There are many reasons that cannabis consumers would seek out low-to-moderate tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in their whole-flower purchase. High-THC strains can cause some people to feel paranoid and anxious among other mild side effects. Medical and recreational consumers report positive effects with low-THC strains, depending on the strain, dose, and other factors.
Weed is more potent than ever. Most consumers choose high-THC products because THC is the psychotropic compound that enhances their sensory perceptions among other intoxicating effects. Some cannabis extracts can have 70 percent and higher THC levels. Whole-flower strains usually have THC levels ranging from 15 to 25 percent. Some strains have unexpectedly low-THC levels. These low-THC strains contain varying concentrations of other cannabinoids, each with their own blend of effects.
Benefits of Low-THC Strains
Cannabis strains with around 15 percent THC and under tend to produce less intoxicating effects than higher THC concentration strains. Low-THC strains enable first-time or low-tolerance users to become more comfortable handling the effects of THC. New users may feel paranoid, anxious, fearful, and more uncomfortable feelings if they flood their system with THC. Some customers opt for a low-THC strain as an introduction to cannabis.
Microdosing, or taking a small dose of cannabis, allows consumers to start slow so they can either build up to their desired effects or stick with the low dose. There are a variety of introductory low-THC strains, but not as many as high-THC varieties. Even strains with the same genetics can have varying THC concentrations due to growing conditions. To complicate things more, the effects of low THC strains can vary from person to person.
Tips for Using Low-THC Strains
Low-THC strains can be consumed in a variety of ways each with their own pros and cons. Smoking is the most traditional method of consumption. Smoking can be easy to dose and has quick-acting effects that begin around 15 minutes after inhalation. Smoking, however, can be harsh on the throat and lungs.
A portable or desktop dry herb vaporizer allows cannabis consumers to avoid burning trichomes off their weed, which means you won't get as harsh of a hit. Vaporization heats the low-THC strain just enough to activate the strain's chemical compounds and preserve its aroma from its terpenes. Strains' chemical compounds can be extracted into oil concentrates you can dab or carry with you in a portable vape pen.
You can use low-THC strains to make edibles and topicals, as well. You can also use a lower amount of higher THC concentration strains to avoid using more raw cannabis material than you need to. Edibles aren't as fast-acting as smoking or vaporizing, but provide long-lasting effects according to many consumers. With infused topicals, you won't be getting high because THC can't reach the bloodstream through topical application, unless you use transdermal patches.
The Charlotte's Web strain grows from hemp, a variety of cannabis plant that produces high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) and only trace amounts of THC. This low-THC strain was developed by the Stanley Brothers in Colorado. They began researching the curative effects of marijuana after an uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008.
Charlotte's Web gained mainstream success after the strain significantly reduced Charlotte Figi's seizures caused by her severe form of epilepsy called Dravet's Syndrome. Charlotte's Web has around 18 percent CBD and under 0.3% THC, the limit for THC in most hemp strains. Enjoy its piney and citrusy aroma when smoking this high-free strain.
Medical consumers don't get stoned with the Harlequin strain, a mix of hardy landrace strains such as Colombian Gold, Nepali indica, and Thai and Swiss sativas. Expect to find a CBD:THC ratio around 5:2 for Harlequin strains. Harlequin can have CBD levels as high as 15 percent and THC levels reaching 10 percent. You won't get super high with this low-THC strain, but you will love its frosty trichome sheet and earthy, woody, and mango-tinged aromas.
ACDC is a cross between Ruderalis and Cannatonic, two strains with little to no THC. It's no surprise that ACDC can have THC levels ranging from under 1 percent to 6 percent. CBD levels can start as high as 18 percent. ACDC's lackluster THC levels have been an advantage for medical consumers who want to avoid THC's psychotropic effects, but still want some therapeutic effects.
Humboldt County growers have produced countless award-winning cannabis strains. Ringo's Gift is no exception. It's a cross between three other low THC strains: Harlequin, ACDC, and Sour Tsunami. Developed by Southern Humboldt Seed Collective, Ringo's Gift is a low-THC strain with levels consistently under 7 percent. Many Ringo's Gift strains typically have a CBD:THC ratio of 20:1.
Harle-Tsu, another Southern Humboldt Seed Collective classic, is a very low-THC strain, perfect for beginners or low-tolerance consumers. As a cross between Sour Tsunami and Harlequin, Harle-Tsu has CBD levels ranging from 18 to 22 percent and THC levels under 1 percent. Harle-Tsu is favored for its earthy and woody aroma and clear-headed effects, according to medical and recreational consumers.
The strain name says it all. Remedy (also known as Z7) is a cross between Afghan Skunk and Cannatonic strains. Resin Seeds created this Indica-dominant strain that has a sweet and woody aroma. Remedy strains usually have around 28:1 CBD:THC ratio. Expect to find CBD levels around 15 percent and THC under 1 percent.
Despite its intimidating name, Cannatonic won't leave you immobile. This low-THC strain was made by Resin Seeds in Spain. It's a cross between MK Ultra and G13 Haze strains. Many Cannatonic varieties have CBD potency as high as 17 percent and THC levels under 7 percent. Depending on the CBD:THC ratio, consumers report feeling slightly euphoric effects without being too overpowering, perfect as a daytime strain.
Sour Tsunami is another low-THC strain from Southern Humboldt Seed Collective. Iconic marijuana grower and breeder, Lawrence Ringo, crossed and back-crossed Sour Diesel with NYC Diesel in a process that took a few years. He produced a CBD-rich and relatively low-THC variety. Sour Tsunami usually has a 1:1 CBD:THC with both compound levels around 10 percent. This level of THC will produce mild cerebral effects, but consumers note that the CBD may temper the high.
Reefer Madness: The Case Against High-THC Flower
THC has been stigmatized as a mind-altering compound that causes extreme distress and puts people in danger. When used responsibly, consumers report that THC can reduce acute and chronic pain and alleviate other side effects of their medical condition. Many states currently have limits on how much THC can be in edibles and tinctures, but none have limits on smokable marijuana.
Florida recently tried to impose a THC cap when Rep. Ray Rodrigues submitted a legislative proposal to limit THC in cannabis flower to 10 percent. His aim was to reduce psychosis in medical patients, especially those with psychiatric conditions. If passed, Florida would have become the first state to limit THC levels in smokeable marijuana. Florida's Senate rejected the amendment for the time being.
Opponents to the ban argued that THC limits on strains would bolster the black market, force medical consumers to pay more for less potent strains, and require customers to consume more flower to get the desired results. Medical consumers would only need a small dose of a high-THC strain or concentrate to achieve their desired results.
All cannabis consumers can benefit from some low-THC strains from time to time, but they should also feel free to partake in high-THC strains whenever they want. First-time or low-tolerance consumers can turn to low-THC strains to avoid feeling overwhelmed during the first few smoking experiences. Low-THC strains allow you to feel a slight buzz without feeling incapacitated.
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