What is considered “high” THC? Find out in this helpful article, and explore the fascinating world of THC levels.

When Is THC Potency Considered "High"? 

With the cannabis industry still in its infancy and many of our customers trying cannabis for the first time, it’s important to us at SunMed Growers that our clientele understand the nuances of THC, cannabis potency, and how the two relate. While THC levels are our most trusted tool in measuring cannabis potency, it’s just one part of a much bigger picture.

With a variety of different products available on the market, the question of ‘“When is THC potency considered “High”?’ is a very nuanced one. With the potency of cannabis changing over time and everybody reacting in their own manner based on a number of factors, the answer can vary greatly.

Cannabis Strain "Purple Punch" Buds

What Is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, is the primary psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. This is the magic molecule responsible for the "high" or euphoric feeling that users experience after consuming cannabis. 

While the plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, THC stands out because of its unique ability to interact with the brain's endocannabinoid system, leading to a variety of effects ranging from euphoria and relaxation to heightened senses and creativity. Its presence and concentration in a cannabis product is one of our greatest indicators of intensity. However, other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes, also play a significant role in the product’s overall effects.

What Does a Percentage of THC Measure Indicate?

When discussing cannabis potency, the THC percentage that you find on product labels indicates the amount of THC relative to the product's total weight. That's why you see vastly different measures in THC based on the type of product you're using.

For instance, 60-90% THC levels are common in products like vapes, but you won't find them on labels for flower, which hover between 10-30%. That's because vapes are concentrated products, so the total volume is much lower relative to the amount of THC it delivers. However, they're also inhaled through devices that requires a smaller amount of the product than, for instance, a pipe of cannabis.

What Is Considered “High” THC?

A decade ago, a THC content of 10% would have been considered very potent. However, with advancements in cultivation techniques, the bar has been significantly raised.

When measuring the potency of the flower itself, strains with THC content above 15% are considered high. Elite strains, meticulously bred and cultivated, can even boast THC levels of 25% to 30% or more. 

For other products, as we mentioned above, the amount of THC that's considered to be "high" is dependent on the type of product. THC levels in edibles are denoted in milligrams, and anything above 25mg is considered high. For vape pens, 80-90% THC is high. 

Product Type Low THC Moderate THC High THC
Flower <10% 10-15% >15%
Edibles <5mg 5-25mg >25mg
Vape Pens n/a 60-80% >80%

Remember, THC is just one part of the puzzle; the overall composition of a cannabis product will shape your experience.

Close up of a Cannabis Plant

What Is the Average THC Content of Cannabis?

The average THC content in cannabis has seen an upward trajectory over the years. Historically, cannabis from the 1960s and 70s contained THC levels averaging around just 1-3%. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, this average had increased to between 5% and 8%.

Today, due to advancements in breeding, cultivation techniques, and the sheer demand for potent strains, the average THC content in commercially available cannabis typically hovers between 15% and 25%. This means the median potency of cannabis sold in dispensaries and retail outlets is much higher than what was experienced by past generations. 

However, with the growing cannabis market, consumers can find products spanning the full spectrum, from low-THC strains below 5% to super-potent strains exceeding 25%. The choice truly depends on the consumer's preference, with an expansive range available to meet individual needs and experiences.

What Percentage of THC Is Good for Beginners?

For those new to the world of cannabis, starting with a lower THC percentage is advisable. This ensures that the individual can get accustomed to the effects of THC without being overwhelmed. Typically, strains containing 5% to 15% THC are a good starting point for beginners. These strains provide a milder, more manageable high, allowing the user to gauge their tolerance and preference.

Does More THC Mean a Bigger High?

It's a common misconception that higher THC levels directly translate to a better experience. While THC potency is a significant factor in the strength of the psychoactive effects, it's not the sole determinant in how you experience that particular strain or product. 

Yes, consuming a high-THC strain can lead to a more pronounced psychoactive sensation, but the overall experience is also shaped by other compounds in the cannabis plant, such as other cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as external factors. 

How Is THC Content Measured?

THC content in cannabis is quantified using laboratory testing methods, with High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) being one of the most common techniques. Fresh cannabis plants contain THCA, a non-psychoactive precursor to THC. When cannabis is heated (as in smoking or vaporizing), THCA gets converted to THC through a process known as decarboxylation. The HPLC method can measure both THCA and THC levels, offering an accurate representation of the total potential THC content once the product is consumed.

Samples of cannabis flowers are taken from various parts of a batch and are then analyzed in certified labs. These laboratories not only measure THC to a very exacting technical standard, but also other cannabinoids, terpenes, and potential contaminants. The resulting percentage you see on product labels represents the weight of THC or THCA relative to the weight of the flower or product, giving consumers an approximate measure of the potency they can expect.

How Can I Find out the THC Content Of Cannabis Products?

Determining the THC content of a cannabis product is straightforward. Legally-produced and distributed cannabis products, especially in regulated markets, are required to undergo lab testing for potency and safety. The results of these tests, including THC content, are then clearly labeled on the product's packaging. 

Consulting your local dispensary is also a good idea. There the knowledgeable  staff can also provide extra insight into the intensity and effects you can expect, as well as what other cannabinoids or terpenes might be present.

What Are The Risks Of Using High THC Cannabis?

Using high THC products, particularly for those not accustomed to such potencies, can lead to a range of experiences that may be uncomfortable or unsettling. The most common side effects include heightened anxiety, paranoia, and a more pronounced alteration of sensory perceptions, which can be overwhelming for some users. 

Physical side effects might also manifest as dizziness, increased heart rate, dry mouth, and red eyes. Overconsumption can even lead to "greening out," a term used to describe feelings of nausea, disorientation, or extreme anxiety after consuming cannabis.

Frequent and heavy use of high THC products can increase the risk of developing tolerance, where increasing amounts are needed to achieve the same effects. In some cases, this can contribute to dependency or exacerbate underlying mental health issues. As with any product you ingest, it's crucial to use cannabis responsibly, being aware of your limits, and listening to your body's responses.

Finally, you should never drive under the influence of cannabis, and you should be especially careful to avoid driving if you use high THC products. 

How Can I Safely Use High THC Cannabis?

Safely enjoying high THC products requires a blend of knowledge, mindfulness, and preparation. Here are some steps to ensure a positive experience:

  1. Start Low and Go Slow: Especially if you're unfamiliar with a product, begin with a small amount and wait to see how it affects you before consuming more. This is particularly important with edibles, which can take longer to manifest effects.

  2. Know Your Limits: Understand your personal tolerance level. What might be a moderate dose for one person could be overwhelming for another. As you gain experience, you'll better understand how much you can comfortably consume.

  3. Stay Hydrated: Drinking water can help alleviate some side effects like dry mouth and helps ensure you stay hydrated during your experience.

  4. Consume in a Comfortable Setting: Being in a familiar, comfortable environment can significantly influence your experience. If trying a new product or strain, it's best to be in a place where you feel safe and relaxed.

  5. Avoid Mixing with Alcohol or Other Substances: Combining cannabis with other substances can amplify or alter its effects, potentially leading to uncomfortable or unpredictable experiences.

  6. Have a Buddy: Especially when trying a high THC product for the first time, having a trusted friend with you can help you feel calm and secure.

  7. Listen to Your Body: If you feel overwhelmed, remember that the intense feelings will pass. Taking deep breaths, lying down, or even distracting yourself with a movie or music can help.

  8. Educate Yourself: Before purchasing, read about the strain or product, its effects, and reviews from other users. This can provide a better idea of what to expect.

  9. Store Safely: Keep high THC products out of reach of children, pets, or anyone who shouldn't access them. Proper storage ensures safety for everyone in your household.

Remember, cannabis experiences are deeply personal. What works for one person might not for another. It's always best to approach high THC products with respect and caution to ensure a positive and safe experience.

 Close up of cannabis flower

Explore High THC Cannabis Products from SunMed Growers

To experience the best in cannabis products and to have a knowledgeable staff guide you through the high THC choices that might fit you, take your cannabis journey with Sunmed Growers in Maryland

From the most pure and potent shatter, to live resin sugars and RSO (Rick Simpson Oil), we have a wide range of products that are not only highly potent in THC, but that deliver the full flavor and terpene profiles of our sun-grown strains.