting for dispensaries to stock their shelves with more THCA-rich alternatives, but that doesn’t mean trailblazers aren’t already looking ahead to a time where research confirms what patients are already figuring out for themselves.