Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most potent concentrate of them all?
The cannabinoid THCa is the acidic, non-psychoactive form, of THC and is abundant in raw cannabis plant material. By applying heat, either when the material is smoked or vaporized, the THCa converts to THC to produce the plant's well-known cerebral effects. As the cannabis industry continues to expand, technology is providing new extraction methods to isolate particular cannabinoids.
The Extraction Process
The process to get to a pure THCa extract is not one which can, or should, be done at home. The chemicals required are highly caustic and the equipment is not cheap. Leave this process to the experienced extraction techs.
By using chemicals like acetic acid and hexane, the plant material dissolves without degrading the THCa. The solution is filtered and cycled through a rotary evaporator. This piece of lab equipment uses pressure, heat, and motion to separate the mixture. Then, through a process called chromatography, more chemicals are used to remove the impurities.
The product left behind looks nothing like cannabis and more like something which might actually belong on the Schedule 1 list. THCa is naturally a crystal structure, which can resemble other more dangerous drugs (without the same hazard). The final THCa crystalline is a 99.96 percent pure cannabinoid extract.
Consuming THCa Crystalline
Once the extract is made, consuming the final product isn't any different than consuming other cannabis concentrates. Dabbing or vaporizing the crystals applies the necessary heat to produce a strong cerebral effect many describe as being very clear-headed and focused. In fact, consumers accustomed to the heavy effects of THC in the plant form may feel somewhat let down by the effects. As with all cannabis products, new consumers should start with low doses and slowly increase as needed.
Edibles may also be a great way to consume the extract. However, be aware, heat from the cooking process may convert the THCa to THC to deliver psychoactive effects. To avoid the high, but take advantage of the other properties, consumers may choose to use the crystalline in no-bake recipes, beverages, or smoothies.
In fact, many consumers are juicing raw cannabis greens to take advantage of THCa without the extraction and refining processes. Raw cannabis is well-known as a superfood.
The Pros and Cons of THCa Crystalline
While potency is a good thing, there are a few things to know about THCa crystalline before consuming it. Like most substances, there are benefits and detriments:
- THCa crystalline is completely void of any harmful byproducts or chemicals.
- THCa is non-psychoactive, until heat is applied.
- With a precise extract, manufacturers and consumers alike can be absolutely certain of dosage.
- THCa crystalline is completely void of ALL other substances ? including terpenes, which give cannabis products their flavors and aromas. Thus, THCa is also uniquely void of any flavor.
- THCa crystalline, although potent when dabbed or vaporized, has a much different effect due to the lack of terpenes and other cannabinoids.
Where to Find THCa Crystalline
Thanks to innovation and progress in the legal cannabis industry, THCa crystalline is found in many retail establishments in the states which allow cannabis consumption, including Colorado, California, and Washington. Several commercial extraction companies produce a pure THCa crystalline. Fortunately, the price has also declined as the product has become more readily available. When the extract first emerged on the market, prices ranged anywhere from $100 a gram and up. Today, most consumers find THCa crystalline for around $40-50 a gram.