The key to a successful grow is getting the right seeds for your needs! Not everyone has the same goals when they are growing cannabis indoors. For example, many recreational marijuana growers are interested in growing the highest THC strains on the market, while medicinal users want high-CBD strains.
Besides your care and love, a plant’s genetic makeup is the decisive factor behind many things, such as the concentration of cannabinoids, height, yield, resistance to disease, flowering time, and other biological functions.
THC count is one of these things that can be improved with some proper care but is still largely genetically predisposed. That’s why we prepared a handy list of the Top 10 High-THC marijuana strains as of early 2018. But first, let’s share some information and historical facts about THC.
What is THC and How Does it Work
Being high is amazing. This feeling of intense brain activity coupled with a tingling sensation throughout the body… You can feel it right now, don’t you? All of these euphoric feelings are mainly caused by one chemical compound naturally found in the cannabis plant. You may only know it as THC, but officially it goes by the name Tetrahydrocannabinol.
THC is the most prevalent among hundreds of active compounds found in the cannabis plant (cannabinoids) and is also the most psychoactive. Despite its current illegal status, THC’s history has been closely connected with human civilization.
There are accounts of ancient Assyrians using marijuana as a psychoactive in religious ceremonies called qunubu (giving cannabis its modern name).
Cannabinoids like THC work by binding to the endocannabinoid receptors concentrated in receptors found throughout our body. THC, in particular, shows a higher affinity for the CB1 receptors, found mainly in the brain. This process triggers the release of the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of euphoria and joy, similar to those released after getting a workout.
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How Does THC Get You High
We perceive this as “being high”: the higher the THC count, the more intense the effects. However, as I am sure most of you can confirm, feeling high is not the only way marijuana affects us.
Depending on the genetics and the conditions the plant grew in, high-THC strains can induce relaxed feelings or even paranoia. It entirely depends on the person and the individual organism.
Other psychological effects of THC include a sense of exhilaration, intense sensory experiences, talkativeness, increased cognitive abilities, and altered time perception. Not to mention the increased appetite (munchies, anyone?). You’ve got to remember that there are too many factors at play when it comes to getting high. The same strain can cause hallucinations to some people and a pleasant head high to others.
THC Medical Benefits
Marijuana cannabinoids have a lot of medical benefits on their own, and even more when they work in synergy. And although few people want to use THC-rich strains for medicinal reasons, it still has some uses as medicine!
We wouldn’t recommend consuming high THC marijuana if you suffer from anxiety or insomnia. Although THC is harmless for most consumers, it is still psychoactive and can produce unpredictable side effects. However, the euphoric cerebral effects of THC are great for people suffering from depression and negative thoughts.
THC, like CBD, is a potent anti-inflammatory drug suitable for autoimmune conditions or other inflammation causes, like neurodegenerative disorders or multiple sclerosis.
There is no conclusive evidence that THC can kill cancerous cells. However, there are certainly some promising early data. Cancer-killing or not, the use of THC in cancer patients can prove valuable, as it can improve the mood and reduce the symptoms of harsh cancer treatments.
THC has excellent pain-relieving properties and can be a safe alternative to highly potent and addictive opioids. With the USA and Canada facing a mess of overflowing opioid medication that kills thousands each year, THC is a great solution.
THC works similarly to opioids, releasing dopamine that negates the pain signals sent to the brain. However, it is not addictive, and its side effects are way milder.
THC Side Effects
Evidence for the long-term side-effects of cannabis is shaky at best, but then again, research is still ongoing. While cannabis is indeed beneficial, we believe it is best to take all of the hype with a healthy dose of skepticism and be realistic regarding our expectations from THC.
We won’t even discuss problems like lung cancer and bronchitis, as THC can be consumed in many ways that don’t involve smoking. So, let’s look at the purely medicinal claims about the harms of THC.
Permanent Brain Changes
Recent research has shown a correlation between frequent consumption of high-THC marijuana and alterations in a brain region called callosal commissure (which connects the brain hemispheres) and the hippocampus. Obtaining the data from cannabis users, researchers have found that people who consume high-potency THC showed differences in the callosal commissure than people who don’t.
The good news is that these differences are not directly linked to any conditions, so we can’t reach any definite conclusions regarding their exact nature.
A 2016 study suggested that frequent use of high-THC marijuana was associated with worse verbal memory and processing speed among 3385 participants. Specifically, the study claims that for every five years of continuous cannabis, the users’ verbal memory was 0.13 standardized units lower. In layman’s terms, that means 1 of 2 participants remembering one word fewer from a list of 15 words every five years.
People who are predisposed towards schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions have a reason to be cautious around THC. There is evidence that it can trigger the onset of symptoms earlier than expected. However, this can only happen to people who already have a genetic condition.
Recreational THC Use
Frankly, this is the primary reason we love THC: getting high and having a good time. To reap all the rewards of the highest THC strains, you need to find the perfect ratio for your needs. There is no use consuming an insanely potent strain only to find out that it makes you dizzy and paranoid.
Modern seedbanks are constantly trying to break records with selective breeding that promotes higher and higher concentrations of THC. After all, the popularity of THC signaled the emergence of a new side-market: edibles, hash, concentrates, vape liquids, and THC Oils are just some of the products you can use to get high without having to smoke. Sure, nothing compares to rolling an old-fashioned fat blunt, but methods like dabbing or vaping produce a more well-rounded and flavorful experience.
Top 10 Highest THC Strains
Marijuana strains are getting more potent each year as seedbanks release their newest creations on the market. Below we will share our picks for the top 10 highest THC strains (under no particular order). You should be careful around these, especially if your tolerance is low. Try a couple of tentative hits and see where that gets you.
Alien Banana Candy
THC Content: 35%
Indica-dominant Alien Banana Candy tops our list with THC levels reaching up to 35%. Portland’s Shango dispensary won first place with the strain in the 2020 G.O.A.T Cup awards.
Alien Banana Candy features genetics from both Alien Rock Candy and Banana OG. The combination produces small to medium, light-green buds with violet accents and burnt-orange pistils.
Myrcene, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene dominate Alien Banana Candy’s terpene profile, producing a buttery vanilla flavor and a strong citrus aroma. Many consumers compare the taste of Alien Banana Candy to banana-flavored salt-water taffy.
Alien Banana Candy’s effects help promote a positive mental outlook while offering a deep sense of physical relaxation. Growers who love THC can’t miss adding this strain to their gardens.
THC Content: 28%
Colorado breeders originated Hulkberry when they married OG Kush with Strawberry Diesel. Hulkberry has relatives in common with its alter ego, Bruce Banner strain.
The combination yields potent and delicious buds with an intense strawberry and citrus flavor and a pronounced gassy fragrance.
Contrary to its moniker, Hulkberry is easy to manage in the grow room. Still, you may want to experiment for a few harvests before you get the exact characteristics you’re looking for. The most exciting Hulkberry phenotypes produce bright green nugs with hot pink and violet swirls accented by deep red pistils.
THC Content: 35%
Beginners beware because sativa-dominant Lemon Royale is a strain that packs a wallop. Lemon Royale typically comes in over 28% THC, but one Oregon grower produced Lemon Royale buds with a whopping 35%.
Originated by the veteran breeders at Swamp Boy Seeds, Lemon Royale combines genetics from Lemon Tree, GMO, and Triangle Kush. Lemon Royale plants produce dense buds with a healthy coat of frosty trichomes.
The terpene profile features plenty of limonene, beta-caryophyllene, and pinene, giving Lemon Royale a distinct aroma reminiscent of Meyer lemons with musky herbal overtones and a light diesel fragrance.
THC Content: 28%
The folks at Royal Queen Seeds crossed popular Girl Scout Cookies and creamy Gelato to find the ideal strain for THC-lovers with a sweet tooth. Balanced genetics make Cookies Gelato the perfect anytime strain, but beginners should exercise caution as the buds can contain up to 28% THC.
Cookies Gelato responds well to low-stress training, flowers around 8-10 weeks, and produces indoor yields of around 600 grams per square meter.
THC Content: 29%
Barney’s Farm created this potent indica-dominant strain by combining genetics from three iconic hybrids: Zkittles, Gelato #33, and Orange Punch. With a THC content that can reach up to 29% and a hefty 70:30 indica-to-sativa ratio, Runtz Muffin makes the perfect choice for those times when you need to decompress both mentally and physically.
Indica genetics and a rich terpene profile give the buds a relaxing yet uplifting vibe that’s equally suited for laid-back social occasions or curling up with a good book. A generous myrcene content combined with plenty of limonene and a touch of linalool give Runtz Muffin buds a sweet citrusy flavor with slight floral overtones.
Runtz Muffin seeds typically produce indoor yields of up to 600 grams per square meter. However, the strain thrives in outdoor settings as the plants tolerate a range of environmental conditions. Harvest time can be stretched well into October with hearty Runtz Muffin genetics.
THC Content: 23%
Named for the famous German aperitif Jagermeister, Jager mixes the indica genetics and pine aroma of LA Confidential with Blue Dream’s Haze characteristics and fruity taste. The result is a potent indica-dominant hybrid featuring a pronounced black licorice flavor with hints of lemon and pine. Like the liquor, Jager makes an excellent after-dinner treat with its 80:20 indica-to-sativa ratio and high-THC content.
Jager originated in southern Oregon, where it remains a trendy hybrid among both growers and consumers. It was impossible to cultivate Jager for years without procuring a cutting from a small group of local breeders. These days, you can find auto-flowering Jager seeds through Pacific Seed Bank.
THC Content: 28%
The New was born from a collaboration between the Humboldt Seed Organization and legendary breeder Sherbinski. The clever combination of ever-popular Girl Scout Cookies with iconic Larry OG genetics produces a mouth-watering and robust hybrid with distinct, sweet cinnamon and diesel aroma.
Growers can adapt The New to an indoor setting, but the plants produce especially resinous buds when cultivated in an outdoor greenhouse setting in a Mediterranean climate.
THC Content: 25%
Released by Barney’s Farm in 2019, Glookies combines the sweet flavor of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies with Gorilla Glue #4’s gargantuan, ultra-resinous buds. Glookies’ terpene profile offers one of the most unique combinations of tastes and aromas of any strain on the market today. Starting with a nutty base, reminiscent of chocolate or coffee, Glookies’ flavor releases sweet lime and mint notes with a potent skunky finish.
Glookie’s’ 80:20 indica-to-sativa ratio makes it a well-suited MMJ strain for treating PTSD or chronic pain. The hybrid offers a pronounced body buzz and a relaxed, stoney euphoria.
Glookies starts to flower at about 60 days and produces indoor yields of around 800 grams per square meter. When grown under ideal conditions, outdoor yields can reach up to 3000 grams per plant!
THC Content: 26%
California’s CRU Cannabis developed Blue Walker by breeding two legendary sativa hybrids: Skywalker OG and Blue Dream. The result is a heady, creative strain with a nutty flavor and sweet berry aroma.
Blue Walker starts sprouting tight popcorn flowers in around 50-60 days. But, don’t let the small bud-size fool you. Blue Walker is 90% sativa and has THC levels that reach up to 26%. Even seasoned herb fans should exercise caution because this strain can produce heavy, almost psychedelic cerebral effects.
THC Content: 27%
Symbiotic Genetics created sativa-dominant Cherry Punch by crossing Purple Punch with Cherry AK47. The genetic combo produces lush plants with dark green buds, purple accents, and an almost overwhelming fruit flavor. Ample amounts of limonene and humulene give Cherry Punch a double dose of citrusy terps, adding sour notes and a potent skunk fragrance.
Well-trained Cherry Punch plants produce indoor yields reaching around 600 grams per square foot. However, Cherry Punch thrives in the Northern California climate, where it can fetch up to 1200 grams per plant outdoors.
About THC Measurements in Marijuana Strains
As we’ve seen in previous articles, the cannabis plant does not produce THC automatically. The production of THC is triggered when the non-psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is heated in a process called decarboxylation.
As it is impossible to measure the actual THC, lab tests usually test for THCA and then use math to calculate an approximate THC content. THCA does not always convert to THC in the same ratio, so labs usually measure it as a percentage of the total weight.
However, these calculations are often misleading: The equation used to determine the conversion uses a mass weight correction of 12%, which would only occur in a perfect vacuum. Therefore, there is no reliable way of finding out the actual THC content of a strain. So, if such info is available, take a look at the THCA content of a strain, as it is usually a good indicator of how much THC the plant contains.
This article was updated on November, 5th 2021.