Why You Should Stop Buying Your Weed Based on THC Percentages
When it comes to life, we all know that there’s more to enjoying it than just “getting the job done.” When we’re hungry we seek out great tasting food, not just something to fill us up. When we want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, we tend to steer toward something with a flavor we enjoy, not necessarily picking a drink based purely on alcohol content. The same holds true when it comes to buying weed. Sure, you can ask for the cannabis strain based solely on THC, but there’s so much more to it than that. By limiting yourself to the highest THC content you may be missing out on different flavonoids, cannabinoids, and a higher quality terpene profile.
Does the THC Percent Matter?
The short answer is ‘yes and no’ but the long answer is so much more complex. The THC percent matters, but not quite as much as people think. Most cannabis tests somewhere between 10 to 15% THC. Yet, some strains have THC levels around 30%. This would lead you to believe that the higher the THC level, the bigger the punch. But in reality, you may be missing out on a better product.
When purchasing cannabis you want to take the terpene profile into account. Terpenes make each strain of cannabis unique. They’re essential oils found in cannabis that offer rich scents and flavors as well as a variety of beneficial effects. When combined with cannabinoid compounds such as CBD or THC you get what is called the “entourage effect.” The terpenes can also have a noticeable effect on the potency levels of cannabis. Ideally, you’d want to find a strain that is an excellent blend of terpenes and cannabinoids.
Cracking the THC Code
As you can see, there are a lot of different terms in the cannabis industry. Before we get into what makes good terpene content and how to pick the right strain for you, let’s visit the terms we’ll be using. Both marijuana and hemp are different species of the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are cannabinoids derived from these plants. THC is found in greater potency in marijuana while hemp is the primary source for CBD.
Marijuana is used for both recreational and medical reasons. It tends to have a THC content between 10 and 40%. THC, formally known as tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive component of marijuana that gives the user the feeling of being “high.”
Hemp must have 0.3% or less THC to be considered hemp. It’s mostly used for industrial products, making things such as textiles, fuel, plastics, and even building materials. Though it is becoming more widely known for its use in THC-free CBD products. CBD is used for a variety of reasons and does not give the user the “high” feeling associated with THC.
The terpenes, as mentioned above, are what provide the smell and flavor associated with each strain. And the delicate balance between THC, CBD, and terpenes is the “entourage effect” that provides users with a different experience depending on the selected strain.
The science and understanding of how these compounds interact, allow us to help users understand what to expect from a specific strain. This information is also used to help ensure users are getting the product they want. Hence why it’s so important to be open and honest about what you’re looking for rather than simply requesting the strain with the highest THC percentage.
What Combination of Terpenes is Right for You?
In order for a dispensary to provide you with the strain that meets your needs, you want to let them know what you’re looking for. Ideally, you want to find the perfect blend of cannabinoids and terpenes to provide the experience you want. If you’re looking for an intense high, then the strain with the highest levels of THC may not even provide the strongest effects of THC. The combination of terpenes has the final say in the type of effect as well as the intensity you would experience.
While the cannabinoids themselves have specific effects, the terpenes amplify that and bring it into a subset such as anti-anxiety, appetite-inducing, pain remediation, or helping you fall asleep and stay asleep. Basically, if you consume a plant with one terpene profile, then there’s a good chance you’ll get a different effect than if you were to consume a plant with a different combination of terpenes and cannabinoids.
Really think about what you’re hoping to achieve with your selection and ask someone at the dispensary if they have a strain that would meet your needs.
5 Common Terpenes and Their Respective Effects
Different terpenes have different scents and flavors. For example, myrcene spells sweet while limonene smells more like citrus. But flavor and aroma aren’t where their differences stop. For example, myrcene also provides a sedative effect and has anti-inflammatory properties. Here are some common terpenes and their effects.
- Myrcene – the most abundant terpene in cannabis with a fruity, earthy flavor. This terpene has sedative, anti-inflammatory, and pain-fighting effects.
- Alpha-pinene & Beta-pinene – this closely related pair offers an aroma similar to pine. This terpene has exhibited benefits when it comes to combatting respiratory conditions such as asthma.
- Geraniol – offers hints of stone fruits such as plums and peaches. This terpene is often found in bath products, but also may have powerful antioxidant qualities.
- Humulene – an earthy, woody aroma, much like hops. Research shows that this terpene may help regulate appetite, have antibacterial qualities, and fight tumor growth.
- Linalool – often associated with the classic smell of marijuana. This terpene helps combat depression, anxiety, and offers relaxing and sedative sensations. Research shows that it may also help reverse memory loss and cognitive impairment frequently associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
These are just a few examples of different terpenes and their benefits. There are many more and we continue to learn more about them.
How to Determine the Terpene Profile of Your Flower
If you’ve already purchased your cannabis and are wanting to learn more about what terpenes it may have, unfortunately, it’s a little more difficult to figure out than just going by the flavor and aroma. There are over 200 known terpenes. Your provider may be the best suited to tell you more about the terpenes in the strain you’re currently using. They can do this by evaluating the terpenes present in the plant’s genetic lineage. However, to truly know what is in a specific strain, a sample needs to be collected and sent for testing at a lab. At the lab, they’ll use gas chromatography (or GC) to test the chemical components.
Your best bet to know what terpenes are present in your strain is to purchase from a dispensary that fully understands the strains they carry. You can tell them what you are hoping to achieve with your purchase, and they can guide you to the strain that would best fit your needs. If you have questions about terpenes and their effects, then they’ll be able to go over the options with you.