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Over 50 cannabis and vaping authors and contributors
February 15, 2024
8 min to read

What Is THCA Flower & Why Is It So Hot Right Now?

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Hayley Heidelbaugh
It’s easy these days to find hemp flower with high concentrations of your preferred cannabinoid. Depending on what you’re after, the herb can be selectively bred or infused with a particular compound.

High THCA hemp has surged in popularity, much like high CBD bud and CBG bud. The THCA cannabinoid itself is receiving similar attention. It’s not hard to see why. For one, there’s growing evidence that inactive THCA has medicinal benefits. Plus, depending on the consumption method, it can get you almost as high as marijuana.

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, commonly abbreviated to THCA or THCa, is the precursor to delta 9 THC. While THCA is produced by cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), heat or oxygen is needed to convert THCA into psychoactive THC. This is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle and will occur without intervention, given enough time.

In a sense, THCA flower isn’t anything new. Traditional marijuana bud could also be considered “high THCA” in its raw form. There’s a key legal distinction, though: high THCA hemp must contain below 0.3% delta 9 THC. Unheated marijuana exceeds this amount, clocking in at around 1% or 2% of the active compound.

This is everything you need to know about THCA flower—what makes it special, how it’s produced, and how you can consume it for maximum effect.

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How is THCA flower made?

There’s a good deal of nuance around high THCA hemp and its production. Growers need to ensure that it’s legally distinct from marijuana despite having a similar cannabinoid profile.

Selective breeding and tightly controlled growing conditions can produce high THCA bud with only trace THC—but this is tedious in practice. The bud can easily wind up with delta 9 THC levels above 0.3% by dry weight. That’s to be expected, considering high THCA strains become high delta 9 strains with heat or time.

Still, most retailers sell high THCA bud that was naturally grown, with no spraying or infusion involved. CBG flower is produced in a similar way. According to some in the cannabis industry, this is common practice and more cost-effective than THCA infusion.

On that note, it’s still possible to create THCA flower by infusing hemp with extracts, though this seems to be rare.

Spraying the plant can create bud with high levels of a given cannabinoid, even when it’s impossible to grow organically. For instance, high delta 8 bud is generally hemp flower infused with D8 distillate. A dusting of infused kief is applied to intensify the hit.

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3.5

Exhale Wellness THCA Flower

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Not only does Exhale Wellness offer strains to suit just about every taste, their THCA flower is some of the hardest-hitting out there. Each batch is labtested, Farm Bill-compliant, and discreetly shipped to protect your privacy. Available in several sizes, from eighths to ounces. Stock up easily with a bundle.

Does THCA flower get you high?

Whether THCA flower gets you high depends on your mode of consumption. It’s possible to get a euphoric response almost identical to dispensary-bought marijuana, but in other cases, the user will feel no psychoactive effects at all. Of course, the same could be said for regular marijuana bud.

When you vape or smoke flower, heat triggers the conversion of THCA into THC. This process is known as decarboxylation. Looking at the effects, there’s very little difference between high THCA hemp sold online and marijuana bought at a dispensary.

THCA doesn’t convert into an equivalent sum of delta 9 THC. Rather, it’s slightly heavier than delta 9 due to its added carboxyl group, which is then removed during decarboxylation. The weight of a delta 9 THC molecule is approximately 87.7% of THCA. Marijuana retailers adjust for this difference when they calculate total THC content.

So, if your bud contains 15% THCA, this isn’t equal to 15% THC when heated. It will give you closer to 13% delta 9 THC. The difference seems minimal, but you may notice it if you regularly smoke or vape marijuana.

To experience THCA’s medicinal properties without getting high, keep your bud away from heat. THCA is a nonintoxicating substance on its own. We’ll get into it later, but there are ways you can consume high THCA flower without applying heat and triggering decarboxylation.

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What are the benefits of THCA flower?

From our limited collection of studies, it’s possible that THCA has anti-inflammatory properties and could help manage certain irritable bowel diseases (IBDs). Several other benefits have been suggested by researchers, including seizure prevention and neuroprotection. THCA may benefit individuals suffering from degenerative neurological conditions, such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Although THCA is more researched than many other hemp compounds, we’re still waiting on new studies to confirm its effects. The science does look highly promising, though.

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How to consume THCA flower

You can vape or smoke THCA flower just as you would other kinds of cannabis bud. Using it to produce edibles is another option, as is consuming it raw—yes, really.

Vaporization (or smoking)

One of the simplest ways to enjoy high THCA bud is vaporization. Dry herb vaporizers are a fantastic option for all kinds of bud. Vaping cannabis gives you similar effects as smoking it but with the delicate terpene flavors preserved (and no nasty smoke).

If you’re seeking ease and the ability to vape THCA on the go, consider trying a portable herb vaporizer, or even a compact dry herb pen. For a different kind of experience, check out desktop vaporizers. These stationary devices are superior for users seeking power and a wider range of settings.

To prepare your THCA herb for a vaporizer, it must be ground to a medium-fine consistency. Failing to adequately grind your bud can lead to reduced flavor and effects. Herb that isn’t ground finely enough may not be heated all the way through by your device.

Make sure to use a grinder for better results and an easier experience. Scissors can be used in a pinch, but this method should only be performed by someone who knows what they’re doing. Otherwise, you risk damaging the THCA bud.

You can also smoke high THCA flower. Roll it into a joint, break out your bong, or load the herb into a pipe.

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AVB Edibles

It’s a bigger time commitment, but you can use your already vaped bud (AVB) to produce homemade edibles. High THCA bud is no different than marijuana-derived AVB in its cooked form; it’s already undergone decarboxylation.

Technically, you can activate your high THCA flower without vaping it first. This can be done in an oven, for example. Using AVB allows you to get more sessions out of your herb—it’s the thriftier way to go.

Cannabutter is a good starting place since it can be used as an ingredient in baked goods and other recipes, including brownies or cookies. If you’re in the mood for something savory, your buttery mixture can be used in anything from sandwiches to fried chicken.

Let your butter and AVB simmer on a stovetop for around four hours. You can also make cannabutter in a slow cooker. Alternatively, try using oil to craft your mixture. Coconut oil is a common substitute and can also be incorporated into a whole host of recipes.

If you’re interested in making AVB edibles out of your high THCA bud, you can find countless recipes and ideas online. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

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Raw consumption

It’s less conventional, but eating uncooked THCA bud allows you to enjoy the perks without a psychoactive hit. Raw consumption is the only way to prevent decarboxylation.

As we mentioned earlier, inactive THCA seems to possess a range of health benefits. Although more research is needed to definitively prove the claims we’ve heard, this cannabinoid shows outstanding potential. Not everyone uses it to get high.

One of the most popular ways to eat raw THCA flower involves blending it into a smoothie. Mixing your herb into salads is a close runner-up.

Is THCA flower legal?

Yes, THCA flower is legal to sell and possess in the United States. There are some important caveats, however.

As the precursor to THC, and a substance that naturally converts into THC given the correct time and conditions, THCA is legally complex. It’s less straightforward than hemp byproducts like delta 8 or delta 10.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products are required to contain less than 0.3% delta 9, the primary active cannabinoid in marijuana.

Legally speaking, THCA is not delta 9 THC. It’s completely possible for your bud to contain high amounts of THCA and still be legal to sell as hemp, whether or not the cannabinoid will convert to THC later.

Even marijuana from dispensaries contains primarily THCA at the time of sale, not delta 9 THC. Dispensaries don’t need to keep their D9 content under 0.3%, though; that’s the only real difference between high THCA flower and marijuana. THCA bud is the champion of legal loopholes in the hemp marketplace.

High THCA flower isn’t legal in every state, so check your local laws before making a purchase. Certain states have stricter regulations around “total THC” content and how that number is measured. In other words, flower that’s high in THCA could be treated by police and courts the same as marijuana.

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Hayley Heidelbaugh

Vaping since: 3 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: White Wedding, Northern Lights, Platinum Valley, OG Kush

Expertise in: Oil carts, cannabis concentrates, cannabis flower

Hayley Heidelbaugh

I'm a Pennsylvania-based cannabis enthusiast and writer. As a part of the Vaping360 team, I'm eager to help cannabis consumers explore vaping and get the most out of their experience. You can also find me @faeberrystudios on Instagram.

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