By DEANNA DEBARA
Photo by Washarapol D BinYo for Unsplash
What’s considered the strongest weed strain has changed markedly through the years. In a 2016 study published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers analyzed samples seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration and found that THC concentration tripled from 1995 to 2014—from about 4 percent to about 12 percent.
And that 12 percent was all the way back in 2014. Since then, potency has only been increasing. Today, the strongest weed strains have a THC content in the 20 percent range with some even higher, like in 2018 when a Portland, OR-based grower developed Future (#1) that clocked in at a whopping 37.28% THC.
So, what’s the deal with cannabis potency? Why has weed gotten so much stronger? And what are some of the strongest weed strains on the market in 2020?
Why Weed Potency Is On The Rise
Clearly, weed has gotten a lot stronger over the years. But the question is—why?
Improved cultivation methods are one of the biggest driving forces behind the increased potency in cannabis and the wave of stronger strains that have hit the dispensaries in recent years. As technology has advanced, cultivators have developed more advanced knowledge about cannabis and how growing conditions impact the plant. For example: Manipulating light exposure can increase THC concentration. As a result, they’ve been able to optimize their operations to produce strains with higher levels of THC.
Why Would You Want a Strong Weed Strain?
Customer demand has also played a part in driving up cannabis potency. For people using the plant medicinally, stronger strains can often provide better or longer-lasting relief, like in the case of those who may use it for chronic pain or other long term health issues. And for recreational users, they’re looking for a stronger, more intense high and are willing to pay top dollar for the experience.
Because of the increase in demand, many cultivators have shifted their operations towards producing top shelf, high potency strains—and giving the customers, both medicinal and recreational, what they want and need.
How Does Potency Impact The Consumption Experience?
The higher the THC content in a cannabis strain, the more intense and intoxicating you can expect the effects to be. So, if you’re smoking an indica known for producing a relaxing body high, that body high is only going to get stronger as the potency increases; if you’re hitting a sativa known for inspiring creativity, expect those cerebral effects to be more pronounced.
It makes sense: Increasing the THC in a cannabis strain will make whatever effects that strain produces whether that’s creativity, euphoria, relaxation, or sleepiness significantly stronger.
Of course, potent cannabis strains aren’t for everyone. Given the strong high, beginners and those accustomed to products with lower THC percentage might experience increased anxiety or other unintended negative effects. If you’ve never experimented with a strong cannabis strain, take things slow. Remember — you can always consume more but you can never consume less.
The Strongest Cannabis Strains To Try When You’re Looking For A Potent Experience
Clearly, potent flower is having a moment. But what are some of the strongest weed strains available—and which ones should you try if you want to experience a stronger high?
If you’re ready to work some stronger cannabis strains into your consumption regimen, here are a few to consider:
This energetic, uplifting sativa from Northern Emeralds is favorite among cannabis lovers with its 27.8% THC. One unique feature: It’s most common terpene is terpinolene, a compound most commonly found in lilacs, nutmeg, and cumin. Terpinolene is pine-y, floral, herbaceous, and spicy all at once and is known for its uplifting, creative, and productive high.
If you want your strong cannabis strain to induce a strong sense of euphoria, then you’ll want Strawberry OZK. At 26% THC, this potent sativa will also deliver a nice kick of energy—making it a solid choice for daytime consumption. It’s most prevalent terpenes are mood lifting limonene (found in lemons), euphoric myrcene (found in mangoes), and anti-inflammatory humulene (found in grapes).
If you’re feeling stressed out, sometimes a potent strain is exactly what you need to chill. Enter Mr. Sandman, a indica dominant hybrid that, at 22.4% THC, will help you relax, unwind, and melt away the stress of a long day. Featuring linalool (found in lavender) and spicy caryophyllene (found in pepper), both terpenes are optimal for calming the mind.
If you’re looking for a strong but balanced high, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, a hybrid from Humboldt Farms, is a must try. This strain blends the best of both sativa and indica-like effects, delivering a creative, relaxed high. And at 18.8% THC, it’s strong without feeling too intense—making it a great option if you’re just starting to experiment with stronger cannabis strains.
At 21.7% THC, Cookies & Chem, an indica dominant hybrid, is not only potent, but also contains terpenes known for their anti-anxiety properties (including peppery caryophyllene and citrusy limonene)—making this a great strain to consume before bed.