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How THC Potency Has Changed Over Time

How THC Potency Has Changed Over Time

Anyone involved in the world of cannabis has heard of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Weed with high THC levels boasts stronger psychoactive effects for cannabis users. In fact, THC is the main factor in many of the feelings we experience when we consume cannabis — sensations like euphoria, relaxation, and (unfortunately) sometimes paranoia are primarily dependent on a strain’s THC concentration. 

Even though today’s cannabis connoisseurs have access to extra-strength THC levels, this wasn’t always the case. Over time, THC in weed has increased significantly due to more intentional breeding processes. In fact, the strongest weed in today’s dispensaries is several times more potent than even the best cannabis from fifty years ago!

Rev is more than just a dispensary in Boston — we’re a team of cannabis experts, and we encourage all our customers to expand their cannabis knowledge. Learning about the history of THC helps us understand how cannabis has changed over the past few decades, and see what’s in store for the future of weed.


The history of THC potency over time


When we talk about the sensation caused by weed, THC is just one part of the full picture. THC is one of several dozen total active cannabinoids (TAC) that contribute to the effects of a weed strain. Other important cannabinoids include CBD, CBN, and CBG, but there are more than 100 cannabinoids present in weed. Together with terpenes, each strain’s TAC creates a cocktail of sensations and aromas that make it special.

So, if there are so many cannabinoids, why is THC such a big deal? The answer is pretty simple: THC is the most potent psychoactive cannabinoid found in weed. While other active cannabinoids might lead to physical relaxation and mild psychoactive sensations, THC is largely responsible for the euphoric effects of weed. So, for the past fifty years, cannabis cultivation in the US has largely focused on THC.

In the early days of cannabis engineering, THC levels were extremely low by today’s standards. In fact, average THC levels in the 1970s hovered just under 5% (sometimes even lower, depending on the quality of your cannabis). Because THC is central to the psychoactive effects pursued by many weed users, high-THC cannabis has always been in high demand — and when there’s a demand, the market will supply.

As the demand for THC grows, the ceiling for THC levels continue to rise. But THC isn’t something you can increase overnight, and the high-concentration THC strains we have today have taken decades to cultivate. To meet this high demand, weed breeding has become more sophisticated over time.

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, intentional cannabis breeding has led to some very high-THC plants. Long gone are the days of maximum THC levels under 5% — some of today’s strongest strains reach over 30% THC! In other words, the weed you can get in today’s dispensaries isn’t what the hippies were smoking.


The future of THC in weed production


THC isn’t the only cannabinoid that contributes to a strain’s overall effect. In fact, THC isn’t even the only psychotropic cannabinoid! With better lab testing, cannabis growers can understand the TAC composition of their strains and start breeding for other specific cannabinoids.

One cannabinoid that’s reached THC-level popularity is CBD. CBD contributes to weed’s anti-inflammatory and relaxing effects by smoothing out THC’s intoxicating effects and lengthening its effects in our bodies. In recent years, CBD-heavy products like Rev’s i am edible Blackberry 20:1 CBD chews have become increasingly popular, especially for medical cannabis users.

Today’s cannabis research is also focused on the interactions among the different cannabinoids, not just the individual cannabinoids on their own. Even though THC and CBD have a major impact on weed’s overall effect, the “entourage effect” of the flower’s TAC — the sensation produced by multiple compounds interacting with one another — contributes heavily to a particular cannabis strain’s key characteristics.

Exploring new cannabinoids is an exciting part of today’s weed industry. Different cannabinoids establish different effects, so a precise understanding of a strain’s TAC offers a more predictable outcome. For example, cannabinoids like CBG may help with pain management, while CBN is known to promote sleepiness. As weed cultivators move away from a THC-only mindset, customers can get more predictable strains that are better suited for their needs.


Weed for the casual user: Barbari Herbal Spliffs


Interestingly, some of today’s cannabis breeders have even begun to decrease THC levels. That’s because for an increasing number of weed users, psychoactive effects aren’t the most important part of cannabis. Instead, many medical and recreational users want a well-rounded botanical experience that emphasizes physical, non-psychotropic effects.

The creators of Barbari Herbal Spliffs are paving the way for cannabis users seeking a milder, more manageable weed experience. Instead of turning the THC dial all the way up, Barbari Herbal Spliffs use specially-selected botanicals to supplement cannabinoids and terpenes, fostering a more holistic cannabis experience.

At Rev, we believe Barbari is at the forefront of lower-dose cannabis — which is why Rev has launched a collaboration with Barbari Herbal Spliffs. Now, you can get pre-rolls that combine Barbari blends with lower-THC strains from our Massachusetts dispensary and grow facility!

Whether you’re looking for high-THC weed or a more subtle effect, Rev’s got you covered. With dispensaries in Mass and throughout the Boston metro area, you can order online for pickup at one of our stores. We also offer a home delivery option for medical cannabis customers. Try out our innovative Barbari blends, and find the right one for you!

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