Most people are under the false impression that cannabis contains THC initially, however, this is not the case. THC (delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC) is found naturally in an acidic form called THCA. The reason why people smoke, vape and bake cannabis before consuming it, is because heat is required to convert the THCA through a decarboxylation reaction to THC.
The byproduct of this reaction, CO2 is also released. This is also commonly referred to as activating the THC. This information is vital because it helps explain the efficiency level of different consumption methods. To put this into perspective, if one was to keep cannabis at a constant 100 degrees celcius it would take a full three hours to convert the THCA into THC, four hours at 98 degrees, versus 10 minutes at 160 degrees, or temperatures exceeding 200, a matter of seconds.
When creating other cannabis related products such as “shatter” (a glass like cannabinoid concentrate), the THC and THCA levels are vital because it will dictate the nature of the product. The higher the concentration of THCA, the more brittle the glass becomes. This product can range in concentration as high as 80% THCA and THC. This means that adequate heating is essential when producing the concentrated products to limit the concentration.
When shatter is consumed, it is usually heated, so the THCA will be converted regardless. However, products such as cannabinoid oils, which are consumed without the application of heat, are more susceptible to this issue. This requirement proves more challenging for certain production methods, such as alcohol extraction, which have to have additional steps added to ensure that converts THC because the alcohol extraction is done at room or cooled operating temperatures