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Article: THCa and the Power of Percentage

THCa and the Power of Percentage

THCa and the Power of Percentage

By: Emily Drew-Bingman, Advanced Instructor for The Pink Elephant

Edited by Trevor Coscia

Are you someone who always chooses the strain with the highest percentage of THCa? If you answered yes, I'm here to tell you that percentage isn't everything! Now I know what you're thinking: THCa percentage matters because it can determine how potent the high will be. A strain testing at 12% THCa may feel different than a strain testing at 35% THCa as it is a big difference in strength. But with a strain testing at 25% THCa versus a strain testing at 27% THCa, you most likely will not feel the difference at just a 2% increase. The truth is that numerous components contribute to the quality of your high. 

The high that you experience is attributed to THCa percentage and the numerous other compounds found within the hemp plant besides the cannabinoid THCa: the other compounds and many other inner and outer factors and decisions. Every plant compound works synergistically to give you a full spectrum of effects in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect, which, in theory, can produce a more potent therapeutic effect than the plant's individual components can on their own. There are hundreds of other cannabinoids, such as CBDa, CBNa, CBCa, and CBGa. There are also compounds called terpenoids, flavonoids, and so many others that are still being discovered to this day. Everybody has a personal preference when it comes to choosing a strain that works best for them. People envision a particular outcome for their optimal high that is just different for everyone. Some people may want a happy, giggly, and recreational high, while others are searching for a very therapeutic high to treat the symptoms of their chronic pain. Everyone is unique with their preferences, and luckily, with THCa flower, there are many strains to try, so one is bound to have a user's desired effects.


Other factors come into play, like…

  • What type of THCa strain did you choose? Sativa, Indica, or a hybrid
    • Sativa strains typically bring forth feelings of euphoria, creativity, energy, and focus. They are great for day smoking, productivity, and treating depression. They give you more of a head high. Although, some people may find sativa to be too stimulating and may enhance their feelings of anxiety. Indica strains tend to be better for folks with high anxiety. 
    • Indicas are typically relaxing, more of a body high, pain-relieving, and can tire you. They are great for unwinding at the end of the day or before bed and for sleep disorders like insomnia, chronic pain, and anxiety disorders. 
    • Hybrid strains are usually a cross between a Sativa and an Indica plant--creating a strain that is very balanced in both the effects of a Sativa and Indica. You can find hybrids that lean more towards Sativa or Indica based on which effects you prefer. 
    • Choosing strains that have the effects you are going for can greatly determine the quality of your high, no matter what percentage of THCa it is. 

  • How did you decide to consume the THCa, and how much of it did you consume?
      • With THCa flower, there are many different ways to consume it. You can roll it into a joint to smoke it or buy it already made up as a pre-roll, you can smoke it in a pipe, you can vaporize it with a device, you can make it into edibles, and so on. 
      • Everybody's tolerance or threshold for THCa is different. Some people may smoke an entire joint, whereas others may only need a few puffs. Since smoking THCa provides instantaneous effects, it is easy to determine when you are in your desired mental state. 
      • Once you are able to figure out your exact dosing and preferred consumption method, then the experience will always be optimal. Trial and error is key, and testing out different strains to figure out which ones you like or dislike is great research. Try to be mindful when smoking THCa and write down the things you like or dislike about the specific strain you are trying. Maybe you like the citrusy smell/taste or the euphoria you felt. You may dislike how hungry it made you or how sleepy you felt. Knowing what you like and dislike can help you determine what kind of strain you wish to try in the future. 
      • Telling your budtender your likes and dislikes can help them to guide you in the right direction. 

    • When did you consume the THCa? What was the setting? 
      • There's a time and place for everything; knowing the appropriate time and place to partake in THCa is a necessity. You should never consume THCa while driving or in a public situation where smoking is not allowed. It would not be recommended to get overly blazed before a professional or impressionable situation like an important work meeting, job interview, or being introduced to your partner's parents for the first time. 
      • Consuming in a way that allows you to be a better and higher-functioning version of yourself is a great rule of thumb. If you are finding that you consumed and were very unproductive, then it may be best for you to try a different product/strain or consume it at home after all obligations are met. THCa affects everyone differently, so knowing what works for you and when the best time/place for you to consume it is important. 

  • What was your current emotional state at the time of consumption? 
  • Emotions are some of the most powerful aspects of the human condition. Your state of mind when going into your high can greatly determine how you will feel. It's always best to mentally prepare before your sesh and make sure you choose a strain that matches the vibe. Aim to boost feelings of positivity! 

    • How was the THCa flower grown & what was its quality? 
      • Everything that went on during the growing process of the THCa flower contributes to its quality and effects. For example, the soil used, organic vs. inorganic resources, the nutrients used, indoor vs. outdoor, how much water it was given, how long it was dried & cured for, how clean the grow facility was, the different growing techniques used, etc. 
      • Quality is everything when it comes to THCa flower. You will definitely notice a difference when consuming high vs. low-grade hemp. Checking to make sure the THCa flower you purchased was lab-tested can ensure that you are consuming something of high quality and that you are informed of exactly what percentages of compounds were in your product. Legally purchased hemp with lab-testing provided is also much safer than anything obtained from the streets. 

    • What else did you consume prior to your THCa consumption? 
      • Although THCa is extremely safe, there may be drug interactions with prescription medications you take. Always make sure to consult with your doctor before trying any THCa products. Also, take into consideration if you ate any food at all that day—if you consumed nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, other recreational drugs, CBD products, herbal supplements, etc, your experience can be affected.. 

  • Did you like the smell of the THCa flower you consumed? 
  • Your nose knows what you like when it comes to THCa flower. Always pick a strain that smells good to you, as the smell of it will likely be what it tastes like when smoking or vaporizing it. Ask your budtender if you can smell the different options of strains before you determine which one you want. 
  • Take note of the fragrance profiles you prefer, such as citrus, floral, funky, earthy, diesel, pine, sweet, skunky, herbal, savory, spicy, minty, umami, fruity, cinnamon, lavender, vanilla, clove, ginger, eucalyptus, etc. If you really enjoy the smell, taste, and effects of a strain, then the percentage may not seem very significant; however, there may be times when you decide to pick the strain with the highest percentage and realize that you hate the smell and taste. Make sure you thoroughly inspect your product before indulging.

  • What about your “physiology”?
      • Everybody has their own unique physiology, and therefore, cannabis affects us all differently. If you are someone with extreme anxiety who often feels paranoia from high THCa percentages, then maybe it's best to stick to something lower. 
      • Just as the threshold for THCa differs for everyone, so does the preference for Sativa or Indica, what types of effects are wanted, what types of ailments need to be treated, taste and smell preferences, etc. What works best for you will not work best for everyone else, and you may be pleasantly surprised when you try a lower percentage THCa strain that you fall in love with over different variables like smell, taste, and effects. Give lower percentage strains a chance and start to notice some of the other things you like about them other than just their percentage of THCa.  

    The other important compounds: 

    Terpenoids- Have you ever heard of the terms Terpenes or Terps? These are variations of the word Terpenoid. Terpenoids are compounds found in all plants, including cannabis or hemp, responsible for scent and certain therapeutic effects. These are naturally occurring organic compounds with nearly 80,000 different types. Around 400 of them have been found in various strains of cannabis or hemp. Terpenoids work synergistically with other compounds, including cannabinoids such as THCa. Each THCa strain has various terpenoids responsible for the plant's smell, taste, color, and effects. This is why not every strain smells and acts the same. So it's not only the THCa that does all the work but also the different terpenes. If you smell a strain whose scent is particularly reminiscent of oranges, the terpene most prominent in this strain is likely the same terpene found in oranges. Plants produce terpenes as a defense mechanism to protect against predators and harsh conditions. Terpenoids are often processed into essential oils, cleaning solvents, pesticides, and dyes. For humans, terpenes work wonderfully alongside the other compounds found in cannabis or hemp to be very healing. If you take two Indica THCa strains of the same percentage, they will still be so different, and this is largely responsible for the non-cannabinoid compounds like terpenes that produce their own unique qualities. A little bit of everything is better than a lot of one thing, meaning high amounts of THC may be less beneficial. Some common terpenes found in cannabis and hemp are-

    • Beta-caryophyllene (also found in cloves, rosemary, and hops) can help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
    • Beta-pinene (also found in coniferous trees) can act as an antidepressant and has anti-cancer properties. 
    • Humulene (also found in ginseng) can produce energizing effects. 
    • Limonene (also found in citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, & grapefruit) has Anti-anxiety and anti-cancer effects. 
    • Linalool (also found in lavender) helps to relax and alleviate stress. 
    • Myrcene (also found in mangoes) has antifungal and antibacterial properties and sedating effects.  

    Flavonoids- Sounds a lot like "flavor," right? And for good reason. Flavonoids are compounds found in cannabis/hemp and other plants that mainly account for flavor. Over 6,000 flavonoids have been discovered in nature. There are some flavonoids that are only found in cannabis, such as "cannaflavins." Other than flavor, flavonoids can also affect plants' pigmentation, making them more desirable to pollinators. Most plants that are any color other than green owe their vibrant colors to flavonoids. Flavonoids can also protect against UV rays, pests, and diseases. So, terpenoids and flavonoids work together to create a unique flavor profile and scent for each cannabis strain. Have you ever noticed a strain of THCa flower with a striking purple appearance? This coloration is due to the flavonoids called anthoxanthins or anthocyanin. In other plants, anthocyanin can appear red or blue depending on pH levels. Flavonoids enhance the THCa experience while working synergistically with all the other marvelous compounds in the plant. Flavonoids even have their own medicinal benefits. For instance, the flavonoid known as quercetin, found in many fruits and vegetables, has been known to have antifungal and antioxidant effects. The flavonoid called catechins, which is found in cocoa, teas, and pome fruits, is known to be an antioxidant with cardiovascular health benefits. Some of the flavonoids found commonly in cannabis are-

    • Cannaflavin A has anti-inflammatory properties that are potentially stronger than Aspirin. 
    • Cannaflavin B is currently being studied for potential benefits.
    • Orientin, Quercetin, Silymarin, & Kaempferol are all being studied to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. 

    Overall, it's essential to understand the entourage effect since all the compounds found in the plant work together to produce a more well-rounded experience. Every strain of THCa can be completely different. Each strain will have a different combination of biomolecules (active compounds) that will make us feel different due to the unique synergistic relationship of these various compounds. So many factors come into play when having the most preferred THCa experience. Whether it be which type of strain you chose (sativa, indica, or hybrid), your consumption method, how much you consumed, when and where you consumed, your emotional state upon consumption, the quality and growing conditions of the THCa chosen, what else you consumed prior to consumption, whether or not you liked the way the strain smelt, and your physiology. High potency THCa certainly isn't everything regarding the best experience. Consider what terpenoids and flavonoids were in the strain you chose. Consider other beneficial compounds such as CBDa. Think about the exact experience you want from your high and know that the experience you wish to have may not require the highest potency THCa strain. When in doubt, always smell your flower before buying so you know it's something you will enjoy. Are you convinced that high-testing THCa strains aren't everything? If not, please try out a lower testing strain with all the qualities you are searching for and let us know how it was! 

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