If you’ve spent any time around cannabis, you probably know that THC is the cannabinoid most responsible for the cannabis plant’s distinctive “high.” And beyond that, THC imparts some very useful medicinal effects. As a result, in the last few years high-THC products such as cannabis concentrates have skyrocketed in popularity. But is high-THC cannabis any better than standard-strength strains? And is high-THC right for everyone? For that matter, what is considered “high THC” in the first place?
Keep reading to explore the answers to these questions and more. If you’re interested in potential THC benefits or exploring high-THC strains, you’ve come to the right place!
THC Basics: Understanding Cannabinoids
THC, of course, is a cannabinoid, one of a family of over 150 natural compounds that occur in the cannabis and hemp plants. THC is the single most important constituent of cannabis, accounting for anywhere from 2% to over 25% of cannabis flower by weight, depending upon the strain and its specific THC levels.
You may have heard about other cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, and CBN. No matter the specific type, the cannabinoids all interface with our bodies through a network called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Though only identified in the past several decades, the ECS is believed to be one of our body’s most important regulatory networks. If you’re curious about this crucial bodily system, you can learn more about it at this introductory article.
In the ECS, THC binds to specialized receptor cells known as CB1 and CB2. By now, you’ve probably taken note of the resonances between the words “cannabinoid” and “endocannabinoid.” That’s no accident; in a very real sense, the cannabinoids in cannabis are “speaking the same language” as our own regulatory network. In practice, this goes a long way towards explaining why cannabinoids have the potential to exert such impactful medical effects.
What are some potential THC benefits? Once it binds to those receptor cells, THC imparts a number of useful effects over and above that euphoric intoxication. For medical users, the primary benefit of high-THC products is more potent relief from symptoms such as loss of appetite, anxiety and stress. THC also exhibits a powerful pain-fighting effect, in part by imparting natural anti-inflammatory properties at the site of an injury and leveraging its characteristic euphoria to help modulate our experience of pain.
High-THC Products: Consider the Ensemble Effect
What’s considered “high-THC” varies depending on the type of cannabis product in question. High-THC cannabis flower may contain over 20% THC by dry weight, whereas concentrates (which are highly potent products to begin with) can contain THC levels anywhere from 50% to over 90% THC.
Generally speaking, the more THC that enters the bloodstream, the stronger its physical and psychological effects will be. That said, while THC plays the dominant role in determining the strength of the high produced by cannabis, other plant compounds contribute to the intoxication—as well as the medical effects—associated with the cannabis plant.
For instance, more and more researchers are coming to the conclusion that terpenes play a large role in determining the effects produced by specific cannabis strains. Terpenes, of course, are the aromatic oils present in cannabis as well as countless other natural products. The unique terpene profile of each strain determines much of its subjective qualities—“berry-scented,” “grassy” or “skunky,” just to name a few—but they also contribute to the medicinal effects each strain produces.
That’s still not the end of the story! Research indicates that terpenes, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and other plant compounds may all work together in what’s commonly known as “the ensemble effect” or “the entourage effect.” The theory is that all these components work together in synergy to produce stronger and more comprehensive effects than THC could on its own.
That’s why even with high-THC products, there are plenty of other compounds working in unison to potentiate each others’ effects (and help provide stronger symptomatic relief). If you’d like to learn more about the ensemble effect, begin your journey here.
High-THC Products Aren’t for Everyone
While many people love high-THC products, there are reasons why consumers might prefer a lower dose of THC instead.
For one thing, an excess of THC is associated with some of the potential negative side effects of cannabis, including anxiety or even paranoia.
Furthermore, cannabis exhibits what’s called a “biphasic” effect, meaning that its effects vary widely with different dosages. Most people, in fact, derive greater benefit from lower doses of THC. The higher the dose, the greater change of negative side-effects such as dry mouth, anxiety or paranoia. That’s one major reason we always recommend that consumers “start slow and go low.”
Remember: You can always take a little more cannabis, but you can’t take less! When all is said and done, if you suffer from anxiety or are prone to experiencing it when under the influence of cannabis, a low-THC product may be a better choice for you.
Highest THC Strains of Cannabis Flower
If you’re working to manage pain—whether as the result of cancer treatment or some other condition—we recommend you speak to your health practitioner about whether high-THC products may help. If they believe this is the case, here is a short list of cannabis strains known to generally contain high THC levels.
Be sure to check the THC levels of any flower you’re interested in purchasing, as these levels can vary widely depending on genetics and growing environment.
- OG Kush: A classic sedative indica, known for its stress-fighting qualities that has an average THC content of 20%-26%.
- Gorilla Glue: Infamous for its ability to knock you flat on your back and leave you feeling stuck to the couch, this high-THC hybrid strain offers a heavy-handed hit of relaxation with average THC levels of 25%-28%.
- Garlic Cookies: Derived from Chemdog and Girl Scout Cookies, this indica-leaning hybrid features earthy and pungent flavors and can produce extremely high THC levels often surpassing 30%.
- Grease Monkey: Packing as much as 27% THC, according to some sources, this hybrid strain contains the cannabinoid cannabigerol, otherwise known as CBG.
Explore the Benefits of THC With Green Goods
We sincerely hope today’s post lends some insights into high-THC products and when they might—or might not—be right for you. If you choose to try high-THC strains, we suggest you keep a cannabis journal so you can dial in your dose and find what works best for you.
If you’re ready to get started, click here to find your nearest Green Goods location!
Please note that qualifying conditions vary by state, and the information relating to qualifying conditions may not apply to cannabis patients in all states. Product availability also varies based on state program restrictions and rules, so the products discussed may not be available in all states. Be sure to check with your local Green Goods location about the products available in your state.