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What Is Considered High THC?

Cannabis flowers, outside on a sunny day

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The world of medicinal and recreational cannabis has recently exploded, and it can be hard to keep up with the many different products and potencies available. Between CBD retailers and legal marijuana dispensaries, we can find THC and CBD sold as edibles, vapes, tinctures, and many other products. Not only is there a lot to choose from, but these products may also contain anywhere from 0-95% THC. With such a range on this still-controversial psychoactive cannabinoid, you may find yourself wondering, what is considered high THC content?

How much THC is considered high depends on the type of product. What is considered high THC in plants differs from what’s considered high in concentrates. It also differs from the THC found in CBD products, as well as for artificially made THC. 

It can be confusing to look at one product that contains THC, then find another with a completely different amount. Luckily, there is a gauge for what is considered high THC in the products commonly found on the market today. In this article, we’ll share what is considered high THC in the various types of THC products available, as well as the benefits and risks associated with this high content. 

What Is Considered High THC in Marijuana Products?

The definition of high THC content in marijuana products has changed over time. By today’s standards, anything over 15% THC is considered high THC. However, many strains have upwards of 20%, and concentrated products may have as much as 95% THC. 

The percentage that is considered high THC content has changed over the years as people have developed methods to grow cannabis plants with higher naturally occurring THC content. That means that, although the 1960s and ’70s counterculture is stereotypically associated with hippies and marijuana, the weed found back then had only a fraction of the THC commonly found in marijuana products today. 

From the 1960s to the 1980s, most weed only had around 2% THC. Even in the early 1990s, the average THC content in marijuana was less than 4%. The average was over 15% by 2018, and that number has continued to increase to the 20-25% THC that’s found in many strains today.  

There are also two types of marijuana that factor into the THC content of a product. Sativa strains usually have more THC and less CBD, while indica strains tend to have more CBD and less THC. However, it should be noted that this distinction is not always clear and should be used more as a guide than a set rule. Due to the amount of cross-breeding that has occurred between cannabis plants, many strains have become hybrids that carry some characteristics and properties from both types of plants. 

Aside from different marijuana strains, there is now also an abundance of products that offer even higher concentrations of THC than what is found in flowers. Since they are made with a concentrate rather than raw plant material, products like dabs, edibles, oils, and shatters sold in legal dispensaries may have as much as 95% THC. 

What Is Considered High THC in CBD Products?

CBD products were legalized in the US with the 2018 Farm Bill, though there were several qualifying factors. These products must originate from hemp, a type of cannabis plant, and they must contain no more than 0.3% THC.

This includes the small natural presence of THC that may be present in full spectrum oil extracts and a THC content of up to 0.3% of the final dry weight of the product. That means that in a 3.3-gram gummy, you could have up to 9mg of THC and still be Farm Bill compliant. 

A CBD extract that contains THC is considered a full spectrum oil, which is one of three common types of CBD products on the market. Full spectrum oils offer enhanced health benefits due to something called the entourage effect, in which the benefits and effects of the extract are increased from all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids working together. 

Broad spectrum oils are another type of CBD product that offers similar effects and benefits, but removes all THC from the final oil. This allows individuals who are avoiding THC to obtain close to the same benefits offered by the full entourage effect.   

The last type of CBD is a CBD isolate, which removes all other cannabinoids, including THC, and leaves only pure CBD extract in the final product. Although isolates are popular with some people who want to ensure that they stay away from THC, their benefits are also reduced to only what CBD can offer on its own.  

The Farm Bill didn’t account for many CBD products now also containing synthetic THC. Delta-9 THC is the most common and potent variety, though others like Delta-8 and Delta-10 have also grown in popularity. Although they mimic the chemical structure of naturally-occurring THC, they’re made by turning CBD into THC through a chemical process called isomerization—something with little to no research or safety data to back it up.

What Are the Benefits of a High THC Content?

A high amount of THC means the product is more potent, which results in more intense mind-altering effects along with the full extent of health benefits that THC can offer. However, the extent of these benefits will also depend on the strain as well as the other cannabinoids present.

There are more than 100 different cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis plants, and when they are all present in a full spectrum product, they produce the entourage effect. Although some people avoid products with THC due to its mind-altering effects, the entourage effect offers the greatest degree of benefits. 

The psychoactive effects of high THC content are often favored by artists and creators. Increased THC can result in a rush of energy, increased creativity, increased appetite, and a buzzed feeling. 

The effects of either variety can last for several hours, particularly when taken as edibles that require time to digest and process. Their intensity will also depend on factors like a person’s tolerance and usage habits, body mass, and how recently they’ve eaten. 

Negative Effects of High THC Content

Although a product with high THC content can offer heightened effects, it can also bring about effects that some consumers may want to avoid. 

The severity of these effects will vary from person to person, but tend to be more intense in higher servings or for those not accustomed to THC use. Some of these unwanted side effects may include: stress, loss of focus, and so on. 

Conclusion

High THC content may sound ideal to anyone who wants increased psychoactive effects of THC, but the side effects and associated risks of extremely high THC products derived from marijuana should cause some consumers to approach with caution. While heightened potency can increase some effects, this includes unwanted side effects. There is much that’s still being discovered about cannabis, and while many potential benefits have turned the market into a thriving industry, it is always important for those using or considering cannabis to stay well informed about the newest research and to only purchase products from trusted retailers.

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