THCa Carts: The Future of THC Consumption

THCa carts provide easy access to THC without breaking the law. Here’s how it works.

By Patrick McConnell Last Updated: May 06, 2024
Last Updated: May 06, 2024

THCa is a cannabinoid and precursor to THC. Through various chemical processes, namely heat, THCa is converted into THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for the beloved cannabis high. 

Cannabis plants naturally produce CBGA, which turns into CBDA and THCa, which are thought to protect the plant from predators. 

When harvested and properly cured, THCa converts into THC. When heated, like when it’s smoked or vaped, larger amounts of THCa, though not all, convert to THC. While it’s not psychoactive, THCa may have some effects on the body.

THCa also exists in a legal gray area since it’s not mentioned in most cannabis legislation around the United States. When compounds aren’t specifically outlawed, they are assumed to be legal, and now a ton of different THCa products are appearing.

In this article, we unpack THCa and do a deep dive into THCa carts and vaping.

Related: THCA 101 | THCA Flower | Plants That Contain Cannabinoids

Buyers Guides: Delta-9 Carts | Delta-8 Carts | Distillate Carts | 1 Gram Carts | Live Resin Carts | HHC Carts | Best Carts (All)

What are THCa carts?

THCa carts or cartridges are containers of e-liquid infused with THCa. 

E-liquid or e-juice, is a mixture of water, flavoring, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and of course, active compounds like THC, CBD, nicotine, and a growing list of compounds. 

Once heated by a coil powered by a rechargeable battery and heating coil as an atomizer, the e-liquid is converted into an aerosol, delivering the active compounds and, depending on one’s preferences, a burst of flavor and satisfying cloud of vapor.

THCa Carts: Specs & Technical Details

  • Active Ingredient: Decarboxylates into THC
  • Level of Risk: Low
  • Most Common Side-Effects: Confusion, anxiety, rapid heart rate
  • Duration of Effects: 4 -6 hours
  • Legality: Variable and shifting

What’s the Dose of THCa?

THCa converts into THC, but not all THCa is converted into THC, meaning 1 mg of THCa doesn’t equal 1 mg of THC.

Officials typically calculate the conversion of THCa to THC by multiplying THCa by 0.877.

THCa content x 0.877 = THC 

Dosage Breakdown for THCa Carts

Going back to the conversion number and assuming a 5 mg threshold dose of THC, THCa’s dose breakdown is:

  • Microdose: 1.1 mg
  • Threshold: 5.7 mg
  • Standard: 11.4 mg
  • Heavy: 22+ mg

THCa Cart Dose

With THCa carts, the algorithm for figuring out a dose gets pretty complex, though.

The dose a cartridge gives will depend on the following: 

  • Length of Inhale — Longer inhale = more THC. Pretty obvious, but good to remember if you are new to vaping.
  • Potency of E-liquid — How much concentrate is in the juice? Measured in mg per ml.
  • E-liquid composition – Cannabinoid oils might be cut with thinners or thickeners or contain sweeteners and flavors [1].
  • Temperature — THC’s boiling point estimate is 157 °C (315 °F), but starting here and slowly stepping up the temperature is best when calibrating a new device and oil combination [2].
  • Coils — Cremetic is usually preferred for THC, and ohms (electrical resistance) will often be set to the lower range. Cotton wicks can be used but clog up easily.
  • Battery — How powerful and how charged is it? Batteries often burn hotter when freshly charged.

While all these are fun details to tinker with, at the end of the day, the best way to measure your dose is to figure out how many ml of concentrate you are burning.

What Does THCa Feel Like?

If THCa is not converted into THC, you won’t feel anything. 

Once converted to THC, expect a standard cannabis ‘high,’ including:

  • Anxiety
  • Creative Ideas
  • Euphoria
  • Introspection
  • Looping thoughts
  • Paranoia
  • Relaxation

The above are some common descriptors, but THC affects everyone differently. For example, one person may feel lethargic while another gets a burst of energy. 

Dose, too, will change the effects. Higher doses will bring racing thoughts and heart rate and extreme lethargy like couch lock.

How Long Does THCa Last?

When inhaled, the effects of THC will take effect within seconds and can last about 4–6 hours, depending on tolerance and dose. 

When vaping, many folks will redose every 1–3 hours to prolong the effects. 

Related: How Long Does a Weed High Last?

How Strong is THCa Compared To Other Psychedelics?

THCa and THC can be pretty potent at high doses. Vaping THC, however, doesn’t really compare to classic psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin, or DMT.

THC does have some fairly psychedelic effects but doesn’t work through the same mechanisms in the body as psychedelics and won’t produce the same changes in perception or consciousness as these psychedelics.

Compared to other cannabinoids, THCa is equally as strong as delta-9 THC — which is the primary active ingredient in the plant. This is because once heated, THCa rapidly converts to delta-9 THC.

THCA is therefore stronger than delta-8, delta-10, HHC, THCC, and THCV, but weaker than THCP as well as most synthetic cannabinoids.

Are THCa Carts Safe?

Inhaling anything into your lungs comes with health consequences. 

Vaping nicotine may be less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but because commercial tobacco contains so many toxic chemicals, it’s a pretty low bar to beat. 

Less is known about vaping THC. The concerns aren’t with THC or other altnoids but potential additives to the liquid. 

Because the FDA does not regulate most cannabis products, there are no regulations on what is in THC products. 

Grey and black market cannabis has always carried risks of contaminants like pesticides, but e-juice and potentially vaping hardware add a layer of complexity that isn’t well understood yet.

The anxiety around THC vapes stems from an incident in 2019 and 2020 when 2800 people were hospitalized with lung problems in connection to vaping products containing THC. There were 68 deaths reported [3]

An investigation by the CDC pointed the finger at black market vapes cut with vitamin E acetate, which was found in the lungs of people in the hospital. When vaporized, it creates poison ketene gas, which might contribute to lung injury, produce carcinogens, or have other damaging long-term effects [4].

When obtained from responsible distributors, THC vapes will not immediately send folks to the hospital. But that doesn’t mean there are no risks. However, the truth is we still don’t know much about the long-term effects of vaping cannabinoids or the additives they are combined with.

Side Effects of THCa & Vaping

The side effects of THC include:

  • Anxiety 
  • Dry mouth
  • Heat and chills 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Memory issues
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Poor motor skills 
  • Red eyes
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting

Vaping side effects include:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Heart disease 
  • Lung disease (popcorn lung)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vaper’s tongue (No longer tasting vape flavors)

Is THCa Legal?

THCa exists in a legal gray area, with most laws not specifically addressing it.

Because THCa is not explicitly illegal, it can be sold and consumed. However, in states like Oregon and California, which include THCa in the allowable amounts of THC, the two amounts are added together.

Other states are banning THCa outright, like:

  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island

Are THCa Carts Legal?

The legality of vaping anything is constantly evolving, with cannabinoids like THC or CBD having different laws than nicotine. 

Most of the world handles vaping like smoking, requiring people to be of legal age and only allowing vaping in designated areas. Some jurisdictions may have specific laws around inhalable cannabis products.

In the United States, this can vary from state to state, and even within states, different areas have their own laws on vaping.

Because of this patchwork, it’s best to check your local laws and regulations. Entire countries have been moving to ban vaping, particularly flavored, disposable vapes, since use among youth is rising. 

These laws usually address nicotine vapes and are not always clear on how to handle THC vapes, although mainstream media companies often lump nicotine and cannabinoid vapes together.

How Do THCa Carts Work?

THCa carts contain e-liquid, which is heated by an electric coil with a rechargeable battery. 

Most THCa vapes are activated by pressing a button or simply inhaling, with a sensor activating the coil. The heat converts THCa into THC, and a vapor or aerosol is created, which is then inhaled.

What’s Inside A THCa Cart?

Most THCa carts will contain some mixture of cannabis extract, a combination of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), and possibly added terpenes or artificial flavorings.

Some e-liquid could contain other thinning or thickening agents, but to date, there are few comprehensive studies. 

One study in California noted over 100 terpenes and natural products, 19 cannabinoids, along with some potentially toxic compounds like vitamin E acetate, polyethylene glycols, and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) [5].

A study from Johns Hopkins found hundreds of unknown chemicals in the liquid, including caffeine [6].

How Does THCa Work?

THCa, once converted into THC, is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream through blood vessels in the lungs. 

Once in the bloodstream, the THC passes the blood-brain barrier and interacts with the endocannabinoid system, specifically the CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

The human body naturally produces cannabinoids, which perform functions inside the body. The cannabinoids inside plants and extracts have a similar shape to the body’s natural cannabinoids. 

However, with THCa, things may be a bit more complex. When vaped, some THCa is inhaled alongside THC. 

THCa either doesn’t bind to or binds in very small amounts (we still don’t know for sure) to endocannabinoid receptors. 

While not psychoactive, THCa still has effects on the body, such as:

  • Anti-Cancer  [10]
  • Anti-inflammatory  [7]
  • Immunomodulation [8]
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease [13]
  • Neuroprotective [9]
  • Prevent nausea and vomiting  [11]
  • Prevent seizures [12]

FAQs: THCA Carts

Still curious? Here are the answers to questions you may be asking.

1. How Long Will THCa Carts Last?

How long a cart lasts depends on its size, what vape is used, the vape settings, and how long each pull is.  A one-gram cart could have around 150-300 quick hits. If using dispo carts, this will vary a lot between brands.

2. How Do You Refill THCa Carts?

To refill a THC cart: 

  1. Detach the mouthpiece
  2. Using a syringe or dropper, transfer THC oil
  3. Don’t overfill (will cause leakage)
  4. Re-attach and clean up

3. What is THCa Flower?

Some breeders are creating strains high in THCa in an attempt to be Farm Bill compliant by having less than 0.3% THC.

Specific genetics, growing, and curing techniques contribute to this process, and some lab reports online seem to suggest high THCa flower can be legit. 

Other online rumors suggest that cannabinoids are being added to low-potency buds. 

4. Are THCa carts safe to use?

THCa carts, like other cannabis products, are generally considered safe when purchased from reputable sources. However, it’s crucial to buy from licensed dispensaries or trusted vendors to avoid counterfeit products, which may contain harmful additives or contaminants. Always check for third-party lab testing results to ensure purity and potency.

5. Can you use THCa carts for medicinal purposes?

THCa, the acidic precursor to THC, has shown potential for various medicinal benefits, including anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. While research is still in the early stages, some users report positive effects for conditions such as pain, insomnia, and anxiety.

6. Will using a THCa cart get you high?

THCa itself is non-psychoactive and does not produce a high when consumed in its acidic form. However, when heated (such as through vaping), THCa converts into delta-9 THC, the psychoactive compound known for its euphoric effects. Therefore, using a THCa cart can result in psychoactive effects similar to those of THC products.


  1. Capucciati, A., Bini, A., Mannucci, B., Porta, A., Profumo, A., & Merli, D. (2023). CBD-Containing Liquids for e-Cigarettes: Formation of Psychotropic and Secondary Cannabinoids and Amount of CBD Surviving the Smoking Procedure. Forensic Sciences, 3(2), 258-272.
  2. Adams, R., Cain, C. K., McPhee, W. D., & Wearn, R. B. (1941). Structure of Cannabidiol. XII. Isomerization to Tetrahydrocannabinols1. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 63(8), 2209-2213.
  3. Ciolino, L. A., Ranieri, T. L., Brueggemeyer, J. L., Taylor, A. M., & Mohrhaus, A. S. (2021). EVALI vaping liquids part 1: GC-MS cannabinoids profiles and identification of unnatural THC isomers. Frontiers in Chemistry, 9, 746479.
  4. Wu, D., & O’Shea, D. F. (2020). Potential for release of pulmonary toxic ketene from vaping pyrolysis of vitamin E acetate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(12), 6349-6355.
  5. Guo, W., Vrdoljak, G., Liao, V. C., & Moezzi, B. (2021). Major constituents of cannabis vape oil liquid, vapor and aerosol in California vape oil cartridge samples. Frontiers in Chemistry, 9, 694905.
  6. Tehrani, M. W., Newmeyer, M. N., Rule, A. M., & Prasse, C. (2021). Characterizing the chemical landscape in commercial e-cigarette liquids and aerosols by liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry. Chemical research in toxicology, 34(10), 2216-2226.
  7. Ruhaak, L. R., Felth, J., Karlsson, P. C., Rafter, J. J., Verpoorte, R., & Bohlin, L. (2011). Evaluation of the cyclooxygenase inhibiting effects of six major cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 34(5), 774-778.
  8. Verhoeckx, K. C., Korthout, H. A., van Meeteren-Kreikamp, A. P., Ehlert, K. A., Wang, M., van der Greef, J., … & Witkamp, R. F. (2006). Unheated Cannabis sativa extracts and its major compound THC-acid have potential immuno-modulating properties not mediated by CB1 and CB2 receptor coupled pathways. International immunopharmacology, 6(4), 656-665.
  9. Nadal, X., Del Río, C., Casano, S., Palomares, B., Ferreiro‐Vera, C., Navarrete, C., … & Muñoz, E. (2017). Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a potent PPARγ agonist with neuroprotective activity. British journal of pharmacology, 174(23), 4263-4276.
  10. Verhoeckx, K. C., Korthout, H. A., van Meeteren-Kreikamp, A. P., Ehlert, K. A., Wang, M., van der Greef, J., … & Witkamp, R. F. (2006). Unheated Cannabis sativa extracts and its major compound THC-acid have potential immuno-modulating properties not mediated by CB1 and CB2 receptor coupled pathways. International immunopharmacology, 6(4), 656-665.
  11. Rock, E. M., Kopstick, R. L., Limebeer, C. L., & Parker, L. A. (2013). Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid reduces nausea‐induced conditioned gaping in rats and vomiting in S uncus murinus. British journal of pharmacology, 170(3), 641-648.
  12. Benson, M. J., Anderson, L. L., Low, I. K., Luo, J. L., Kevin, R. C., Zhou, C., … & Arnold, J. C. (2022). Evaluation of the possible anticonvulsant effect of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid in murine seizure models. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 7(1), 46-57.
  13. Nallathambi, R., Mazuz, M., Ion, A., Selvaraj, G., Weininger, S., Fridlender, M., … & Koltai, H. (2017). Anti-inflammatory activity in colon models is derived from δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid that interacts with additional compounds in cannabis extracts. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 167-182.