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On Cannabis Potency Tests

Potency tests on medical marijuana products have become the industry norm over the years. Patients in California expect to see potency results on pretty much any and all products carried in a dispensary. But what do these results actually tell the patient?

Trying to use thc potency numbers in the same way one would with a medication for example or even an alcoholic beverage is a tricky proposition. With either of the afore mentioned products, the potency of the active ingredient (whether it be a chemical compound in a medicine or the amount of alcohol in a beverage) is very useful in predicting the effect the substance will have on an individual. With some trial and error it’s very possible to fine tune dosing and get a similar effect each and every time.

With cannabis though it’s a bit of a different story. When choosing between strains, thc percentage can be a very poor indicator of potency. Seems counterintuitive as potency is exactly what it’s supposed to represent. But the reality is thc percentages of strains just aren’t a good guide as to how the strain will affect you. Thirty percenters can feel “weak” while a strain testing in the low twenties can be very strong and sedative. So, what gives? The general consensus seems to be that the terpene profile rather than the thc percentage is the better indicator of the effects a given strain will have on an individual. There is some thought that the thc percentage might be a good indicator as to how long the effects or high will last… the higher the percentage of thc the longer the effects. In theory a strain could have a dynamite terpene profile and a very low thc percentage and hit an individual very hard for a very short duration of time. This is strictly conjecture at this point though as much more research needs to be done on the subject.

Potency tests can give you some general ideas about a product. Concentrates usually test upwards of 60% thc... with good reason, they’re concentrated versions of cannabis flowers and therefore very strong. Potency results for edibles are a good indicator as to strength… much more so than with flowers. Potency tests can also identify cbd strains. They are not without value.


But if at the end of the day you are at the dispensary looking for the best flowers they have to offer the advice is simple… ignore the potency results, focus instead on aesthetics. Look and smell should be your guides… if a strain appeals to your senses odds are it’s the right medicine for you. This won’t work every time as your senses can be fooled. But overall, you’ll be much happier with your selections than you will if you try to let thc numbers be your guide. Happy strain hunting!