Ask Jayne – Does Higher THC Equal Better Marijuana?

Dear Jayne,

I was wondering if higher THC means better marijuana? I am new to the cannabises.

Ima Knotreel

Ima, would you be surprised if I told you the THC in your favorite strain of marijuana is basically the same as the THC in most other strains of marijuana? Doesn’t matter if you’re a sativa connoisseur or an indulger of the Indica, THC is basically just THC.

astronaut smoking THC marijuana

What is THC?

THC is the happy little chemical that releases dopamine from a chemical production and storage region of the brain to a receptive region of the brain. Lets be honest, most of the brain just loves dopamine.

This dopamine being delivered to different parts of the brain have different effects on people. Be it Sleepy, Happy, Dopey, Bashful,… Wait that is some the seven dwarves. Anyway this effect is the “high”.

It doesn’t matter what you strain you are enjoying, the THC compound doesn’t change. The percentages might go up and down but THC is still THC and once delivered to the brain it will turn into a dopamine release system (which feels great in my humble opinion).

If that’s true, which it is, I bet you’re asking “what is the point of difference between all these strains?” What makes Blue Dream a different experience than a nice GSC? Well I am glad you asked.

Welcome to the wonderful world of terpenes.

THC vs. Terpenes

Yes ladies and gentlemen, step right up step right up and embark upon a journey to a magical little substance called terpenes.

What are terpenes you ask?

Most plants have them. Lavender has linalool. Lilacs have terpineol. All citrus fruits have limonene. Hops, the drunk cousin of cannabis, is replete in Myrcene. Which helps answer the question “why does beer make me sleepy?’ Well your marijuana has a little of all of them.

Way to go cannabis.

You might consider them the essential oils within the cannabis plant. I like to consider them the explosive flavor crystals of mental refreshment. Just like that gum I used to love in college. But I digress.

Basically terpenes are what determine the fragrance of the flower, flavor of the bud, and unique effect on the individual user. It is the special combination of different terpenes in different percentages unique to each strain of marijuana that is truly the point of difference between strains.

Now granted if you have a Northern Lights #5 that’s testing at 15% THC and a Northern Lights #5 that’s testing at 25% THC the 25% THC is gonna be rather potent. But it’s going to be a more potent version of the same terpene profile that is indicative to the Northern Lights #5 strain.

In an article in Scientific America published April 20, 2017, Mowgi Holmes, a geneticist and founder of the cannabis genetic company Phylos Bioscience, explains it this way: If you take a pure isolated Delta – nine –tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, “you’ll experience a high that has no specific character so that it seems boring”.


I have not met a single person in all my time who has consumed marijuana because it was boring.


Maybe, but certainly not boring.

astronaut holding THC marijuana

Here’s how I like to think of it: Let’s imagine we have three spaceships. The USS Sativa (a fast ship), The USS Hybrid (a stable ship that moves neither too fast or too slow), and the USS Indica (Slow ship and it’s gonna be awhile before you get to the moon, you might just stay on the couch and eat cheetos).

Marijuana in space

Now imagine that THC is the rocket fuel in our three spaceships.

More THC means more rocket fuel to get you higher, but where is that high going to go. Your spaceship needs a navigation system. Terpenes are that navigation system. It is the terpenes that dictate where the “high” is going to take you in your mind. It is the terpenes that dictate which neural pathways the THC gets dropped along.

Terpenes, or rather terpene profiles are the next step for you in the evolution of a proper marijuana strain selection. Using terpenes to pair specific strain effects to certain activities will only enhance your cannabis experience. Maybe a nice energetic sativa for that sunrise hike or maybe a hard hitting indica for when your mother in law comes over. #napping4peace.

– PM

1 Comment
  • Tim Hill
    Posted at 16:48h, 28 September Reply

    Nice explanation and very helpful.

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