The Problem with High Potency THC
When Bob Marley blessed us with the lyrics “I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints, and then I smoke two more,” THC levels in weed plants were between 2-3%. Nowadays, it’s hard to find strains with less than 22% potency. That means Marley would have had to smoke twenty joints of his oldies ganj to equal two joints of modern day weed, in terms of THC content.
To understand why this is happening, you just have to follow the money. Throughout history, higher THC percentages have translated to higher prices and competitive advantages. This has driven an obsessive pursuit by cultivators and breeders to constantly push for more and more potent cannabis strains. Consumers seem to be happy about this as we are spending more than ever on these products, but is that a good thing?
We’re not here to demonize THC. It’s proven to have a number of potential therapeutic benefits and plus, it’s hard to deny getting high can be fun! We do, however, think it’s important to understand the risks frequent use of high potency marijuana carries.
POTENTIAL MENTAL HEALTH RISKS
Research has linked frequent cannabis use to poorer mental health outcomes, with high potency cannabis increasing the risk.
In low doses, THC may offer feelings of euphoria as well as reduced anxiety and pain. In higher doses, it can cause anxiety, reduced cognitive function, memory loss and even psychosis. The prevalence of extremely potent products means that many people are ending up on the “higher dose,” end of the spectrum, sometimes unintentionally. While this usually leads to no more than an uncomfortable high, in some cases it can be more serious.
A 2019 study showed that consuming marijuana with a potency of 10% or more increased the odds of a psychotic episode. Hospitals across the U.S are reporting increases in ER visits for THC induced psychosis. One physician, Dr. Brad Roberts, highlighted the severity of the trend saying “almost every day I see a patient in the ER who is having a psychotic break after taking high-potency THC.”
POTENTIAL PHYSICAL HEALTH RISKS
While much less pronounced than the mental health risk, a mysterious physical condition called “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome” has arisen that causes violent, uncontrollable vomiting. It was first discovered in 2004, a time when it was extremely rare, and as THC levels have risen, cases have too. One Colorado ER doctor says he’s seeing it “practically every day.” Frequent use of high potency THC may also affect appetite and sleep patterns.
POTENTIAL RISK OF DEPENDENCE
Surprisingly, research cited by the CDC asserts that 10% of those who use cannabis will become addicted. Yes, you read that right. Marijuana addiction, believe it or not, is a real thing referred to by medical professionals as cannabis use disorder (CUD), or “the continued use of cannabis despite clinically significant impairment.”
This may not seem like it has much to do with potency, but a 2015 study done in the UK found that high-potency cannabis use is associated with severity of dependence, especially in young people.
Severe dependency usually leads people to develop tolerances, consistently requiring larger doses of THC to achieve the same “high,” as before. This may increase the chances of experiencing the negative risks associated with high doses of THC such as problems with anxiety, attention, memory, and learning.
WHERE CAN I GET LESS POTENT WEED?
If you decide high-potency cannabis isn’t right for you, you’re definitely not alone. The best way to find low-THC cannabis is to ask your budtender if they have any CBD-rich flower. Most dispensaries aren’t going to carry strains with less than 10% THC unless it’s a CBD-rich strain.
THC and CBD have an inverse relationship, so strains high in CBD have lower amounts of THC. Aside from reduced THC, CBD-rich flower possesses a long list of therapeutic properties that can complement and even calm your high. For some people, the combination of the two cannabinoids together is much more effective than either on their own.
If your dispensary (or old friend) doesn’t have CBD-rich flower, don’t worry. Hemp flower contains less than 0.3% THC and high amounts of CBD, or CBG. You can use hemp to blend with your weed and create whatever CBD-to-THC ratio you want, or you can smoke it as-is. The best part about this is you can order hemp flower directly online from our website and have it shipped discreetly to your doorstep within a week. Our flower is third-party lab tested, free of pesticides and heavy metals, organic, and greenhouse-grown using light deprivation.