Are You Buying Weed Wrong? Science Says “Yes”

Most cannabis consumers have chosen to focus on the THC content of their buds. However, the CBD boom is proof that there’s more to quality cannabis than the psychoactive cannabinoid. But with the legal recreational market becoming increasingly popular, it seems the only qualities on consumers’ minds are the list price and THC content.

A gander at the top shelf of any dispensary will reveal incredibly potent cannabis flower, some of which boasts 25 percent or higher THC content. While high-THC cannabis sells fast, the lower percentage buds are left behind.

Cannabis that tests at beyond 25 percent THC has dispensaries charging $75+ for an eighth. But why?

Because people will pay that price to experience the intense psychoactive effects.

But science has now proven THC isn’t the only variable that comes into play when deciding how ‘fire’ the bud you’ve bought actually is. In fact, recent research from the University of Colorado published in JAMA Psychiatry shows that THC content isn’t a key indicator of flower potency.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Institute of Cognitive Science tracked and documented the experiences of 121 cannabis users. Half of the participants were cannabis concentrate users, consuming high-THC content cannabis extracts. The remaining 50 percent prefer cannabis flower.

During the study, both groups were given cannabis varying in potency. The flower users were provided with cannabis flower boasting either 16 or 24 percent THC, while the extract users consumed oil that contained 70 percent or 90 percent THC.

Before, immediately after, and one hour after administration, the researchers checked the participants’ blood and monitored their cognitive function, intoxication level, and mood. The concentrate users had high levels of THC in their blood following their use. However, they were not more intoxicated or high.

During this study, all of the participants’ self-reported levels of “highness” were similar, along with their measures of cognitive impairment and balance.

Coauthor of the study, Kent Hutchinson, a professor of psychology who studies addiction, said, “People in the high concentration group were much less compromised than we thought they would be. If we gave people that high a concentration of alcohol, it would have been a different story.”

With subjects achieving similar psychoactive effects, it’s likely that THC is just one of the many factors that impact cannabis potency. More than 100 other cannabinoids exist, but most users focus on THC.

This misdirected market demand has growers, dispensaries, and other cannabusiness operators focusing on one cannabinoid when many others exist. The buds could be incredible, but if they’re testing low for THC, they might not even make it to the shelf.

Louis Levey is the Content Success Manager and Founder at No Strings Content. He's passionate about helping cannabis businesses use content to attract, educate, and convert audiences. His hometown is Boca Raton, Florida, but he currently lives and works remotely in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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