What exactly is it that makes good cannabis good? Well, when it comes to legally purchasing cannabis in a dispensary, more often than not the shopper has an eyeball on and is comparing THC levels. While THC levels do make a difference, they are not the ONLY thing to consider – THC percentage isn’t everything.
Cannabis is an amazing cure-all for what ails you. Whether it is nausea or back pain, seizures or skin conditions, cannabis has you covered. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main component that produces a psychoactive (or high) effect. THC gets a ton of media coverage for how wacky it makes you feel. It also gets a sort of inflated position among all the other important, active cannabinoids present in marijuana.
One reason people may get so distracted by acquiring the highest level THC strain possible could be because in states where cannabis is not legal, THC levels are usually incredibly low. Schwag, or super low-quality pot, can have a THC percentage as small as 0.3 – 4%. In contrast, in medical and recreationally legal states, where cannabis cultivation practices and methods have been tweaked and perfected by professionals, THC levels can be as high as 25% or more. A 2011 Cannabis Cup submission of Ghost Train Haze by Rare Dankness measured out at an incredible 25.5% THC. When THC levels like that were accomplished in 2011, it stands to reason they could be even higher today.
But the increased THC percentage is not the only thing to consider.
Cresco Labs explains the role of THC percentage by comparing cannabis to a band. THC is the lead singer, CBD, CBC, CBN, CBG, etc are the backup singers, terpenes are the road crew – you get the drift. It is a pretty decent analogy to explain the host of players involved in producing the overall effects of marijuana. And yes, most times THC is the lead singer – but sometimes it shifts to backup and lets CBD take center stage.
For some people, THC doesn’t play into their cannabis use in the slightest. A high CBD cannabis strain (known for its analgesic, anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties), such as the famous Charlotte’s Web, is typically the kind of strain utilized for medical application in children.
There are a host of cannabinoids and terpenes in each puff/vape/dab/oil dropper of cannabis all of which are capable of doing something spectacular all on their own – that work in conjunction with THC and CBD. Both CBD and THC have scored accolades individually, it is whole plant medicine you are shopping when you select a bud at a dispensary. You are buying the THC, the CBD, the CBC, the CBN, the THC-A, the limonene, myrcene, caryophyllene and more.
When all of these different cannabinoids and terpenes are consumed together it produces what is referred to as the “entourage effect.” This simply means it is not the one that makes the whole, but the group. All of the components mish-mashed together, all of their properties combined, is what creates the perfect medicine. At least, that is the theory.
This is a quick guide as to why THC is a major component when selecting a strain of cannabis, but not the only thing to consider. Research different strains and their reported benefits – and THEN check out the THC count if you need to. Don’t base you entire opinion of a strain on whether it has over 20% THC, you will miss out on a LOT of great cannabis if you do.
This post was originally published on May 29, 2018, it was updated on May 30, 2018.