This article by Brianna Wheeler was originally published on Weedmaps and appears here with permission.
Though taxonomically indistinguishable, hemp and recreational cannabis exist on either side of a 0.03 THC percentage. Cannabis containing less than 0.03% THC is termed hemp, and anything with a greater THC percentage maintains the cannabis, weed, and pot terminology.
And while low THC can, and often does, describe hemp, for our purposes, it refers to a cultivar with 15% THC or lower. High THC generally describes strains containing 25% THC or above, but cultivars with THC percentages higher than 30% prove that “high THC” cannabis is a bit of a moving goalpost.
Just as there is a wide variety of low-dose products to suit a multitude of needs, there is an entire spectrum of cultivars bred to appeal to more than just the extra-strength THC-chasing faction of the cannabis community. In fact, strains with 10% THC or less represent some of the most thoughtfully cultivated phenotypes on shelves today.
Between the two poles of mail-order hemp and intoxicating dispensary strains exists a vast number of phenotypes. These phenotypes are bred to straddle the line between manageable intoxication and mild therapeutic efficacy, which is arguably just as appealing as the many other potential benefits of cannabis, such as mental stimulation and pain relief.
Eager newcomers, lower toleranced users, and even the cultured cannathusiast should consider reserving some stash box real estate for a few of these strains that are often — though not exclusively — bred as low THC cultivars.
In The Pines
In The Pines is a hybrid of Pineapple Thai, Master Kush, and Pineapple genetics. And though it’s typically bred with a high CBD percentage, it still features a robust tableau of cannabinoids, including a relatively lower (5 – 7%) dose of THC to harmonize its (10 – 15%) CBD. Consumers celebrate this strain for its bright, creative buzz and electric body high, both of which are manageably invigorating, as well as its efficacy in relieving anxiety and pain.
Expect frosty bright green nugs and a crisp, piney perfume laced with citrusy, tropical top notes. The exhale may be earthy, but a lingering citrus twang keeps the mouthfeel from becoming too heavy.
Faygo Red Pop
Devised in Detroit, Michigan, and named for the region’s beloved red soda pop, Faygo Red Pop is a hybrid with balanced genetics that consumers overwhelmingly describe as cerebral, euphoric, and relaxing. Faygo Red Pop’s cannabinoid profile is led by a THC percentage typically in the low teens and bolstered by a terpene profile sweet enough to bear the same name as the red fizzy drink.
Across the board, fans of the strain report it as efficient in relieving chronic pain, eye pressure, and hypertension. But more than that, they report it as being an all-around manageable good time. Expect a bright, berry-sweet perfume, a commensurately sweet exhale, and possibly a sudden nostalgia and/or craving for bright red soda pop.
At its most potent, Blue Dynamite’s THC content can hover around 19%, but more often, and in flower form, it delivers a much milder dose of 10% THC. It can even be found with THC levels as low as 6%, depending on the grower. The profile is typically bolstered by a 2:1 balance of CBD to THC, making for an even more therapeutic consuming experience. Consumers report that this strain calms anxiety and soothes aches, but also delivers mild euphoria and restful sleep when used as part of a bedtime routine.
Expect dense, resinous buds, a dank, botanical perfume, and a sweet, earthy mouthfeel. The primary terpene in Blue Dynamite is myrcene, but notes of limonene and pinene both linger sharply on the exhale.
Pennywise is a high-CBD strain with a reputation as an efficient therapeutic, but it’s not a CBD strain exclusively. In fact, many variations of this cultivar feature between 5 – 10% THC in either a 1:1 THC:CBD capacity or a 2:1 CBD:THC capacity. Which is all to say, this is both a super mellow, easy to smoke strain that can deliver a robust cannabis experience for newcomers or low-tolerance tokers, and also a deeply therapeutic strain fixed in many committed stoner medicine cabinets.
Pennywise’s genetics lean into indica territory, and the cultivar’s most reported effects are euphoric relaxation and insomnia relief. Heavier smokers heading towards a tolerance break might use this strain as a bedtime crutch while easing back from higher THC cultivars as well.
Expect a rich, earthy aroma with sweet and spicy notes of pepper and wood, and a bubblegum sweet exhale with a bitter coffee finish.
CBD Blue Shark
Bred from a cross of Skunk #1, Blueberry, Shark Shock, and a CBD Shark, CBD Blue Shark has a clear therapeutic lineage, and, depending on the farm, can often be found in 1:1 varieties or 2:1 THC:CBD varieties. Either way, at its most potent, the flower tops out at 15% THC, but can be found with percentages closer to the 10% mark.
Consumers reportedly laud this strain for its focused, crystalline head high and relaxing body high, both of which reportedly arrive with a manageable rush that eases into a mildly euphoric cerebral buzz. Though CBD Blue Shark’s genetics lean indica, tokers report that it delivers a responsive enough effect for either day or evening use.
Expect a funky and skunky nose with notes of berry and tropical fruit, and an earthy, botanical exhale.
Star Tonic is an exceptionally balanced hybrid of Cannatonic and Death Star, with a 2:1 CBD:THC ratio that typically sees a CBD percentage around 16 – 17% and THC levels around 9%. This mellow-onset, gently psychoactive cultivar might be ideal for novice cannabis consumers who are still feeling their way around their ideal balance of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Star Tonic can be a potential panacea for depression, chronic anxiety, migraines, and inflammation, but, recreationally, consumers report effervescent highs that are mild enough to be manageable for newbies while still delivering a sheer, rosy euphoria effective enough to appeal to more seasoned tokers.
Expect a bright, citrusy perfume with deep, underlying notes of sharp pine and raw skunk. The exhale is a less complex mouthfeel of tart lemon and sweet, overripe citrus.