THCA versus THC-O process THCA is a “precursor” of THC, while THC-O is an “ester” or modification derived from THC. THCa is converted to THC through a process called decarboxylation. This occurs when heat and light remove a group of THCa and, as a result, alter the chemical structure, thus creating what we know as THC. THCA has been closely compared to THC, but most people now describe THCA as the precursor to THC.
While it's easy to confuse them, it's important to know that they produce very different effects when consumed. THC-O is the acetate ester form of THC, sometimes called THC acetate ester or O-acetyl-Δ9-THC. Experts generally know it as THC-O acetate (or ATHC or THC-OA), but almost everyone has abbreviated it as THC-O. Sometimes people drop the hyphen and call it THCO or THC O.
No matter how you spell it, it's pronounced “THC-oh”, it's the letter O, not a zero. When a flame is used to smoke dry, cured buds, the high degree of heat applied over a short period of time quickly converts THCA to THC. Continuing to increase the heat will ensure that the maximum amount of THCA is converted to THC, but only up to a certain point. For a cannabinoid to produce intoxicating effects, it has to be able to fit into a CB1 receptor, so since THCA doesn't fit, it doesn't cause you to “get high”.
Over time, cannabis stored at room temperature with a little exposure to light will convert 20% of its THCA to THC. In practice, THCA may offer some of the same benefits as CBD, since they are not intoxicating and anti-inflammatory. Ultimately, it all has to do with the fact that the high temperatures involved in the GC process will decarboxylate most of the THCA, while high temperatures are not needed in the LC process. Like THCA, these cannabinoid acids are not activated until they go through the decarboxylation process and are capable of interacting with the human ECS.
Although the most common decarboxylation process involves roasting cannabis in the oven to convert THCA to THC, there are many ways to decarboxylate or decarboxylate marijuana. Since THCA is already primarily converted to THC and vaporization takes even more charge, this is an effective method of consuming intoxicating cannabis. While the FDA doesn't specifically mention THCA, it's best to avoid these products in states where THC hasn't been legalized. If a cannabis plant stays under the warm sun for an extended period of time, its THCA molecules will slowly convert to THC.
THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is an inactive cannabinoid contained in the trichomes of live and freshly harvested cannabis. As mentioned above, THCA could have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and antiemetic properties.