How THC Works: The High Street Guide to This Important Cannabinoid

If you’ve ever wondered why cannabis makes you feel the way it does, that’s (mostly) due to three little letters: THC. Short for delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the most famous, and perhaps the most important, compound in the plant. What is it that makes THC tick, and why does it affect us the way it does? 

What is THC?

THC is the foremost cannabinoid in cannabis and is responsible for the cerebral, euphoric, giggly, or hungry feeling you get after you smoke a joint or have an edible. In many varieties of cannabis, it is the most plentiful cannabinoid. In fact, cannabis breeders have selectively bred varieties that maximize THC content, sometimes exceeding 30% THC volume by weight in cannabis flower. Although THC is just one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis, it is one of the most important to consider when choosing cannabis products to buy.

How does THC work?

The effects THC causes happen because of its interaction with something called the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), or endocannabinoid system for short. The ECS is a network of cannabinoid receptors, chemicals, and enzymes that serve a wide range of functions in the central nervous and immune systems. The ECS is responsible for the regulation of appetite, mood, pain perception, sleep, learning and memory, and more. Yes, it really can do all that.

THC binds to and activates both known types of cannabinoid receptors in the ECS, called the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor. This allows THC to have a wide range of effects on your body and is the reason it is effective at stimulating appetite or reducing feelings of pain. 

Generally, when something pulls on the “levers” of the ECS, it can affect us in a number of ways depending on how much we consume. For example, THC can increase heart rate or prompt feelings of anxiety if you take too much. Understanding balance while consuming cannabis is important for that reason.

THC and the entourage effect

The effects of THC can also be modulated by the presence of other cannabinoids and cannabis-based compounds like terpenes. This is called the entourage effect, and it refers to the way all these compounds work together to create a holistic, unique experience.

For example, when high levels of CBD are present alongside THC, intoxicating feelings may be less intense than when CBD isn’t present at all. It may also improve the pain relieving properties of the cannabis product. Learn more about how CBD works alongside THC in our CBD Buyer’s Guide.

Similarly, when certain terpenes like limonene are present, you may be more likely to feel an energizing, uplifting high, while others like myrcene are more likely to promote relaxation and restfulness. Understanding the complete spectrum of compounds found in a cannabis product can better help you choose the right selection for your desired experience. 

How much THC should I take?

There is no “correct” amount of THC to consume. Some people need more THC to reach their desired effects and some need less, so it’s about finding what’s right for you. 

For manufactured products like edibles and tinctures, 5mg THC is the typical recommended starting amount. Wait to see how this affects you and if you feel you need some more, gradually increase your dosage. Alternatively, you may feel 5mg THC is too much for you. In the future, you can reduce the amount you consume and see if that’s more appropriate. When you first start consuming cannabis, it is a bit of trial and error.

You should also consider the product type you’ve chosen. Inhaled forms of cannabis like flower and vapes are a bit harder to accurately measure than products with precise serving sizes. If you’re smoking or vaping, start with one inhale and wait around 15 minutes to see how you feel before inhaling more. Remember, you can always consume more if needed, so follow the common mantra of “start low and go slow.” 

THC and tolerance

As you consume cannabis more frequently, your tolerance to THC is likely to increase, no matter your natural starting tolerance. So, if you’ve been consuming daily and 5mg THC was typically enough to achieve your desired experience, don’t be surprised if over time you need to increase the amount you consume a bit. This is normal and it may require a little bit more cannabis than it once did for you to feel the same way.

If you’d like to reduce your THC tolerance, you can take what’s called a tolerance break, called a “T break” for short. To resensitize your body to THC, stop consuming cannabis anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Your THC tolerance should begin to decline over this time period. At that point, lower amounts should be as effective as they once were again. As you begin to consume regularly once more, though, your THC tolerance will climb again. 

How to choose THC products

There’s a lot more to choosing a cannabis product than just looking at the THC content alone. Here’s how to make sure you select a product you’ll be happy with.

1. Consider product type

Before you start looking closely at any labels, think about how you want to consume cannabis. Inhaled products, like smoked flower or vaped concentrates, act quickly but the effects also wear off sooner. Edibles are easier to dose and offer a slow ramp up of effects and a long duration. Other products, like tinctures, give the best of both worlds with a fast onset of effects, long duration, and precise measurement. Or, if you’re just looking for localized relief without the high, topicals might be right for you. 

If you’re not sure about all the product types we offer at High Street, just ask a budtender for a recommendation. You can also check out our High Street menu to explore our inventory before you leave the comfort of home.

2. Identify THC content

Narrow down your product selection by looking at how much THC content the product contains and weighing it against your tolerance. If you have a low tolerance, you’re new to cannabis, or you’re trying cannabis for the first time in a long time, opt for products with lower THC percentages. These will be less likely to result in an overwhelming high when consumed in the proper amounts. If you’ve been consuming for a long time or have a higher tolerance, you may opt for higher THC percentages instead. 

In cannabis flower, it’s common to see percentages range anywhere from 15 to 30%. Other products, like concentrates, have much higher THC percentages, sometimes exceeding 90% THC content. Always be sure to consider THC content first to guarantee you’re choosing a product that meets your unique preferences and tolerance levels.

3. Check for other compounds

As noted above, THC content isn’t the only part of cannabis that influences your experience. Check out the product’s other cannabinoid content, like CBD, CBN, or CBG. More specifically, look out for the ratio of THC to these other cannabinoids. These compounds can add their own twist to your experience, so take note when they’re present and how these products may affect you differently than those they aren’t in. 

Let’s use CBD as an example. Balanced THC to CBD ratios (a 1:1 or 2:1 in either direction) tend to support a more even-keeled experience. A high THC ratio to any other cannabinoid, is likely to promote a more intense high. Conversely, if you see a CBD dominant product, expect a very muted high perfect if you have low tolerance or you’re seeking relief first and foremost.

You should also consider the terpene profile, which can significantly alter the way you feel. Some terpenes excel at providing an uplifting experience, while others promote relaxation. Similarly, some are quite good at enhancing the pain relieving properties of THC and CBD. So, depending on your goals, different terpene profiles may suit you better than others.

4. Talk to a budtender

When in doubt, talk it out. At High Street, our budtenders are trained on every product we carry and can offer you more information and recommendations based on your goals and preferences. If you’re not sure which product is right for you, just explain what you’re hoping to get out of the experience and our team will be happy to guide you through our wide selection of top quality cannabis products.

5. Try it for yourself

Personal experience is the best testimony you can get when it comes to cannabis. Don’t be afraid to switch things up and experiment with new products. If you find a product you especially like, take note of the cannabinoid and terpene content and look for others like it in the future. Different compound profiles provide different experiences, and sometimes it may surprise you which ones offer you just what you’re looking for.

Choose High Street for top notch products and service

Whether you’re new to cannabis or a longtime consumer, it helps to have friendly, expert budtenders on hand to support you. At High Street, we’re happy to offer recommendations and answer any questions about our inventory that’s chock full of the best quality cannabis in New Jersey. If you already know what you want and are in a hurry, we got you. Place a pickup order and swing by our drive-thru to grab it. You can even pre-pay with Aeropay so there’s no waiting at all. 

High Street is your destination for cannabis, whether you want to spend some time browsing or just get in and out. So stop by and see why we’re the go-to dispensary for Hackettstown and the surrounding area.

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