The Battle for High-THC Potency: A Losing Battle ?

Nicholas Demski
Written by Nicholas Demski

Why the individualistic nature of the humans-cannabis relationship shows the inadequacy of a focus on THC potency.

Figure 1 Sisyphus living his pointless existence.

It’s common knowledge that the percentage of THC in Cannabis sativa has increased significantly since the 1960s. While modern cultivars have drastically improved in their appearance, smell, and potency over the decades, is the latter the most important quality?

Every person is equipped with a different body–and thusly–a unique endocannabinoid system. Cultivars will impact people differently: terpene structures can push a consumer towards or away from a bud just by smell alone. Some people–like myself–love Cheese cultivars and melt when we smell them, while others have to hold back vomit from the fuel-like intensity of sniffing a bag.

Furthermore, CB1 receptors adapt to the amount of THC that is infused into our bloodstreams. This is what is commonly known as ‘building a tolerance.’ As your systems bathes in cannabinoids, your receptors downregulate reception to mediate a homeostatic environment.

Since each person is different in their relationship with cannabis, and every person will build a tolerance and adapt to the levels of THC consumed, the effort to maximize THC is a pointless, Sisyphean task.

One recent study suggested that there is a window of relief for patients suffering from chronic pain. Lower doses decreased pain while higher doses actually caused increased pain. [1]

Yet the battle for higher potency in Cannabis has raged on.

If the goal is to remove the tolerance-building barriers, it’s not possible to find something with higher potency than today’s edibles and dabbing trends. Unless a person has a specific medical condition that requires high doses of an individual cannabinoid, it’s not a battle worth fighting.

On a more technical level, if THC levels were to reach 50% or above in your buds, the sappiness of its structure would make it virtually impossible to smoke in the traditional manners.

Let’s not impair our ability to obtain comfort in pursuit of too much of a good thing.


[1] Wallace et al., Dose-dependent effects of smoked cannabis on capsaicin-induced pain and hyperalgesia in healthy volunteer, Anesthesiology, 2007, 107(5):785-96.

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Nicholas Demski

Nicholas Demski

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