Love the full-body high you experience from marijuana? You can thank THC for that bliss. But did you know that different weed strains can have varying levels of THC? Yup, it's true! That's why knowing the average THC percentage of your favorite strain is essential in understanding what kind of experience you'll have. Here's everything you need to know about determining the average THC level in bud, including how much THC is in the five most popular cannabis strains!
What Is THC?
THC, or 9-delta tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the main chemical compounds found in marijuana, and it's responsible for getting you high. It is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, including hemp plants used to produce CBD products.
THC elicits a mind and body high by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in your body.
Does All Weed Have the Same THC Content?
All cannabis strains have varying THC levels. It is common for many strains to have similar THC content, but it will always vary.
In fact, you will not get the same THC concentration if you test each individual bud from the same plant. Every leaf has a different percentage of THC, which makes determining the actual THC concentration of weed challenging. It becomes even more difficult when you begin to weigh other factors that might impede THC production.
How Farming Can Impact the Average THC Content of Flower
Genetics is a common reason for a difference in THC concentration. However, they are far from the only factor. From cultivation to harvest to processing, the plant's environment plays a very significant role in the average THC levels in weed.
Factors that can increase or decrease THC concentration include:
- Light exposure
- Soil quality
Conditions need to be perfect for buds to reach their highest THC level potential. For example, plants grown in conditions with less light and cooler temperatures tend to produce denser buds, which can contain a higher concentration of THC.
Additionally, outdoor-grown plants tend to have lower THC concentrations than indoor-grown plants. You have less control over the elements when you’re growing outdoors.
Lastly, the use of pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers can also affect the THC concentration in plants, so growers need to be vigilant to ensure their cultivation practices don't negatively impact the final product's quality. That’s why it’s so important that you only purchase products that are third-party lab tested for purity.
How Harvesting and Curing May Alter Average THC Percentage In Weed
Harvesting and curing methods both play a crucial role in the average amount of THC in weed. When the flower is harvested will have a severe impact on cannabinoid development.
Harvesting too soon or too late can result in lower THC concentrations, whereas harvesting at the right time can increase THC concentration. There is a debate as to when is the right time to start harvesting, but the methods used to make these decisions are universal.
Farmers must monitor the trichomes, which are tiny hairs on weed buds. Trichomes excrete a crystalline "glaze" on the flower.
As the resins become milky, it is time to start harvesting. This cloudy hue will start to turn amber as the plant matures. When 20% to 30% of the trichomes are amber, it is time to start harvesting. If too many of the flowers have turned amber or brown, then the harvested buds are at an increased risk of a lower THC concentration.
After harvesting, proper curing is essential for preserving and increasing the already present THC levels in cannabis. Doing this process, the inactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) becomes activated as THC. Many factors influence successful THC conversions, including humidity and temperature.
Properly curing and drying the flowers helps break down and convert the inactive THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) into active THC. If the curing process is done incorrectly or too quickly, it can lead to lower THC concentrations in the final product. Similarly, if the cannabis is exposed to high temperatures or excess moisture, it can result in a loss of THC concentration.
In summary, harvesting and curing methods impact THC concentrations in significant ways. Carefully timing the harvest and properly curing the cannabis can help maximize THC concentration, while improper practices can negatively affect it.
Does More THC Mean Higher Potency?
While THC content certainly plays a role in the potency of cannabis, it's not the only factor. Other plant compounds within the plant have a significant influence on how THC works, such as other cannabinoids and terpenes.
When other terpenes and cannabinoids are present, it promotes synergy known as the entourage effect. Their presence amplifies the effects of THC, making that strain more potent.
Therefore, if a strain has a high THC percentage but a low level of other cannabinoids and terpenes, you may not experience as intense of a high as compared to a strain with a low THC concentration but high levels of terpenes and other cannabinoids.
What Is the Average THC in Weed?
It is difficult to give a general answer to how much THC is in weed because each strain is different. As we've mentioned, THC concentration is further impacted by the plant's growing conditions and how it's processed.
The average THC content in marijuana flowers typically falls between 15% to 25%. In 2017, the University of Mississippi studied the average THC percentage in weed seized in the United States, finding the average concentration of THC in marijuana was around 17.1%.
Average THC Content of the 5 Most Popular Strains
Popular types of weed strains can contain varying amounts of THC. Here are five of the most popular weed strains and the average THC level in them!
Sour Diesel is a pungent, diesel-like strain, with notes of gasoline, lemon, and pine. It’s sativa-dominant with a wide terpene profile that includes limonene, caryophyllene, and myrcene. Along with a robust terpene count, this strain has a high THC percentage, ranging from 20%-25%. Therefore, this strain is THC-rich and potent!
Enlighten your nighttime routine by lighting up with Hindu Kush. This indica-dominant strain is known for its relaxing effects and boasts an average THC concentration of 18%-22%. Hindu Kush has high levels of myrcene, which is accentuated by other beneficial terpenes, including caryophyllene, humulene, pinene, and limonene.
Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scout Cookies is a hybrid strain of cannabis with earthy notes and uplifting effects. Much like Sour Diesel, its terpene profile is dominated by myrcene, limonene, and caryophyllene. The THC content in Girl Scout Cookies is usually between 18%-25%, making this strain just as concentrated as Sour Diesel at most times, but not always!
Blue Dream is a hybrid plant that usually has between 17%-22% THC in its cannabinoid profile, with 18% being the average THC percentage. While it's known to have mellowing effects, this hybrid is sativa-dominant, so it also supports an energized mind. It has a low CBD profile and a variety of terpenes, that include caryophyllene, linalool, pinene, and terpineol. Therefore, Blue Dream can be deceivingly potent!
Can’t go wrong with a kush that is donned the OG. OG Kush is a hybrid that is only slightly sativa dominant. It creates a solid body high but uplifts the mind, making OG Kush the ideal strain for a lazy day on the couch figuring out cold cases on documentaries. This popular strain has around 18%-23% THC content, with most buds producing about 20% THC per harvest.
How to Pick the Highest Average THC Content
The average THC percentage in cannabis generally ranges from 15% to 25%. Many variables can impact the average amount of THC in weed. Even selecting the same strain every time you shop doesn’t guarantee that you will always get consistent THC levels with each new purchase.
To ensure you purchase flower with the highest THC content available, you must read lab reports for that particular batch. Even then, THC content can degrade before you consume it.
However, lab reports will provide the most accurate representation of the average THC level in your bud. Use these reports as a guide to help you make an informed decision.
Also, educate yourself on the effects of the strain you are selecting. Choosing a strain with high THC levels that makes you feel sleepy is counterproductive if your intended effect is to be more energized.
Not sure which to choose? Any of the five strains above is an excellent place to start!
Gerrid Smith is a seasoned entrepreneur with 15 years of digital marketing experience, featured in notable publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur. In 2018, Smith turned his passion for health, wellness, and cannabis into a business, co-founding Joy Organics, an internationally-recognized CBD brand. It saw remarkable success with $15.9 million in revenue in its first year and the establishment of a thriving partnership program. A few years later, he co-founded budder, a THC-focused sister company, to meet the growing demand for more buzz-worthy products.