Factoid #13 THCA vs THC – What’s the Big Deal?
THC has long been the focus of controversy and speculation due to its psychoactive properties and is what put it on the Controlled Substance Act Schedule 1 list, to begin with. But did you know that cannabis plants, in their natural state do NOT contain Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at all?
You just have to laugh when hearing stories of how a pet or child ingested cannabis or hemp leaves or buds and was immediately rushed to the vet or hospital. Such nonsense. Any cannabis plant in raw form is about as harmful as a head of lettuce. It makes you wonder just how many veterinarians and/or health professionals have taken advantage of this ill-informed mistake just to charge for additional medical bills.
The true ingredient found in almost all marijuana cannabis plants is ‘Tetrahydrocannabolic ACID’ (THCa). This is the NON-psychoactive state of marijuana in its natural form, live or dried. It is the simple chemistry of decarboxylation that converts THCa into THC…the compound that gets you high.
Decarboxylation is a heating process that induces a chemical reaction removing a carboxyl group and releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). Usually, decarboxylation refers to a reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain. In the case of cannabis THCa, it requires heating up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit before completing the process and converting into THC.
In laymen terms, you will never get high on nibbling on a marijuana leaf or sprinkling a cannabis bud over your salad…unless, of course, your digestive tract matches that of a dragon. It’s just impossible. This is why the chosen method of partaking of marijuana is smoking, bonging or vaping. Edibles, on the other hand…like brownies have already been decarboxylated through processing/baking.
With that in mind, it would also make sense that the DEA is inaccurately listing marijuana…and, especially industrial hemp to the CSA Schedule 1 list. Since they are both perfectly harmless, safe and completely non-psychoactive in their natural state, it would make more sense to include processed products with THC over the plant itself. Perhaps a topic of debate in another forum.