Does High THC Mean You’ll Get Higher?
It’s a common misconception: More THC means a better quality product – and that you’ll get higher when you consume it. Just because Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known for its intoxicating qualities doesn’t make it the be all, end all of cannabis product quality. And, while THC is the primary reason you feel high when consuming weed, there’s a lot more that goes into it than that. This guide will help you better understand all the factors that influence your cannabis experience so you can choose the best cannabis product for your preferences.
Does high THC content mean you’ll get higher?
No. High THC content alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get higher, and here’s why. Cannabis is a complex plant with a wide range of compounds, including other phytocannabinoids like Cannabidiol (CBD) and Cannabigerol (CBG), as well as terpenes like myrcene, limonene, and beta caryophyllene.
It’s the complete cannabinoid and terpene profiles working together that produces the effects associated with cannabis, not just THC. So, while THC content is definitely relevant, it’s more important to understand the full spectrum of compounds found in a given cannabis product when it comes to predicting how it might affect you.
What does the science say about higher THC content?
Research into high potency cannabis shows that increasing the level of THC in your bloodstream does not similarly increase intoxication.
For example, one study conducted by researchers at Colorado University (CU) Boulder examined 121 regular cannabis consumers to see whether increasing the amount of THC would make them higher. Half consumed flower ranging from 16% to 24% THC, while the other half consumed concentrates containing between 70% and 90% THC. Researchers then examined the subjects’ blood and measured their mood, intoxication level, and cognitive function before, during, immediately after, and one hour after consumption.
When it came to THC concentration in consumers’ bloodstreams, the concentrate group had much higher levels, exceeding 1,000 micrograms per milliliters at peak levels. Flower consumers, by comparison, only reached a peak of 455 micrograms per milliliter. Despite this stark difference, both groups reported very similar levels of intoxication and showed similar results when it came to balance and cognition.
“People in the high concentration group were much less compromised than we thought they were going to be,” coauthor Kent Hutchison, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder, told CU Boulder Today. “If we gave people that high a concentration of alcohol it would have been a different story.”
What’s a better indicator of your cannabis experience?
If THC content isn’t the best way to gauge your cannabis experience, what is? To better predict what your cannabis experience might be like with a given cannabis product, consider the following factors above and beyond THC content alone.
The entire phytocannabinoid profile, not just THC content, matters when it comes to how cannabis affects you. The best example of this is THC to CBD ratio. CBD is thought to mitigate the intoxicating effects of THC, so when higher levels of CBD are present, you may feel less high even when consuming a product with significant amounts of THC. Consuming cannabis flower with a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio, for example, may produce a more balanced, subtle high than consuming flower with a 10:1 ratio.
There are more than 100 phytocannabinoids that have been identified in cannabis, and they all have a role to play. While researchers are still determining the precise way each works, cannabinoids like CBG, Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabichromene (CBC), Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THC-V), and many others may also influence your experience.
It’s not just phytocannabinoids you have to consider; terpenes are increasingly becoming an important factor, too. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the smells and tastes of cannabis products, but they’re also thought to contribute to how you feel when consuming cannabis.
For example, limonene is often associated with an uplifting, mood-boosting feeling, while myrcene is generally considered useful for relaxation and stress relief. Other terpenes, like beta caryophyllene, may excel at pain alleviation. Understanding terpene profile may be just as important as knowing which cannabinoids are present in your cannabis product when gauging the experience you can expect.
Product type and the consumption method chosen play a major role in how a cannabis product will affect you. For example, smoking or vaping cannabis results in nearly immediate effects that are relatively intense but fade quickly. Edibles, on the other hand, have a delayed onset of effects that can take more than an hour to hit, but once they do they tend to last for a long time. Topicals are altogether different and only provide a localized effect, causing no high but delivering relief to the specific area upon which they were applied.
The experience cannabis products provide is highly individualized, and a big part of that has to do with personal tolerance. Everyone has their own natural tolerance to THC; some have a higher threshold and others have a lower one. Depending on your tolerance, you may need more or less THC to feel high. Just because your friend swears by flower that contains 20% THC doesn’t mean it will produce the same effects for you.
The best way to understand how a cannabis product affects you is to try it for yourself — at Iconic Wellness, we recommend starting with a low dose and gradually working your way up until you achieve the desired effects.
Believe it or not, where you consume has a lot of influence on the overall experience you’ll have. Consuming cannabis in the privacy of your own home, for example, may yield a different experience than consuming the very same product at a crowded party. Consider the environments you intend on consuming in and take note of how a cannabis product makes you feel in one setting compared to another.
What does high THC percentage actually tell you?
The THC percentage on the label of a cannabis product is still useful for understanding a few important things.
First, the THC percentage is an expression of how much THC is contained in the product by weight. So, if a gram of cannabis flower contains 20% THC content, that means there is 200mg THC in that gram of flower. For cannabis oil, the calculation is much the same: a 95% THC vape cartridge would contain 950 milligrams per milliliter of oil.
THC percentage can also be a good barometer for how much product you need to use. Products with a higher THC content may be more efficient, so you’ll use less product to achieve the desired results. So, while high THC products may not necessarily make you feel higher, they do have their uses, so don’t discount them.
Are there any situations where you might need higher THC?
There are certainly some cases in which higher levels of THC come in handy, particularly if you have a high tolerance. Heightened THC tolerance may be due to prolonged, frequent consumption or it might just be that you naturally have a high tolerance for THC. In that case, consuming a product with higher levels of THC might be necessary to feel the effects that someone with a lower tolerance would have when consuming a product with lower levels of THC.
In addition, using high THC flower for producing cannabis butter or oil for baking or cooking infused edible products can reduce the amount needed. Not only does this cut costs, but it also makes it easier to keep plant material out of the final product, improving the taste and consistency of your edibles.
Finally, medical patients managing chronic conditions, severe pain, or nausea and vomiting as side effects of chemotherapy or other treatments may require significantly higher levels of THC.
Choose the best cannabis product for you!
With this information at your disposal, you can be confident that you’re able to find the best cannabis product for your needs. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at an Iconic Wellness menu to see what’s available or visit one of our Iconic Wellness locations in Sturgis, Gaylord, or Lowell to see what we have in stock. If you’re still not sure what cannabis product you want, our friendly, knowledgeable budtenders will be happy to find the perfect match for you — so, come visit us today!