Cannabis connoisseurs: Let’s geek out for a moment. Cannabis strains can be very complex. The endless variety of strains that exist on the market are what make the smoking experience more interesting and resulting moods more satisfying.
It’s all in the THC. Some strains contain high percentages of THC levels, while other strains contain much less. And in case you need a refresher – THC is the main chemical compound responsible for the psychological effects that come with smoking cannabis.
Cannabis potency, or strength, depends on the percentage of THC in the strain, among other ingredients. We’ll break down the difference between high and low THC percentage and what it means for your smoking experience, below.
What Do THC Levels Indicate?
The amount of THC in your cannabis strain depends on the product and your method of consumption (smoking, taking edibles, tinctures, oils, etc.). If your product contains a label, it will usually break down the percentages of the different chemical compounds found in it.
On these labels, it’s important to note the difference between THC percentage and THCA percentage. The “A” at the end of TCHA stands for “activation”, which allows you to understand the true THC level of the strain once it’s been lit, or, activated by heat.
This percentage is the actual amount of THC you’ll be consuming during a smoke session, as opposed to the dry THC percentage listed on the package (which is usually much lower).
Now, let’s take a look at what is considered a high THC percentage and what is considered low.
What is a High THC Level?
Let’s get one thing straight right away. The higher the THC percentage does not necessarily mean you’ll get more high. Remember – there are other chemical and natural ingredients (like terpenes) at play in each strain. And it also depends on the person. Some cannabis smokers will have a higher tolerance than others.
Any strain that contains more than 20% of THC is considered high.
So, why would someone want a high-level strain? High THC levels are known to:
- Reduce pain and inflammation.
- Reduce nausea.
- Improve muscle function.
- Improve sleep (indicas).
- Reduce stress and anxiety (sativas).
- Increase energy and focus.
We always recommend starting low and slow. Don’t go for the strain with the highest THC level right off the bat. The higher the THC, the higher the psychedelic effects, meaning the risk of:
- Increased heart rate.
- Hallucinations and more.
Strains with higher THC levels have also been thought to have a stronger smoke smell than those with low THC levels. In reality, though, it’s the terpenes in the strain that determine smoke smell, not the THC level.
If you find that a strain you’re smoking contains high THC and a terpene that’s prone to stronger odor, don’t let the smoke smell linger. Cannabolish has cannabis smoke odor-eliminating products from Lavender Spray to Soy Wintergreen Candles. You should also store it properly in order to preserve its aromatic properties.
What is a Low THC Level?
A low THC percentage is any product with 10% THC or less. You can probably infer by now that cannabis strains with lower THC levels have little to no psychoactive effects.
If there’s less of an effect, why would you want to smoke these strains? Strains with low levels of THC are perfect for beginners. They make a great starting point for tolerance-testing. Lower potency strains are also good for:
- Relaxation/mellow feelings.
- Focusing on the present moment.
- Staying awake.
There are many low-THC strain sativas, indicas, and hybrids to choose from.
How Do You Measure the Percentage of THC?
What happens if the strain you purchased doesn’t come with a label that shows THC or THCA percentages?
If you purchased your cannabis from a local dispensary, consult with the budtenders there. They may not have an exact percentage but they should know enough about the type of strain to tell you whether it contains high or low THC levels.
If you don’t have access to a dispensary, there are at-home testing kits available. However, these can cost you a pretty penny. Instead of going this route, do as much research as you can on the strains you’re interested in before you buy and smoke them.
If you’re a true newbie to cannabis, start with a strain that has a low THC level. If you’re a seasoned veteran, play around with different strains and THC levels. It’s also fun to try out strains with different terpene/THC percentage combinations. Try keeping a “smoking sessions” journal, too. Note how each strain, low or high, made you feel (if you felt anything at all!), along with any specific smoke aromas and flavor profiles.
The best part is that thousands of cannabis strains exist. It’s all about finding the right one for you!