The THC Potency of Your Weed Might Be Lower Than You Thought

A study found that cannabis from Colorado dispensaries had lower potency levels than what they were sold for

Leaves of a mature marijuana plant
Twenty three cannabis samples were tested for their THC potency levels, including strains called Sour Amnesia, Colombian Gold ‘72, Mob Boss 5 and Blue Dream 5.
Getty Images

Looking to celebrate the upcoming holiday? Make sure you double-check the products you bought. Researchers at the University of Northern Colorado tested cannabis samples from dispensaries throughout Colorado and concluded that the levels of THC, the compound responsible for “the high,” were lower than what was being advertised. 

This is the first peer-reviewed study to examine THC potency, and it’s raising several concerns regarding the current state of the cannabis regulation industry and consumer education and awareness.

“Given the numerous recent reports and lawsuits questioning THC potency reporting, it is likely that this is an industry-wide problem,” the study said.

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Out of the 23 samples tested, 18 of them had THC potency levels — the total tetrahydrocannabinol percent by dry weight — below what was advertised on the packaging by more than 30%. It included strains named Sour Amnesia, Colombian Gold ‘72, Mob Boss 5 and Blue Dream 5. Some even went as low as a 40% to 50% difference.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Mit McGlaughlin, one of the authors involved in the study and a biological sciences professor at the University of Northern Colorado, said he “doesn’t believe what’s on the label” of cannabis products. So far, 21 states have legalized recreational cannabis use. One of the reasons for the lack of cannabis oversight, The Post reported, is due to it being under federal law. 

“We just don’t have enough information for consumers about whether or not you can trust what’s being produced,” he said.

Anna Schwabe, the lead author of the study, told The Post that this is a “nationwide issue,” as people aren’t getting what they paid for. Higher THC levels often mean higher costs, the publication reported.

This holiday season, we don’t want you to spend more for less. When cannabis retailers go low, it’s time for you to get high — with facts and awareness, of course. 

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