We walk into a weed shop and look at the menu. As we scroll through the varieties and different offerings we inevitably find ourselves drawn to those higher THC numbers. We see the prices, which appear rather proud, and our American minds conclude that this must be the better product. More THC plus higher price equals best weed. Right? Not exactly. In fact, it turns out buying our weed based on high THC content means we’re making a highly uninformed choice.
Let’s take a minute to look at this from a different perspective. I’d like to invite you to time travel back with me to 2004…
I’m sitting in my friend Bruce’s living room. He’s the guy I call when I need a bag because weed isn’t legal and there’s no place to buy it. It’s actually far easier for me to purchase heroin than cannabis (which is a whole other article). Bruce pulls out some bags of weed he’s gotten from his guy. I don’t ask him if they’re Indica or Sativa, because to be honest I don’t even know what those words mean. I don’t have the interwebs at my fingertips. Google isn’t a thing yet. All I know about Cannabis has come from urban legend, High Times, and personal experience. I don’t ask Bruce what the THC content is because THC testing isn’t a concept I’ve ever even dreamed of. I know Bruce has good weed. It does the trick. He’s available when I need him and his bags always weigh out. If Bruce happens to have two different kinds of weed, I don’t choose one over the other; I buy them both, because the opportunity to have a selection rarely happens.
Now let’s fast forward to the present day. I walk into the weed shop and I see all these numbers and I admit, I’ve gotten caught up in it myself. I’m human and American and I’m sometimes impressed by the bigger better illusion. Let’s take a moment to play this tape out though and look at what’s really going on.
Cannabis has over 100 known cannabinoids, THC being just one of those. THC is the superstar of weed. It’s the cannabinoid we know the most about. It’s like the youngest sibling that gets all the attention. It’s not the only kid in the family though. Let’s consider for a moment what THC does, exactly. In high amounts it can cause anxiousness and paranoia. It also increases our appetite. It can make us become lethargic and spaced out feeling. There may be a time and a place when we want to get spaced out and eat down the house. Usually that’s not what I’m into though.
THC peaks out earlier in the flowering process than other cannabinoids. If we chase those high numbers than we run the risk of not letting the others fully mature. This creates an immature, underdeveloped flower. Because consumers don’t know better and we assume more is greater, we’re driving a market based on totally false information. When we look closer at the industry and what strains are historically well loved and place highest in competitions, we see that these are not the highest THC strains.
I’d read about this for years yet couldn’t seem to get a clear picture of the truth until writing this column and having the opportunity to experience a wide variety of strains and THC contents. Like everyone else, I chased those high numbers, fascinated that they existed and curious about the difference in the effects. After several disappointments I started to ask questions and learned the facts from local cultivators. I quite chasing the high numbers and started buying my weed based on smell, trim quality, and my bud tenders recommendation. This is when my world got brighter.
Right now, the market is driven by THC content. Growers can produce mid quality herb and sell it at exorbitant rates. Consumers pay considerable amounts for what they believe to be a higher quality product. Meanwhile the good shit, the stuff that’ll actually make you feel amazing and does what you need it to do...that stuff sits at the bottom of the shelf because it didn’t test high enough so stores aren't wanting to buy it. It makes zero sense.
Every body is unique and contains its own individual Endocannabinoid system. The sweet spot in THC content for me will likely be different than that for you, however I find mine to be in the 12-18% range. It’s fascinating to learn and share our experiences. This is new territory for all of us. I’d like to invite you to step just outside of your comfort zone and try those lower testing strains. See what they have to offer before deciding they don’t work. Maybe even get real scientific with your bad self and do a few blind samples. I highly suspect you’ll be surprised.