What Is THC?

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THC is the component in cannabis that is primarily responsible for its intoxicating, psychoactive effects.
  • A cannabis plant’s THC content is expressed as mg/g or as a percentage of mg per gram. This is often referred to as “potency.”
  • THC is intoxicating and can produce a variety of intended effects, but consuming too much or choosing a product with a high potency potential can produce harmful or negative effects.
  • THC content is indicated on the packaging of any cannabis product sold on OCS.ca.
  • THC ranges shown on our product pages are provided by cannabis producers and may differ from ranges specified on the actual packaging.

Of the more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one principally responsible for the psychoactive and intoxicating effects of cannabis consumption.

Live cannabis plants contain tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the non-active version of this compound. When cannabis is decarboxylated through heating to a high temperature, drying or curing, the acid molecule (the “A” in THCA) drops off, and the THC is activated. This results in the effects we associate with consuming THC. It also means that cannabis in its fresh form is not yet active with THC.

How THC Works

THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Studies suggest this system plays a role in regulating stress recovery, protecting our nervous system, activating our immune system response and regulating our homeostatic balance (our overall state of optimal health, function and stability).

Put simply, your ECS is made up of two things:

1) Cannabinoid receptors, present in nearly every region of your central nervous system and brain, as well as many other areas of the body, including your immune system; and

2) Cannabinoids that you naturally produce (called endocannabinoids).

Your natural endocannabinoids fit into your ECS receptors like a key in a lock and help carry messages from cell to cell. THC works the same way, temporarily replacing your own endocannabinoids, but with different effects. These may include:

  • the release of dopamine, resulting in feelings of relaxation;
  • a physical response, such as reduced inflammation or an increase in hunger; and
  • effects on various regions of the brain, including the hippocampus (memory), the frontal cortex (thinking and decision-making) and the cerebellum (physical movement and coordination).

Learn more about the endocannabinoid system here

THC Potency

Potency refers to the amount of THC in a cannabis product. THC content is expressed in milligrams per gram (mg/g) or as a percentage of milligrams per gram of cannabis. For example, if a product is labelled 15% THC and 150 mg/g, it has 150 milligrams of THC per gram of cannabis. It is impossible to have dried flower cannabis with 100% THC, but cannabis extracts (which have been distilled) can have up to 90% THC. As a natural product, the THC content in a dried flower cannabis product may vary from product to product and between lots of the same strain.

All information on THC content for our listed products is provided by the federally licensed producers from which we purchase the product.

By law, THC content is indicated on the packaging of every cannabis product sold on OCS.ca. Additionally, products with THC amounts over 17% and 20% are labelled as “strong” and “very strong,” respectively, to guide customers in product selection.

Choosing Products Based on THC Potency

The effects of THC will be different for everyone. When choosing a product, consider not only the THC potency potential, but also the method and amount of consumption along with personal factors such as your age, your sex, your health history and previous experience with cannabis. Consult with your physician if you have questions.

  • Consuming small amounts of THC can produce effects such as relaxation, heightened happiness, arousal and creativity, more sociability and energy, and an increased appetite
  • However, consuming large amounts of THC may produce overwhelming, unpleasant or harmful effects
  • Consider products with low THC potency and/or at least a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD (cannabidiol) to help reduce the likelihood of unintended effects. Remember to consume it slowly and in small amounts.
  • Remember that even the same products can vary between lots of the same strain. Please check labels carefully to be sure of the actual THC content in the product you selected.

Click here to learn more about choosing the right cannabis product for you. Consult our THC chart to find appropriate products for you.