“Give me the highest THC strain ya got!” The young woman says confidently as she walks to the counter where Jason is waiting.
“Absolutely, but do you mind if I explain why THC percent shouldn’t be your go-to when selecting flower?” Jason replies with his usual broad smile. He then launches into his spiel on the interaction between terpenes and cannabinoids, explaining how the combination of these two is much more important than simple THC percent. By the end of the interaction, the woman grabs her new ounce (different than her original choice) and heads out the door.
When selecting a strain, it seems to be common practice for shoppers/patients to choose the product with the highest THC percentage, which, as more research has exposed, should not be the primary strategy for selecting flower.
“The problem with selecting cannabis strains based solely on the THC content is much like stomaching the worst swill at the bar just because it has a high alcohol percentage. By doing this, the consumer is robbing themselves of not only the rich scents and flavors of the strain, but also missing out on the beneficial effects that can be delivered through a strain’s specific terpene profile.” – Medium.com
The Entourage Effect
Terpenes – the essential oils that give cannabis strains their distinct scent and flavor profiles, and contribute to the strain’s health benefits – in combination with the cannabinoids like THC and CBD, create the specific smells, tastes, and positive effects of each strain. For example, with one strain, say Lemon Zkittles, one might (hypothetically) clearly smell and taste lemon because of the terpenes, and experience decreased anxiety and/or increase in appetite as a result of the combination between terpenes and cannabinoids.
This doesn’t guarantee that a strain will have the same impact on every person who smokes/eats/consumes it. Back to the Lemon Zkittles example, someone might consume this strain and feel everything to the T, whereas their friend might smoke it and feel anxious and paranoid. This is where the chemical build of the cannabis plant and the build of the person consuming really come into play.
“What Speaks to You?”
The next time you head to a dispensary, skip the THC content question and take how you want to feel into consideration: Do you want to feel relaxed? Inspired? Or do you just want something that will help you go to sleep? Talk to your budtender about what you want, and they will surely be able to narrow down some strains or products that can help.
Further, take a little more time smelling the plant and question how it makes you feel. We ask our shoppers/patients, “what speaks to you?” Try to move past the THC percent label, and let your intuition wander among the options. The right choice will come to you, so trust yourself. In this case, it is absolutely okay to stop and smell the flowers.