Skip to main content

Does THCA Get You High?

Does THCA Get You High?

With so many acronyms and abbreviations in the world of cannabis, keeping track of the differences between THC, THCA, HHC, and so many others can be a feat of its own—and that’s not even mentioning CBD and its many variants. So, it’s no surprise that one question we often hear at The Dopest is: “What is THCA, and does it get you high?”

The answer? Yes … but only under certain circumstances. Don’t worry—we’ll break it all down for you. Take a deep dive into this surprisingly little-known compound as we answer all your burning questions, including:

  • Does THCA get you high?
  • What is THCA flower?
  • Is THCA safe?

By the end of this post, you’ll find out everything there is to know about this unique cannabinoid. Plus, we’ll show you where you can purchase high-quality THCA products to try them out for yourself.

What Is THCA?

If you’re interested at all in hemp and cannabis, you’ve probably heard about cannabinoids, the group of compounds that impart some nuance and fascinating effects. THC—sometimes known as Delta-9 THC—is the most famous. As the primary psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, it’s the one responsible for creating that intoxicating “high.”

THC is found in cannabis and, to a much lesser extent, in hemp, but it doesn’t spring up from nowhere. It has a chemical precursor—an acidic compound that isn’t psychoactive on its own until it undergoes a process called decarboxylation. Its name? You guessed it: THCA.

“Acidic” doesn’t refer to its flavor, just its chemical structure, and it isn’t the only acidic precursor found in cannabis. CBD has a precursor called CBDA, and CBG—a minor cannabinoid linked to potential medicinal effects like protecting the nerves and brain and reducing inflammation—has a precursor called CBGA.

But if you’re looking for overall euphoric effects, THCA is the one to watch. While it’s not intoxicating on its own, everything changes when it undergoes a chemical transformation through decarboxylation.


Now that you know a little bit about what THC is and the basic relationship between THCA and THC, there are still some deeper differences between the two—and it’s good to know why they matter.

On the atomic level, THCA and THC are quite similar. Chemically speaking, THCA has an extra molecular carboxyl ring that prevents it from binding to our body’s cannabinoid receptors and creating an intoxicating high—hence the term “decarboxylation,” which is the process of removing that carboxyl ring.

And THC does more than just get us high. There are a number of reported medical effects that are supported by clinical studies, including its potential to help us manage chronic pain, its potential to improve sleep quality, and its possible use to help stimulate the appetite, among others. While research on THCA has lagged behind that of THC, studies have already suggested that it may help reduce inflammation, control seizures, and could have powerful anti-nausea effects.

Additionally, the biggest and most celebrated difference between THC and THCA is the way it’s produced and how it’s treated in the current cannabis market. If the THCA in a product was extracted from hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC, then it’s considered federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Today, many THCA products are made from compliant hemp, so they can even be bought and sold online.

What Is THCA Flower?

THCA flower is mostly the same as the regular THC flower you’d find on dispensary shelves. However, we often think of cannabis flower as only containing THC, but that’s not entirely true. Technically, from the start, it mainly contains THCA. It’s only when it gets heated or burned where that THCA in the flower will turn into THC.

While some of the THCA cannabinoids within the cannabis plant will naturally convert to THC during the growing and maturation cycle, most of them will stick around as THCA. So, when growing legally compliant hemp that contains mostly THCA, the trick is to make sure that enough of that THCA stays THCA without it automatically converting to THC. Why? Under the 2018 Farm Bill mentioned above, it’s legal to sell and consume hemp products so long as they contain 0.3% THC or less.

Check out our full guide to THCA flower.

Does THCA Turn Into Delta-9 THC?

Yes, THCA turns into Delta-9 THC when it’s heated and undergoes the process of decarboxylation. You can start the changeover by applying heat when smoking or vaping or by using the low, slow heat from a standard oven, for example. Every time you light up a bowl, you’re decarboxylating THCA into Delta-9 THC.

That said, heat isn’t the only way THCA is decarboxylated; it is just the easiest and quickest. As stated previously, some proportion of THCA will naturally decarboxylate into Delta-9 THC during the growing process—or later, due to the effects of ambient heat, exposure to oxygen, and sunlight. That’s a great reminder that no matter what you’re smoking, it’s worth investing in a stash box to keep things fresh.

Does THCA Get You High?

Now that you know THCA’s backstory, it’s finally time to get to the heart of the matter: “Does THCA get you high?” The answer is no, but the answer to “Does THCA get you high when smoked or vaped?” is a definite “yes.”

This is a good time to crack into the terms “psychoactive” and “intoxicating.” While some people use them interchangeably, there are some clear differences. A substance that has any kind of perceptible effect—be it on mood, behavior, thoughts, or feelings—is considered psychoactive, which means that the bar is relatively low. Caffeine is considered psychoactive, as is the cannabinoid CBD, but neither of them is regarded as an impairment to everyday activities such as driving a car or going to work.

By comparison, intoxicating substances cause a perceptible change in consciousness and ability. If you’ve had a few alcoholic drinks, for instance, your perception of vehicular safety is legally impaired—as is your ability to react to potential hazards.

One way to think about the major difference between the terms is that psychoactive substances may or may not also be intoxicating, but intoxicating substances are almost always considered psychoactive. So, knowing this, one way to categorize what happens when we ingest THCA is that consuming it in non-decarboxylated form—as in certain edible products—isn’t intoxicating. But smoking THCA flower or vaping it is definitely intoxicating.

Is THCA Safe?

Since it decarboxylates into THC—and the effects of THC are generally well-understood—most sources agree that THCA is safe and research supports its potential for therapeutic use. However, there’s still relatively little research on THCA and it will require more study to better understand how THCA interacts with and impacts our body.

If you’re consuming non-decarboxylated THCA for its potential medicinal benefits, some potential side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Itching and rashes
  • Respiratory difficulties

However, if you ingest decarboxylated THCA, you can expect the potential side effects to be very similar to those sometimes experienced with THC, including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Reduced reaction times
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety and paranoia

It’s important to note that while these effects can be unpleasant, they’re very rarely dangerous. In nearly all cases, the side effects will dissipate shortly. This is one reason we always remind our customers to “start slow and go low” when working with THC or decarboxylated THCA.

Find Premium THCA Products at The Dopest

Whether it’s created by growing naturally high-THCA strains or by infusing dried hemp flower with THCA crystals, this intriguing cannabinoid offers a somewhat milder—but no less impactful—experience compared with THC.

If this post fired your imagination about lesser-known alternative cannabinoids like THCA, why not deepen your quest for knowledge? Check out the blog to find out everything there is to know about liquid diamonds or learn whether or not the legal cannabinoid HHC will show up on a drug test.

And if you’re ready to try THCA for yourself, browse our selection of THCA products, including our premium THCA flower and our potent, diamond-dusted Snow Caps. Order online, and we’ll send your products right to your door! Browse our shop today—we have everything you need waiting right here.

Any other questions about THCA, Delta-9, HHC or any of the products we sell? Just drop us a line, we’re here to help.

Note: Our THCA products cannot be shipped to the following states: HI, ID, MN, OR, RI, UT, VT.