Composed of more than 500 chemical compounds, cannabis is a seriously complex plant.
You’re probably familiar with cannabinoids like THC and CBD. But did you know that cannabis contains over 100 different cannabinoids?
THCa and THCV are two examples, both of which are becoming increasingly popular. From THCa dabs and concentrates to delish THCV gummies, you’ll find several fire THCa and THCV products gaining traction in the industry.
What’s the difference of THCa vs THCV, though?
From their effects and therapeutic potential, to their legal status and everything in between, here we’ll take a deeper dive into THCa vs. THCV.
THCa Is Not THC… Yet
Let’s start with THCa.
Also known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, THCa is really where THC begins. But what is THCa, exactly?
THCa is the precursor to the THC we know and love. Technically speaking, it’s the acidic form of THC. If we took a closer look at the THCa molecule, we’d see the only thing that makes it different from THC is an extra group of carbon atoms (known as carboxyls).
It’s only when THCa is exposed to heat that it loses these carbon atoms. It’s then the cannabinoid acid is transformed into THC in a process called decarboxylation.
So while THCa is very closely related to THC, it doesn’t exactly become THC unless it’s exposed to heat. By itself, THCa can’t get you high. It’s only when THCa is exposed to heat (like when you smoke THCa flower for example) that it causes any intoxicating effects.
THCV is a little different.
Let’s take a look at one of the biggest (and perhaps most important) differences of THCa vs THCV: the high.
THCV Won’t Get You Super High
Like THCa, THCV is related to THC. Where THCa is the acidic precursor to THC, THCV is simply considered a variant of THC.
So what is THCV?
THCV (aka tetrahydrocannabivarin) is considered a minor cannabinoid. It’s present in extremely low levels (around 1%). While it has a very similar structure to THC, THCV has two fewer carbon atoms in the hydrocarbon tail.
This shorter hydrocarbon tail makes all the difference in the world when it comes to its effects. Fewer carbon atoms make it interact differently with cannabinoid receptors.
So while THCV can produce similar effects THC, the effects seem to be much weaker (if they’re felt at all).
This is exactly why you might hear THCV referred to as “THC lite.” Sometimes you’ll hear it called “diet weed” because it shows to decrease appetite instead of causing the munchies.
Yes, THCV causes a similar euphoria to THC. But it’s not even close to being as strong. And it won’t make you hungry.
So while THCa can’t get you high without being decarboxylated, THCV will get you high even though the effects are much weaker than traditional Delta 9 THC.
This is the biggest difference of THCa vs THCV. THCa can’t get you high unless it’s converted into THC. THCV can get you high and doesn’t convert to THC.
THCa VS THCV Compared
THCa and THCV are completely different cannabis compounds. Sure they’re both considered cannabinoids, but they contain more differences than they do similarities.
Following we’ll take a look at the major differences between THCa vs THCV:
The main difference between THCa vs THCV is their chemical structure. THCa is the acidic precursor to THC, while THCV is a different cannabinoid altogether.
While the compound structure of THCV allows it to bind with cannabinoid receptors, THCa is different.
The THCa molecule is essentially too big to bind to either CB1 or CB2 receptors. It’s only after THCa has been decarbed that it can fit into these receptors.
Another clear distinction of THCa vs THCV is the effects of the two compounds.
On its own, THCa won’t cause any intoxicating effects. In order to get high from THCa, it must first be decarboxylated. Smoking THCa flower or vaping THCa carts will decarb the acidic cannabinoid and turn it into THC. Ultimately, this will get you high.
THCV is completely different than THCa in this regard. Not only is it suggested to cause intoxicating effects on its own (without being decarbed), it will never turn into THC when combusted.
THCV is also weaker than THC, meaning it might cause some intoxication but shouldn’t make you incredibly high. To get blasted on THCV, you’d have to consume a lot of it.
Instead, they fall into a legal gray area. Which is why there are so many THCa and THCV products to choose from in today’s modern cannabis market.
THCv is legal as long as it is derived from hemp. This means that THCV products can’t contain more than 0.3% THCV on a dry weight basis.
While THC is banned at the federal level, THCa is not. This technically makes both federally legal.
That said, legislation can vary from state to state. Always consult local laws before buying, using, or traveling with any cannabis product.
Wrapping Up THCV VS THCa
The bottom line on the difference between THCa vs THCV?
The biggest is their chemical structure. And their intoxicating effects (or lack thereof).
Both are related to THC and are naturally present in cannabis.
THCa turns into THC when exposed to heat via smoking or vaping in a process known as decarboxylation. THCv is a distant cousin of THC, which has similar, although weaker psychoactive effects.
Each can be found in a plethora of different products. Now that you know the difference between the two comes the fun part of deciding which is the best option for you.