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Delta 8, Delta 8 THC, THCa, Cannabinoids
October 19, 2023 By Wild Orchard Co.

Your Wild n’ Awesome Cannabinoid Matchup: Delta 8 THC vs. THCa

You can find over 100 cannabinoids in any given sample of cannabis, and we all know that some of these cannabinoids are more sought-after than others by cannabis enthusiasts.  Today, we’d like to explore two cannabinoids that have a lot more in common than you might think: delta 8 (delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol), and THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).  These two cannabinoids are easily two of the top-sellers on the market.

Cannabinoid Basics

Before we take a look at the differences between delta 8 THC and THCa, let’s talk about cannabinoids overall.  Cannabinoids are the main compounds responsible for the distinctive effects we get from cannabis.  These compounds are really unique because they’re the only compounds found in plant life that directly work with our endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids that maintain the task of regulating processes of the body, like pain tolerance, stress response, sleep, inflammation, and more.  Cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana attach to different cannabinoid receptors in the body.  Thus, resulting in chemical reactions that improve how efficient these physiological processes are.  Basically, consuming cannabinoids supports our body’s innate methods for maintaining homeostasis, for optimal wellbeing.

One thing that a lot of people don’t know is that all cannabinoids come from CBG, or cannabigerol, the singular cannabinoid present in young cannabis, before the plant matures during the growing process.  CBG eventually branches itself out to become over 100 individual cannabinoids that are isomers of one another, including the ones that we’re diving into today.


Delta 8, Delta 8 THC, THCa, Cannabinoids

THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the acidic precursor to delta 9 THC, and you’ll only find it in raw cannabis flower.  What many people don’t know is that every cannabinoid has its acidic precursor form – like CBDa, which converts into CBD – and these compounds only convert into their more widely used counterparts after the plant has been heated.  That’s why, for example, smoking raw flower gets us high, but eating it doesn’t.  Heat has to be applied for THCa to become THC, and the compound takes on new properties during this process.

Can You Get High from THCa?

Now, here’s where things get a little confusing.  You can’t get high off of THCa, because again, the cannabinoid isn’t intoxicating until it’s heated, converting it into delta 9 THC, which gains the ability to attach to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to trigger intoxication.

But, the majority of THCa products that you’ll encounter will get you high.  The reason why is that these products have to be heated in order to be usable.  We’re talking about flower, vapes, and dabs, all of which undergo a heating process through combustion or vaporization.  This process converts the THCa into delta 9 THC, and as we all know, delta 9 THC is definitely intoxicating, as it is, after all, what gives weed its famous high.

Does THCa Have Any Benefits?

THCa, when left raw, definitely has benefits, which is something that a lot of people don’t know.  And, you can go ahead and find studies about THCa’s benefits online.  But currently we want to focus on products like THCa flower, vapes, and concentrates.  These aren’t feeding you THCa, but delta 9 THC.  In other words, these products will give you the benefits of delta 9, which we know about through many decades’ worth of clinical research.  These benefits include:

  • Effects on Appetite and Nausea: Studies have shown that delta 9 THC can reduce nausea and episodes of vomiting, all while improving appetite (after all, a lot of us are familiar with the munchies)
  • Better Mood and Better Sleep: Researchers have found that delta 9 regulates neurotransmitters in the brain that impact our mood and stress response, which is why so many people find THC to be both relaxing and uplifting. It can also improve sleep by balancing hormones that affect our sleep response.
  • Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Properties: Delta 9 THC is known for both its anti-inflammatory and analgesic that can help with physical discomfort and inflammatory symptoms, as we’ve seen proven in a number of studies.
  • Neurological Effects: A lot of studies have explored the way in which delta 9 can regulate neurological function, and studies done on multiple sclerosis and epilepsy show that delta 9 THC has a strong likelihood of improving symptoms.

How are THCa Products Made?

THCa naturally exists in the hemp plant, but there are a few ways to make specific THCa products.  One is by growing THCa flower, by cultivating industrial hemp and exposing it to specific conditions that naturally increase its THCa concentration.  This is how most THCa flower and concentrates are created.  Usually, for vapes, a distillate is created through isomerization, rearranging the molecules in CBD distillate to turn it into THCa distillate, which can then be enhanced with terpene extracts to offer a full-spectrum vape oil.

Can You Enjoy THCa Legally?

It’s true that THCa converts into delta 9 easily through the application of heat, and we know that federal law prohibits sales of hemp products that contain more than 0.3% delta 9 THC.  But, when you test a THCa product, it’s compliant with this law, as the THCa hasn’t converted yet.  That means that THCa products are totally legal under federal law.  However, 4 states have banned THCa products, as in products that contain more than 0.3% THCa + delta 9 combined.  Those states are:

  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island

Delta 8 THC

Delta 8 THC is another naturally occurring component of cannabis.  And, it’s a very, very trace cannabinoid, as it’s in only about 0.1% of the plant.  It comes from oxidized delta 9 THC, since as the industrial hemp plant matures, some of the delta 9 THC breaks down and converts into a new cannabinoid.  It was discovered decades ago, which may be surprising, and has been studied a lot for its effects.

Can You Get High from Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 is an intoxicating cannabinoid, much like delta 9 THC.  However, delta 8 is less intoxicating – about 30% less intoxicating, as it turns out – and its high is known for being very relaxing in nature, making it a great nighttime cannabinoid, so to speak.

Does Delta 8 THC Have Any Benefits?

  • Help with Inflammation and Discomfort: Delta 8 THC, like delta 9, is known for both its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and a lot of people find that delta 8 is particularly helpful when it comes to pain and inflammation.
  • Anxiolytic Effects: Delta 8 is considered an anxiolytic, as it can offer surprising relief from anxiety and stress thanks to its relationship with CB1 receptors that manage our stress response in the nervous system. People also find that this unique effect helps them sleep at night.
  • Increase in Appetite: Delta 8 THC can improve appetite, just like delta 9 THC, and may cause the munchies.
  • Neuroprotective Properties: Delta 8 is believed to offer valuable effects as a neuroprotectant, and may have powerful anti-seizure activity.

How are Delta 8 THC Products Made?

To make a delta 8 extract, isomerization is involved, in which CBD is converted into delta 8 by chemically rearranging its molecular structure – something that’s possible because all cannabinoids started out as CBG, and so they are isomers of one another.  This creates a delta 8 distillate, which can be added to any product formula.

Can You Enjoy Delta 8 THC Legally?

Delta 8 THC happens to be compliant with federal law in any concentration or product type, because only delta 9 THC is a restricted hemp derivative.  However, it is illegal in 19 states, and those states are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Delta 8 THC or THCa: Which One Will It Be?

Both delta 8 THC and THCa offer surprising benefits, and a legal way to get high off of hemp.  However, the two cannabinoids ultimately feel pretty different from one another. Hence, why at the end of the day, we recommend comparing them for yourself.  And that’s by checking out the delta 8 and THCa products at Wild Orchard Co.  Both cannabinoids are easily two of the top-sellers on the market.