THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) are chemical compounds found in hemp and cannabis plants that share similarities but differ in many ways. The main difference between THCa and THCV is in their psychoactive properties and effects on the body. THCa is a non-psychoactive compound in its raw form but highly psychotropic when heated and smoked. On the other hand, THCV is only psychoactive in potent quantities and is most known for its energizing and appetite-suppressing effects.
This article explores the differences between THCA and THCV regarding the experience profile, extraction methods, chemical properties, and more.
THCA vs THCV: Overview
THCA is the acidic precursor to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the well-known psychoactive compound in cannabis. When exposed to heat, THCA converts to THC in a process called decarboxylation. But in its raw, unheated form, THCA is nonpsychoactive and behaves similarly to CBD in terms of therapeutic effects.
THCV is also a naturally occurring cannabinoid. But it does not convert into THC when smoked. THCV has unique effects on appetite and metabolism compared to THCA, potentially acting as an appetite suppressant and impacting weight management.
THCA vs THCV Extraction
Hemp and cannabis flower naturally contain THCA and THCV. However, brands like QWIN also sell extract-based products like vapes and edibles to provide consumers with potent, high-quality formulas.
Processors typically use THCA extraction techniques that minimize heat exposure and agitation, preventing this delicate compound from breaking into THC.
For example, some processors use cold ethanol or supercritical CO2 extraction methods that involve sub-zero temperatures to minimize heat-related degradation. These solvents dissolve the THCA, along with other cannabinoids and terpenes, and create a concentrated extract that can be used for further processing into different products.
Additionally, manufacturers use gentle techniques like magnetic stirring to avoid overmixing the plant material and potentially damaging the THCA.
THCV occurs in trace quantities in hemp and cannabis, so processors don’t normally extract it directly from the plant. Instead, they typically synthesize the compound through a chemical conversion process using hemp-derived extracts like CBD. The final product is either Delta-8 THCV or Delta-9 THCV.
THCV production involves a complex, multi-step extraction and conversion process that often looks something like this:
Converting CBD to Delta-9-THCV using a chemical catalyst, such as a strong acid.
Converting Delta-9-THCV to Delta-8-THCV through a similar chemical reaction.
Purifying the resulting mixture of Delta-8-THCV to expel all chemical catalysts.
Formulating the purified Delta-8-THCV into products like tinctures, capsules, or topicals.
Testing the final product for purity and potency by a third-party laboratory.
THCA vs THCV Chemical Structure
THCA and THCV are distinct compounds with unique chemical structures.
THCA has a long linear carbon chain consisting of 22 carbon atoms and four oxygen atoms. It is chemically identical to regular THC, except it contains an extra “carboxyl group,” composed of one carbon atom, one hydrogen atom, and two oxygen atoms. When THCA is heated, it decarboxylizes, losing its extra carboxyl group and converting into psychoactive THC.
In contrast, THCV has a shorter linear carbon chain consisting of 19 carbon atoms and two oxygen atoms. Attached to the carbon chain are two fused ring structures composed of two carbon rings each.
Confusing scientific jargon aside, the bottom line is that THCA and THCV have significant chemical differences, contributing to their unique properties and pharmacological effects.
The Differences in Effect Profiles
THCA is the acidic precursor of THC with varying effects depending on whether consumers smoke the compound or consume it raw. THCV has been shown to have different effects on the body, including potential appetite suppressant and anti-inflammatory properties.
THCA is non-psychoactive in its raw plant-based form. Consumers who ingest natural cannabis flower or cold-pressed THCA extracts will not get high but may benefit from the compound's therapeutic potential.
Research indicates THCA exhibits inflammatory, anti-vomiting, and neuroprotective properties, making it a promising candidate for treating conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative diseases.
THCA has been shown to potentially have analgesic effects through its anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial for treating chronic pain.
THCV is not highly psychoactive like regular THC or related isomers like THC P, Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC. Users would need to consume extremely high doses to feel these mind-altering states. Moderate THCV levels can even counteract some of THC’s effects, such as the "munchies" and sedation.
Studies also indicate THCV exhibits potential anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial for treating conditions such as arthritis and Crohn's disease.
THCA and THCV dosage depends on the person’s desired outcomes and effects.
The right THCA dosage varies based on whether users want to get high or utilize the compound for strictly therapeutic purposes.
THCA can be effective in small doses, so people may need less to feel relief. Some doctors give doses ranging from 0.1-1 mg of THCA for every kilogram of the person's weight. Other resources suggest 5-50 mg of THCA daily is okay to achieve the desired results.
People who want to smoke THCA to experience the psychoactive effects should consume the same dose that they would with standard cannabis products. For example, THCA flower containing 15% or higher quantities will be fairly strong. THCA vapes like QWIN’s Puffy 3G series have approximately 50% THCV for an intense buzz. Users should start with one puff and wait 15 minutes before inhaling more.
At high doses in potent products, THCV can produce psychoactive effects, which some describe as stimulating and euphoric. However, research shows THCV’s appetite-suppressant qualities work best in moderate, non-psychoactive amounts.
People who want to consume THCV for its weight-loss potential should ingest about 10 mg in oral (edible) doses.
Those who prefer to get high can experiment with increasing the dosage until they feel the psychoactive effects. Alternatively, combining moderate THCV levels with potent cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC can provide the desired effects.
Differences in Legality and Availability
THCA and THCV are generally federally legal in hemp-based products as long as they comply with the 2018 Farm Bill regarding maximum Delta-9 THC levels. Still, state-by-state rules may vary.
The USDA's Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived compounds and extracts that contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by dry weight. To determine compliance, hemp companies must submit samples to third-party laboratories for potency testing. THCA samples that meet the requirements are federally legal to sell and consume.
Some states may have stricter regulations than those allowed by the Farm Bill for THCA products. Read our THCA legality guide for more information.
THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is also legal federally in the United States as long as it is derived from hemp plants that contain no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by dry weight.
However, it's important to note that some states have their own laws and regulations regarding hemp-derived products, so it's essential to check the laws in specific states before purchasing THCV.
THCA vs THCV Safety Levels
Research on THCA and THCV safety levels does not exist, so consumers should proceed cautiously and speak with a marijuana-informed physician to answer this question.
Anecdotally, some people consume up to 50 mg of raw, non-psychoactive THCA a day.
People who prefer converting THCA into THC through smoking can consume quantities similar to standard marijuana doses. That number is different for everyone based on desired psychoactive intensity.
The sweet spot for THCA’s appetite-suppressing effects is around 10 mg per dose. However, THCV is likely safe at much higher doses, similar to regular THC.
Mixing THCV and THCA: What will happen?
Mixing THCV and THCA can produce a unique combination of effects, as each cannabinoid has its own distinct properties. THCV is known for its energizing and appetite-suppressing effects, while THCA is thought to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties in its unheated form. When combined, the effects of each cannabinoid may be enhanced, potentially leading to increased energy, focus, and reduced inflammation. However, more research is needed to fully understand how these cannabinoids interact with each other and how they affect the body.
Non-psychoactive in raw form
Psychoactive when heated and smoked
Non-psychoactive at moderate doses
Energizing and psychoactive at extremely high doses
Weight loss support
Various non-heated methods like cold ethanol or supercritical CO2
Rarely extracted from the plant due to low quantities.
Typically produced through a semi-synthetic chemical conversion process using hemp-derived CBD
Similar to regular THC with an extra carboxyl group
Shorter carbon chain than THCA, consisting of 19 carbon atoms and two oxygen atoms.
5-50 mg per day in raw, non-psychoactive form.
Smokable THC doses vary depending on desired psychoactive effects
10 mg per dose supports appetite-suppressing qualities
Extremely high doses exhibit traditional psychoactive effects
Federally legal when hemp-derived with compliant Delta-9 THC quantities
State laws vary
Federally legal when hemp-derived with compliant Delta-9 THC quantities