Can THCA Cause Me to Feel High?

There’s a lot of hype surrounding THCA, and numerous reputable brands are giving customers what they want in the form of products such as THCA flower. A lot of people want to know whether THCA will cause an intoxicating high.

This article answers that question and also explains the process that converts THCA to THC, highlighting the fact that you can’t rely on the THCA percentage you see on any product’s label.

THCA Doesn’t Cause Intoxication in Its Original Form

We’ve already covered THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, in greater detail elsewhere on the website. Thus, we’ll only provide a brief recap here.

It is a cannabinoid present in cannabis and is the precursor of delta-9-THC, the compound known for causing an intoxicating high. However, does THCA itself cause you to enjoy (or endure) this sensation?

The simple answer is ‘no.’ THCA is non-intoxicating. Also, since cannabis generates large amounts of THCA instead of THC in its natural state, it will not cause a high when consumed “raw.”

THCA lacks the all-important extra carboxyl ring required to bind to the cannabinoid receptors in our brain and create intoxicating effects.

Therefore, if your goal is to attain a high, you’ll be rather disappointed when you consume four ounces worth of raw cannabis juice and feel queasy but not capable of answering the searching questions posed by our existence.

To harness the intoxicating power of marijuana, you need to decarboxylate it.

To Get High, Add Heat

When THCA is exposed to heat, it undergoes a chemical change and becomes THC. At this point, you CAN, and probably WILL, become high. The process of decarboxylation can occur when you smoke, vape, or bake raw cannabis.

What happens is that the carboxyl group is removed from the THCA, which leads to the creation of THC. Once you consume this particular cannabinoid via vaping or smoking, it gets absorbed through the lungs quickly. As a result, it journeys to the brain and other regions of your body, interacting with cannabinoid receptors.

There are multiple decarbing methods, including:

  • Smoking: The process happens when you light a joint filled with THCA flower, which means you experience the effects of THC rapidly
  • Dabbing: You can add THCA concentrates to a dab rig and heat until they melt; the vapor you inhale contains THC
  • Vaping: Vaporize THCA oil or flower to benefit from a lightning-quick decarbing process
  • Baking: When making edibles, put raw cannabis into the oven at a temperature of between 220 and 240 degrees Fahrenheit for around half an hour
  • Sunlight: If you wait long enough, you’ll find that THCA flower decarbs when exposed to natural light; the sun’s UV rays do the job, albeit very slowly

When trying to decarboxylate THCA, the temperature you expose the cannabinoid to dictates how fast the process is. For instance, it takes:

  • Four hours at around 208 degrees
  • Three hours at approximately 212 degrees
  • 10 minutes at 320+ degrees
  • A few seconds at 392+ degrees

THCA to THC – Information on Conversion

When you buy THCA flower and check out the percentage, it’s not a question of “what you see is what you get.” Not all of the THCA gets converted into THC during the decarboxylation process. Indeed, a significant amount is lost, depending on the method.

First and foremost, you must use the following calculation:

THC = (THCA x 0.877) + THC

While the conversion rate of THCA varies (and we’ll look into it more in a minute), it is generally assumed that 87.7% of it gets converted into delta 9 THC, hence the 0.877 figure.

So, to ascertain how much THC is likely to be in your THCA flower after decarbing, you multiply the existing THCA content by 0.877 and add any THC that’s already in the flower.

Imagine buying an ounce of flower with 20% THCA. First, we determine the amount of THCA by multiplying the flower’s weight by the percentage of THCA:

28,000 mg x 0.2 = 5,600 mg

Now, we know there is 5,600 mg of THCA in the flower. There is also 0.5% of THC in it. So, we do the above calculation again:

28,000 mg x 0.005 = 140 mg of delta 9 THC

Finally, we can use the above formula:

THC after decarbing = (5,600 x 0.877) + THC

4,911.2 + 140 = 5051.2 mg

So, there is 5,051.2 mg of delta 9 THC in the ounce when it is decarboxylated. Incidentally, you can also calculate the THC percentage thusly:

5051.2 x 100 = 505120

505120 / 28000 = 18.04%

So, this ounce of flower has a THC content that’s slightly above 18%. However, this is only a ballpark figure and varies according to different factors, particularly the amount of heat the THCA is exposed to.

Is There a Temperature “Sweet Spot?”

Although there is some debate, the consensus is that THC’s boiling point is 315 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, this is considered the ideal temperature for decarboxylation. So, if you have a sophisticated vaporizer that allows you to control the temperature to a single degree, you’re in luck!

There’s certainly a delicate balancing act. If the temperature isn’t high enough, much of the THCA will remain. If you expose the flower to excessive heat for a long time, you’ll burn off many of its terpenes and cannabinoids.

A general rule of thumb suggests that you should keep the temperature within the 315 to 440-degree range to maximize the volume of compounds in the cannabis. It’s worth noting that the average lighter flame burns at around 2,000 degrees. Thus, when you light a THCA flower joint, the decarbing process happens quickly and efficiently, but you’ll lose certain compounds.

THCA Doesn’t Cause a High Because Decarboxylation Is Necessary

Don’t consume raw cannabis if your goal is to get high. The THCA it contains doesn’t result in intoxication. To achieve this process, you need to decarb the cannabis to turn the THCA into THC by exposing the cannabinoid to heat.

It’s important to note that the THCA doesn’t convert into THC in a 1:1 ratio. A significant proportion is lost, so if you purchase 20% THCA flower, don’t expect it to have 20% THC once you light that joint.

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