Raw vs Decarboxylated

All About Cannabinoid Acids and Cannabinoids

The Cannabis plant is known to produce approx. 80 cannabinoid acids and cannabinoids, through biosynthesis and enzymatic reactions. Amazingly, most of these therapeutic cannabinoid acids are synthesised from just 2 main, primary precursors: CBGA and CBGVA.

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is the precursor to cannabinoids THCA, CBDA and CBCA while Cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA) is the precursor to cannabinoids THCVA, CBDVA, and CBCVA. To date, the following major cannabinoid acids have been identified in the living or raw form of the cannabis plant. The composition of these cannabinoids will change as the plant is harvested, heat-stressed or decarboxylated, or ages.

  • CBGA (Cannabigerolic acid)
  • THCA (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
  • CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
  • CBCA (Cannabichromenenic acid)
  • CBGVA (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
  • THCVA (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)
  • CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic acid)
  • CBCVA (Cannabichromevarinic acid)

This process is the result of biosynthesis and a series of enzymatic chemical reactions within the plant, which can be said to begin when the main cannabinoid precursors--CBGA and CBGVA--are synthesised into cannabinoid acids such as THCA, CBDA, CBCA and THCVA, CBDVA, CBCVA respectively.

From here, these raw cannabinoid acids can be altered further through prolonged overexposure to heat or intentional decarboxylation (sometimes referred to as “heat activation”). Under this heat degradation process, CBDA decarboxylates into cannabidiol (CBD) and THCA decarboxylates into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)--a necessary step in activating THC’s intoxicating effects. Essentially, all of the cannabinoids acids can be converted into the following non-acidic cannabinoid forms at this stage, post harvesting, through heat processing: THC, THCV, CBD, CBDV, CBC, CBCV, CBG, CBGV. This is considered a degradation process because it does not require enzymatic action by the plant during its lifecycle and occurs after the plant is harvested, heat stressed, or decarboxylated.

As the harvested Cannabis plant further ages and, it continues to degrade into unique cannabinoids, such as Cannabinol (CBN) which is the breakdown product of THCA (oxidation, aged flower); CBNA, Delta 8THC, CBL, CBLA.

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