Your Guide to High-THC Cannabis Strains

by Haley Mills · March 15, 2023

Learn what constitutes as “high-THC” cannabis and the effects it has on users.

what is considered high thc

Learn what constitutes as “high-THC” cannabis and the effects it has on users.

Many cannabis enthusiasts want to know what is considered a high THC cannabis content. Surprisingly, the average THC levels of popular varieties is around fifteen percent, but there are various weed strains with well over twenty percent and even close to thirty in some cases. Read on to learn all you need to know about THC potency in your favorite marijuana products.

THC and its effects

THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for providing the psychoactive effects of marijuana. If a strain is described as potent, it’s likely a high-THC strain.

High-THC strains will produce strong cerebral effects and can be beneficial for the following ailments and more:
  • Nausea
  • Appetite
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle Function

High-THC cannabis can be significantly therapeutic for medical cannabis consumers with certain health conditions. Medical-grade products are often stronger than recreational products to provide sufficient pain relief. Patients with chronic pain, ongoing chemotherapy, muscle spasticity, nausea, depression, and more use high-THC cannabis products. 

For recreational users with cannabis experience and high tolerance, a high-THC bud can deliver the desired psychoactive effects. However, we don’t recommend starting your journey with a high-potency product. Start with a THC concentration of ten to fifteen percent until you’re comfortable trying more intense effects.

THC Percentages & What they Mean

THC percentages vary significantly depending on the type of product and the strain. According to the federal government, CBD products are legal if they contain no more than 0.3% THC. There are also full-spectrum cannabinoid products that may have as high as twenty-five percent or as low as five percent THC.

THC percentages have significantly increased since the 1980s when most cannabinoid products contained around four percent of the intoxicating cannabinoid known as THC. Cannabis products now include double and sometimes triple the amount of THC than back then.  

What is considered high THC levels?

Much of the cannabis grown and consumed in the United States averages around fifteen percent THC. Approximately seventeen percent THC is when cannabis strains begin to be considered a high amount. Yet many people look for upwards of twenty percent when searching for a potent strain.

The average THC levels of cannabis in 2003 were around six percent, up from just one percent in 1976. By 2018, researchers estimated most cannabis strains to have THC levels above fifteen percent. Nowadays, THC levels around eighteen percent are typically considered mid-range, and anything above twenty percent is considered high potency.

Are strains created for a specific THC content?

Yes. Many cannabis strains (especially hybrid breeds) are cultivated specifically for THC potency. The reasons for creating new strains can vary but typically include THC or CBD content, terpene profile, flavor, aroma, yield size, and cerebral and physical effects.

Does more THC equal a more intense high?

A higher THC percentage doesn’t necessarily lead to more substantial effects. Cannabis users report varying levels of THC affecting them more intensely than others; it greatly depends on the individual. And if you were to compare the THC percentages people use, you’d see quite a wide range of ratios, including plenty of lower percentages along with high THC flower.

THC isn’t the only thing that affects how you feel after consumption. Over four hundred compounds in weed can affect how a specific strain makes you feel. Some compounds play a more prominent role, specifically cannabinoids, and terpenes. Many low THC strains are designed to be higher in other cannabinoids such as CBD to provide a different experience without the high.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are organic chemical compounds found in some herbs, most popularly known in connection to the cannabis plant. Terps can provide desired characteristics like flavor profile, aroma, and color. You can add them to cannabis flowers, tinctures, topicals, and edibles to increase psychoactive effects.

Although terpenoids do not affect cannabinoid potency, they can work with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to enhance health benefits. They have been linked to reducing the symptoms of certain mental and mood disorders, anxiety, and depression. Two popular terpenes are linalool (found in Lavender) and a-Pinene (found in rosemary), which are known to reduce stress and increase mental clarity.

Cannabinoids and terpenes are both active chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. While cannabinoids are considered primarily responsible for the euphoric effects and medicinal benefits associated with cannabis Sativa, terpenes remain the source of the cannabis plant’s aroma and taste. However, when cannabinoids and terpenes combine, they create a synergistic effect on the human endocannabinoid system. The two complement and enhance the sum of their therapeutic or euphoric properties.

Adverse Effects of too much THC

Consuming high-THC cannabis comes with some adverse risks.

The more THC consumed at once, the more likely you’ll experience the following side effects:
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed motor and cognitive functions
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Distorted sense of time 

A 2022 systematic review concluded that high-potency cannabis might be associated with an increased risk of psychosis, cannabis use disorder (CUD), or cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Another 2020 study found that consuming high amounts of THC can increase anxiety.

Although these adverse side effects will not happen to everyone, it’s vital to be aware of them. There isn’t an official suggested limit to the THC a person can take at once; consuming too much can be uncomfortable.

Top High-THC Cannabis Strains

Here, we present our expertly curated list of some of our favorite high-THC strains. Find out more about their effects below.

gmo cookies

GMO Cookies, aka. Garlic Cookies or Garlic GMO Cookies is a very high-THC hybrid strain by Divine Genetics that is sure to provide an excellent experience for the user. With approximately twenty-eight percent THC, GMO (genetically modified organism) Cookies will hit you with a euphoric, blissful high and leave you feeling ultra relaxed and ready for bed. 

wedding cake

Wedding Cake is an Indica dominant hybrid strain, sometimes called Pink Cookies. The wedding cake experience offers relaxing effects with high potency of around 22 percent and the best flavor combination of vanilla cake and spicy pepper. Wedding Cake cannabis extracts are perfect to treat chronic pain, mental disorders, anxiety, and depression.

durban poison

Durban Poison originated from Durban, a South African port city, and is sold by Dutch Passion Seed Company. It typically has an impressive nineteen percent THC and one percent CBD. This particular strain is a pure Sativa, which makes excellent parent strains to some of the highest THC flower on the market today.

These south African seeds produce an herbal flavor and aroma with hints of pine and sage. Durban Poison’s buds have many trichomes. Durban Poison is an excellent Sativa strain for edibles, promotes creative qualities, and provides better focus than many other strains.

gorilla glue

Gorilla Glue 4 is a balanced hybrid strain with an average of twenty-five percent THC. It’s known to help with chronic pain and sleep disorders due to its relaxing qualities and cerebral effects. It was created by GG Strains and is a cross of Sour Dubble, Chocolate Diesel, and Chem’s Sister strains and is one of the most popular strains throughout the cannabis industry. This slightly Sativa dominant hybrid can bring you chill, pain-free feelings that leave you with deep body relaxation and the munchies.


Skittles is an Indica dominant hybrid strain with sweet and tart fruity flavors that is a cross between Grape Ape and Grapefruit . Like the candy, it’s commonly reported that this is one of the most delicious strains and you will surely taste the rainbow after smoking per consumer reviews.

Zkittlez is a well-known strain that’s won several awards among the cannabis industry, including first place at the 2016 Emerald Cup and first place in the Cannabis Cups in San Francisco and Michigan in 2015. Aside from the flavor, Zkittles is an Indica hybrid with up to 23 percent THC that can leave you feeling relaxed, calm, creative, and focused. It’s an absolute must-try for fruity cannabis strain enthusiasts.

purple punch

Purple Punch is an Indica-dominant hybrid with around 20 percent THC; it’s crossed between Larry OG and Granddaddy Purple and created by Supernova Gardens seed bank. This heavy hitter is filled with frosty trichomes and smells of grape candy and freshly baked blueberry muffins.

The potency of this strain offers an intense head and body high that’s sure to hit you with a one two punch, often resulting in couch lock. Purple Punch is best used at night, and its physical effects can help manage nausea, stress, body aches, and insomnia.


California-based Cookies Fam Genetics, Gushers (aka Fruit Gushers or White Gushers) is an Indica-dominant hybrid that crosses Triangle Kush and Gelato #41. Unsurprisingly, it shares a name with the gummy fruit snack of our childhood, bursting with a sweet, fruity scent and flavor profile. Gushers is a potent strain tested at THC levels ranging from fifteen up to twenty-five percent. 

Conclusion: High THC Weed

Depending on experience, tolerance, and desired effects, high THC weed may be what you need. If you have built up a tolerance or need something stronger to treat chronic pain or other physical conditions, we recommend trying one of the six strains mentioned above. As always, we recommend talking with a trusted healthcare provider before adding more THC to your MMJ routine.

Last Updated: January 30, 2024

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