THCA: Getting High 101

THCA: Getting High 101

If you're just checking out our new Cheshire THCA pre-rolls, thinking what the heck is THCA?, this guide is for you. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, commonly known as THCA, is a compound found predominantly in the raw cannabis plant. If you’ve ever looked at lab results for cannabis products and seen a high THCA content and wondered how it ties into the psychoactive effects of marijuana, you're not alone. Let's look deeper into how THCA contributes to the "high" and the various forms in which it's available.

Understanding THCA

At its core, THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. This means that if you were to consume raw, fresh cannabis – whether you juiced it or added it to your salad – you wouldn’t get the characteristic "high" associated with marijuana. But how does a non-psychoactive compound eventually contribute to the euphoric sensation many users describe?

The magic lies in the process called decarboxylation. When cannabis is exposed to heat, be it through smoking, vaporizing, or baking, THCA undergoes a chemical change and transforms into delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component in the cannabis plant. This means that while THCA in its raw form won't get someone high, the process of decarboxylation ensures that THCA-rich plants can still provide a potent experience.

The Elevation: From THCA to High

To comprehend how THCA results in a high, one must first understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our body. This system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis and has two main types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. THC, not THCA, can bind directly to the CB1 receptors, especially in the brain. This binding process disrupts various neural pathways, leading to altered sensations, mood changes, and the quintessential cannabis "high."

In its raw form, THCA has its own potential benefits, like anti-inflammatory properties, but lacks the capability to bind with CB1 receptors in the same way. It's the conversion of THCA to THC through decarboxylation that bridges the gap between raw cannabis and the psychoactive experience.

Forms of THCA

Just like other cannabinoids, THCA can be found and consumed in various forms:

  1. Flower: This is the raw form of the cannabis plant. The trichomes (sticky crystals) on fresh cannabis flowers contain a significant amount of THCA. If these flowers are consumed directly, they won’t produce the high, but if smoked or vaporized, the THCA transforms into THC, leading to the desired effects.

  2. Concentrates: These are potent substances derived from the plant where cannabinoids, including THCA, are concentrated. Here are a few common THCA-rich concentrates:

    • THCA Crystalline: This is one of the purest forms of THCA available. Through a complex extraction process, almost all other compounds are removed, leaving behind crystallized THCA. When exposed to heat, it turns into pure THC.

    • Live Resin: Made by freezing the cannabis plant immediately after harvest and then using a solvent for extraction, this concentrate preserves a lot of the original flavor and potency. It has a high THCA content which, when consumed using methods like dabbing, offers a potent high.

    • Rosin: This solvent-less concentrate is made by applying heat and pressure to the cannabis plant. Rosin can be rich in THCA, especially when derived from high-THCA plants.

  3. Tinctures and Topicals: While more commonly associated with CBD, there are tinctures and topicals that retain the THCA content. These, when applied or consumed without heating, won’t induce a high.


While THCA might not be the headline-grabbing cannabinoid like its sibling THC, it plays a crucial role in the world of cannabis and hemp. The process of decarboxylation reveals the transformative power of heat, turning a non-psychoactive compound into one of the most recognized and sought-after molecules in the cannabis plant. Whether in flower or concentrate form, THCA’s presence is fundamental to the euphoric experience many associate with cannabis.

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