What Is Hemp Derived THCa?
THC is the cannabinoid famous for getting you high.
But before THC becomes THC, it’s found in cannabis in its acidic form THCa. It’s only when THCa is heated up in a process known as decarboxylation that it turns into THC.
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived THCa products are federally legal to purchase and consume.
What exactly is hemp-derived THCa, though? How does THCa convert to THC that gets you high? And what type of hemp-derived THCa products are available to legally purchase?
Here we’ll take a look at all things hemp-derived THCa, including what it is, how it becomes THC, where you can buy some of the highest-quality hemp-derived THCa products available on the market and more.
Key Takeaways: Hemp Derived THCa
- THCa is the acidic form of THC found in hemp and marijuana that converts to THC when decarbed.
- Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived THCa is legal as long as the final product contains less than 0.3% D9 THC on a dry-weight basis.
- Hemp-derived THCa converts to Delta 9 THC when smoked, vaped or exposed to heat.
- There are several legal hemp-derived THCa products available, including flower, vapes, concentrates and more.
What Is Hemp Derived THCa?
We all know THC as the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets us high. But without THCa, THC wouldn’t exist. Essentially THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the acidic precursor to THC.
The chemical structure of THCa and THC is almost identical. The only difference is that THCa contains one more carboxyl acid chain. If you consume THCa before it is decarbed, it won’t get you high. This is because the shape of the THCa molecule doesn’t fit into CB1 receptors like THC does.
When THCa goes through a process known as decarboxylation (which heats up the molecule and causes it to lose the extra carbon ring), it becomes THC. This is true for hemp-derived THCa and THCa derived from marijuana.
Basically, hemp-derived THCa becomes the same THC famous for its intoxicating, euphoric effects once it’s been decarbed. This means that when you smoke or heat up THCa products, you’ll feel the same effects you’d typically experience when consuming traditional THC.
In order to comply with federal regulations, hemp-derived THCa products must contain less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC on a dry-weight basis.
How Is THCa From Hemp Legal?
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, THCa derived from hemp is legal.
This bill defines hemp as Cannabis sativa L. and “any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers.”
As a natural cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, THCa fits into this definition. Therefore, THCa is not currently considered a controlled substance under federal law.
To be considered legal under the bill, products made with hemp must contain less than 0.3% THCa on a dry-weight basis. This ultimately means that hemp-derived flower could contain high percentages of THCa which will convert to THC when it is smoked, vaped, or decarbed through other methods.
As long as products have less than 0.3% D9 THC on a dry-weight basis at the time of sale, they’re considered federally legal under the Farm Bill.
Does Hemp THCa = THC When Smoked?
Yes, hemp THCa converts into THC when it is smoked.
This means that THCa products have the potential to cause the same intoxicating effects you’d find in traditional THC products.
THCa converts into THC through a process called decarboxylation. When cannabis flower is exposed to heat, the acid chain is removed which converts THCa into THC. This process slightly changes the chemical structure of the molecule, allowing it to fit with CB1 receptors. Ultimately, this is what’s responsible for making you high.
It may sound simple, but decarboxylation is a huge deal when it comes to getting high. Without it, we’d never experience the intoxicating effects weed is famous for.
Cannabis should be decarbed at the lowest heat possible to preserve terpenes and maximize flavor and effects. Ideally, THCa requires temperatures of around 220º Fahrenheit for a period of 30-45 minutes before the THCa compounds begin to fully decarboxylate into THC.
If you heat the plant at a higher heat, it can decarb quicker, but you risk losing valuable terpenes to evaporation.
What Hemp Derived THCa Products Are Available?
There’s a plethora of hemp-derived THCa products on the market. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, products with high THCa levels–and low delta 9 concentration–are legal to purchase and consume almost everywhere in the US.
THCa concentrates perform similarly to regular THC concentrates. They can also be consumed in the exact same way, with a dab rig and a torch. The only real difference is the D9 concentration in the product.
At the time of sale, THCa concentrates contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC. When they’re heated and decarbed, the THCa converts into the traditional THC we all know and love.
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This same thing applies to THCa flower. When smoked, the high levels of THCa in the flower convert to THC. Before it’s smoked, legal hemp-derived THCa flower must contain less than 0.3% D9 THC on a dry-weight basis.
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When it’s smoked, it automatically undergoes the process of decarboxylation and basically becomes regular weed. The THCa converts into THC and induces a high just like traditional bud.
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THCa is gaining some serious recognition in the legal hemp space. Sure, THC gets you high, but THCa is where the magic really begins. And thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, you can enjoy this magic legally almost anywhere.
THCa products can contain high percentages of this particular cannabinoid, as long as their delta 9 THC concentrations do not exceed 0.3%.
When smoked, vaped, or otherwise decarbed, THCa converts into THC. This means when you consume a hemp-derived THCa product, all the euphoria and blissfully relaxed effects associated with traditional weed are yours to enjoy.