Packaged edibles contain precise doses of THC, but it’s harder to know how much THC is in a hit from a joint or a bowl. Find out how to know how much you’re taking.
How Much THC Is in a Hit?
As cannabis gets legalized and brought into mainstream culture, there are a lot of complex questions to answer. For new weed smokers, one of the most common questions is very basic: “How much THC is in a hit?”
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, interacts with every user on a unique basis, so it can be difficult to equate between precise doses and precise effects. However, there are a few things to know that can help give you a general sense of your THC intake and a clearer idea of how your preferred method of ingestion will affect that intake.
What Is the Average THC Content in Today’s Cannabis Strains?
The landscape of cannabis cultivation has evolved significantly over the years, leading to strains with varied cannabinoid profiles. On average, most of the cannabis strains available in the market today contain between 10% to 25% THC, though this can vary widely. Up until the 90’s, most strains stayed below 10%, but with advanced techniques, breeders have developed strains that sometimes even surpass the 30% THC mark.
However, it's essential to understand that a high THC percentage alone isn’t what makes great cannabis or a great smoking experience. It merely indicates a greater concentration of the psychoactive compound typically associated with being “high.”
How Much THC Is in a Bowl, a Joint, or a Dab?
Breaking down THC content by the method of consumption can offer clarity to users. Typically, a bowl (when referring to a pipe or bong) contains about 0.25 to 0.5 grams of cannabis. Given an average THC content of, say, 15%, this translates to roughly 37.5 to 75 milligrams of THC in a full bowl. Moving on to joints, the average joint holds about 0.5 to 1 gram of cannabis. Using the same average THC percentage, a joint might deliver 75 to 150 milligrams of THC.
Dabs, on the other hand, are concentrated extracts of cannabis and are far more potent. A typical dab might contain between 60% to 90% THC. So, a 0.1-gram dab (a common amount) could deliver between 60 to 90 milligrams of THC.
With this simple math in mind, you can get an approximate idea of the total amount of THC in your cannabis or extracts. However, as we will explain, with the different methods of consumption come different success rates in THC absorption.
How Do Different Methods of Consumption Affect THC Absorption?
As the cannabis industry continues to expand, consumers are presented with a plethora of options for consumption. Each method introduces THC to the system in distinct ways, leading to variations in onset, intensity, and duration of effects.
The choice of consumption not only influences the experience, but also how efficiently THC is absorbed by the body. In this section, we'll dissect three popular methods — smoking, vaping, and edibles — to shed light on their respective impact on THC absorption.
Traditionally, when someone asks, “How much THC is in a hit?”, they’re referring to one of the few terms that even non-cannabis smokers have known since long before legalization. They’re asking how much THC is in one inhale of cannabis smoke.
Still one of the most popular forms of consumption, smoking results in rapid absorption of THC into the bloodstream through the lungs' alveoli, providing an almost instantaneous onset of effects.
However, this method is not the most efficient in terms of THC absorption. It's estimated that only about 20% to 27% of the available THC is absorbed when smoking, with the rest lost to pyrolysis (degradation due to heat) or side-stream smoke.
Also, given the variation in how people “take a hit” as well as their anatomy, it’s hard to give an accurate answer to “How much THC is in a hit?”
However, having an idea of how much cannabis you’re burning and inhaling with one hit, combined with figuring the milligrams of THC in that amount can get you to a general estimate. From there, you can estimate the amount of THC you’ll absorb is between 20 and 27 percent of that figure.
Vaporizing, or vaping, cannabis has become more popular due to its perceived health benefits vs. traditional smoking. Instead of combusting the plant material, vaporizers heat cannabis to a temperature that activates the THC, turning it into vapor, thereby removing some of the traditional byproducts of combustion.
Additionally, vaping is considered more efficient than smoking, with studies suggesting that it can deliver a higher percentage of the available THC — sometimes up to 50% to 60%. The onset of effects from vaping is nearly as rapid as smoking, with users typically feeling the effects within minutes.
Edibles encompass a wide range of food and drink products infused with cannabis. When THC is consumed in this form, it undergoes a unique metabolic pathway. Instead of immediate absorption through the lungs, it's processed by the liver first, where it's converted into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent and longer-lasting compound. This results in a delayed onset of effects, often taking anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours.
The effects from edibles can last significantly longer — up to 8 hours or more. Due to this process, edibles are renowned for their more intense and prolonged effects compared to inhaled methods. However, the bioavailability of THC from edibles can vary, with absorption rates typically ranging from 4% to 20%, influenced by factors like individual metabolism and the presence of other foods in the stomach.
How Is the Potency of Cannabis Determined?
The potency of cannabis is traditionally gauged by its THC content, though other cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBN also play roles in the overall experience.
To determine the exact potency, cannabis products undergo lab testing using advanced chromatography techniques. These tests not only quantify the THC percentage but also provide a detailed cannabinoid and terpene profile, which contributes to the strain's effects via the entourage effect.
The entourage effect posits that the combined effect of all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids can influence the overall experience. Thus, while THC percentage gives a quick snapshot of strength, the complete chemical profile offers a fuller picture of what a user can expect from a particular strain or product.
What Is THC and How Does It Affect the Body?
THC is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis. But beyond its famed euphoria-inducing properties, how exactly does it interact with the human body?
Understanding THC's mechanics isn't just about recognizing its potency or predicting its effects; it's about comprehending the intricate dance it performs with our endocannabinoid system. In this section, we will delve deeper into the lifecycle of THC within the human body and explore the diverse factors that dictate its individualized impact.
How Long Does THC Stay In Your System?
Once THC is introduced into the body, it's broken down into metabolites, which can linger in the system for varying durations. The immediate effects of THC might last several hours, but traces of its metabolites can be detected for much longer. In the bloodstream, THC metabolites are typically present for a few hours to a couple of days in infrequent users.
However, in body fat, where these metabolites are stored, they can remain for weeks or even months. Factors such as metabolism rate, body fat percentage, and frequency of cannabis use can influence how long THC stays detectable. For regular or heavy users, THC metabolites might be found in urine tests up to 30 days or more after consumption, whereas for occasional users, it's generally a shorter timeframe.
What Factors Influence How THC Affects an Individual?
The experience of THC is not uniform across all individuals, and a myriad of factors can shape its impact. In individuals, biological factors such as genetics, metabolism rate, and body composition, plus whatever level of tolerance that person has built, all play significant roles.
There are other more subtle and ever changing factors that affect an individual’s experience with THC as well. Aside from noting how you and your body react to cannabis, mental state, mood, environment, and dietary habits are just a few of the more prominent factors to consider before consuming.
These are all factors to consider in order to have the most enjoyable experience with cannabis. For safety’s sake, before consuming, be sure to consider any other substances you may have taken as well. The mixture could cause intensified or altered cannabis effects.
Find the Right Product for You With Sunmed
Once you’ve had your first good experience with cannabis, the journey to finding your favorite strain and method of ingestion is one of discovery, both about the plants and about yourself. You’ll learn about the smells, the tastes, and the coinciding after-effects that feel right for your mind and body.
Whether it’s as accompaniment for the perfect night in with a movie or a late night out with friends, or as relief from days when nausea and migraines won’t relent, there’s a strain of cannabis to match nearly every experience. At SunMed Growers, our helpful staff are here to help you learn and find the perfect strains for you. Visit our Maryland dispensaries today!