By Luke Sumpter

THCA diamonds are one of the most potent cannabis products available. Although not inherently psychotropic, it only takes a little heat to transmute these miniature crystals into THC—the component of cannabis responsible for the high. THCA diamonds are relatively new to the world of cannabis. They rank up there with other high-potency extracts, but exist in a legal grey area because of their chemical structure. Below, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about THCA diamonds. Learn about THCA itself, how to make your own supply of diamonds, and the current legal situation.

What Is THCA?

This might come as a shock to some, but cannabis plants don’t contain THC. Instead, weed flowers produce the chemical precursor to THC, known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA. Enzymes within the buds make this molecule from the "mother cannabinoid" cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA[1].

Despite their opposing psychotropic status, THCA and THC aren’t all that different. The simple addition of two oxygen atoms and one hydrogen atom prevents THCA from binding to the receptor site that catalyses THC’s psychotropic effects. It only takes a bit of heat to eject these extra atoms—a process called decarboxylation—converting THCA into THC. This occurs when you light the tip of a joint, apply a torch to a bowl, or bake edibles in the oven.

While THCA diamonds and other extracts aren’t psychotropic from the get-go, they quickly become so when exposed to high enough temperatures. This fact has become quite the predicament for several governments, leading to a legal grey area, as you’ll find out below.

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What is THC?

THCA’s close relationship to its psychotropic, decarboxylated version leaves many cannabis users confused. Is it illegal to possess THCA, or only when it’s lit up and turns into THC? It appears regulators haven’t quite figured out the answer to this question yet, either.

Let’s look at the laws in the United Kingdom for example. A fact sheet published by the government states: “THC-A as an isolated substance, in its pure form, would not be controlled under the MDA [Misuse of Drugs Act] 1971 / MDR [Misuse of Drugs Regulations] 2001”[2].

While this sentence makes pure THCA sound perfectly legal, the document also notes the threshold at which the molecule becomes illegal: “..THC-A will become a controlled substance by virtue of its degradation”.

Things become even more confusing across the Atlantic. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States published a report that details the regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products[3]. Despite mentioning the legal status of cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and delta-8 THC, the document doesn’t mention THCA once, leaving cannabis users at a dead end.

Despite the apparent blurriness, obtaining THCA involves the possession of cannabis plants to begin with. The US federal government, UK government, and many governments across Europe deem the possession of cannabis illegal. However, importing THCA into countries such as the UK is technically legal, despite the obvious intentions later down the line. As researchers continue to explore the properties of THCA and legislators become more familiar with the constituents, we can expect to see more clear-cut laws emerge.

THCA Diamonds: What They Are and How To Make Them

What Are THCA Diamonds?

THCA diamonds are crystalline structures composed of pure THCA that result from a couple of different extraction methods, including “diamond mining” (more on that below) and the isolation of refined oil.

These techniques essentially separate THCA from other constituents found in cannabis. Even a small diamond can contain more THCA than a blunt full of flower. Cannabis users vaporize or dab THCA diamonds to instantly convert the crystal into a huge amount of THC, resulting in a fast-acting and powerful high.

How To Make THCA Diamonds

You’ve probably collected kief, made some bubble hash, and crafted edibles in the kitchen, so why not try your hand at creating some THCA diamonds? Not only will they deliver one of the strongest highs you’ve ever experienced, but you’ll also make your friends very happy when you show up to a smoking session with these potent crystals.

There are several ways to obtain THCA crystals from cannabis. Flash chromatography is a method used in research settings that involves filtration, rotary evaporation, and purification[4]. However, you don’t need this fancy equipment if you want to whip up a small batch at home. Instead, you can create pure THCA crystals using a process called diamond mining.

Diamond Mining

Despite its name, diamond mining doesn’t require any pickaxes, shovels, or much manual labour for that matter. While research and industrial operations use advanced equipment for optimal efficiency, you can make THCA diamonds at home relatively easily. However, you’ll need a vacuum chamber and a heat mat to complete the process—worthwhile investments if you plan on doing this frequently.

Ed Rosenthal, otherwise known as the “Guru of Ganja”, has popularised an easy method that anyone can perform at home[5]. Although he suggests starting out with live resin, BHO extracted from high-quality flowers also works well. Check out the simple steps below to craft THCA diamonds at home.

Step 1: Acquire BHO or Live Resin

Gather a significant amount of cannabis flowers and proceed to make a batch of BHO or live resin. Both of these concentrates follow a similar extraction process, with the difference being that the former uses dried and cured flower samples while the latter uses freshly harvested and snap-frozen buds.

Step 2: Jar and Store

While your extract is still viscous and easy to move around, pour it into a mason jar and screw on the lid. Next, you’ll need to find a suitable place to store it. Rosenthal suggests selecting a place above room temperature—aim for a range of 26–28°C. Place a thermo-hygrometer next to your jars and crank up the central heating if you need to.

Step 3: Crystal Formation

BHO primarily contains terpenes and cannabinoid acids. Terpenes are aromatic molecules that endow different cultivars with unique flavours. These nice-smelling molecules are volatile by nature, and liquid at the above temperatures. As such, they form a viscous “terp sauce” layer that forms on top of the contents of the jar. In contrast, THCA “crashes” into a solid diamond that sinks to the bottom.

Step 4: Don’t Forget To Burp

Let the crystals form over a period of 2–3 weeks. Pressure will build during this time. Be sure to burp your jars every couple of days.

Step 5: Vacuum Purge

Once you're satisfied with the crystals inside your jar, you’ll need to purge the mixture. While some users prefer to separate the crystals and terp sauce to achieve this, you can simply keep them in the jar as well. Place the jar inside your vacuum chamber and place the chamber on your heating mat. Set your vacuum pump to −15hg and your heating mat to 28°C; purge for 24 hours.

Step 6: To Mix or Separate?

The choice is yours. If you’re after pure diamonds, you can pour off the terp sauce and use it in other preparations. However, leaving them together will give you benefits of the entourage effect, not to mention much more flavour.

What About CBD Crystals?

CBD enjoys a much more liberal legal status in many countries. Manufacturers are able to make large quantities of CBD diamonds boasting a purity of 99%. This crystalline CBD can then be used in all sorts of applications, such as making CBD oil. Although they lack the beneficial synergy of additional terpenes, users can also add CBD diamonds to bong bowls alongside dried flowers and concentrates.

How To Use THCA Diamonds

Vaping and dabbing are two of the most popular ways to consume THCA diamonds. The highly concentrated levels of THCA offer a powerful high following the application of heat. You can sprinkle them into vape chambers alongside flowers and concentrates. If you leave them combined with the terp sauce, prepare to experience some intense flavours!

How Much Are THCA Diamonds Worth?

THCA diamonds clock in at around five times the potency of standard buds, a trait that gives them a hefty price label. They cost around $60 per gram in US dispensaries, and remain rare elsewhere.

DisclaimerExtracts, concentrates, and oils used for dabbing are among the strongest cannabis products available. Proceed with caution when using substances high in THC. Start with low doses and slowly increase over time to build up a tolerance to the compound.

Remember: Set and Setting will help you deal with various situations.

Stay Cultivated.

External Resources:
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  2. Drug Licensing Factsheet- Cannabis, CBD and other cannabinoids
  3. FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD) | FDA
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  5. DIAMOND MINING WITH LIVE RESIN : A step by step guide to the recrystallization process
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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