THC Percentages: A Misleading Label

Written By: Rachel Wellendorf

Budtenders get asked multiple times a day: What is your highest testing strain? We will explore why that question is no longer relevant in this article.

Before delving into this argument, we have to first explore how genetics work. Roughly 25% of your genes are ‘turned on’ (or expressed) at a time. The same is true for all organisms with DNA. If 100% a person’s genes were turned on at one time, it would require an absurd amount of ATP, or energy, to do so. The environment is typically the determining factor for what genes stay dormant and what stays active.

Let’s translate this into cannabis. The gene responsible for allowing a plant to produce THC has been referred to as ‘THC active gene.’ This gene allows the cannabis plant to produce THC. Now, let’s bring terpenes into the argument. Terpenes are naturally occurring in all plants. They contribute to not only the smell of the plant, but also the high you experience. It is safe to say that there must be a gene, or multiple genes, that have to be turned on for terpenes to be produced by plants. It can be argued that each type of terpene has its own set of genes.

Going back to how genetics work: if a gene is turned off, a different gene must be turned on. A theory amongst industry connoisseurs is that the terpenes present in the plant largely dictate the thc percentages, and here’s why: If the strain tests low for THC, one could guess that more terpene genes are on than THC genes. Alternatively, if the plant tests low for THC, it could be producing other cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBN, etc.

So, next time you step into a dispensary and see a relatively low testing strain, let it peak your interest. Ask to smell that strain, ask budtenders opinions of the highs, and maybe even buy a sample to test the theory yourself.



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