Understanding THC and CBD Numbers on Cannabis Labels

Learn what Total THC & Total CBD numbers mean on cannabis labels & how they can help you make informed decisions when purchasing cannabis products.

Understanding THC and CBD Numbers on Cannabis Labels

When it comes to cannabis, the key numbers to look out for are those that appear after “TOTAL THC” and “TOTAL CBD” on the labels. These numbers refer to the amount of each compound that will be available after heating, that is, when you smoke or vaporize your flower. The percentage of THC refers to the amount of THC contained in its dry weight. Percentages are directly correlated with milligrams per gram.

One gram of cannabis with 25% THC contains 250 milligrams of cannabis per gram. The total levels of THC and CBD are indicated as a percentage of the dry weight of the flower and are a mandatory part of the labeling of cannabis products. During the drying process, some THCA is converted to THC, but to “activate the rest”, cannabis must be decarboxylated (smoked, vaped or cooked). Analyzing strains in this way allows us to start thinking about specific strains in a broader context, in relation to the full spectrum of THC and CBD levels encompassed by the strains.

Studies that compared the performance of people who consumed cannabis strains with a low THC content with those of people who used cannabis strains with a higher THC content revealed that their level of deterioration was essentially the same. This means that THC is not a good indicator of a strain's ability to offer the benefits its users seek. Leafly users will be able to judge more easily whether cannabis products have high, low or medium levels of THC and CBD, as well as which major category of chemotypes they fall into (THC-dominant, CBD-dominant, or balanced). Another confusing aspect of understanding Canadian cannabis labels is figuring out the difference between THC and THC Total.

While THC will affect you cognitively, the experience of how “high” you are or how you feel is the result of other factors related to the variety of cannabis you consume. To make things easier, Leafly's dispensary listings will begin using this simpler and more intuitive system for the dishes on their menu, in order to help consumers judge the amount of THC and CBD contained in cannabis products. As you can see in the graphic above, strains naturally fall into one of the three main categories (chemotypes) according to their THC and CBD levels. Unlike THC, CBD may still have an effect on the brain (but it may not be the common “high” a consumer is used to experiencing). Each crop is batch-tested and its CBD and THC content is recorded, then associated with a unique lot number to make it trackable.

THC and CBD, on the other hand, indicate the amount of “activated” cannabinoids present before decarboxylation. Understanding these numbers can help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing cannabis products. With Leafly's dispensary listings using this simpler and more intuitive system for their menu items, consumers can easily judge how much THC and CBD is contained in each product.