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Monday June 29, 2020

By Erin Hiatt

420 Culture

We’ve all heard the phrase, “This isn’t your grandma’s weed,” and it’s true that the average percentage of THC – the cannabis compound that makes you high – has risen in the age of legalization. Studies that looked at the potency of pot seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration found the average amount of THC in cannabis in 1995 was 4 percent, 12 percent in 2014, and 17 percent in 2017.

Cannabis cup events have quickened the race to increase cannabis potency among breeders, and some strains have pushed the THC scale north of 30 percent.

In addition to getting you very high, potent THC strains have been shown to have medicinal effects, and could help increase appetite, reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and alleviate nausea. However, high potency cannabis can sometimes be too much of a good thing, and may bring paranoia, anxiety, and other uncomfortable feelings to some people.

Of course, the exact percentage of THC is difficult to pinpoint, and its effects may be offset by the presence of other cannabinoids in the strain, like the non-intoxicating CBD. Nonetheless, there are some strains that regularly pop up in the high potency category. Here’s a look at a few:

Ghost Train Haze

This sativa-dominant hybrid gets high marks for its long-lasting flavor and aroma, featuring anise, grenadine, and citrus notes. Ghost Train Haze has tested up to 28 percent THC, making it a good daytime strain that provides both mental and physical stimulation.


The strain formerly known as Gorilla Glue #4 is now referred to as GG4 (the makers of the popular adhesive, Gorilla Glue, were none too pleased about a strain of cannabis using their name).

Popular among medical cannabis patients, this hybrid strain was bred specifically to deliver maximal amounts of THC, and averages about 23 percent.

Death Star

An indica-dominant hybrid, Death Star has a pungent aroma and a flavor that features notes of citrus, soil, and hash. If you are a Diesel strain lover, Death Star could be just the ticket for you. Clocking in at about 21 percent THC on average, the effects of this strain reportedly last a while, so plan for a night in when consuming.

Bruce Banner #3

Of the Bruce Banner phenotypes, Bruce Banner #3 is considered the most potent, with some testing as high as 25 percent THC. This strain has an aroma described as spicy yet citrusy with a lemon-lime vibe, the flavor is sweet yet earthy. This is a daytime strain, and may be too potent for those with anxiety.

The White

At around 23 percent THC, The White has both strong mental and physical effects. It’s thought that this hybrid/indica leaning strain is useful for pain relief, stimulating appetite, and as a sleep aid. Described as “kushy” in nature, it has a lemon, pine, and hash aroma with a piney taste.

Super Silver Haze

With THC around 21 percent, this award-winning strain is considered to be the perfect embodiment of a sativa-dominant hybrid because of its equal mental and physical effects.

Super Silver Haze

Initially energetic and racy, the second part of the Super Silver Haze high segues into a relaxing and creative experience.

Chem Dawg

Phenotype testing of this sativa leaning hybrid has shown that THC content of this uber-popular strain sits at about 22 percent. Chem Dawg (or Chem Dog, depending on who you ask) is believed to have been thought up at a Grateful Dead concert. With a sour, sweet, piney and earthy aroma and flavor, this strain is beloved for its fast-acting, heady effects.

Ghost OG

An indica-dominant hybrid, Ghost OG is believed to be a one-off of Chem Dawg with similarly potent effects, containing about 23 percent THC. Reported to have a more turpentine-like and musty scent than Chem Dawg, Ghost OG’s flavor has notes of lemon, pine, and camphor.

Lemon Kush

With an average potency of around 22 percent, Lemon Kush is an indica-dominant hybrid, and unsurprisingly, has a lemony aroma and flavor, with some earthy under notes. Consumers enjoy lemon kush for its initial energy boost, followed by a relaxation effect into a soft landing.

Though high THC strains are very much in demand among consumers, if you are new to cannabis, consider working your way up slowly to higher potency strains. As your grandma might say, “you can always do a little bit more, but once you’ve had too much, you can’t go back!” Happy smoking everyone.


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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