The cannabis industry throws around a lot of concepts that can get fairly confusing. The science behind the plant is fascinating. Sometimes, cannabis companies simply forget that some of the industry jargon is lost on a larger audience or doesn’t make sense.
One of the biggest topics surrounding marijuana, in general, is how much THC it contains.
So, we’ve taken a deep dive into what THC percentage actually means and how this affects your overall experience. Make sure to review the THC percentage chart below as well.
What is THC Percentage?
The THC percentage of a product describes the total overall amount of THC per product volume. This is measured by weight and usually noted in milligrams per gram.
Cannabis is full of hundreds of active compounds. We mostly hear about cannabinoids and terpenes, as these are responsible for weed’s flavor and effect. Long before legalization paved the way for our deeper understanding of cannabis, the acronym ‘THC’ had been a part of the stoner lexicon for decades.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana. It is actually called Delta-9 THC, but we typically refer to it as THC. In addition to Delta-9, we also know about Delta-8 and Delta-10 variants. However, Delta-8 and Delta-10 are found in such trace amounts that they must be specially extracted and concentrated in a lab to produce enough to infuse products like vape pens and edibles.
When we talk about THC in this article, we are referring to Delta-9 THC which comes from marijuana.
What Does THC % Mean?
The THC percentage indicates potency of the cannabis. What it does not indicate is the effect. While it might seem logical that a strain with 30% THC will get you twice as high as a strain with 15%, that’s simply not the case. We’ll talk more about that below.
For now, it’s important to know that THC percentage simply means the total amount of THC in a product. It is just one ingredient in the entire recipe that makes up a particular strain or product.
THC Percentage Chart
Average THC Percentage
THC percentages range across the different product types. They also vary based on the cultivar, growing conditions, and extraction method. Over the years of developing cannabis products, the industry has documented common trends to help us put numbers to those variable ranges.
Average THC % in Flower
The THC percentage in weed ranges from 10-30%, meaning the average THC percentage is around 20%. If you walk into a dispensary, you will likely find this true while reviewing the menu. Ten percent is considered quite low for THC content, but may be balanced out by a higher CBD percentage.
It’s not uncommon to find strains containing more than 25% THC representing more potent strains, as growers are continually evolving their cultivation knowledge to increase their cannabinoid content.
Average THC % in Vape Cartridges
It’s hard to pinpoint the number for THC percentage in vape cartridges without talking about the different types of oil. For example, many vape cartridges are filled with distillate. This extraction method strips much of the terpenes and secondary cannabinoids away from the oil, because the goal is to concentrate as much THC as possible. Distillate is extremely high in THC, averaging between 85-90%.
However, when comparing distillate vs. live resin, the percentages drop significantly. The goal of extracting live resin is to preserve as much of the plant’s natural elements as possible to provide a full range of effects. This extraction method concentrates the THC percentage, but typically results in an average of 65-95% THC.
Average THC % in Concentrates
Without knowing the type of weed concentrate, it’s difficult to find a reliable average. To put it broadly, cannabis concentrates range from 65% all the way up to 95% THC. If live resin is on the lower end, and distillate is on the higher end, what’s in the middle? This is typically shatter, crumble, wax, diamonds, budder, and other variables of hash.
The end result is determined by the incoming product. For example, if you extract only cannabis trimmings and big leaves, the THC percentage will likely be much lower than if you extract using full buds. This is because the buds contain more THC than the leaves.
Average THC % in Edibles
The average percentage of THC in edibles is primarily determined by state law. Every state has a set of guidelines surrounding edible production to help reduce the risk of someone overconsuming. Edibles are often made with concentrates, and because the active ingredients must go through the digestive system, the effects can last for hours.
Edibles are dosed in serving sizes, and the average serving size of an edible in a recreational marijuana state is 10 mg, with the entire edibles typically at 100mg total (which is the maximum amount allowed in California).
While you can certainly do the math to figure out the THC percentage based on the weight of the serving size, it isn’t as applicable for cannabis edibles. Milligrams is the language we use to talk about potency for things like gummies, baked goods, and even tinctures.
Edible producers do not have to state the percentage of the starting material used to make the edibles, only the milligrams per dosage in the final product. When looking at THC percentage in edibles, always look for the milligram serving.
Does THC Percentage Matter?
This is the part that really ruffles feathers for some people. The THC percentage doesn’t actually matter all that much. This might contradict what you believe to be true about getting high, but hear us out.
THC is just one component of the cannabis plant. Terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals all exist inside this miraculous herb. Together, they work perfectly to provide effects and benefits unique to their specific cultivar. THC on its own does provide psychoactive, stoning effects. However, it doesn’t provide the truest bounty of effects that it would when combined with its natural terpenes and other cannabinoids.
The magic is really in the symphony of these compounds, something we call the entourage effect or ensemble effect. Unfortunately, many people are shopping for products with the highest percentage of THC, believing that this is more bang for your buck.
If you intend to get high very quickly with less sustained results, then this might be the path for you. But if you are looking to experience cannabis in its true essence, consider the full testing profile and try out new combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids to see how you feel.