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There are hundreds of cannabis strains in the market, some with high THC concentrations while others contain a low concentration of the cannabinoid. But how can we determine if a concentration is high or low? And how can a high THC strain impact a consumer’s experience and overall health? Let’s find out!
A product containing more than 15% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is considered to have high THC. This concentration of THC is not easily available to all adult users, even in legal states. That is because only medical marijuana card holders can get access to such high potencies. Patients who suffer from state-approved medical ailments can consult pro-cannabis clinics like Online Medical Card and get their MMJ cards to access high THC doses.
On a general note, 15% THC is the starting line of high THC products. You can find multiple Sativa and Hybrid strains that contain 30% THC while the potency can even rise as high as 50% in some rare breeds of cannabis like the ‘Jack’s Girl’ and ‘Little Devil’. This being said, 15% might not have the same impact on two consumers. While one user might find that 15% THC can lead to an extreme and unbearable high, a more seasoned consumer might handle the high much better. In other words, THC is completely subject-dependent.
This means that the decision of whether a flower has high THC or low depends on the consumer. Some consumers may feel like Brandywine’s 31% THC can provide the satisfaction they need while others may feel like Blue Dynamite which goes as low as 6% THC potency strains is their way to go.
THC aka tetrahydrocannabinol is the cannabinoid responsible for the intoxicating effects of cannabis. However, the quality of cannabis has witnessed a drastic change over the years. The herb that had an average of 4% strength in the 1980s, stands at a whopping 15% average today. This means that the cannabis that we consume today is very different from what was consumed in the previous decades.
The herb is stronger, more intoxicating, and maybe, even more harmful. What’s worse is that the market for illegal marijuana is still flourishing. This market has given way to highly intoxicating strains entering our markets with very minimal inconvenience.
Apart from extremely strong cannabis strains, the method of consumption also plays an important role in determining its strength. We’ll discuss that in the next segment.
There is a common notion that a high THC potency translates to more intoxication. The higher the THC concentration, the higher it’ll get you.
Research conducted by the University of Colorado proves otherwise. The study involved the administration of different THC quantities to 121 cannabis users, with one-half consuming concentrates containing 70-90% THC and the other half consuming flowers containing 16024% THC.
Once researchers drew the blood of all the subjects they realized two things:
Those who consumed higher THC levels via concentrates had about 1,016 micrograms of THC per milliliter after a few minutes of consumption. Those who consumed flowers spiked at 455 micrograms per milliliter.
Irrespective of this varying stat, the impairment, and intoxication that both halves experienced were very similar. The concentrate consumers that have a much more substantial concentration of THC in their system were not as compromised as one would expect them to be.
None yet. But the study made researchers understand that the THC levels of a strain alone cannot determine how intoxicating it will be.
Now, the real question arises, if the THC percentage doesn’t matter, then what does?
As we’ve already established, the level of intoxication does not solely depend on THC potency.
One can smoke a flower while the other might ingest edibles like brownies. You may find that the effect may be different for the two users because of how the body processes the herb. The breakdown of the compounds is different, the route of consumption also differs.
Any cannabis product that is smoked, moves through the lungs directly into your bloodstream. This usually takes somewhere between a few seconds to a few minutes to take effect. However, the strong effects tend to dissipate after a while. On the contrary, when cannabis is ingested (consumed to be digested), it moves through the stomach and the liver where it gets converted into a stronger form. While the process takes longer to take effect, the intoxication lasts much longer and can be much more intense.
The effect also depends on the frequency of consumption and the quantity. The body may become tolerant to the compound if one takes it regularly and with high THC potency. For example, someone who smokes over 30% THC flowers about 3 times a day won’t feel the effect of 15% THC flower when he or she takes it.
Also, THC is not the only chemical factor determining your high in THC products. Instead, it is the presence of other chemical compounds naturally present in cannabis strains that act as the determinants. These chemical compounds include both – other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, CBG, THCV, Delta 8 THC, etc, work synergetically with the THC to create the intoxicating and therapeutic benefits you experience. Terpenes like myrcene, caryophyllene, limonene, pinene, and more are aromatic compounds that also enhance the effects of THC on the consumer’s body.
Also Read: Beyond CBD And THC: Understanding the Lesser-Known Cannabinoids
There are many weed strains that have a THC percentage ranging from 15% to 30% including Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid strains. Silver haze with 23% THC and Lemon Meringue with 21% THC are examples of High THC Sativa strains. Ghost OG which contains up to 23% THC and Lemon Kush with 22% THC are examples of hybrid flowers with high THC potency. There are also flowers with very high potency that go beyond 30% such as the Pancake Ice which contains 33% THC and the Little Devil which is 60% THC.
Also read: The 15 Best Cannabis Concentrates to Buy
Consuming high THC can be dangerous and have a negative physical and mental impact on consumers. Some of the effects include
These effects are usually mild and they do not last long. However, if they become too serious it is advisable to visit a health personnel for help.
Constant and consistent use of the herb over longer durations can also lead to dependency on the herb. To avoid such a situation, it is preferable to microdose your cannabis.
Also Read: Less is More: A Cannabis Doctor Weighs in on The Importance of Microdosing
A THC concentration of more than 15% is referred to as “high THC”. However, the concentration alone does not determine whether the strain will lead to an excessive or a moderate high in a consumer. Some of the determining patterns include the consumption method, the frequency of consumption, and the presence of other chemical compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes.