THCa vs Delta 9: Effects, Differences & Similarities

If you’re familiarizing yourself with the different components of cannabis, you might wonder about THCa vs Delta 9. Delta 9 is part of the full name for traditional THC, while THCa is the raw acid that becomes THC when you apply heat or light to THCa crystals.

Here is a deeper explanation of the differences and similarities between THCa vs Delta 9 THC regarding the effects, usages, and legality of both compounds.

What Is Delta 9 THC?

Delta 9 is the common name for the compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. No matter what you call it, Delta 9 is present in marijuana and hemp plants at varying levels. It’s the classic cannabinoid that causes psychoactive effects and the chemical that the US considers illegal.

What Is THCa?

If you’re learning about THCa for the first time, you may be wondering, “What is THCa?” THCa is what you can consider a raw material. It stands for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, which is a chemical component that isn’t psychoactive. THCa becomes Delta 9 THC after exposure to heat (like the flame from a lighter or dab rig).

What’s the Difference Between THCa and Delta 9 THC?

With these basics in mind, it can still be challenging to understand the differences between Delta 9 THC vs THCa.

The core difference is that Delta 9 THC is a psychoactive substance that can produce typical cannabis effects. Delta 9 THC isn’t present in fresh marijuana plants; it comes from THCa.

THCa is a basic compound that doesn’t affect the user. You can usually find quantities of THCa in living hemp and marijuana plants. When THCa encounters heat, it can become Delta 9 THC. The heat triggers decarboxylation, a chemical process that changes the molecule’s shape. This change is why THCa isn’t psychoactive, but Delta 9 THC is.

Our bodies have cannabinoid receptors that are specific shapes, like pegs in holes. THCa won’t fit in the receptors, but THC does fit, activating parts of our brain and giving us the hallmark effects of cannabis.

THCa vs Delta 9 Potency Percentage

Unfortunately, you can’t compare the potency of Delta 9 THC vs THCa. Potency usually refers to how strongly a substance impacts the user, but THCa has no psychoactive effects.

Instead, you can try to determine how much THC you can create from THCa. If you multiply the amount of THCa by 0.87, you will have an estimate of how much THC the heat will produce and can determine the potency that way.

Delta 9 THC Effects

Delta 9 THC is the most well-known cannabinoid, with the highest number of studies on the effects of THC. THC is a psychoactive chemical, which means it affects the mind. Some examples of typical psychoactive effects are changes in mood or senses.

In recent years, many have found THC an effective treatment for physical and mental illnesses like anxiety. If you’ve partaken in THC or traditional cannabis before, you’re probably familiar with the effects of Delta 9.

THCa Effects

It’s crucial to remember that, between THCa vs Delta 9, THCa is the non-psychoactive component.

THCa doesn’t affect the mind the same way THC will. It’s difficult to tell if THCa has much of an impact on the body due to limited research. Some studies show that THCa in its raw form can offer some physical benefits, like helping with inflammation.

What is the Delta 9 High Like?

Those familiar with traditional cannabis and its effects will know the feeling of Delta 9, as it’s another name for THC.

New users can expect a feeling that some can describe as a lightheadedness and giggly, emotional feeling or a mellow, relaxed sensation in the body.

Delta 9 is a psychoactive drug, so there will be mental sensations and impacts on the nervous system, including things like heightened senses.

What is the THCa High Like?

THCa will have no psychoactive effects. It’s the crucial difference between THCa vs Delta 9, as THCa has little to no impact on the body.

THCa can still be useful. It’s the naturally occurring chemical in raw cannabis. It can’t fit into our bodies’ cannabinoid receptors in its current form.

If you apply heat, for instance, by smoking, the THCa will decarboxylate. THCa then becomes Delta 9 THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. When the warmth transitions THCa to THC, it turns it into a shape that can fit with our body, producing the effects of THC.

However, THCa without heat has no effect if you ingest it in any heatless way. However, you can add THCa to other strains of marijuana to heighten the effects of the THC.

Legality of THCa & Delta 9

The legality of Delta 9 and THCa are entirely different, as Delta 9 is federally illegal, and THCa is legal.

Delta 9 THC is currently illegal in all states. The most recent legislation outlines that any cannabis plants over 0.3% Delta 9 THC are marijuana, not hemp, and an illegal drug. Some states have individually legalized marijuana, but it is still a federally banned substance. Is THCa illegal?

THCa, however, is a legal substance in at least 41 states. Hemp plants produce THCa, and the government does not regulate the specific amounts. Another type of THCo, Delta 8, is also legal in many states. The differences between Delta 8 vs THCa are fairly similar to Delta 9 THC vs THCa.

Are THCa & Delta 9 Made Differently?

Yes. For THCa vs Delta 9, THCa naturally occurs in the plant while Delta 9 forms after a chemical process. When marijuana and hemp crops grow, they contain the compound THCa. This raw cannabinoid is the crucial first step to obtaining THC. THC is the result of a decarboxylation process. Applying heat to a THCa product will cause this reaction.

Are THCa & Delta 9 Safe?

THCa should be entirely safe. It’s legal and has almost no impact on the body if you injest it raw.

Delta 9 THC is generally safe but can impair judgment and motor functions. It’s an illegal substance federally and in most states. However, in recent years legalization efforts have tried to show the positives of Delta 9. It’s crucial to note that THC doesn’t cause overdoses.

As always, if you are under the influence of a substance, you should be careful and avoid operating motor vehicles.

Is THCa or Delta 9 Better?

So between THCa and Delta 9, which is better? It depends on your needs.

THCa is legal and can be accessible in most states. It may not have many effects on its own, but it’s a powerful tool if you can apply heat to it properly or if you add it to other blunts or bowls for smoking.

Delta 9 THC is the typical THC experience, which some people may find unreplaceable. It’s the product of THCa decarboxylation, but it’s illegal in many parts of the United States, which can make it hard to find.

Should I Try THCa or Delta 9 First?

People experienced with THC or other cannabis products will likely feel satisfied with Delta 9 and THCa. They are relatively comparable.

New users can begin with whichever they are comfortable trying. THC can hit people differently. Edible versions of THC can take an exceptionally long time to hit, so be patient if you don’t start feeling the effects right away.

Where Can I Buy THCa & Delta 9?

Nowadays, accessing Delta-9 and THCa can be easy, no matter where you are. You can search for nearby options, but there are also online stores.

Herban Bud is an easy place to shop for items like THCa pre-rolls or whole THCa flowers if you prefer to do it yourself. If you want something to add to your cannabis experience, you can also buy THCa diamonds. Hemp-derived Delta 9 is also available online for anyone searching for edibles.

Citations (External Links)

  1. Text – H.R.2 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. (2018, December 20).
  2. BAKER, P.B., TAYLOR, B.J. and GOUGH, T.A. (1981), The tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid content of cannabis products. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 33: 369-372.
  3. Adai Home Page: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, Univ. of Washington …
  4. “Delta 8, Delta 9, Delta 10 – What Is the Difference?” Ledger,
  5. Eric Anderson, Michigan State University Extension. “Understanding Regulations Regarding Hemp Cannabinoid Testing.” Hemp Production, 21 Jan. 2022,
  6. Kinsey, Steven. “What Is a Cannabinoid?” Kinsey Lab, 24 Jan. 2020,
  7. Nallathambi, Rameshprabu, et al. “Anti-Inflammatory Activity in Colon Models Is Derived from Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid That Interacts with Additional Compounds in Cannabis Extracts.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 July 2017,