Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, is the most famous cannabinoid because it is responsible for the intoxicating effects of consuming cannabis, but did you know that the hemp plant does not produce THC directly? It may be surprising for many cannabis consumers to learn that many cannabis plants contain very little THC and much more of a substance called THC.
THC and its relationship with THC
A similar name is not the only relationship between the two substances. THCA is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. It is a chemical that appears in cannabis as the plant grows, and changes into psychoactive THC under the influence of temperature. This process is called decarboxylation.
THCA is considered “thermally unstable”. This means that it easily changes its structure under the influence of temperature. Due to the instability of THCA, there are several ways to obtain THC. One such approach is exposure to sunlight and heat. If the cannabis plant is exposed to light and heat for a long time, the THCA compounds will slowly convert to THC. For example, when extracted with olive oil, 22% THCA will turn into THC in 10 days at 77 degrees. Under the same conditions in alcoholic extraction as much as 67% of THCA will be converted. THCA will also convert to THC when the cannabis is stored at room temperature for a long enough time with minimal light. The same goes for smoking dried hemp. Under the influence of fire, THCA contained in the dried material will immediately turn into THC. Fortunately, not all THCA will be decarboxylated.
Why use THC?
Preliminary research indicates that THCA has potent anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and antiemetic properties. THCA is also not intoxicating. You can pick a hemp flower and eat it. The chance of getting high is slim.
These actions are in line with those of CBD, does that mean taking THCA alone is better? Some cannabis advocates say THCA is a better anti-inflammatory agent, but more careful research is needed to find this out for sure. Good quality CBD oils contain not only CBD, but also other cannabinoids, including THCA. It’s worth betting on such an oil.