Does THCA Turn into THC Delta-9 When Smoked?
The short answer is yes. When you smoke cannabis, the heat produced by combustion converts THCA into THC delta-9 via a process called decarboxylation. This process occurs because THC, unlike THCA, is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to produce its characteristic psychoactive effects.
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group (-COOH) from the THCA molecule, converting it to delta-9 THC. This process occurs when THCA is exposed to a certain temperature for a specific period of time. When smoking cannabis, the heat generated from the burning cannabis activates the THCA into THC delta-9, making it more bioavailable and potent.
When smoking, the higher the temperature, the greater the conversion of THCA to THC delta-9. However, THCA requires temperatures of 220°C/428°F before it begins to convert into THC. It's important to note that some strains of cannabis may have higher levels of THCA and, therefore, require higher temperatures to fully decarboxylate.
THCA vs. THC Delta-9
Even though both THCA and THC delta-9 are derived from the same plant, they are quite different in their effects on the body. THCA is non-psychoactive, and its therapeutic properties are believed to include anti-inflammatory effects, neuroprotective effects, and pain relief. In contrast, THC delta-9 is known for its psychoactive properties, which produce the characteristic "high" associated with cannabis use.
THCA is also more stable than THC delta-9. This stability makes it an ideal compound for testing for things like adulterants or microbiological contamination.
Why Smoke THCA Instead of THC Delta-9?
Despite the fact that THCA is converted into THC delta-9 when smoked, some cannabis enthusiasts still choose to smoke THCA-rich strains over THC-rich strains. One of the primary reasons for this is that THCA does not have intoxicating effects compared to THC delta-9. This means that users can still experience the therapeutic effects of cannabis without the psychoactive effects, making it ideal for those who require the medicinal benefits of cannabis but want to avoid the "high."
Consequently, THCA is often preferred as a natural remedy for conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. THCA has been found to be more effective for some people than THC delta-9 in these cases, as it may produce fewer adverse side effects than THC.
In conclusion, THCA is converted into THC delta-9 when cannabis is smoked, due to the heat produced during combustion. Despite this, some cannabis enthusiasts prefer to consume THCA-rich strains due to the compound's non-psychoactive properties. More research is necessary to determine the full therapeutic potential of THCA, but it is an exciting area of study for cannabis researchers and enthusiasts alike.