With so many different strains available on the cannabis market today, shopping in a dispensary may feel overwhelming to some. How do you know you’re getting the best strain for your personal needs? There’s one mistake made repeatedly by consumers that needs addressing, and that’s the misleading chase for a high THC percentage. Budtenders are frequently asked by customers what product has the highest THC percentage. This way of shopping significantly narrows your choices and can even lead people to choose a strain that doesn’t have any of the effects they hoped to experience.
The Entourage Effect Theory
So what makes this a mistake? The cannabinoid THC gets you high, so why wouldn’t you want more of it? The short answer is that THC is only a fraction of the whole cannabis experience. To get that full range of effects cannabis offers, you need to understand the entourage effect. The entourage effect is the idea that the combination of different cannabinoids and terpenes can provide a more fulfilling experience. It could be as simple as adding a cannabinoid like CBD into your THC to gain more pain relief than using just THC or CBD alone. Don’t worry if you have no idea what cannabinoids or terpenes are and what they do, as we’ll touch on that.
First off, let’s take a look at THC. While THC is responsible for providing effects such as pain relief, aiding in relaxation/sleep, appetite stimulation, and more, it doesn’t do this all on its own. Terpenes play a considerable role in how different cannabis products will affect you. If you aren’t familiar with terpenes, they are the aromatic compounds in plants, fruits, and essential oils. So how does this relate to your cannabis?
If you’ve ever had a strain boost your mood, it likely tasted like citrus from having a concentration of the terpene limonene. A strain great at pain relief most likely will have a musky odor like a mango due to the myrcene terpene. So depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for, taking into account a strain’s unique terpene profile is by far more important than the percentage of THC the product has.
Let’s say you are trying to relax and get ready for sleep and facing a choice of two strains. One strain may be on the higher end at 28% THC with limonene as its top terpene, while the second strain is testing at 19%, with the top terpene being linalool (the lavender terpene). It may seem like the higher THC strain is best, but the relaxing properties of the linalool in the lower THC strain will be much more effective for sleeping. Having that basic understanding of terpenes and their role in your cannabis experience will open you to a new world of possibilities.
Minor cannabinoids but major benefits
Another aspect of the cannabis experience missed frequently is the minor cannabinoids (CBN, CBG, etc.) some strains offer. While most people have heard of either THC or CBD, cannabis has many more cannabinoids. A great example in the market today is THCv products. Studies find THCv is a great appetite suppressant, and products specifically geared towards weight loss are available at some hemp retailers like Evergreen Wellness and increasingly in dispensary settings.
Considering all of this information, you are now better equipped to make an informed decision the next time you find yourself in a dispensary. Just remember that THC percentage is one small part of all the great terpenes and cannabinoids that provide us with that wonderful entourage effect. Understanding how to use it to your benefit will be the best way to choose the strains you’re going to love.
Written by Dax, Herbal Remedies Dispensary Technician