Previously, the percentage of THC was considered the only criterion for the quality of cannabis. But there are many other characteristics which are more important than potency. We will look at why it is a mistake to base the quality of cannabis on its THC content and present to you eight indicators which make it worth looking into for high quality cannabis.
Quality is one of the key concepts in the cannabis world. It plays an important role both when growing plants and when choosing cannabis-based products. This guide will help you determine which cannabis is worth buying.
To date, there is no clear scale for judging the quality of cannabis. Most buyers in recreational cannabis stores in the United States, coffee shops in the Netherlands, and cannabis seed stores focus on the THC content.
But without a terpene analysis and an understanding of the characteristics of cannabis, the average person chooses the easiest way to determine the quality of a variety, namely the percentage THC content.
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a psychoactive chemical found in cannabis plants.
THC and CBD are the best-known cannabinoids, but there are many other cannabinoids which influence the sensations caused by cannabis through what is known as the entourage effect.
The percentage of THC content on cannabis packaging comes from analytical labs that test cannabis products for the presence of cannabinoids, terpenes and impurities. The THC content indicates the degree to which a particular cannabis genetics is affecting your endocannabinoid system. For example, a variety with 28% THC will certainly cause a stronger sensation than one with 10% THC.
Unfortunately, the intensity of a variety’s effects on the body is often considered a measure of quality, and many people pay special attention to the THC content when choosing cannabis.
This also affects producers, who tend to work with products with the highest THC content, so they often ignore varieties with lower THC levels, such as Ruderalis Indica, Black Harlequin and Big Bud, when buying seeds online. This is ironic because everyone knows that Black Harlequin and Big Bud are amazing varieties!
What factors determine the level of THC?
When growing cannabis plants, several factors can contribute to higher THC levels:
Genetics: The range of THC a flower can produce is largely dependent on genetics. Some strains tend to produce higher levels of cannabinoids and terpenes than others.
Harvesting time: if the plant is allowed to mature longer, the THC content will be higher.
Light cycles: in general, more light means more efficiency. The light cycles used (indoors) or the duration of daylight (outdoors) affect THC levels in the final product.
Attention to detail: Attention to detail is very important when discussing “artisanal cannabis». Craft cannabis is grown in small batches, allowing growers to pay attention to each plant throughout the growing cycle. Because of this, they are able to monitor the health of the plants and correct problems (such as over-watering, pests, stress, etc) in a timely manner.
What’s more important than THC in cannabis?
When it comes to each individual variety of cannabis, you have to focus on more than just efficacy to decide what to buy. Whether you buy cannabis from a drugstore, a coffee shop, or seeds in a seed jar, here are a few quality indicators that are far more important than how high the product tests for THC content.
Determining the quality of cannabis depends a lot on how it was grown.
Your dried flower may contain 28% THC, but if it is contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, or other substances that can cause illness, it doesn’t matter.
- When buying cannabis grown indoors or in sunlight, it is important to know about the company you are purchasing the product from:
- What standards and growing methods does the company follow?
- Where do they grow their plants – indoors or outdoors?
- Are they large growers or farmers who specialize in cannabis?
- Do they have expert knowledge and attention to the plants’ needs?
For confidence in the quality of cannabis, buy it only from trusted stores, reputable brands, and seed banks.
The appearance of the cannabis flower is an excellent indicator of the quality and health of the plant. Pay attention to:
- The coloring of the plant;
- The texture of the buds;
- The structure of the bud;
- Whether the flowers should be fluffy and light or dense and heavy;
- The color of the pistils and the trichomes attached to them.
Properly grown cannabis will be brightly colored with a sticky structure covered with trichomes.
Trichomes are the resin glands of the cannabis plant, which are milky white crystals attached to the buds. They are important because they contain cannabinoids and terpenes that provide a full experience after cannabis has been vaporized. A plant without trichomes is probably immature and less potent.
Immediately after evaluating the appearance of the plants, pay attention to the aromas and flavors that form the terpene profile of the varieties. There are five main terpenes in cannabis: myrcene, caryophyllene, humulene, linalool and limonene.
Cannabis can have a variety of aromas and flavors, such as:
- Skunk and many others.
The flavors indicate the effects we may experience from cannabis. The high limonene varieties are expected to be stimulating, the gaseous terpenes in humulen are expected to be potent, and the floral linalool terpenes are expected to be relaxing.
Terpene profiles should be bright and well-defined. If you grow a variety without an expressive terpene profile, it probably won’t be sought after. Even if the effect is terrific, people appreciate the flavor and taste of the overall experience more.
Drying and curing
When buying or growing cannabis, it’s important to know that the plant is processed after harvesting. During growth, cannabis plants are saturated with water and nutrients that they absorb from the soil. After they mature and are harvested, they need to be cleaned of these materials. This happens during the drying and seasoning stage of cannabis cultivation.
Therefore, people who smoke joints pay attention to the white ash when burning. White ash is believed to indicate proper growing, drying and seasoning of the plant. Some companies use accelerated methods in these stages, which can lead to undesirable results. Such plants often appear moist to the touch, give off a pungent smoke, taste like grass clippings, and burn poorly.
Combustibility plays a key role in determining the quality of cannabis. Sometimes when you smoke a joint, you have to keep lighting it on fire because the cannabis inside doesn’t burn properly. This is an important indicator of the quality of the cannabis used. Even if your plant contains 30% THC, it’s not worth the expense and time if the joint doesn’t burn properly. It all comes down to proper drying and seasoning.
The effect of the environment
Cannabis contains over 400 different cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. The idea behind Entourage Effect is that cannabis is more effective when all of these compounds are used together rather than separately. So instead of focusing on a product with as much THC as possible, such as THC isolate, the best quality can be found in a product which contains enough THC along with CBD, CBN, CBDG and the rest of the cannabis compounds.
In addition, the terpene profile is important because terpenes not only contribute to the smell and taste of cannabis varieties, but also indicate the type of high we get from these varieties.
However, when it comes to indicators of cannabis quality, the most important thing is the overall experience. This is much more important than how potent the cannabis is.
When choosing a cannabis product, it’s important to ask yourself questions like:
- Did it taste good?
- Did it burn well?
- Did it make you feel the way you wanted to feel?
- Was it worth telling other people about?
- Would you redeem it?
All of these questions determine the true quality of the cannabis product, and all of the answers are more important than the total THC content. The effectiveness of the product is invaluable if it didn’t make you feel happy, awake, relaxed, soothed, or bring relief when you were in pain.
Although cone structure, trichome density and entourage effect are some of the best indicators for evaluating high quality cannabis, it may be time for the cannabis industry to recognize that the overall experience is the most important indicator of product quality.
Thus, high THC concentrations are not always and forever integral to cannabis, and it is important to consider all aspects when choosing a cannabis product.