Cannabis is an incredibly complex plant, containing several hundred active compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. But when we’re trying to understand how this powerful all-natural medicine interacts with the human body, it’s helpful to narrow all these players down to a crucial pair: THC vs THCa. Often conflated, there are actually several distinctions between these two misunderstood compounds.

How can you differentiate THCa vs THC? If you follow Papa & Barkley’s cannabis blog, you’re probably already familiar with THC. In addition to being the primary cannabinoid responsible for the plant’s psychoactive “high,” a growing number of studies demonstrate its ability to fight pain and potentially help reduce everyday stress.

By comparison, THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw cannabis and live cannabis plants. Although THCa is very different from THC in both its chemical makeup and how it interacts with the body, that’s not to say it’s not having an effect. In today’s post, we’ll explore the question we’re often asked: What is THCa and why is it important?

Let’s dive in.