It’s Not All About Potency: What Cannabis Users Must Look For In Their Weed


It’s not uncommon these days to hear about the potency or strength of a cannabis product. Typically, the discussion centers on the percentage of THC or CBD found in a plant strain or its products. Advances in cultivation and technology have seen the potency rise over the decades, especially in recent years as legalization spread around the world.

However, experts in the field tend to agree that the potency is far from the all-end-all indicator that far too many make up. Instead, most suggest that the full plant profile and its numerous compounds each play an essential role in creating the plant’s true healing power and quality.

Much more than THC and CBD content

Sources say that while potency is important, it doesn’t match the quality of the plant or its products. Instead, the full plant profile and all of its connections are considered important in creating the experiences consumers are looking for.

Today’s flowering can reach potency as high as 30% or more, an amazing jump from a few decades ago when the plant’s strength was often in the low to mid single digits. But many like High Life Farms Co-founder Ben Celani notes that plants around 18% potency can still provide a more effective and robust experience than 30% plants if they have the right plant profile makeup, including their terpene content.

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Terpenes, or the oily compounds found in cannabis and other plants, are critical to creating the unique aroma, taste, and effects of each strain. “There are also numerous anecdotes that suggest that switching strains to vary the terpene profile consumed can make the user feel like they have” reset “their tolerance, requiring less consumption to achieve the same level of effect” reported Celani.

Brighid Kelley, Chief Operating Officer, Cannabis Brand incann, agrees. Kelley said the confidence in potency was due to a lack of identifiers that consumers previously had in the market. This has changed as plant information and consumer interest increase.

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“As we continue to learn more about the therapeutic benefits of additional cannabinoids and terpenes, it is becoming increasingly common, due to consumer demand, for cannabis flower varieties to have a full cannabinoid and terpene profile,” said Kelley.

Photo by mikroman6 / Getty Images

What should consumers consider in addition to potency?

Consumers should continue to consider THC strength but go beyond the single metric, especially if it is a medical patient.

Jonathan Wharton, CEO of the cannabis care company Wayfare Nursing Inc., said the entire cannabinoid profile, terpenes, and flavonoids can play their part – as can the method of consumption.

“When you’re trying to treat a disease …[THC content] is only one factor, and it is definitely not the most important for many conditions, ”explained Wharton.

How to choose the best strain of cannabisPhoto by Add Weed via Unsplash

Kelley gave similar advice and delved into it specific cannabinoids of interest including CBN, CBG, THCV, and CBD.

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Hans Enriquez Managing Director of Dazed Inc., the parent company of the coffeeshop franchise Lazydaze, noted that consumers like him are seeking herbal benefits without the potential side effects of THC poisoning, which can include anxiety, paranoia, and increased heart rate.

However, the shopkeeper and cannabis consumer also does not see that the THC potency is decreasing. Instead, he sees that it shares the space with full-spectrum products and more balanced cannabinoid profiles.

Enriquez predicted, “The next development will be a version of a compound pharmacy where products can be customized in terms of cannabinoids and terpene profiles for the consumer.”


Beth Edmonds