The intricacies and nuances of smoking marijuana have only gotten more complex in recent years. Before legalization and the ability to buy flower in dispensaries, many people simply relied on the word of others that their stuff was “good.” But as customers now have more choices and wider varieties to choose from, knowing about your weed has become increasingly important.
One of the main components of marijuana, and the reason that most people choose to get high, is THC. Often times, people will base their purchase solely on how much THC a particular strain has, while others try to stay away from it at all costs. What exactly does THC do and how can it affect your purchase and your high? Let’s find out!
The Basics Of THC
If you skipped out on science class don’t worry, we’ll keep this brief. Understanding what THC is and how it can affect you goes a long way when it comes to the weed you smoke. In short, cannabis contains over 100 different chemical compounds, and some of them have a much larger impact on your body than others.
One of the more prominent compounds, called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is responsible for the psychoactive effects you experience when smoking. THC is considered a cannabinoid and binds with receptors in your brain to create a variety of effects. Because these receptors are already primed and ready to receive THC, many argue that our body was naturally created for cannabis use.
Can You Get Too High?
Because THC reacts with the body on a chemical level, there are a plethora of factors that influence a person’s high. You may hear cannabis users talk about their tolerance for weed, and that has to do with how much they can smoke before feeling “too high.”
Like many other biochemical processes, it takes our bodies a time or two to adjust to a new compound when it enters our system. For many, the first smoke session results in an extreme high that lasts hours on end after only one or two puffs. Some individuals experience extreme psychoactive effects like hallucination or exceptionally heightened senses for a full 24 hours or more.
Over time, the brain gets used to THC and knows how to process it, which is why most of the time people need more and more weed in order to achieve the same effect. However, some users’ makeup dictates that they never really adjust and every time they consume pot it’s an intense experience. If that’s the case for you, staying away from weed altogether might be a better choice.
It’s In The Math
Now that we understand a bit more about what THC is and how it works, it’s time to apply that information on a practical level. When you visit your local upscale dispensary like The Bakeréé and see all of those percentages for each strain, what does it actually mean?
Before hitting the retail shelves, each strain is tested for its potency. THC levels can vary from harvest to harvest even in the same type of plant, so it’s imperative that growers properly test their material. While the methods of doing so can vary, most use specific labs that have appropriate equipment to accurately test THC.
Using a process called high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), individuals are able to determine the amount of specific cannabinoids in each strain. Labs always do their best to accurately report THC and CBD levels each and every time they review a batch of weed, however unfortunately there are often reports of over inflation of THC percentages.
While it’s possible for certain cannabis products like concentrates to reach percentages upward of 60%, marijuana flower rarely comes that potent. As of 2017, the highest recorded strain ever came in at 34.04%, which is quite powerful for flower but rather weak compared to other cannabis options.
Knowing What To Buy
THC preferences run the entire gamut when it comes to cannabis connoisseurs, with some who prefer a powerful punch with maximum psychoactive effects and others who need a more mellow high. In general, here’s what you should look for when it comes to THC levels:
- Below 15% – Nearly everyone will agree that strains with less than 15% THC are considered fairly weak, and are great for new smokers or those who are very sensitive to cannabis. The psychoactive effects you experience will be quite gentle or perhaps even nonexistent.
- Between 15% and 20% – Often considered to be a moderate THC range, strains in this category often hit you hard and fast. Effects will vary based on the particular strain you use, but in general it will only take a few puffs for you to feel it. Your high could last for several hours with strains of this potency, but again this will vary depending on your unique body chemistry.
- Above 20% – Novices should take note when smoking a strain with this level of THC. Those who are more experienced often aim for these stronger strains because it will get them the high they’re looking for without having to smoke a lot of it. Remember, the higher the percentage typically the more psychoactive effects you’ll encounter. Seasoned smokers tend to have quite a bit of fun when smoking flower that’s in this THC range.
THC can be a rather confusing topic for some, but ultimately knowing how your body reacts to certain levels of it can be a huge help when it comes time to visit your local dispensary. If you’re new to smoking marijuana and aren’t sure how you’ll feel, don’t be afraid to share your questions or concerns with your budtender. After all, their job is to help guide you to the particular product that will best meet your needs.
The next time you light up a joint, take note of the strain’s THC levels and how you feel both during and after your high. If nothing else, it might be a fun little experiment to see how you react to different THC strengths.