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THCA vs THC: The Complete Comparison Guide

THCA vs THC: The Complete Comparison Guide

Feb 19, 2024 | 0 comments

So, you’ve heard of THCA on the market and now you’re wondering – wait a second – what is THCA? And how does it compare to THC?

You’ve come to the right place!

We’re Moonwlkr. An industry leader in rare cannabinoids like Delta 8, THCV, and Delta 9. And we’re proud to be a leader in creating top-quality, lab-tested THCA products. 

We asked our team of cannabis experts to weigh in: What is THCA vs THC? And what should our readers know before they give THCA a try?

Let’s dive in! 

What is THCA?

THCA stands for Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. THCA is the precursor to THC. In its raw form, THCA is not psychoactive. 

Without getting too technical, THCA doesn’t quite fit into the endocannabinoid receptors in our brains that make us feel high. So if you consume it raw (you normally wouldn’t do this) it has no effect on your consciousness. 

That’s not to say THCA isn’t without benefits (we’ll get to those later). But it’s inactivity in it’s raw form puts it into a bit of a legal gray area. Because THCA doesn’t get you high – until it’s heated.

Woman researching on a laptop

Does THCA get you high?

Ahh yes, the age-old question. Will THCA get you high? And how strong is it? 

Yes, THCA will get you high if you smoke it or cook it. That’s the bottom line. That’s because of a scientific process called decarboxylation – a more fancy term for ‘heating up’. 

That’s why we call THCA the precursor to THC.

Let’s say you buy a THCA pre-roll or some fresh THCA flower. As soon as you heat it to smoke it, decarboxylation happens, converting your non-psychoactive THCA into THC. 

Is THCA the same thing as THC?

THCA becomes THC when you smoke it. But there are other ways that THCA can inch closer to becoming THC.


  • It sits on your shelf for months
  • You leave it in a hot car
  • You set it out on a bright, sunny table
  • You add it to some special brownies 😉 
  • And so much more

That’s why, here at Moonwlkr, we tell our customers, yes, THCA will get you high. Because in many of the ways in which you’d consume it, the THCA is already working on becoming THC. 

Still need more clarification on decarboxylation? Check out this blog post!

Jars of Indica THCA pre-rolls in flavor OG Kush with a pre-roll laid out in front

Read more about the uses and effects of THCA!

THCA vs THC: How They Compare

If you’re curious about how THCA compares to THCA in a variety of areas, including psycho-activity, legality, potential benefits, and more, we’ve got you covered. 

We’ve also broken down the comparison of THCA to Delta-9 THC with this in-depth analysis.

THCA vs THC Comparison Chart


THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid)

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

Psycho-activity Non-psychoactive in its raw form Psychoactive, causing euphoria and altered states of consciousness
Source Found in raw and live cannabis plants Formed from THCA through decarboxylation (heating)
Legal Status Legal when derived from hemp (cannabis with <0.3% THC by dry weight) under the 2018 Farm Bill Legal status varies by jurisdiction; federally legal in some forms when derived from hemp
Health Benefits Potential therapeutic benefits without the high, including anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties Well-known for pain relief, appetite stimulation, and its ability to reduce nausea
Consumption Methods Juicing raw cannabis, eating fresh cannabis leaves, low-temperature tinctures Smoking, vaping, edibles, oils, tinctures after decarboxylation
Receptor Interaction Does not bind well with CB1 or CB2 receptors due to its larger molecular structure Binds well with CB1 receptors in the brain, leading to its psychoactive effects
Decarboxylation Requires heat, sunlight, or time to convert to THC Already activated and ready to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system
Use in Products Rarely featured in commercial products due to its instability and non-psychoactive nature Widely used in a variety of products, including recreational and medicinal products like edibles, tinctures, and topicals

THCA vs THC Psycho-activity

THCA is non-psychoactive in its raw form, but is psychoactive when you heat it to smoke or cook it. THC is the same compound found in marijuana, Delta 9, Delta 8, and many other variations. 

When you smoke THCA pre-rolls or flower, it becomes THC, and therefore, makes you high. 

THC’s psychoactive effects will vary from person to person but usually involves relaxation, a sense of euphoria, peacefulness, enhanced sensory experiences (including visuals, sensations, and taste), and deep introspective moments. THC may also help some people feel more energized, depending on the strain. 

THCA and THC both come in a variety of strains, so you can choose the one that may offer the desired effects you’re looking for. 

THCA vs THC Source

THCA is found in raw and live cannabis plants. Whereas THC emerges through that decarboxylation process we described earlier. 

THCA is not synthetic and occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. THC is also natural, but requires heat to emerge. 

THCA vs THC Legality

THCA, found in raw cannabis, is legal federally when derived from hemp (cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight), as per the 2018 Farm Bill. 

THC, on the other hand, faces stricter regulations: it’s federally legal in certain hemp-derived forms under specific concentrations but remains illegal under federal law in higher concentrations or as a marijuana derivative, with legality varying by state.

Always check your local state regulations! Legality may change over time. Read more about why THCA is legal here!

Woman smoking a pre-roll out in a grass field

THCA vs THC Effects

THCA and THC can have a variety of psychological, therapeutic, and physical effects. 

Effects will vary from person to person but also rely heavily on the strain, sourcing, and type of THCA and THC you select. 




Psychological Euphoria Feelings of happiness, laughter, and well-being.
Psychological Altered Sense of Time Perception of time may slow down.
Psychological Heightened Sensory Perception Colors, sounds, and tastes may seem more intense.
Psychological Increased Appetite Often referred to as ‘the munchies’, can increase hunger.
Cognitive Impaired Memory Affected during intoxication.
Cognitive Difficulty with Concentration Hard to focus or maintain attention on tasks.
Cognitive Altered Judgment Impaired, affecting judgment.
Cognitive Mood Changes Mood swings, ranging from happiness to anxiety or paranoia.
Physical Red Eyes Blood vessels in the eyes expand.
Physical Dry Mouth Also known as ‘cottonmouth’.
Physical Increased Heart Rate Can lead to a temporary increase in heart rate.
Physical Coordination Problems Motor skills and coordination might be affected.
Physical Delayed Reaction Times Response times may be slower.
Therapeutic Pain Relief Used to manage pain in certain conditions.
Therapeutic Nausea and Vomiting Reduction Beneficial for chemotherapy patients.
Therapeutic Improved Sleep Helps with insomnia or sleep disturbances.
Therapeutic Appetite Stimulation Helpful for individuals with conditions leading to loss of appetite.
Potential Negative Anxiety, Paranoia, Dependency, Withdrawal, Respiratory Issues, Mental Health Concerns Variety of potential negative outcomes, especially with high doses or prolonged use.

Is THCA flower safe? Read all about it here.

There you have it! Whether you are interested in the psychological, cognitive, physical, or therapeutic effects of THC – THCA is the right choice for you! THCA being the precursor to THC allows for very similar properties across the board, including the high! Take some time to delve into our new THCA new users guide!

THCA VS THC with products of each type
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