This is a question with many contradicting answers, and although it seems like an odd question, with all the fancy paraphernalia out there, nevertheless, it is one that many are still asking today. We’re going to show you both sides, and then give our advice on the subject.
What’s the difference between THCA and THC?
It is important to understand the fundamental difference between THCA and THC. When a cannabis plant is growing, it is not psychoactive, because the psychoactive chemical THC is not present, only its decarboxylated or rudimentary form, THCA, is present. If you take the buds fresh from a marijuana plant, it will certainly have no effect. THCA needs to convert into THC to produce the psychosomatic effects that weed does.
Some of this conversion will happen during curation, but much of the conversion occurs when the THCA is heated (e.g. smoking or cooking). If you eat the plant raw, you’re losing out on a lot of THC that was never converted.
One solution would be to heat the cannabis in the oven to activate more of the THC and increase the effects. However, like all nutrients, digested cannabis must enter the bloodstream to bring about a high. The composition of cannabis makes it difficult for your body to break down, so the chemical will merely pass through your digestive tract without much absorption
If you extract the THC with fat (ie. oil, butter) it makes it much easier for your body to process. This is why marijuana is baked into the butter of culinary delights when making a baked edible; the fat allows THC to be absorbed and extracted.
Are there benefits to consuming raw marijuana?
Although there isn’t enough research currently available on THCA to definitively state what it can treat and with what degree of efficacy. There is however, some preliminary research that suggests that THCA will play a big role in cannabis medicine as the industry continues to develop.
Here are some of the potential benefits preliminary studies have started to unveil (1):
Anti-inflammatory properties for treatment of arthritis and lupus
Neuroprotective properties for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases
Anti-emetic properties for treatment of nausea and appetite loss
Anti-proliferative properties noted in studies of prostate cancer
Marijuana is known to be rich in nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein and essential amino acids (2). It is also thought to be rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are key to preventing cell damage, which can lead to poor health and serious illness.
In their pre-patent research, they found that CBD was a more powerful antioxidant than vitamins C and E. Because you can consume extremely large amounts of CBDs when you eat raw cannabis, you also drastically increase the quantity of antioxidants you take in per serving. (3)
The essential oils found in cannabis, known as terpenes, are thought to bring some health benefits as well. Pinene — for example — is neuroprotective, and linalool is known to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anticonvulsant properties.
Every strain containing high levels of THC that has not yet been decarboxylated contains THCA, and these cannabinoid levels are particularly high as a live or freshly harvested plant. This is largely where the idea of juicing raw cannabis parts are is becoming popular. Blending or juicing marijuana is thought to be a good way to absorb all the health properties of marijuana without the high.
The ugly side
So, besides the fact that you would likely not get even an eighth of the psychosomatic effect from marijuana by eating it raw, there are some other problems associated with it that you should consider.
Be aware the marijuana usually isn’t very organic. Growers use pesticides, insecticides and all sorts of chemicals you probably don’t want to ingest. Many have reported feeling sick after ingesting raw marijuana.
Although you can technically eat raw marijuana, the full extent of the benefits are still largely unknown. In order to reap the full medicinal benefits of marijuana it’s best advised to consume it via edibles, vaporizing, or your preferred method in order to utilize and extract the TCH or CBD components.