Your Wild n’ Awesome Cannabinoid Matchup: THCp vs. THCa
You will find that the cannabis plant is host of over 100 cannabinoids, with some being a bit more well-known than others. Right now, we want to highlight two of the most sought-after ones on the market: THCp (tetrahydrocannabiphorol) and THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). These cannabinoids share a lot in common with one another. Still, it’s crucial to recognize how they differ. How come? Well, because one may be better suited to you needs than the other.
We’ll get into the differences between these cannabinoids in just a moment here. First, let’s talk about cannabinoids overall. Cannabinoids refer to 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 made up of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids that maintain the task of regulating bodily processes, such as pain tolerance, stress response, sleep, inflammation, and more. Cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana attach to different cannabinoid receptors in the body, 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 ideal wellbeing.
Something a lot of people don’t know is that every cannabinoid starts out as 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’re isomers of one another.
THCa, aka tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the raw form of delta 9 THC, and you’ll only find it 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 (a process known as decarboxylation). That’s why we get high from smoking raw flower, but not from eating the buds raw. 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 complicated, so bear with us. 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 finally gives it the ability to bind 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 absolutely intoxicating – it’s what makes weed intoxicating, after all.
Does THCa Have Any Benefits?
THCa has inherent benefits in raw form, which is something that might surprise people. And, while there’s plenty of research on THCa’s benefits, we’re really zoning in on products like THCa flower, vapes, and concentrates. These product types aren’t feeding you THCa, but instead, delta 9 THC. In other words, these products will give you the benefits of delta 9, which we know about through decades of clinical trials. 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?
Yes, THCa converts into delta 9 easily through the application of heat. 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:
- Rhode Island
THCp was only discovered in 2019, and in just a few years, it’s become one of the most sought-after cannabinoids of all time. THCp is a minor cannabinoid in cannabis, and what makes it so unique is how it works with the endocannabinoid system. THCp attaches to CB1 receptors in the brain 33 times more effectively than delta 9 THC, which makes it very powerful, to say the least.
Can You Get High from THCp?
The answer is a clear yes. THCp is said to be about 10-11 times as intoxicating as delta 9, again because of its relationship to CB1 receptors. The high can be intensely euphoric and calming at the same time, and it’s definitely one to work up to gradually if your general THC tolerance is low.
Does THCp Have Any Benefits?
Being a very new discovery, THCp has not been clinically tested for its effects just yet. Hence, we can’t offer a definite list of its benefits. But, the researchers who found THcp did examine it carefully. They uncovered that it’s very structurally similar to delta 9 – only stronger. The researchers believe that THCp is therefore likely to offer the same benefits as delta 9. Those benefits though, may be more bioavailable.
How are THCp Products Made?
THCp products are made with an isolated extract known as distillate. That requires a process known as isomerization, in which CBD is converted into THCp by chemically rearranging its molecular structure – something that’s possible because all cannabinoids started out as CBG, and so they’re isomers of one another. This creates THCp distillate, which can be used to create all kinds of formulas.
Can You Enjoy THCp Legally?
Despite its high potency, this cannabinoid is compliant with federal law in any concentration or product type, because only delta 9 THC is a restricted cannabinoid in hemp products. However, it’s illegal in the following states:
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
THCp or THCa: Which One Will it Be?
As you can see, THCp and THCa bring a lot to the table. Specifically, in terms of benefits and a really enjoyable high. Because of that, we honestly recommend giving both a try. Each cannabinoid can provide you with something you’re looking for in terms of the effects of cannabis. The only thing you really need to be mindful of is, again, that THCp is a lot stronger, so dose wisely!