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What is THC?

THC is the chemical compound in cannabis that is responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects - its makes people feel high.  

Is a higher % better?

THC percentage has nothing to do with the quality of your cannabis and is also a poor indicator of how strong it is.  It’s easy to assume that this  would mean more THC equals more psychoactive effects, especially as that’s the case with alcohol, where a higher percentage of alcohol by volume leads to a higher level of intoxication. But with cannabis, there are a few additional factors to consider.  

Why the confusion?

When you go into a dispensary you may notice that the higher percentage cannabis strains cost more.  This is because of  the misconception of higher THC equaling higher highs.  This way of thinking has been persuasive enough to affect pricing throughout the industry.  

The amount of THC in a strain can vary 10-30% depending on where on the plant the flower was harvested from. Buds on the top of the cannabis plant have the most THC. These numbers decrease the further down on the plant you go.  


Growers get to handpick which sample they send off to a lab to be tested. Unsurprisingly, a lot of them choose buds from the tops of the cannabis plants. You might see 28% THC on the label, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get nugs from the part of the plant that’s testing that high.  

In Vermont, lab tests ensure that your cannabis is free of residual pesticides, unwanted contaminants, and the presence of mycotoxins like mold and mildew.  While the testing is important for pesticides and other things, keep in mind that cannabinoid testing should not be a deciding factor on potency.  

State Regulated Lab Testing

So, if the % doesn't mean everything, then how to choose?

Start by trusting your senses. Look for brighter hues, fewer seeds and stems, and sugary, sticky, terpene-rich trichomes. If you have the opportunity to smell before buying, look for a pungent and complex aroma that matches your preferred flavor profile.  Don't be shy to ask the budtender  to make a custom recommendation based on your individual taste, needs, and preferences.  THC percentage is the official measure of potency in the cannabis industry because, but there are emerging organizations that are trying to educate and  change the narrative about THC and cannabis.

Strong cannabis with potent psychoactive effects comes in all shapes, sizes, and THC levels. So does mild weed. The key to getting it? Communicate what you’re looking for, and be open-minded.

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