3 Things You Should Know About THC Percentages

Let’s take a moment to talk about THC. It’s commonly known that THC is the compound responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis and is the primary reason for the popularity of cannabis today. In order to compete in the market, growers have spent the past several decades selectively breeding cannabis to prioritize higher and higher concentrations of THC.

Recent research and plenty of anecdotal evidence shows that the shape and quality of your high are largely determined by several other organic compounds that are present in each unique strain. Although we know this to be true, consumer perception has not caught up, and many still think that the higher the THC percentage the better the weed. We are all for celebrating THC, but here are some reasons why it doesn’t make sense to use it as a quality indicator when shopping for cannabis.

1. A single bud represents a 5lb lot.

For each 5-pound lot of a given strain a grower harvests, only one gram is required for LCB-mandated testing. Why don’t we think one bud is a good representation for the remainder of the lot that make it to the shelves? Because cannabis is an agricultural product! The THC density of any two flowers on the same plant is likely to vary. The flowers toward the top of the plant that have more access to light may test higher than flowers that grow closer to the bottom. Out of the entire lot, growers are likely to select a sample nugget to send to the lab that they believe contains the highest concentration of THC. The test results of that nug are used to label ALL the other nugs within the lot.

2. Market incentives for having the highest THC % can encourage dishonest testing.

There’s a misconception amongst consumers that the weed with the highest THC percentage will produce the best high and that lower testing THC strains aren’t as valuable. With consumers’ fixation on obtaining flower with the highest THC percentages, it creates an incentive for growers and processors to meet that demand.  As a result (and as much as it makes us cringe), in some instances, it can drive dishonest practices in lab testing. There’s nothing stopping a grower from dusting their sample nugget with kief before sending it off to be tested. On top of that, labs have gotten into trouble for accepting monetary bribes to “boost” the results in favor of the highest THC potency. Since competition for business between labs also exists, and they know that growers are more likely to return to the labs that give their flower the most favorable test results, it creates an incentive in some cases for technicians to “put a thumb on the scale” so to speak.

3. Other molecules play a huge role in determining the character of the high.

Have you ever tried two strains with the exact same amount of THC but have completely different effects? We certainly have! There are a number of other organic compounds in the cannabis plant that play a huge role in the way our bodies feel once consumed. Other cannabinoids and terpenes in various concentrations and combinations are what make a strain energizing and focused vs trippy and spaced, or chatty and munchy, or a variety of other possible effect profiles.  Read our post Why Terpenes Matter  and There’s More to Cannabis than THC to learn more!

At Dockside, we promise to source the highest-quality, most fragrant, most delicious, most-ethically produced cannabis we can find in the state of Washington. We choose to work with growers who respect the plant and make responsible, sustainable choices both with their product and in their communities.