The THC content of any particular strain is a metric often prioritized in the cannabis industry.  Consumers with a high tolerance demand it, cannabis producers tout it and in high school your friend’s older brother claimed he has access to the “strongest” bud known to man.  But how much does it matter, is it an indication of quality and what else should a patient consider before choosing the right strain to suit their condition(s).

What Does THC Do

THC, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.  THC is perhaps the most well known of all the plants properties as it is the one most responsible for the euphoric feeling, referred to as the “high”.  What the public is also beginning to understand is the this some cannabinoid binds to receptors in the human endocannabinoid system, mostly in the brain, to assist with the regulation of pain, mood, appetite and other associated feelings.  With that said, let’s look to answer the abovementioned questions.

The Range

First, it is important to understand the THC percentage range.  Surprisingly to some, the cannabis can plant can be bread to have under 1% THC content.  These plants are generally used for hemp production of in producing CBD rich whole flower or extracts.  On the higher end, one will be lucky to find a strain that is over 30%.  Until recently, this was considered the ceiling for THC content, however, as breeding and cultivation continues to evolve, we are being to see strain moving into the early to mid-30 range in places like America and parts of Europe.

The Entourage Effect

Since we are able to measure the percentage in a particular plant, it would seem this is the obvious answer when it comes to which strain is most potent.  While this is clearly a reasonable starting point, we must also take into account the Entourage Effect; a phenomenon that describes the cumulative benefit and amplification the terpene, flavonoids and cannabinoids offer based on their ratio within a particular cannabis strain.  As such, a consumer would have a difference experience, including intensity of the “high” based the full profile, hence the numerous (and increasing) number of strains currently in the global marketplace.

Consumption Method

To add an additional layer of complexity in answering “how high will this strain get me”, one must also look at the delivery system.  Inhalation vs ingestion, for example, will result in a notably different experience and a significantly varied duration of said experience.  Inhalation is a much more rapid onset and more of a “head high” whereas ingestion can take up to two hours to be felt and often perceived as a more intense “body high”.  These differences are due to the body process the cannabis, with inhalation starting in your lungs, passing directly into your bloodstream and then your brain, whereas ingestion sees the cannabis enter one’s stomach, then the liver, ultimately entering the bloodstream and brain.  It is in the liver where the THC is converted into a stronger form which, combined with the THC from the original product, adds to the intensity.  To expand on the delivery point further, one can observe subtle differences between smoking and vaping or solid edibles vs oils and tinctures.  In fact, there are countless methods of smoking that each leave a consumer with a unique experience.

Personal Biology/Preference

Finally, we come down to one of the most determinative factors; the individual’s biology.  As with everything in life, the eight point something billion people will have a varied experience with everything that is processed through their body.  Age, gender, weight and tolerance (i.e. the more one ingests and the more frequently it is ingested will result in the ability to consume more with a lower effect) are all contributing factors to how the THC will effect a particular individual on any given day.

So, Does THC Percentage Matter?

With all of these compounding and competing factors, it may appear that the answering how much does THC content matter, is it an indication of quality and what else should a patient consider are impossible to answer.  In fact, the answer(s) begin to get present themselves once an individual determines what they are trying to achieve.  If you are a medical patient, your doctor will be able to guide you on what strength and terpene profile best suits your condition.  This is become more of an exact science with each and every clinical trail that provides hard evidence on specific compounds and combination of compounds.  If, on the other hand, one is looking to regulate the type of “high”, them the answer is simple… start with a low THC percentage and work your way up; you will know when you find the right one for you.