To say that cannabis has changed would be a huge understatement. New products, new consumption methods, and new ways of accessing cannabis have completely transformed the cannabis landscape.
Another thing that has completely changed is the potency of the cannabis we enjoy. Thanks to improvements in growing and processing techniques, today’s cannabis is more potent than ever before.
What would have been thought of as high THC before is nothing compared to the THC levels you can find today. What is considered high THC nowadays?
The Rising THC Levels of Cannabis
One look at a dispensary shelf and you’re likely to see many high-THC strains featuring THC levels that growers could only dream of several decades ago.
Thirty years ago, THC levels were well below 10%. However, nowadays, you are likely to find strains with 3 times that amount of THC on the shelves of your local dispensary.
Breeders have worked had to crossbreed strains and perfect strain genetics with an eye toward achieving the highest THC levels possible. Additionally, newer growing techniques have been able to bring out the best of the cannabis plant leading to more cannabinoids and terpenes in recent grows.
However, one consequence of breeding higher THC strains is that many of these ultra-high THC strains have little to no CBD. CBD (cannabidiol) is a calming cannabinoid known for its therapeutic potential. Less CBD may mean less effective therapeutic effects.
What Is Considered High THC?
So if cannabis levels have risen so much, then just what is considered high THC nowadays?
The highest THC strains you’ll find at dispensaries will feature over 30% THC. While the highest THC strains now regularly reach over 30% THC, you won’t find anything over 40%, and you probably won’t find anything over 35% either. The 30%–35% sweet spot is where you’ll find the highest THC strains.
Some of the highest THC strains around include:
If the current trend is any indication, you can certainly expect to see even higher THC levels in the future. Just don’t expect the same kind of growth as in the past. Biological limitations mean that there’s a natural ceiling for just how much THC a cannabis plant can have.
Does It Matter?
Is higher THC really better? It depends on who you ask.
In the past, it was believed that the more THC a strain had, the more intoxicating its effects. Since THC is the cannabinoid primarily responsible for the mind-altering and intoxicating effects of cannabis, this would make sense. But it’s not the full story.
More recently, terpenes have been gaining attention for their potential contributions to the effects of cannabis. What are terpenes? They are aromatic hydrocarbon compounds and, for a long time, it was believed that they were only responsible for giving cannabis its smell and taste. However, recent research indicates that terpenes may actually have their own therapeutic effects. This has led many to speculate that strains with a rich terpene profile may be more beneficial than strains that are simply packed with THC.
Additionally, there are many other cannabinoids (what are cannabinoids?) in the cannabis plant than just THC. The entourage effect suggests that these compounds may work together in synergy to produce the overall effects of cannabis. Paradoxically, a strain that is loaded with THC but little else may actually be worse than one with less THC but a richer cannabinoid and terpene profile.