Written By: Ashley Meza
One strong indicator that people typically look for when shopping for flower or concentrates is the THC percentage of the product. The higher the THC percentage, the stronger the high must be. The truth is, there’s way more that determines the potency of cannabis than just THC percentage.
Study on THC Percentage
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Institute of Cognitive Science conducted a study on whether or not THC percentage affects the higher one might get. They studied the effects of both flower and concentrate users. The results showed that while concentrate users had higher levels of THC in their blood, they were not necessarily higher (effect wise) than users who consumed something with a lower THC percentage. Forbes thoroughly explains more findings this study conducted in an article they published in June 2020.
“Judging a cannabis strain on its THC content is not unlike judging a film based on the lead actor. The THC number isn’t going to be an indicator of the performance,” states Forbes.
Cannabis flower with THC percentages of 25 and up basically dominate dispensary shelves. High-THC percentage cannabis sells out pretty quickly while lower-percentage products sit on shelves collecting dust. Shopping purely by THC percentages limits the cannabis experience, while taking into account other components of the plant, like cannabinoids, terpenes, and more, helps amplify the cannabis experience. Let’s briefly go over a few things you should pay attention to beyond the THC percentage on your next canna-shopping spree at your local Nectar:
As a budtender myself, the top question I get asked during the day is ‘which strain has the highest THC percentage?’ It’s tough to explain to every customer why that shouldn’t be the basis of what they’re shopping for to get the best high, especially if they have a budget to stick to. One of the most important questions people should be taking into consideration is what has the most terpenes or which terpenes are found in which strains.
Simply put, terpenes are what make strains smell and taste different from others. Many people come in asking what the best smelling strain there is on the shelf. What smells good to one person might smell awful to another because everyone has a different preference on the terpene profile, whether they know it or not. Ever wonder why some people prefer diesel strains versus desert strains? That’s because of their different terpene pallets!
Each individual terpene profile can potentially have different effects. Finding which terpene profile works best for you is one way to shop for a better enhanced high because what you are looking for actually caters to you. There are hundreds of different terpene profiles in cannabis; doing some light research on your favorite strains can help you find other enjoyable strains with common terpenes.
Cannabinoids are compounds of the cannabis plant that interact with the endocannabinoid system of the body. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabinoid that gets you high. THC and CBD are major cannabinoids, there are over 120 different minor cannabinoids which include ones like CBN, CBG, THCA, etc., and each shine in their own ways.
When THC and fCBD (or any other cannabinoid) enter your system together, they bind to different parts of the endocannabinoid system which then each release different effects. When those effects are introduced together after consumption, the euphoric effect is felt throughout different parts of the body instead of just your mind.
The ratio of the cannabinoids in the product taken needs to be taken into consideration to determine what kind of high to aim for. For example, a low dose of CBD with a higher dose of THC in flower or a tincture can potentially increase the psychoactive effects of cannabis. A 50/50 amount of both can improve the benefits of each as their compounds bounce off each other in the system.
The Entourage Effect Theory
The entourage effect is the theory when different cannabis compounds (like cannabinoids and terpenes) work interdependently, each compliments the other which is thought to create unique effects, psycho-actively and medicinally.
“When you love flower, kind of like wine, you’re looking for nuance, diversity, a whole spectrum of an experience. The higher the THC potency, generally speaking, the less diversity,” says Brad Bogus from Confident Cannabis.
Essentially it is thought that the more of the natural compounds of the cannabis plant there is in the substance taken, whether it be flower or concentrates, the better the benefits of each individual cannabinoid or terpene and the more unique the high.
Dosage / Tolerance
Another great thing to consider is your tolerance to the effects of cannabis. The dreaded tolerance break (or t-break) is not something many look forward to taking, so much so that some just never take one. However, the rewarding benefits that come from taking one are more than you may think.
The more cannabis you smoke or consume, the more your body gets used to the compounds in your system, therefore resulting in higher and more frequent the usage is. However, a 1-2 day t-break may be all you need to “reset” your system, so when that first hit comes, the high is fresh and potent.
“If you don’t get enough potency from a 15% THC strain, it’s very easy to take another hit. When you start with a 30% THC strain, it’ll be harder for you to know if less would have been more,” explains an article on Leafly, “Cannabis consumers care deeply about consistent dosing, and being able to carefully control the nature of their experiences.”
It’s important to remember that not all distinctive factors will apply to every situation because each strain is unique. Trying new things and self-reflecting on what feels the best to you is the best way to shop for effective cannabis.