THCA vs Delta 8: Differences & Similarities

Published October 23, 2023
THCA vs Delta 8: Differences & Similarities - Secret Nature

Delta 8 may be the hemp cannabinoid THC lovers turned to by default for the last few years, but that doesn’t mean delta 8’s reign is never-ending. To be sure, some shoppers will forever prefer the slightly toned-down effects of delta 8: the sheer, unbridled potency of delta 9 THC isn’t for everyone, after all.

For those who love real THC and have been waiting with bated breath for genuine weed to arrive on the internet, the advent of the online THCA industry has been like the answering of a prayer. Is it true that THCA is like delta 8 but better? Could it even be true that THCA converts to THC when smoked or vaped? Find all the answers as we compare delta 8 and THCA in depth.

Cannabinoids: An overview

First, let’s make sure everyone is on the same page with the subject matter:

 - Cannabinoids are natural cannabinoids found only in Cannabis sativa
 - The most famous cannabinoid is THC, followed closely by CBD
 - Some cannabinoids are intoxicating, others are not
 - Delta 8 is a variant of normal THC produced by altering CBD
 - THCA, though, is the natural precursor of delta-9 THC 

    What is THCA?

    Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the direct chemical precursor to THC. Naturally found in cannabis and hemp flower in high concentrations, THCA remains non-intoxicating until it is converted into THC. In its original form, THCA is believed to offer considerable unique benefits that disappear when the cannabinoid is converted.

    Most users will seek to transform THCA into THC as soon as possible to partake in the iconic effects of this intoxicating cannabinoid. Up until now, it has only been possible to enjoy the THC experience legally by visiting a state-run dispensary in participating states.

    Now, though, anyone in the country can get high on THC anytime they want by purchasing THCA flower online. Shipping to your door within a few days, THCA flower offers the full effects of THC when smoked, and it’s completely natural and unaltered.

    What is delta 8?

    Delta 8 is a rare analogue of THC that can occur in various strains of Cannabis sativa in concentrations under 1%. Through a simple conversion process, CBD can be transformed into delta 8, an invention that marked the inception of the online delta 8 industry.

    While delta 8 is a natural cannabinoid inherently, it does not naturally occur in cannabis or hemp in high enough concentrations to be extracted, making it necessary to convert this cannabinoid from another substance. Otherwise, though, delta 8 closely mimics the delta 9 version of THC, offering characteristically intoxicating effects that can sometimes feel slightly less powerful than those of delta 9.

    THCA vs delta 8

    You have a basic idea now of what THCA and delta 8 are. It has come time, then, to compare the two cannabinoids in detail along the lines of their sources, effects, potency, and more:


    Both THCA and delta 8 are inherently natural cannabinoids in that they can be found in Cannabis sativa. Only THCA is offered in its natural form to shoppers, however, with it being necessary to convert delta 8 from CBD due to lack of supply.

    Over time, it would be possible to breed cannabis plants that are naturally high in delta 8. With the advent of THCA products, however, the impetus for such a development has been removed, making it likely that THCA and delta 8 will be separated by the nature of their sources for the foreseeable future.


    Most users would not notice any difference between the effects of delta 8 and converted THCA. Connoisseurs of cannabinoids, however, may note that delta 8 seems somewhat less psychoactive than THCA while THCA provides the full suite of effects expected from THC.
    For those seeking THC you can buy online, therefore, THCA is the obvious selection while delta 8 should be considered a backup at best. If you feel like the overall effects of THC are too potent, you might prefer delta 8 over THCA. 


    There’s no denying that THCA is stronger than delta 8 when converted into THC. It’s possible that delta 8 might outperform THCA in certain metrics, such as helping you get to sleep better at night. Generally, though, THCA will win against delta 8 in the task of getting you high.


    The legal situation surrounding cannabinoids is never simple, but putting things as straightforwardly as possible, delta 8 and THCA are roughly on the same level as far as laws and regulations go. Both cannabinoids are normally considered “industrial hemp,” a catch-all term created by the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills to refer to every cannabinoid aside from delta⁠-9 THC.

    The only way in which delta 8 and THCA are different from a legal perspective is the fact that THCA converts into THC while delta 8 does not. Since THCA is not sold in its converted form, however, this point is generally moot.


    Both delta 8 and THCA are available in all 50 states since they are sold online. Since THCA has now become the more popular cannabinoid, however, you might start to find brands investing less in delta 8 products over time, gradually making them less available compared to THCA products.

    Also, certain jurisdictions may have come up with laws or regulations pertaining to THCA, delta 8, or both cannabinoids. These regulations generally affect businesses in the area and not individuals, but you may want to check information for your local region before choosing between delta 8 and THCA.


    The safety of THCA and delta 8 should be considered roughly the same since relevant authorities do not seem to believe the delta 8 form of THC poses any additional risks over the original. There is, however, the matter of the origins of the two substances to consider.

    As an entirely natural, unaltered cannabinoid, THCA is not subjected to any form of processing after harvest or extraction. Delta 8, on the other hand, must be converted from CBD, introducing the potential of contamination. Viewed overall, therefore, THCA must be considered the safer cannabinoid simply due to its entirely natural origins.

    The bottom line: Should I smoke THCA or delta 8?

    We’ve compared THCA and delta as far as they can be compared, making it time to decide between the two once and for all: Should you smoke or vape the new THCA products now entering the market, or would you rather stick to delta 8 for the time being?

    Our perspective is that, if you haven’t tried THCA already, it’s worth seeing just how different this cannabinoid is from delta 8. In the end, you might not be struck by how different THCA is, though, but rather by how much it reminds you of normal weed.

    Now that THCA is available, there’s no reason to stick to delta 8 unless you genuinely prefer it. And, you’ll never know whether you prefer delta 8 or THCA until you’ve tried both, so it makes sense to try THCA even if you feel sure delta 8 is the cannabinoid for you.

    Delta 8 vs THCA FAQ

    If you still aren’t sure how delta 8 and THCA stack up, use the following FAQ section to compare the two cannabinoids even further:

    Is THCA psychoactive?

    When activated, THCA becomes the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. On its own, though, THCA does not have significant psychoactive properties, instead offering effects that, at the experienced level, are very similar to CBD. THCA even seems to be similar to CBD in regards to its scientifically observed effects: Some studies indicate that THCA should be investigated further as a potential anti-epileptic agent.

    Which is stronger: THCA or delta 8?

    In its converted form, THCA is undeniably stronger than delta 8 since delta-9 THC is stronger than delta 8 as well. Most methods of using THCA convert it into THC, which experts and users agree offers more potent effects than the delta 8 version of the cannabinoid. If you’re looking purely for the cannabinoid with the strongest effects, therefore, THCA is the option to choose.

    Is there anything stronger than delta 8?

    Yes, many cannabinoids are stronger than delta 8, most notably THCA. Even if they contain lower concentrations of cannabinoids, THCA vapes, for instance, will provide stronger effects than delta 8 vapes since THCA is stronger than delta 8. When heated, THCA provides the same effects as conventional THCA, which is universally recognized as being stronger than delta 8.

    Does THCA get you higher than delta 9?

    No, THCA will not get you higher than delta 9 because THCA is the same thing as delta 9 — at least when converted using the application of heat. The vast majority of THCA use methods, including vaping and smoking, involve the application of heat, essentially making delta 9 and THCA identical from the perspective of experienced effects.

    Nothing can get you higher than itself. Therefore, THCA cannot get you higher than delta 9.

    What are the side effects of THCA?

    In its unconverted form, THCA is not known to have any major side effects. It is largely viewed to be similar to CBD in both the potency of its beneficial effects and the lack of severity of its side effects.

    When converted into THC, however, THCA  can have all the classic side effects of THC-rich cannabis use, including altered vision and hearing, paranoia, increased heart rate, and dry mouth.

    Is THCA natural or synthetic?

    One of the greatest benefits of THCA is that it is entirely all-natural. Unlike delta 8 and other cannabinoids that must be converted from another compound, THCA consists solely of cannabinoids that began their life in Cannabis sativa and were not altered at any point in the process. Being all-natural ensures that THCA products have fewer opportunities to be contaminated, and it also satisfies sticklers who don’t want to use delta 8 just because it has been converted from another substance.

    Is THCA federally legal?

    At the federal level, THCA is generally considered “industrial hemp” as long as it contains less than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, referring specifically to the converted form of the cannabinoid. Despite the fact that THCA converts into THC at relatively low temperatures, the wording of the 2018 Farm Bill seemingly indicates that the only criteria for whether a substance is “marijuana” or not is its THC concentration, not its THCA concentration.

    For further information on the legality of any THCA present in Secret Nature, please refer to this letter issued by Kight Law, a preeminent authority on cannabis law in the United States.

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