Cannabis potency: Today’s products pack a serious punch (sponsored)
The THC levels in legal recreational cannabis are significant when compared to the black market from decades past
In Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, the selection of strains and potencies in retail shops is nothing like the cannabis people bought on the black market 30 or 40 years ago.
The benefits of this are obvious — consumers now have the knowledge to select products that meet their specific needs. However, the downside is that consumers who recall having a high tolerance with the black market stuff can be in for a rude awakening when they try today’s legal products.
“Today’s cannabis potencies are significantly higher than that of the past, reaching a peak of roughly 38 percent THC. Most strains will average between 18 to 25 percent, but there are some heavy hitters that surpass that 30 percent mark,” says Jake Fessler, general manager at Organix in Breckenridge. “Potencies 30 to 40 years ago were typically 5 to 15 percent and strain names were rarely available.”
Here are some things to keep in mind as you peruse legal cannabis products in Colorado.
Know what you’re buying
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that produces that “high” feeling. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana which does not cause the user to feel “high” or “stoned.”
THC potencies are what you should be paying attention to if you’re concerned about how a product is going to affect your mind and body. THC potencies vary depending on the type of cannabis product, but there can even be large variances in the same types of products.
In concentrates, Fessler says potencies depend on the extraction method and the quality of the processing material.
“Most concentrates average between 65 to 85 percent THC, but pure THCa crystals can reach 95 percent or higher,” he says.
Edibles marijuana products have 10 milligrams of THC per serving, but the effects can feel much stronger than both flower and concentrates, Fessler says.
“Depending on a person’s enzyme count, edibles can be very intense if not managed properly and can be considered psychedelics. Some people also will not feel an effect from edibles at all, making it difficult for the industry to make any recommendations,” he says. “The best rule to keep in mind when eating edibles is that you can always eat more, not less.”
Growers are maximizing THC levels
Strong cannabis genetics can lead to stronger potencies, and growers are doing a lot with cannabis breeding these days in order to develop potent and flavorful strains.
“After genetics, proper care in growing, harvesting at the right time and being patient with the curing process can help maximize a strain’s THC level,” according to Organix.
Take it slow
If you don’t want to have a bad time, the best advice Fessler has is to take it slow. Anyone new to using cannabis should ease into it, but even those who haven’t tried it in a while should heed this advice because of the continuous evolution of marijuana products and potencies.
“Start slow with whatever you are trying and increase as you see fit,” Fessler says. “A tolerance is something that can be lost but also regained, so increase your use or desired potency accordingly.”
High or low?
Is high THC right for you? That depends. Talk to your budtender about the experience you’re seeking to have and he or she will steer you in the right direction.
“High-THC can maximize relief from nausea and muscle or joint pain. It can also help a recreational user achieve a maximum psychoactive effect or ‘high,’” Fessler says. “Lower THC products increase the market reach to those that just want a small relief or don’t want to worry about feeling anxious or paranoid.”
7 favorite strains at Organix this season
1. Greaseball • Considered an Indica, Greaseball has always been our signature strain. Its crystal coated nugs have a gorgeous purple tint and always offer a high potency.
2. Lamb’s Breath • Lamb’s Breath is a land-race strain with unknown genetics, generally our most potent strain on the shelf when available. Our staff will describe the smell as cheesy, sour, and raunchy and the effect is a strong Sativa.
3. Euphoria • This is our high-CBD/low-THC strain that is almost always available and typically presents a 2:1 ratio of CBD to THC. It has a sweet and sour smell and is also available in cartridge form.
4. Blue Dream • Always one of the most popular strains in Colorado, our house grown Blue Dream is a brighter green with distinct orange hairs. The smell is sweet and carries through the whole store when a jar opens up. It is a Sativa and from our staff’s experience, always offers an energetic and uplifting effect.
5. Afghani • An old school Indica strain, Afghani has a very earthy, outdoor aroma. The nugs are large and dense and the effects from our experience, are heavy and focus on relief in the body.
6. GG#4 • Smelling of gas and leaking fuel, GG#4 is a great hybrid strain with effects that can lean either way. It’s potency is generally 20%-25% and the flavor smacks you right in the face.
7. Sunburn • A well rounded Sativa-hybrid, Sunburn has a bright and fruity aroma while tasting just the same. It offers a moderate potency, making the effects manageable for all users.
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