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For a lot of cannabis consumers, a trip to the dispensary is all about comparing THC levels and finding the most potent flower possible. But is stronger always better? As the cannabis industry continues to grow and cultivators hone their techniques, many high-CBD, low-THC strains are emerging as connoisseur favorites.
Known for their subtle high, unique terpene profiles, and entourage effect, today's crop of low-THC marijuana is far from mid-grade weed. If you're looking for a mellow cannabis experience that will give you the satisfaction of smoking marijuana without the potential for an overwhelming freak-out, low-THC weed is a perfect place to start. To help you find the perfect low-THC, high-CBD strains, we've put together a quick guide to breakdown the difference between THC and CBD, the benefits of low-THC cannabis, and of course, a few suggestions for your next trip to the dispensary.
Tetrahydrocannabidol and cannabidiol - or THC and CBD as they are more commonly known - are the two most significant active chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. For decades, cannabis users and researchers focused mainly on THC, which is responsible for the high or intoxication associated with smoking weed. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, cannabis users across the globe quickly gradually discovered CBD, a non-psychoactive compound that aids pain relief, relaxation, and more. Both THC and CBD are often found in flower, as well as extracted products like edibles, topicals, tinctures, and concentrates.
By selectively breeding plants based on their THC and CBD contents, cannabis cultivators have been able to establish strains containing high-THC and low-CBD, high-CBD and low-THC, as well as strains with equal amounts of both compounds. When you are shopping for cannabis with a combination of both THC and CBD, dispensaries and delivery services typically label products with a ratio of the two active chemicals. For example, a tincture labeled as "1:1" would contain equal amounts of THC and CBD, while a THC dominant tincture labeled "10:1" would contain ten times as much THC as CBD.
When combined, THC and CBD become the first two stepping stones towards what cannabis researchers call the entourage effect. By consuming a mix of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, many users say that the plant's medicinal benefits are enhanced, even if the smoke session doesn't come with an intense high. Low-THC, high-CBD strains of weed are a great way to experience the entourage effect.
Additionally, high-CBD strains are a great option for cannabis users who simply don't like the intense intoxication of high-THC weed. High-CBD weed can be smoked throughout the day without the fatigue or loss of function that sometimes comes with high-THC bud. In some cases, former cigarette smokers have used low-THC, high-CBD weed to curb nicotine cravings and eventually quit altogether.
Like all cannabis strains, high-CBD cannabis strains contain unique terpene profiles, offering marijuana aficionados smell and flavor combinations that may not be available in high-THC strains.
Ringo's Gift is a CBD super-strain that can reach CBD/THC ratios as high as 24:1. The strain is a cross of ACDC and Harle-Tsu and was named after its original breeder, legendary CBD grower Lawrence Ringo. The pungent flower smells heavily of grapefruit and hoppy beer, with CBD percentages usually hovering around 10% and THC quantities as high as 7% and as low as less than 1%. Ringo's Gift is one of the lowest THC strains available on the market today.
Harlequin is one of the most unique and sought-after high-THC, low-CBD strains on the market. The earthy, fruity flower is a Sativa-dominant old-school mix of Colombian Gold and three separate landrace strains from Nepali, Switzerland, and Thailand. The resulting bud is high in CBD, low in THC, and known for its pain relief, anxiety halting, relaxation effects.
As you might have guessed from the strain name, Cannatonic is a perfect low-THC strain when you need help sleeping. Cannatonic is a hybrid of MK Ultra and G13 Haze and was originally bred by Resin Seeds in Spain. The peppery and herbaceous pot is usually very low in THC but still offers sedative effects without any intoxication.
ACDC is a genetic child of Cannatonic but typically comes with an even more CBD dominant cannabinoid ratio - as high as 20:1. The electric bud was first selected in seed form by Dr. William Courtney, has a piney terpene structure, and is known in medical marijuana communities for its pain-relieving qualities. Because of its strong medicinal properties, ACDC plants are often extracted into a low-THC oil that is used in topicals, tinctures, edibles, and more.
Like Ringo's Gift, Sour Tsunami is another brainchild of California-based CBD cannabis breeder Laurence Ringo. A cross of Sour Diesel and NYC Diesel, Ringo was able to keep Sour Tsunami's Sativa-heavy effects and terpenes without the fast-paced high of its parent strains. Sour Tsunami's dark green buds reek of gasoline with hints of fruity tones. The CBD-dominant Sativa can reach CBD quantities in the mid to high teens, with THC percentages usually in the low single digits.
Now that you've got your dispensary shopping list or seed bank order ready, and your internet search is cleared of questions like "can low-THC make you high?" and "cannabis seeds near me," let's get down to packing bowls and twisting joints.
In many instances, low-THC bud is cheaper than high-THC flower, so rolling a personal joint or a whole eighth into a hemp or tobacco blunt is a great way to make the session last and share with your friends. On the other hand, packing bowls of CBD-dominant flower is a great way to take the edge off without getting uncomfortably high.
Outside of flower, a long list of hemp and legal weed companies offer strain-specific products made from high-CBD strains. So if smoking isn't your thing, look for CBD-dominant full-spectrum tinctures, topicals, vape cartridges, and more made from the strains listed above.
Did we skip over your favorite high-CBD strain? Let us know what to look for in the comments below!