Acid vs Neutral Forms of Cannabis or What Did Cro-Magnon Man Know About Cannabis

Krys Amon photo

Let’s start with two presumptions based on currently established scientific evidence:

  1. Cannabis is over 28 million years old
  2. Early humans first got control of heating cannabis nearly 1 million years ago.

For the overwhelming years of evolution, VERY early humans had ready access to the cannabis plant, but missed heating cannabis for millions of years.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about this.

We are saying, for the vast majority of evolution, homo sapiens had ready access to raw or acid forms of cannabis but little access transforming the acid form by heat, as they did not have fire, to produce neutral forms of CBD, THC, and all of the other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

I picture an early man leaving some cannabis flowers for storage and when he ate them, a year or so later, he was in for a very big surprise – he got stoned.

Like everything in prehistory, discovery is made by accident.

In other words, ancient men and women figured out that the “old cannabis” had very different effects than fresh cannabis; a year or so would probably convert a significant amount of THCA or CBDA to THC and/or CBD.


If you’re following along with me, let’s agree that early humans had ready access to the raw or acid forms, and eventually figured out that by leaving it alone for a long time, they would achieve different benefits.

Put in terms of today’s cannabis science, It is not too hard to believe that 1,000, 000 years ago, with the advent of fire culture, Cro-Magnon men and women now had access to both forms of cannabis molecules and must have learned the difference between fresh and “heated” cannabis.

So, what has taken us so long? And what impact do acid forms of Cannabis have in treating disease?

This is the question and logic I have used in pursuing as I review the scientific literature on the acid forms of cannabis. Let it be said, using the raw acid form of cannabinoid molecules has a very big future in medical cannabis.

Here is a brief summary of what we in cannabis science understand at the current moment. 

Acid versus Neutral Cannabinoids

You have heard of CBD and you have heard of THC. Now let’s talk about CBD-Acid and THC-Acid.

All 120 of cannabinoids in a cannabis plant naturally start in “acid form.”  When a cannabis plant grows, first as a seedling, next as a growth of leaves or more so when fully flowered, the actual cannabinoid is in the acid form.  So before heating, drying or distilling the plant,  “THC” is in the THC-Acid form and CBD is in the Acid form.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  So compare the pictures of the THC-Acid and THC molecules. You can see that the “acid”  or oxygen and OH group are missing in the THC molecule. When the acid molecule is exposed to heat, over time, the “acid” molecule goes off as CO2 and you have THC. The “acid” version is converted into the “neutral” molecule.

        THC ACID MOLECULE                              THC MOLECULE                                                                                                      



In addition to heating, THC or CBD as the “neutral” molecules can be obtained by leaving cannabis harvested, dried and left for months or years. Over time, much of the cannabinoids are turned into the neutral form, without any added heat.  So, even at room temperature, with enough time, all the acid molecules will convert to the neutral molecules.

This explains why some of my patients over the years have pulled a very old “bud” out of the garage, left when Billy went off to college, and got VERY stoned. college!  Frankly, I have a personal belief to avoid eating anything left in the garage for years.

So, beware!  All raw bud, or acid cannabinoids,will convert to the neutral cannabinoids over time.

In my next blog, I will go into more detail regarding which of the acid molecules works for which diseases…more to come…much more to come.

Allan Frankel, MD Dr Allan Frankel is one of the few physicians in the US who truly understands Cannabis as a medicine. All treatments suggested have been well studied. Every patient seen by Dr Frankel is given a personally created Treatment Plan created with the patient's specific issues defined. Plant medicine requires "tuning" of the dosing. Dr Frankel works with his patients thru a messaging portal. The use of this portal, allows quick and simple follow up contact with Dr Frankel. Patients are not charged for these messages, as this is how Dr Frankel has learned what he has learned. Follow up appointments in person or by phone/video are also available when needed

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