Flower, waxes, and edibles, oh my! With the legalization of marijuana, many different strains and types of cannabis have become available to the public. Everyone’s looking for something unique, something different. Some people want to blast off while others just take a little edge off. Is higher % THC better? Here’s what we say...
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana. THC acts like the cannabinoid chemicals that your body creates.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug. THC is the component responsible for its effect.
THC attaches itself to the body’s cannabinoid receptors. These are the parts of the brain associated with such perceptions as thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, and time.
THC concentration is measured in weight compared to the product. THC concentration depends on several factors. Exposure to air degrades THC. Its concentration also is affected by the cultivation of the marijuana plant, the soil, and the plants.
The hemp plant has a minimal amount of THC. It is used for industrial and medical purposes—not for recreational use. Hemp THC could be only 0.5 percent.
Some cannabis strains can have as little as 0.3 percent THC by weight. Other strains may have as high as 20 percent THC by the weight in a sample. Some unusual varieties have tested over 30 percent THC!
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average % THC concentration in marijuana is between one and five percent. THC in recreational marijuana is widely variable.
A new study by Alice Walton sheds light on changes in THC concentration.
Part of this increased THC concentration is the result of a shift in the production of cannabis plant material away from marijuana to sinsemilla. Sinsemilla is the female cannabis plant that has not been pollinated. Sinsemilla plants are grown from cuttings or seed.
Marijuana plants have been around for the past several hundred years. They were first grown in Asia in 500 BC for medicinal purposes. The THC percentage wasn’t even a consideration in those days. However, some ancient cultures knew about the psychoactive properties of cannabis. They grew these specific varieties because of their higher levels of THC. These were used in both religious ceremonies and healing rituals.
The cultivation of marijuana in America dates back to the early colonists. They grew hemp for ropes, sails, and clothing. Early hemp plants had low levels of THC. The psychotropic properties of the plant were not a consideration in the cultivation of hemp.
By the early 1900s, scientists discovered that THC was what gave cannabis its medicinal properties. Researchers learned that THC interacted with areas of the brain to lessen nausea and promote appetite.
Between 1960 and 1980, marijuana’s THC content was less than 2%. There were no clear governmental guidelines or regulations over the cannabis industry. So, producers took a page from the tobacco and alcohol industries. Through improved production and plant generation, they developed strains of marijuana with a significantly higher concentration of THC.
As American Mary notes there has been a concerted effort to increase the THC percentage. Since the early 1980s, the average THC content has shown an increase from a modest two percent to between ten and twelve percent. Some even tested as high as twenty to thirty percent THC by weight!
Is a higher concentration of THC in marijuana better? Some would argue that the more potent the product the better value for your expenditure. Others disagree.
Those who use marijuana with a higher concentration of THC are convinced that they get a greater rush with a smaller amount of products. They also argue that they need less to get the desired effect. Hence, they think they get better value for their cannabis dollar.
But, the writers of American Mary disagree. Their point is that it doesn’t take much THC to get most people feeling high. So why seek marijuana with astronomical amounts of THC? It’s like bringing a cannon to a duel.
Others contend that THC isn’t the only consideration. When you purchase wine, you look for one whose taste you like. You don’t shop for the one with the highest alcohol content. Writer Mike Pizzo suggests that is how marijuana purchasers should choose the product they want.
Researcher Dr. Elizabeth Stuyt points out the dangers of high potency marijuana. Her study indicates that the psychoactive component of marijuana with higher concentrations of THC causes higher levels of addiction. The higher potency of any drug raises the possibility of addiction. It also increases return buyer frequency and his purchasing amounts.
Substance contends that not all buyers make high THC a priority. For some, looking only at high THC overlooks other important factors. Searching for high THC fails to take into consideration other traits that enhance the experience.
Further, the writer contends that higher THC concentration does not translate to the most potent experience. He cites smoking Jamaican marijuana with a concentration of only 12% as being his ultimate euphoria. The THC content alone cannot explain the experience.
Other factors are worth considering! Writers of American Mary encourage buyers to try different strains of cannabis with a variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. In doing so, buyers will discover the flavor profiles and experiences they will enjoy the most.
Just like with fine Scotch, choosing the best product for you is a matter of trial and error. There are over four hundred and thirty compounds in a cannabis plant. The way in which these components interact will result in a wide range of reactions from the user. Add to that the wide range of user traits and the number of expected reactions is mind-boggling.
So how do you choose? Like with any other product, consider THC as only one of the many factors in your favorite cannabis.
It’s not just the THC content that’s important. Rather, it is how the THC combines with other characteristics of the whole plant.
So, is higher % THC better?
The answer is not necessarily.