The chemical formula for THCA shown in front of a background of hemp leaves. 

How Long Does THCA Stay in Your System? A Guide

TL;DR: THCA, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, converts to Delta 9 THC when heated and may show up on drug tests. It can stay in your system for 1-2 days after a single use but longer with regular use.

Main Points:

  • THCA is non-intoxicating but converts to Delta 9 THC when heated.
  • Legal status varies; check local laws.
  • THCA may cause a positive drug test due to THC metabolites.
  • Stays in the system for 1-2 days after single use; longer with regular use.
  • Clear THCA by exercising, hydrating, or using detox drinks.

THCA is a chemical found in fresh cannabis and hemp plants. Recently, it’s been a popular addition to products like vapes and edibles.

So, it makes sense to ask if THCA shows up on a drug test and how long THCA stays in your system. Those questions sound simple, but the answer may be more complex than you think.

Let’s take a closer look at THCA to build up some valuable context. Then, we’ll answer questions about THCA staying in your system and whether drug tests can detect it.

What is THCA?

THCA is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants. Unlike many (although not all) of those cannabinoids, THCA, in its pure form, is not intoxicating. It won’t produce a high or feelings like an elevated mood or enhanced creativity.

As Leafly explains, THCA in its pure form is thought to have more practical effects. These include potentially treating nausea and inflammation. In this way, pure THCA is similar to CBD, another non-psychoactive cannabinoid.

You may have noticed that we keep mentioning pure THCA. That’s because THCA eventually becomes Delta 9 THC when dried or otherwise subjected to heat. This process of drying or heating is called decarboxylation on the chemical level.

Decarboxylating THCA changes its chemical structure, removing a carboxyl group and releasing carbon dioxide. In practical terms, those changes to the chemical structure help the converted THCA bind to receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Drying is a foundational part of processing fresh cannabis and hemp plants. In part, that’s because drying helps to convert THCA into Delta 9 THC. Because most methods of consuming cannabinoids involve heat (such as baking or cooking edibles or using heat to light flower), most THCA is converted into Delta 9 THC by the time it enters a user.

Is THCA Legal?

MJ Biz Daily explains that THCA falls into a unique gray area in terms of laws related to cannabinoids. THCA is not Delta 9 THC but will become Delta 9 as the plant material naturally dries out. That conversion also happens when users apply heat to products containing THCA.

However, THCA is not regulated in most states or by the federal government. The standard set in the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the commercial production of hemp and opened the doors for the hemp-derived cannabinoid industry, is that hemp plants can contain no more than 0.3% Delta 9 by dry weight.

However, some states do restrict the sale and/or possession of hemp-derived cannabinoids. Our advice is to check into the local and state laws that are relevant to you before buying THCA.

Hemp plants grow under a setting sun.

How Do People Use THCA?

THCA use falls into two broad categories:

  1. Pure or raw THCA, often consumed as a powder and always used without heating it. Pure THCA may provide functional benefits like reducing nausea and pain.
  2. Heated THCA, which becomes Delta 9. The effects of heated THCA are the same as those of Delta 9. It offers a psychoactive experience with effects like an elevated mood and an altered sense of perception.

Does THCA Show Up on Drug Tests? How Long Does THCA Stay in Your System?

The simplest answer to the question of THCA and drug tests is that using THCA may cause a positive drug test (i.e. a failing result). Let’s review some key facts about THCA and drug testing.

Many standard drug tests don’t specifically look for THCA. Instead, they detect THC metabolites. That’s what Delta 9 turns into after your body processes it. Many other cannabinoids can also create metabolites that are detected on standard drug tests as well.

Some advanced drug tests can specifically detect the presence of THCA, however.

Hypothetically, someone using only truly 100% pure and unheated THCA for its functional benefits from a product that doesn’t intentionally or inadvertently contain any traces of other cannabinoids would likely pass some standard drug tests.

However, that’s not a guarantee that every user of raw, unheated THCA would pass every drug test. The results depend on exactly what the drug test is looking for, if the THCA was truly pure, and many other factors. Failing a drug test after consuming raw THCA is definitely a possibility.

When THCA is heated before use, such as by using a vape or eating an edible, it becomes Delta 9. Delta 9 is processed by the body when ingested. The metabolites produced would show up on many drug tests.

How Long is THCA in Your System?

THCA exits the body relatively quickly. A single use can only be detected for about 1-2 days afterward. However, regular use may increase the window for detection, similar to many other cannabinoids. How long THCA stays in your system depends in large part on how often you use it.

How to Get THCA Out of Your System

Worried about an upcoming drug test after consuming raw or heated THCA? While the best way to clear your system of any cannabinoid is time, you can also consider:

  • Exercising regularly, helping to speed up your metabolism and eliminate THCA from your body.
  • Drinking lots of water, to promote the flushing of cannabinoids from your body.
  • Using a detox drink, which may also help cannabinoids leave the body.

However, time and awareness are the two best ways to avoid a failed drug test for THCA and other cannabinoids. If you know you have a test coming up, take a break. That will help you pass your test and, for many users, make psychoactive cannabinoids (like heated THCA) seem more potent once you start using them again.

THCA and More from Delta 8 Resellers

Looking for high-quality THCA? We’re here to help! Delta 8 Resellers connects you with the best products in the hemp-derived cannabinoid industry.

We exclusively partner with leading industry brands that have a long record of producing consistent, accurately labeled products that delight customers. And, whenever available, we share results from independent third-party lab testing on our product pages. That way, you can check out potency, quality, and purity for yourself!

Shop our full range of THCA products!


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