|From time to time we hear about a new cannabis variety with a THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) potency, the main psychoactive compound, in the low 30s or even higher. The immediate question is whether this is naturally possible?|
Since the 1980s various studies confirm a gradual increase in THC potency levels. If in the 1970s the average THC potency level was 1%-4%, today it is more toward the mid-teens. In the United States, the maximum levels of recorded THC were just above 17% in 2017 Across the Atlantic, in France, it was 13% in 2016. The rise in THC levels can be attributed in part to hybridized strains, cross-bred specifically for greater levels of potency.
The GemmaCert Team has been testing thousands of cannabis flowers sourced globally since 2015 at its ISO 17025 certified lab. The company has the world’s largest database of cannabis flower spectral readings for THC and CBD potency with over 250,000 data points and growing daily. It confirms that THC-dominant strains are likely to contain about 18%-20% Total THC and it is rare to encounter more potent strains with 25%-30% Total THC. Total THC refers to the levels of active cannabinoids in the cannabis after it has been prepared for consumption by heating through vaping, smoking, or cooking. The “Total” cannabinoid content numbers are most helpful in identifying the potential potency that the product may have when consumed.
There are biological limits to THC potency. Any strain above 30% Total THC, especially above 35%, is questionable. It may be a very rare bud which does not come from a stable genetic line, it may be the result of adulteration, such as by the addition of kief, or simply laboratory analysis error. A cannabis flower is more likely to have a total cannabinoid count above 30%, including but not limited to Total THC.
The bottom line is that you should be sceptical when presented with cannabis that has a claimed THC potency above 30%, even if accompanied with a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) from a certified laboratory. Remember that the CoA does not refer to the specific product presented to you but in the best case to the batch it came from. Yet, not two cannabis flowers are the same, especially in terms of potency, even when they come from the same plant.