The higher the THC concentration, the higher you get – right? Wrong. While cannabis users have long believed that cannabis with a high THC concentration makes you higher, a new study has proven this age-old myth to be false.
The study was funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and published in JAMA Psychiatry.
It found that the THC content of weed has no impact on how high it makes you.
In total, the study included 121 participants. Of those, half were given cannabis flowers with a THC concentration of either a 16% or 24%. The other half were given cannabis oil with either a 70% or 90% THC concentration. Which group got higher? Neither of them. While researchers expected that participants who got more THC showed more impairment, all participants appeared to be equally high.
Of course, it wasn’t just about appearances. How high each participant was measured through monitoring the participant’s blood, mood, cognitive function, and intoxication.
Each of these indicators was measured three times throughout the study. Once before cannabis was ingested, once immediately after and once an hour after use.
As a result of this, researchers found that balance was 11% worse immediately after cannabis use, but impairment was equal across all groups – despite the level of THC in the cannabis they took. Addressing the results, co-author of the study, Cinnamon Bidwell said:
We found that potency did not track with intoxication levels. While we saw striking differences in blood levels… they were similarly impaired.
When researchers were asked why higher THC didn’t increase intoxication levels, they suggested an interesting theory. When THC is ingested, it is processed by cannabinoid receptors in the brain. However, if you ‘overwhelm’ these receptors with high levels of THC they become saturated and stop processing additional THC.
Yes – it’s possible the law of diminishing returns applies to cannabis too.
Another interesting theory Forbes recently covered is called the ‘entourage effect’. This aptly named theory suggests that THC isn’t the only psychoactive component of cannabis capable of making a person high. Instead, the other 100 phytocannabinoids in cannabis and terpenes influence how cannabis behaves when it enters the body.
Either way, it looks like science still hasn’t decided how humans can get the best high.