Does THC Potency Matter? Here’s What’s Really Important When Choosing Cannabis Flower

This article was originally published in November 2022.

Just as carefully choosing the perfect wine to pair with your meal, selecting your favorite cannabis strain is highly dependent on a variety of factors closely related to an individual’s preferences and the effects they’re seeking.

When it comes to an individual experience inhaling marijuana flower, a pleasant aroma can be a determining factor to a more positive outcome, rather than THC potency, dose or terpene expression, a new study is suggesting.

Published last year in the journal Psychoactives, the report is titled “The Nose Knows: Aroma, but Not THC, Mediates The Subjective Effects of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis Flower” and co-authored by Dr. Ethan Russo.

The Study

The group of scientists led by Russo was focused on identifying which marijuana features affect its overall appeal, reported Cannabis Health.

As part of the research, volunteers consumed several commercially available cannabis flower products and complete an anonymous survey.

The Results

Based on the data analyzed by independent researchers, a ‘pleasant subjective aroma’ seems to be a “predictive of pleasant subjective effects,” the paper said. Surprisingly, terpene expression as well as THC potency and dose proved to be a less important indicator of the quality of consumed cannabis.

It seems that those who consumed smaller amounts of marijuana enjoyed it more as they were likely to report higher appeal scores.

The greatest overall appeal was evidenced in those aged 60 and older, while males reported enjoying cannabis more than women, as they were more likely to report the appealing effects of THC.


Russo and his colleagues said their findings are a step toward educating consumers about making safer choices when it comes to cannabis products. After all, high-THC consumers comprise the majority of all cannabis users, according to data from Flowhub. This study is a step toward minimizing that trend and reducing the risks of THC overconsumption.

“With a constantly growing worldwide legal cannabis consumer base, there is a great need for consumer education about how to consume safely and responsibly,” researchers said in the paper. “Aligned with harm reduction approaches, these blinded, unbiased results suggest that optimal recreational enjoyment may be achieved by using small amounts of low-potency cannabis with a pleasant aroma, particularly when used once per week or less.”

Photo: Courtesy of CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash

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