Blog | Delta THC

Is THCa Legal? 

THCa is one of the most naturally abundant cannabinoid acids found in the cannabis plant. When it’s exposed to heat, it converts into Delta 9 THC in a process known as decarboxylation.  

Without THCa, the THC we all know and love wouldn’t exist. 

But is THCa legal?

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, it sure is. As long as THCa products are derived from hemp and contain less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC, THCa is considered legal at the federal level.  

Essentially, THCa products provide a sneaky way to experience the intoxicating effects of THC in states where marijuana isn’t legal. 

Here we’ll take a deeper look at all things legal THCa.

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Quick Takeaways: THCa Is Legal Nationwide 

  • THCa is legal nationwide as long as it’s derived from hemp, and products contain less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC.
  • When it’s decarbed, THCa converts into D9 THC. 
  • THCa has become a popular legal alternative to Delta 9 in states where recreational and medical marijuana are illegal. 
  • As THCa converts to Delta 9 THC when it’s decarbed, it’s risky to consume if you’re drug tested.

What Exactly Is THCa? 

THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the acidic form of THC, often referenced as the precursor to Delta 9 THC. When THCa is exposed to heat in a process known as decarboxylation, it converts to Delta 9 THC. 

In terms of chemical structure, THC and THCa are almost identical. THCa simply has one more carboxyl acid chain compared to THC. This acid chain is the reason why THCa won’t get you high on its own. 

It’s the extra carboxyl chain that prevents the cannabinoid from attaching to CB1 receptors. THC, on the other hand, has a strong binding affinity to CB1 receptors, which is exactly why it gets you high. 

Consuming THCa before it’s been decarbed still contains other potential benefits, with research highlighting its therapeutic potential to support body and mind. Studies have found THCa contains neuroprotective properties, may support metabolic disease and weight loss, reduces nausea and vomiting and more.

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Is THCa Legal? 

Yes, THCa is legal. 

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and all derivatives, isomers and extracts of the hemp plant. 

As long as it’s hemp-derived and the final product doesn’t contain more than 0.3% delta 9 THC, THCa flower and other THCa products are legal in accordance with Farm Bill regulations.

The Farm Bill specifically outlines that to be classified as hemp, cannabis plants cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. Plants that contain more than 0.3% THC are classified as marijuana. 

Here’s the thing, though. The bill doesn’t specify a concentration limit for THCa.  As a result, hemp-derived products can have high concentrations of the cannabinoid acid, which converts to delta 9 when it’s decarbed. 

Essentially, THCa products provide a way for residents in states without recreational marijuana laws to legally experience the euphoric effects weed is famous for.

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Why Is THCa Interesting? 

Cannabis is an extremely complex plant, made up of over 500 different chemical compounds. THCa is one of the most interesting of these compounds because without it, THC wouldn’t exist. 

The cannabinoid acid converts to D9 THC when it’s decarbed, which involves exposing THCa to heat. There are several ways the decarboxylation process can be done. The most common is lighting a bowl or a joint, which automatically converts THCa into THC.

That said, THCa flower can be smoked or decarbed in the oven to be used in edibles. THCa wax or oil can be dabbed or vaporized in a dab pen. Once the THCa product is exposed to heat and decarbed, it turns into THC and consumers can enjoy its psychoactive effects. 

If you do decide to decarb THCa flower in the oven to use for infused edibles, keep in mind that decarboxylation should be done at temps between 230-250°F.  This low temp is widely considered the “sweet spot” of decarbing cannabis, as it ensures terpenes and cannabinoids are preserved. 

Essentially, if you’re into vaping, smoking or dabbing, you can think of THCa as legal THC. When THCa flower, dabs and concentrates are decarbed, the THCa converts into delta 9 THC, inducing the same psychoactive effects as regular weed. 

THCa edibles are different, though. If THCa edibles are made with THCa concentrate that hasn’t been decarbed, they won’t get you high. While they will contain the potential benefits associated with THCa, they won’t induce psychoactive effects. 

Because THCa products are most often derived from hemp, you can buy them in states where medical and recreational marijuana is illegal and THCa is uncontrolled.

These standards tend to differ state-by-state, so make sure to read up on your local THCa laws before committing to a purchase.

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THCa Will Make You Fail A Drugs Screen 

Even though THCa is legal, it will still make you fail a drug screen.

This is because THCa turns into Delta 9 THC when it’s decarbed, it’s going to show up on a drugs screen. Remember, Delta 9 THC is still considered a Schedule I substance.

Both THCa and THC are broken down in the body into the metabolite THC-COOH. Most drug tests screen for various types of THC metabolites, including THC-COOH.

This means that THCa and THC show up as almost identical on a drug screen. So, while THCa is legal nationwide, it can still appear like regular marijuana if you’re drug tested. 

If you’re regularly drug tested or are scheduled for a drug test, you might consider avoiding THCa products.