Your Wild n’ Awesome Cannabinoid Matchup: Hemp-Derived Delta 9 THC vs. THCa
The cannabis plant is home to some 100+ cannabinoids, each with its own fascinating chemical configuration, and as we all know, some are a lot more well-known and researched than others. Today, we want to take a look at two cannabinoids that are understandably confused for one another: delta 9 (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).
We will compare hemp-derived delta 9 THC to THCa in just a moment. First, however, let’s provide you with a crash course on cannabinoids. These are the primary active compounds found in cannabis. These compounds are distinctive in that they’re the only plant-derived compounds 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. The cannabinoids found in both marijuana and hemp bind 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 overall improved wellbeing.
Interestingly, all cannabinoids start out as CBG, or cannabigerol. CBG is 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’re isomers of one another, including the ones that we’re diving into today.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is the naturally occurring, acidic precursor to delta 9 THC. You will only find delta 9 in raw cannabis flower. Basically, all cannabinoids have an 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 turn into THC. From there, it then takes on entirely new properties and effects as a result.
Can You Get High from THCa?
Actually, that depends. You won’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 find on the market do 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 absolutely intoxicating – it’s what gives weed its notorious high, after all.
Does THCa Have Any Benefits?
THCa has inherent benefits in raw form, which is something that might surprise people. And, while there is a plethora of research on THCa’s benefits, we’re really focusing on products like THCa dabs, flower, and vaping products. These products aren’t giving you THCa, but delta 9 THC. In other words, these products will offer 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 made. Meanwhile, 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?
Yes, THCa converts into delta 9 easily through the application of heat. Plus, 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. This is due to the THCa not being converted yet. Meaning, THCa products are totally legal under federal law. However, several states have banned THCa products, as in products that contain more than 0.3% THCa + delta 9 combined:
- Rhode Island
Hemp-Derived Delta 9 THC
The delta 9 THC in hemp is the same as the delta 9 in marijuana, chemically speaking. Of course, we’ve already covered a lot about delta 9 THC, as that’s the natural result of decarboxylating THCa. Delta 9 was first isolated in the 1940s, and again, many studies have been done to understand its properties and effects.
Can You Get High from Hemp-Derived Delta 9 THC?
Yes, you can get high off of delta 9 THC, whether it comes from the hemp plant or the marijuana plant. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that because of legal reasons we’ll explain more in just a bit, “hemp-derived delta 9 products” can only contain limited milligram strengths of delta 9, while THCa products can contain any amount. Basically, this means that THCa products can get you much ‘more high’.
Does Hemp-Derived Delta 9 Have Any Benefits?
Again, the THCa products we coverd earlier are actually providing you with the benefits of hemp-derived delta 9 THC. Hence, those benefits are identical.
How are Hemp-Derived Delta 9 Products Made?
To make hemp-derived delta 9 products, you need an isolated extract of the cannabinoid, and that’s hard to do since there’s such a minor amount of delta 9 in hemp, naturally. So, isomerization is used instead, in which CBD distillate is molecularly rearranged to convert it into delta 9 distillate – again, because all cannabinoids are isomers of one another.
Can You Enjoy Hemp-Derived Delta 9 THC Legally?
Surprisingly, yes – but with limitations. The law allows a maximum of 0.3% delta 9 THC per dry weight in a product. Companies can simply make larger serving sizes of products (typically edibles). That way, the ‘0.3%’ can come out to a fairly significant amount of delta 9 THC in terms of milligrams. That being said, these products are legal throughout the USA.
Hemp-Derived Delta 9 THC or THCa: Which One Will It Be?
Basically, both hemp-derived delta 9 THC and THCa provide us with legal ways to enjoy the effects of delta 9 THC, from the hemp plant. The key is choosing which product you prefer. If you’d rather smoke, vape, or dab delta 9, THCa is the way to go. If you’re a fan of edibles, hemp-derived delta 9 products are where it’s at. Explore them both at Wild Orchard Co., and then see what works best for you.