This is one of the most important chemical processes
which enable our bodies to fully utilize THC and its benefits.
When a cannabis plant makes Δ9
-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it actually makes Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
(THCA), which has not been proved to induce the psychoactive effects, such as feeling “high”. THCA is converted to THC by a process called decarboxylation, in which THCA is chemically changed and has a by-product of carbon dioxide gas.1
This is accomplished when the THCA is heated, either when being smoked/vaped or during extraction into edible ingredients, for example by heating oil with cannabis while making brownies.
- Veress, T.; Szanto, J. I.; Leisztner, L. (1990). Determination of cannabinoid acids by high-performance liquid chromatography of their neutral derivatives formed by thermal decarboxylation: I. Study of the decarboxylation process in open reactors. Journal of Chromatography A, 520(Supplement C), 339--347.