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Buyer's Guide to Retail Cannabis Part 3: Shopping By THC % Percentages

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

The early days of recreational cannabis production are plagued by over-regulation, strict packaging laws, labels, warnings, and precautions. Lab testing is required, but is more concerned with what isn't present, rather than telling us what is. Residual solvents leftover from extraction, unsafe levels of nutrients, mold, mildew, and bacteria are all tested to make sure they are NOT present in the final product. While this helps ensure safe consumption, it tells us next to nothing about the product itself. There's a surprisingly limited amount of information available on packaging, despite the over-regulation and heavy packaging and labeling laws. In fact, for cannabis extracts in California, aside from dates, batch numbers, and phenotype (strain name), only two of over two-hundred cannabinoids are tested and labeled: THC and CBD. This doesn't even begin to consider all the various cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that cannabis contains.

With only two of over two-hundred cannabinoids tested and labeled, it's no wonder consumers are so concerned with THC percentages. Originally, I was too as it's the only number there is to compare. I was looking for something I could understand, something I could grasp, and utilize to make sense of the cannabis market. Overwhelmed, consumers naturally latch on to whatever they can understand, whatever story they have been told, trying to find stable footing in a shaky market. Luckily, it didn't take me long to realize THC percentage has very little to do with the high that is produced. Naturally, I stopped paying attention to THC percentages long ago, realizing cannabis refuses such simplistic interpretations.

A Brief History of Legal Cannabis Extracts

Some of the previous cannabis extracts available neared 90 percent THC, yet failed to provide an experience anything like today's hash products. Crumble, shatter, and wax all neared the 90% THC mark, yet are left behind as our understanding of cannabis improved.

Fresh Frozen

Realizing that much was missing from purified THC, BHO or Butane Hash Oil extractions began using freshly frozen cannabis flowers, rather than dried and cured cannabis to extract Live-Resin sauce, sugar, or badder. Using freshly frozen cannabis allowed for a significantly higher number of terpenes in the final products, causing THC percentages to naturally decrease.

By The Numbers

Take a look at the boxes below:

710 Labs lists their THC content in milligrams converting into the same percentage of THC. The Wedding Cake is about 77% THC, while the Sour Tangie is closer to 76% THC. Deduct a rough 2% of CBD from each and we're looking like roughly 20 percent of both products is unknown. In other words, out of 1,000 mg total or 1 gram, the wedding cake is 769.92 mg of total THC and CBD. Subtract that from a total of 1,000 mg and we have exactly 230.08 mg of unknown ingredients in the Wedding Cake. Until testing and regulation progresses, what remains in this other twenty percent, or 230.08 mg, does not have to be shown.

Thankfully, as I've said before, I trust my ganja farmer to provide a vast profile of cannabinoids and terpenes, which make up the other twenty percent or so of my hash. Being the professionals they are, 710 Labs lists the top five most abundant terpenes in each of their cultivars online, giving the attentive mind an idea of what is contained in the remaining twenty to thirty percent of the product.


What we can tell despite the lack of testing, is the potential for cannabinoids and terpenes to be present. If a product is 98% THC, it leaves room for no more than a possible 2% in all other cannabinoids and terpenes. Compare that with today's best hash products containing around 60 to 70 percent THC. A 70% THC cannabis extract may contain up to another 30 percent of terpenes and cannabinoids, all contributing to what's known as the Entourage Effect.

Solventless extractions natural ratio of THC to cannabinoids and terpenes provides a far more medicinally beneficial experience. For the recreational user, the increased terpenes not only provide flavor and smell, they have been shown to contribute to the