SmokeEASY: What is THCA?

SmokeEASY: What is THCA?

By Clare Sausen

SmokeEASY is a series from Garden Party exploring how we navigate the many convoluted and confusing laws and loopholes of the Prohibition era. This week, we’re talking about THCA: the hottest new cannabinoid on the market. 

While we continue to live through this nonsensical era of cannabis prohibition, we must get more familiar with the plant to find, understand, and enjoy the legalized loopholes at our fingertips. 

THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is one of the many acronyms on everyone’s lips these days — both physically and metaphorically. 

Simply put, THCA is the precursor to THC. The compound is a non-psychoactive version of the THC molecule found in the raw cannabis plant. When you expose THCA to heat during smoking, vaping, or cooking, the THCA is decarboxylated (meaning it loses a carboxyl group – the acid) and converted to good ol’ THC. 

So, what’s the point of THCA, then? When consumed raw, the very slim research on medical cannabis available has shown THCA’s promise in addressing inflammation, pain, and even seizure disorders. When heated (ie smoked or vaped), the effects will be nearly identical to your average THC high. That’s how THCA can be sold in non-legal states, and how you can get st*ned. 

There are a few ways to enjoy THCA in its raw form, most commonly via tinctures, patches, edibles, and crystalline isolates. As for THCA flower to smoke, Otherside Hemp’s locally-grown THCA prerolls and flower are a Garden Party in-store exclusive and a convenient way to enjoy the cannabinoid at your convenience. 

So, how does THCA compare to other common cannabinoids on the pre-legal market? Most importantly, THCA is not psychoactive in its raw form, but it’s actually the most similar to the bud you’re used to when burned.

Exploring the bounty of cannabinoids our favorite plant has to offer is one of the great joys of being a stoner. If you’ve already explored other cannabinoids like CBG and Delta-9, THCA might soon become your new favorite. 


Clare Sausen is a freelance writer focused on cannabis, culture, and design — mostly. She created and writes the cannabis smokeware newsletter High Design and the cannabis events column “High Functioning” for Byline, but you can read her work in High Times Magazine, Where’s Weed, or Broccoli Magazine, too. She’s also a content manager, publicist, copywriter, and brand representative for some of your favorite names in plant medicine (and plant recreation).


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