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Cannabis has come a long way since its popularized use in the ’60s and ’70s. In fact, one study shows THC potency and percentages have increased by 212% between 1995 and 2015, alone. As we’ve watched the legalization of cannabis increase exponentially, so have the strains that are available for purchase and THC products on the market as a whole. With professional and advanced growing techniques, it’s no wonder why weed THC percentages have never been higher. Many of the top-notch cultivators take strict measures to ensure their buds boast high levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid. So, how much is too much THC and what do the percentages actually mean for your buzz? We’ll answer those questions and more, in our in-depth guide to THC percentage in weed and why it matters.

How Do THC Levels Affect Cannabis?

Marijuana plants produce over 100 cannabinoids, with THC usually being the most abundant and highly-sought-after. The unique compound interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to deliver its’ soothing, relaxing, or stimulating effects. So, to answer the question ‘how do THC levels affect cannabis’, is somewhat simple. The higher the levels of THC, typically, the higher you’ll get.

How Do THC Levels Affect Weed
THC Levels Affect Weed

Of course, like anything with cannabis sometimes an answer isn’t that straight-forward. Cannabis’ other cannabinoids, and compounds like terpenes, all work together. Some amplify each other’s effects, while others may deter from THC’s strengths. When THC, CBD, and plant phytonutrients work symbiotically, a phenomenon known as the ‘entourage effect’ can occur.

This is one reason one strain with similar levels of THC may affect you differently than another. Like an Indica strain making you sleepy, while a Sativa delivers bursts of energy. Let’s cover strains and their varying levels of THC percentages next, to dive deeper into their differences.

Why Do Different Strains Have Different THC Percentages?

When it comes to cannabis plants, there’s not a one-size-fits-all type of genetic. Each strain or gene is unique in the way they grow, and the compounds they produce. Certain strains contain high levels of CBD, while others have an abundance of THC. The strain’s varying percentages start with their genetic make-up they have as a seed.

From there, growers take the reigns. Cultivation techniques have the ability to nurture higher levels from the plant, with certain lights, nutrients, soil, or growing methods. This is one reason why you might see one brand’s Gorilla Glue have a lower percentage of THC than others. While strains tend to have a range of THC they’re able to reach, it is possible to promote the production of the compound to higher percentages.

THC Levels: How To Calculate THC Percentage?

You’ll often see ‘total THC percentage’ on marijuana packaging, or varied cannabis products. But, what does that number mean or how is it calculated? The percentage is derived from the total amount of THC that is available for use, so calculating how many mg of THC in a joint you can actually consume will be different. So, out of all of the cannabinoids and compounds present in the bud, “X”% is how much of the total amount is actually THC.

So, in THC oil cartridges, or THC inhaler products it’s normal to see extreme percentages ranging from 90-99%. That’s because these types of products use concentrated forms of cannabis flower, that extract higher levels of THC. With actual marijuana flowers, percentages tend to range between 10-30%. Don’t worry, we’ll cover the most popular strains and their typical THC percentages next as a handy guide to finding higher levels of the compound.

THC Percentage Chart

Taking a look at some of the most consumed strains, and their standard levels of THC will give you a good idea of how the level %’s affect you personally. Of course, everyone is different and THC is unique in its effects from person to person. Here are a few of the most recognizable strains, and the percentage of THC you can expect to find from them.

strainStandard THC %
Silver Haze23%
Death Star19-21%
White Tahoe Cookies23-30%
Gorilla Glue23%
Bruce Banner25%
Girl Scout Cookies17-28%
Chemdog19-20%
Amnesia Haze20-25%

What Is The Highest THC Percentage In Weed?

Finding a strain with levels of 30% THC is rare, but not impossible. Like we mentioned, some growers take extreme measures to try to amplify their bud’s psychoactive compound. But what is the highest THC percentage that’s actually been recorded? Recently, Leafly performed a review of legally sold cannabis flower and their respective lab reports, to figure that exact question out.

What they found was Ghost OG registered the highest THC percentage with a whopping 28.7%. Other strains that closely followed this elevated level, but are rarer on the mainstream market included –

Now that we know more about THC percentages, and what they actually mean…how does that translate to edibles? Many cannabis connoisseurs have taken the hobby or pleasure of DIY’ing edibles at home in which they use ground-up flower. We’ll cover this new calculation next, with a simple to use equation.

Counting Cannabis THC Percentage When Making Your Own Edibles

When purchasing edibles, brands do the work for you by printing the THC edible dosage on the package. But making your own is a different story. If you use 5 g’s of a flower with 15% THC to make butter or oil, how does that number breakdown into the edibles you make? Let’s head back to math class to help you figure it out. You’ll need the average THC percentage of the strain you’re using, so do a quick internet search of the strain if the flower is unmarked.

So, if you made 1 cup of oil or butter with 5 grams of weed at 15% THC, the butter contains 750 mg of THC. If you use the full the cup in a recipe, you’ll just divide 750 mg by the # of edibles the batch produces to find out the ‘per serving’ dosage. Say you make 25 chocolates, each chocolate has 30 mg each (750 ÷ 25).

Does A Higher THC Percentage Means Better Weed?

Again, sometimes answering questions on cannabis can be tricky. Even though a higher THC percentage can be a sign of more quality cannabis, lower THC percentage strains can be just as good. What do we mean?

Higher percentage marijuana has a naturally higher potency, so you can expect your high to be elevated. But strains with lower percentages may be better for you, or just as high-quality. When you take into consideration the ‘entourage effect’ of other cannabinoids, some strains may even make you feel more buzzed with lesser THC percentages. Some of the better more quality cannabis on the market today, doesn’t always come with high percentages of THC to be so stellar in effects.

Does A Higher THC Percentage Means Better Weed
high thc levels in weed

With that said, when thinking about ‘better’ in terms of quality, the higher the levels of THC can also reflect on the level of care of the grower. This means the bud could have higher levels in all cannabinoids, major or minor, and more abundant terpenes, too. The higher the terpenes, the better the taste, and many cannabis consumers rate their cannabis-based on taste or aroma, alone.

But always keep in mind, some strains genetically output higher levels of THC on their own. So, no matter how you grow it you can expect consistent potency no matter the actual ‘quality’. Not to mention, because THC interacts individually from person to person, one high percentage strain may be ‘better’ for you than others. Generally, if you’re looking for an extraordinary experience the highest THC percentage strain is a good place to start. That just doesn’t mean, it’s the only option you have with the wide array of cannabis options available, today.

Is Any THC % Too Much?

To close, we’ll answer one final question. Is any THC % is too much? As a recurring theme to the information, you learned on THC percentages... only you will know your threshold for THC personally. While THC percentages in weed are a good guide to how potent the flower or product will be it isn’t the only factor to consider when evaluating your high. Concentrates with 90%+ THC levels aren’t too much for many, and are used often and safely. Even if you cross your personal threshold, and get ‘too high’ luckily no THC amount is ‘too much’ in the sense of a fatal overdose. When overdoing your personal THC level you may feel queasy, or not quite right but at least now you know what %’s or strains to stay away from.

Written by Courtney Trzos

To Courtney, it’s always 420 somewhere. After attending Michigan State University and working as Marketing Manager and Communications Specialist for over 10 years, she took her personal passion for cannabis, professionally. In 2017, Courtney began freelancing as a writer and graphic designer for Cannabis brands across the globe, positively promoting the therapeutic and recreational use of the plant. While helping her partner cultivate crops full-time, and learning more about the industry from a seed-to-sale perspective. In Courtney’s spare time, she likes to make homemade edibles, hang with her two kids and watch anything, true crime-related.

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