what is thc?

What is THC?

Cannabis Anatomy

What is THC?

THC is the component in cannabis that is primarily responsible for its intoxicating, psychoactive effects.

Highlights
  • A cannabis plant’s THC content is expressed as mg/g or as a percentage of mg per gram. This is often referred to as “potency.”
  • THC is intoxicating and can produce a variety of intended effects, but consuming too much or choosing a product with a high potency potential can produce harmful or negative effects.
  • THC content is indicated on the packaging of any cannabis product sold on cannamed420.com.
  • THC ranges shown on our product pages are provided by cannabis producers and may differ from ranges specified on the actual packaging.

Of the more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one principally responsible for the psychoactive and intoxicating effects of cannabis consumption.

Live cannabis plants contain tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the non-active version of this compound. When cannabis is decarboxylated through heating to a high temperature, drying or curing, the acid molecule (the “A” in THCA) drops off, and the THC is activated. This results in the effects we associate with consuming THC. It also means that cannabis in its fresh form is not yet active with THC.

How THC Works

THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Studies suggest this system plays a role in regulating stress recovery, protecting our nervous system, activating our immune system response and regulating our homeostatic balance (our overall state of optimal health, function and stability).

Put simply, your ECS is made up of two things:

1) Cannabinoid receptors, present in nearly every region of your central nervous system and brain, as well as many other areas of the body, including your immune system; and

2) Cannabinoids that you naturally produce (called endocannabinoids).

Your natural endocannabinoids fit into your ECS receptors like a key in a lock and help carry messages from cell to cell. THC works the same way, temporarily replacing your own endocannabinoids, but with different effects. These may include:

  • the release of dopamine, resulting in feelings of relaxation;
  • a physical response, such as reduced inflammation or an increase in hunger; and
  • effects on various regions of the brain, including the hippocampus (memory), the frontal cortex (thinking and decision-making) and the cerebellum (physical movement and coordination).

Learn more about the endocannabinoid system here


THC Potency

Potency refers to the amount of THC in a cannabis product. THC content is expressed in milligrams per gram (mg/g) or as a percentage of milligrams per gram of cannabis. For example, if a product is labelled 15% THC and 150 mg/g, it has 150 milligrams of THC per gram of cannabis. It is impossible to have dried flower cannabis with 100% THC, but cannabis extracts (which have been distilled) can have up to 90% THC. As a natural product, the THC content in a dried flower cannabis product may vary from product to product and between lots of the same strain.

All information on THC content for our listed products is provided by the federally licensed producers from which we purchase the product.

By law, THC content is indicated on the packaging of every cannabis product sold on cannamed420.com. Additionally, products with THC amounts over 17% and 20% are labelled as “strong” and “very strong,” respectively, to guide customers in product selection.

Choosing Products Based on THC Potency

The effects of THC will be different for everyone. When choosing a product, consider not only the THC potency potential, but also the method and amount of consumption along with personal factors such as your age, your sex, your health history and previous experience with cannabis. Consult with your physician if you have questions.

  • Consuming small amounts of THC can produce effects such as relaxation, heightened happiness, arousal and creativity, more sociability and energy, and an increased appetite
  • However, consuming large amounts of THC may produce overwhelming, unpleasant or harmful effects
  • Consider products with low THC potency and/or at least a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD (cannabidiol) to help reduce the likelihood of unintended effects. Remember to consume it slowly and in small amounts.
  • Remember that even the same products can vary between lots of the same strain. Please check labels carefully to be sure of the actual THC content in the product you selected.

 

Click here to learn more about choosing the right cannabis product for you. Consult our THC chart to find appropriate products for you.

Factors in Choosing Cannabis Products

How To Choose Cannabis Products

Six things to know before deciding to consume cannabis.

Highlights
  • Cannabis affects everyone differently and may potentially have harmful effects.
  • Many factors contribute to the effects cannabis may produce.
  • Start with a small amount and consume slowly.

With hundreds of cannabis strains and products on the market, it’s important to make an informed decision, especially if you’re inexperienced or trying a new product. There are six things to know about cannabis that are very important to consider.

Image of pie chart displaying steps to choosing the right cannabis product for you

1. YOU are the most important factor.
Because everyone’s physiology and Endocannabinoid System is different, the effects of cannabis are highly individualized. Your experience will depend on many personal factors, such as your previous experience with cannabis, your age, gender, and your overall mental and physical health.

2. THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the cannabinoid most associated with the psychoactive and intoxicating effects of cannabis. Understanding THC potency can be helpful in gauging the level of psychoactive sensation you may experience.A product’s THC potency is expressed as a percentage. For instance, a product that is labelled 15% THC means that THC makes up 15% (or 150 milligrams per gram) of the total cannabis content. To better Understand Cannabinoid Content.

Note that 20% THC content is considered to be “very strong,” and 33% is the highest potency level currently available.  Many cannabis strains in Canada fall between 15% and 20% THC.

THC is a complex and important element in shaping the experience you’ll have with cannabis. You can refer to our THC chart to understand the potency potential of products you’re considering. To shop for products by potency, use the search tool and filters on our site.

Read more about THC

 

3. CBD
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is another of the cannabis plant’s active cannabinoids. Consumed on its own, CBD generally has no intoxicating effect.When present in a product with at least a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD, CBD may negate some of the psychoactive effects of THC. If you prefer a minimally psychoactive experience, choose CBD-only products or those with a high ratio of CBD to THC.

The definition of “high CBD concentration” in dried cannabis can vary from 4% to 9% and beyond. CBD concentrations vary in oil and capsule formats and by manufacturer.

Read more about CBD

Watch the video on the difference between CBD and THC

4. Terpenes
Terpenes are the chemical compounds found in the fragrant oils of many plants that influence their scents and flavours.

Cannabis strains typically have a dominant terpene and may contain several others. Some believe cannabis terpenes may also contribute to the effect of a strain beyond their influence on aroma and flavour. However, there is no current scientific evidence linking terpenes to any health benefits or specific effects. Terpenes may, however, affect your aromatic or taste experience with a cannabis strain.

Read more about terpenes

5. Method
How you choose to consume cannabis may have an effect on the experience you have, mostly in regards to the timing of the onset and the duration of the effect. Inhalation (smoking or vaping) and ingestion (eating or drinking) produce different effects because of the way in which the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream.

Inhalation can produce an effect within seconds, so waiting at least five minutes before inhaling a second time will help control your experience. Be mindful of the potential effects inhalation can have on lung health.

The effects of ingesting cannabis will take longer to experience and may last longer than inhaling it. Be sure to wait about one hour to gauge the level of effect after ingesting cannabis.

6. Amount
The amount of cannabis you consume may directly affect the experience you have. Even if you choose a lower-potency product, if you over consume, you are more likely to experience unpleasant, negative or harmful effects. This is why it is advisable to start with a very small amount and consume it slowly.

How To Choose Cannabis Products

Understanding Cannabinoid Content on Product Labels

Image of dried flower, pre-rolled cones, softgels and a bottle of oil.

If you are like most people, you want to understand the cannabinoid content in the products you consider.  Every product is different in its variations and levels of cannabinoids, so it’s a good thing that every product label must state its THC and CBD contents.

However, cannabis product labels can be difficult to understand because they list THC and CBD contents in two ways and use different units of measure depending on the product format.


So, how do you know what’s in what you are buying? Read on to learn how to demystify cannabis product contents and labeling.

Every product label lists cannabinoid content levels two ways.

Image of a product label displaying cannabinoid content and product name

THC and CBD active content levels are expressed on labels in two ways and it’s important to know the difference.  The first reference is a base number, and the second is shown as a percentage. These are listed as “THC” and/or “CBD” and “Total THC” and/or “Total CBD” respectively.

What’s the difference?

“THC” and “CBD” refer to the quantity of active cannabinoids contained in the product as purchased.

“Total THC” and “Total CBD” refer to the levels of active cannabinoids when the cannabis is prepared for consumption. The “Total” cannabinoid content numbers are most helpful in predicting the potential potency that the product may have when consumed.

When buying dried cannabis formats, there will be a difference between these two content numbers, but when purchasing oil or capsule products, the numbers will be the same. Read on to learn why.

Not all cannabis has fully activated cannabinoid content.

The cannabinoids in cannabis products are only activated through a process called decarboxylation.  This is the process of heating the cannabis to a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius or more in order to “activate” the cannabinoids.  Dried flower products are not fully activated when purchased, because they are heated in time for consumption.  This means there will be a difference in the two numbers on the label for each listed cannabinoid, and typically, the first number will be considerably lower than the “total” number because it represents the inactive state of the purchased product.

In oil and capsule products, the cannabinoids have been activated through processing, and are ready for consumption. Therefore, the two numbers listing cannabinoid content on their packages will be exactly the same.

Every format has its own unit of measure for cannabinoid content.

All of the label content information is intended to be helpful and clear to consumers. To be precise about the cannabinoid content within each product, it is measured differently by format.  Dried flower products list cannabinoid content in percentage relative to the total cannabis purchased. Pre-rolls and capsule content is measured in totals per unit, and oil content is listed in milligrams per milliliter.

To understand and compare the information on the different product formats, use the chart below. Understanding product labels and cannabinoid content will help you understand and compare products.  Use our chart below as a quick reference guide. 

DRIED FLOWER

Cannabinoid Unit of Measure
% – Percentage of total weight

Example:
Image of full packaging for dried flower displaying warning label and all other required content on the outside of the box.

 

THC 0.7%
Total THC 14.3%
CBD 0.0%
Total CBD 0.3%

Consumption Information
Sold before decarboxylation so the two stated levels of cannabinoid content will be different

“Total” cannabinoid numbers are the best way to determine the potency potential of the product 

PRE-ROLLS

Cannabinoid Unit of Measure
mg/unit – Milligrams per individual pre-roll unit

Example:

Image of a pre-roll package

THC 4.1 mg/unit
Total THC 146 mg/unit
CBD 0.43 mg/unit
Total CBD 26.8 mg/unit
 

Consumption Information
Sold before decarboxylation so the two stated levels of cannabinoid content will be different

“Total” cannabinoid numbers are the best way to determine the potency potential of the product

Eg. 146 mg/1000mg (1-gram pre-roll) = 14.6%

 

CAPSULES

Cannabinoid Unit of Measure:
mg/unit – Milligrams per individual capsule

Example:

Image of packaging for capsules

 

THC 2.5 mg/unit

Total THC 2.5 mg/unit
CBD 0.3 mg/unit
Total CBD 0.3 mg/unit
 
 
 

Consumption Information
Sold in a fully active state, so the cannabinoid content levels will be the same

Each capsule contains a pre-defined amount of active cannabinoids.
The highest dose of THC in a single capsule allowed by Health Canada is 10mg 

OILS

Cannabinoid Unit of Measure:
mg/mL – Milligrams per milliliter of oil

Example:

Image of packaging for an oil product
 

THC 10.3 mg/mL
Total THC 10.3 mg/mL
CBD 11.5 mg/ mL
Total CBD 11.5 mg/mL

Consumption Information
Sold in a fully active state, so the cannabinoid content levels will be the same

Active cannabinoids are blended with “carrier” oils (like MCT) to produce a level of concentration- or potency. Since measurement information on droppers may vary, use caution when free-dosing oils

Products will differ in concentration, and the maximum allowable concentration in an oil is 30mg/mL