What Is THCa Flower & How Does It Qualify as Hemp?

What is THCa Flower

Want to reap the therapeutic benefits of THCa without getting in trouble with the law? If the answer is yes, THCa hemp flower might be your answer. 

Now, if you’re wondering how that is possible or legal, you’re in the right place. 

This article addresses pressing questions someone who wants to try THCa flower has, including legality, how to use it without activating its mind-altering effects, and where to buy the most quality buds.  

What Is THCa Flower? 

THCa flower is hemp flower with a high concentration of THCa. 

Due to its high THCa levels, this hemp flower is no different from regular marijuana flower sold in your local recreational or medical dispensary. 

If you take a Certificate of Analysis of a THCa hemp flower strain and compare it to legal marijuana, their THCa levels will be the same. 

THCa or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that’s exclusively created in abundance in marijuana flower. When smoked or vaped, THCa converts into delta 9 THC — the primary psychoactive cannabinoid that alters your state of mind. 

Now, how is this even possible? Most importantly, how is it legal? 

Hemp farmers have advanced the plant’s genetics and cultivation processes to the point of creating a legal THCa flower that, when smoked or vaped, resembles the real thing. Before we reveal the juicy parts behind THCa hemp flower, let’s take a separate look at THCa. 

What is THCa? 

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa) is one of the three primary cannabinoid acids formed in the early stages of growth of the cannabis plant. THCa is made following an enzyme reaction that triggers the breakdown of CBGa into THCa, CBCa, and CBDa.  

THCa doesn’t give you a psychoactive experience because it doesn’t bind to the CB1 receptor. This cannabinoid is a larger molecule with an extra carboxyl group that doesn’t “fit” into the CB1 and CB2 receptors. So, every activity that this cannabinoid exudes is performed through different pathways of the endocannabinoid system [1].

Heat exposure “strips off” the additional carboxyl group and transforms acid THC into active THC. Biologically active THC (delta 9) binds with the CB1 receptors — a unique set of endocannabinoid receptors — and produces a psychoactive experience. 

Potential THCa Benefits

Just because THCa doesn’t give you a psychoactive experience doesn’t mean it has no effect on your system. Quite the contrary. 

Research suggests that pure THCa extracts and isolates could exhibit anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. Most cannabinoids work exceptionally well for nausea and vomiting, and THCa is no exception, suggest recent studies [2], 3]. 

How Does THCa Flower Qualify As Hemp?

THCa hemp flower is no different than THCa marijuana flower. 

They both have high levels of THCa that convert into THC when exposed to heat. So, how does THCa hemp flower qualify as hemp?

The answer is simple: 

The only reason THCa hemp flower qualifies as hemp is a legal loophole that requires harvested hemp to contain no more than 0.3% delta 9 THC. So, the delta 9 THC levels are the only ones taken into consideration in the final product. 

To cultivate hemp flower with high THCa levels post-harvest and low THCa levels pre-harvest, growlers submit a sample when the THCa levels of the plant are really low. So, the time of the testing of the sample is what really counts. 

As the plant matures, it develops high THCa levels (thanks to genetics), but the sample will pass the test because, at the time of harvest, it contains low THCa levels. Post-harvest hemp only needs to contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC to be deemed lawful, regardless of its THCa levels. 

There are other ways to obtain lawful THCa flower. Some growers spray CBD-rich hemp material with THCa, while others convert CBDa (hemp flower is naturally high in CBDa or the precursor of CBD) into THCa. 

How to Know You Are Getting “High Level” THCa Hemp Flower

The percentage that defines a “high-level” THCa hemp flower is the same as the one that describes a “high-level” THCa marijuana flower. Here’s a quick list of what that would mean: 

  • Extremely high THCa (exotic strains): above 20%
  • Very high THCa: 15% to 20%
  • High THCa: 10% to 15%
  • Medium THCa: 5% to 10%
  • Low THCa: below 5%

The concentration of THCa in your flower is tightly connected to the experience you will savor. Knowing the exact levels of this cannabinoid will give you peace of mind about what to expect. 

The higher the THCa level, the higher the THC concentration that enters your body after conversion. Mr. Hemp Flower provides a third-party Certificate of Analysis that shows the exact level of THCa you will receive after decarboxylation.  

Is THCa Flower Legal? 

The legality of THCa flower is murky. 

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and all its parts are considered legal if they contain no more than 0.3% delta 9 THC. Marijuana, on the other hand, is considered an illegal plant because it’s rich in high levels of delta 9 THC. 

So, despite its high THCa levels (and the ability to get you intoxicated), THCa flower is legal under federal law because it meets the definition of “hemp.”

Are there any legal risks in buying THCa flower? There are some important nuances that you need to know about this hemp flower before you buy.  

The “Total THC” Issue 

If you are familiar with the USDA’s requirement under the 2018 Farm Bill, you know that hemp must contain less than 0.3% total THC (THCa + delta 9 THC) prior to being harvested. This is important because hemp is deemed legal or illegal during the testing of a pre-harvest sample. 

The test measures the total THC concentration in a hemp flower sample submitted to a third-party lab. The lab performs a chemical analysis that takes the sum of the THC and THCa content (potential decarboxylation) into account. 

By this standard, THCa flower should be considered illegal because the total THC content will be higher than 0.3% by weight. According to the legal cannabis expert, attorney Rod Kight, this doesn’t have to be the case. 

The USDA rule for hemp testing only applies to the process of hemp production and pre-harvest, so if the sample is tested early enough and passes the analysis, it’s considered lawful under the 2018 Farm Bill regardless of the concentration of total THC present in the post-harvest hemp material. 

Bottom line, harvested hemp is not subject to the total THC standard under the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill considers a sample of hemp flower legal if it contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC and doesn’t care about the THCa levels of the harvested material. 

State Laws & Regulations

Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding the legality of THCa hemp flower

Some states prohibit the sale and distribution of smokable hemp flower, so THCa flower is automatically prohibited in that state. 

If the state’s hemp laws are in line with the definition of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill, then the important metric determining the product’s legality is the level of delta 9 THC, which makes THCa hemp flower legal in that state. 

Some states have stricter laws that require harvested hemp material to be less than 0.3% total THC (THCA and delta 9 THC). Therefore, before buying THCa hemp flower, make sure to check your state law. 

Legality of THCa

As a cannabinoid, THCa stands in a gray legal area. 

THCa is not classified as a controlled substance at the federal level. But, because it’s a precursor to THC — a federally prohibited substance — THCa could fall under the Federal Analogue Act by default.

Can THCa Hemp Flower be Grown Naturally? 

Yes, THCa hemp flower can be grown naturally. 

Several hemp manufacturers, including Mr. Hemp Flower, collaborate closely with farmers who grow hemp with high THCa levels post-harvest. Thanks to aeroponic and hydroponic methods of growing hemp, mixed with genetics, cultivators have found a way to create hemp that’s a natural and legal alternative to traditional marijuana. 

How to Use THCa Without the Psychoactive Experience? 

THCa lacks cannabimimetic effects, meaning it doesn’t change mood and perception the way active THC does [1]. 

So, if you don’t smoke it, vape it, or cook with it, THCa won’t give you the intoxicating feeling traditional THC does. On the other hand, it could potentially help with inflammation, neuroprotection, and immunity. 

Depending on the experience you seek, here are a few ways to use THCa flower: 

Vaping & Smoking 

When you smoke it or vape it, the THCa gets exposed to heat, loses a carboxyl group (decarboxylation), and gets broken down into traditional THC. Essentially, it’s the THC or the byproduct of the decarboxylation process that gets you intoxicated. 

So, smoking THCa hemp flower will get you very intoxicated because, by the time it enters your system, the THCa will be well decarboxylated into THC. 

According to a study, it takes seconds for THCa to fully convert into THC when heated at 200 degrees Celsius and 10 minutes at temperatures above 160 degrees Celsius. It takes 3 hours for THCa to convert fully into THC at a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius and 4 hours at 98 degrees Celsius [4]. 

Smoothies & Salads 

Consumption of raw cannabis shouldn’t get you intoxicated. We say “shouldn’t” because, as a rule of thumb, freshly harvested cannabis doesn’t contain any delta 9 THC, but THCa can be activated in older plant material or in flower that hasn’t been stored properly. 

A study showed that even basic exposure of the bud to room temperature is enough to kickstart the process of conversion or decarboxylation [5]. 

This is why you should be picky when buying your THCa flower. Always buy it from a reputable source that cultivates hemp free from harmful toxins. 

Once you have a clean product in hand, you can put the cannabis leaves and buds in your green juice, smoothies, and salads. The buds of the plant contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids, so they are the best part for juicing. You can add dairy to the recipe for better absorption and blending. 

THCa Side Effects: Who Should Avoid THCa Flower? 

If you are sensitive to high-THC cannabis (marijuana), it’s best to avoid smoking or vaping THCa flower. If delta 9 THC makes you prone to anxiety, paranoia, and depression, you should avoid decarboxylated THCa flower.

Using it in its raw form is typically fine, but you will have to store it properly and avoid any form of method that will decarboxylate the THCa into THC — including cooking or keeping it at room temperature. 

Although it won’t alter your mind, THCa influences your body. In some people, it may cause very mild side effects that are more similar to CBD than THC, including: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate. 

THC and CBD are known to cause dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness, so these side effects are common among other cannabinoids too. 

This compound can also interact with prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. So, if you are currently taking medications, please consult your doctor before starting to self-medicate with THCa. 

Where to Buy THCa Flower? 

Buying high-quality THCa flower can be tricky. 

Some companies take marijuana flower, put it into pretty packaging, and market it as hemp. This is something you need to beware of because they may be repurposing illegal marijuana flower that may get you in legal trouble. 

Other manufacturers create this type of flower by converting the CBDA in hemp flower into THCa using various chemical methods and solvents. The downside to this process is that, if poorly executed, the final product can be contaminated and toxic. So, it’s important to double-check the company and its practices before buying. 

Mr. Hemp Flower brings you tested, organically grown hemp THCa flower you can use worry-free. 

Our hemp flower is an indoor hydroponic grow (in nutrient-enriched water) created in line with the federal definition of hemp. It’s also rigorously third-party tested through the multiple stages of growth to ensure you are getting a premier alternative to traditional cannabis. 


In the cannabis bud, THCa is the precursor to the primary intoxicating cannabinoid THC. When heated or exposed to sunlight, THCa converts into THC, so when you smoke cannabis flower, you inhale THC or the active cannabinoid.

Yes, THCa will be detected on a standard urine drug test because it’s metabolized in the same way as THC.

Yes, according to legal experts, high THCa hemp is legal because it falls under the definition of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.

It depends on how you take THCa. If you smoke or vape the substance, you will get heavily intoxicated because THCa is exposed to heat decarboxylates into THC. If you take it in its raw form, it’s not intoxicating and may offer some therapeutic benefits.

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