Everyone loves to get the most bang for their buck. It’s in our nature to feel like we made a good purchase and received equal value for our dollars spent. Yet, somehow this idea seeped into cannabis buying habits and has become a massive source of misinformation. We have always associated marijuana with THC. This, of course, makes sense because it’s the dominant cannabinoid that we know gets us high. But, somewhere in this “more is more” line of thinking, cannabis consumers were taught to over-value this compound as cannabis’ most prized possession.
Yes, THC is wonderful. It provides various benefits recreationally and medicinally, and many people around the world credit their well-being to incorporating this element into their lives. Logic suggested that the more THC a strain held, the better it was. So, consumers sought out high-THC flower and extracts. Manufacturers jumped at the opportunity to outrank each other with higher and higher THC percentages. But how much does THC percentage matter? Is it the driving force behind our experience with cannabis?
How Is THC Measured in Cannabis?
Cannabis undergoes rigorous testing before ever seeing dispensary shelves. For extracts, even more rounds of testing are needed to ensure the purity of the final product. Lab tests prove that the product is free from mold, mildew, pesticides, residual solvents, debris, hair, and other unsavory contaminants you do not want to smoke.
We are typically focused on cannabinoid and terpene content, but primarily – THC percentage. Especially when it comes to concentrates and extracts. So, how do labs test for THC, and what does it look like on a lab test?
What the Lab Results Determine
Cannabis testing labs use a method called High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to analyze the total amount of THC in a sample. The test delivers various results, including the total percentage of cannabinoids and terpenes. The total cannabinoid tally represents THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC, or other rare cannabinoids that make their way into a particular strain.
Take a look at the following snapshot of a lab test for Zlurricane liquid diamond sauce cartridges. The total cannabinoids come in at 73.69%, with a total THC percentage of 70.99%. The total THC percentage accounts for THCa and Delta-9 THC. There is no CBD present on this sample, but it does contain several other minor cannabinoids.
The total terpenes at 7.92% are made up of several different types of terpenes. In this sample, we found terpineol, guaiol, pinene, bisabolol, and several others. Just like the cannabinoids, each of these terpenes offers its own unique effects.
THC Percentages in Different Extract Types
Every type of extract contains varying amounts of THC. Even the same starting material may end up with different totals based on how it was processed. Yet, there are ranges that we have come to rely on at URSA after years of analyzing our concentrate lab results. Here are the average THC percentages for each type of product we produce.
Is THC Better in Higher Amounts?
A higher THC percentage does not equal a better product or experience. Instead, we have to look at THC as one piece of the puzzle. Albeit, it’s usually the largest piece in the middle, it needs all of those side and corner pieces to flank it down. Then, the puzzle is a complete unit, and you can see the whole picture.
Putting the Pieces Together
So, what about all of those side and corner pieces? While each cannabinoid on its own offers benefits, it’s not a full-spectrum experience. For example, what would happen if you consumed a large amount of pure THC? You get high. Likely very high. But it would feel superficial in a way, as, say, compared to an experience with live resin. The pure THC high would be shorter-lived, with fewer accompanying effects. You would, for lack of a better way to say it – just get high.
Let’s consider the same scenario but with non-psychoactive CBD. If you were to consume a large amount of pure CBD, you probably wouldn’t feel anything at all. Maybe you’d experience some anti-inflammatory effects, but the results wouldn’t be tangibly noticeable.
Now, let’s say you take a mix of THC and CBD. Something different is going to happen. These two powerhouse cannabinoids will enhance each other’s benefits and offer you a higher overall. It will be felt more deeply than the two cannabinoids on their own, and it won’t require as much in total volume to feel that way. It’s like comparing live resin to distillate. Live resin will offer you a better high than a high THC distillate void of terpenes and accompanying cannabinoids.
The Whole Picture
If just two cannabinoids are better than on its own, what happens when you keep adding them up? If you’ve read our Entourage Effect article, you already know what we’re talking about. The entourage effect is what happens when all of the natural compounds found in cannabis work synergistically together to provide a strain’s effect.
So, each strain contains a unique fingerprint of terpenes and cannabinoids. This is an assortment we don’t see perfectly replicated from strain to strain, and the total cannabinoid and terpene content are a delightful mix in varying percentages.
Altogether, this entourage effect produces a high that is so much more than just THC. It’s felt throughout the body and mind, with a luxurious high that lasts much longer. The entourage effect is something you can feel in your bones, and not just on top of your skin. Yes, THC is wonderful, and we are so grateful for our easy access to this miraculous plant. But, to truly honor its intention, the plant is best consumed when preserved to honor its imprint.
Invest in a Full Spectrum Experience
Does the THC percentage matter? Not really. It’s valuable to have THC, but only as a part of the whole puzzle. We’ve been duped into thinking that getting more THC for your dollar is the best way to shop. However, we hope you feel empowered to explore a strain’s testing profile and begin to examine varying combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes and see how they affect you.
At URSA Extracts, we believe that it is our sole mission to source the highest quality, small-batch craft cannabis from growers in Humboldt County. Then, we do our absolute best to capture the shining beauty of the profiles and concentrate it into our line of cartridges and extracts for you to enjoy.
Find us in a retailer near you, and explore all of our strains and test results inside our Terpene Vault. You deserve a full-spectrum experience, and we look forward to continuing to offer it to you.