THC Potency vs Terpene Profile: What Matters More?

thc potency and terpene potency in cannabis

Let’s get real. That title’s a trick question. THC and terpenes both matter when it comes to the cannabis plant. Moreover, you don’t have to pick one over the other. One of the coolest things about weed is that you can have your (wedding) cake and eat it, too.


You can have high THC and a full terpene profile in the same product. It’s called a full-spectrum cannabis product. Flower is full-spectrum. Most extracts are full spectrum. Some edibles, drinks, and vapes are full spectrum.

That said, the fact that all licensed cannabis products are tested for THC content has created a monster when it comes to flower shopping. How high a particular strain often tests is the new “It” factor driving purchase decisions. The assumption driving this phenomenon is that the higher the THC content, the better the weed.

Is that true? Not necessarily.

If you’re picking what I’m putting down, this is the truth: High THC or the highest THC percentage means something, but it doesn’t mean everything. It is not the end all/be all. Terpenes in cannabis definitely matter (as do the other cannabinoids) at it can allow enhanced effects from consuming cannabis. 

So, if you want to keep your weed game tight and understand why THC and terpenes matter — keep reading

What is THC?

THC is a Cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemical organic compounds that cannabis plants produce naturally. So far, over 100 different cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis. This makes weed the most plentiful and varied source of cannabinoids on the planet. Most cannabis cultivars are THC-dominant. This makes THC the most abundant of all the various cannabinoids found there. It’s also the cannabinoid primarily responsible for getting you high.

Does THC do more than get you high?

It sure does. Pure THC is about more than just blasting off into orbit. Cannabis also has therapeutic benefits and in many cases medical benefits and may treat the following symptoms and conditions:

  • Neurodegenerative conditions

  • Gastrointestinal conditions

  • Inflammation and pain(anti-inflammatory)

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Poor appetite

  • Glaucoma

  • Migraines

  • Insomnia

  • Nausea

  • PTSD

The cannabinoid story doesn’t end with THC, and it seems clear that THC gets more than a little help from its other cannabinoid homies. By way of example, some studies suggest that THC may work better when combined with CBD.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes (“Terps”) are essential oils produced by the cannabis plant but are found in almost all plants. Terps give weed that amazing unique aroma that hits you with that dankness when you pop the lid on that fresh 1/8th.  There are over 150 terpenes found in the cannabis plant and different terpenes play different roles and together create a complete terpene profile that can influence the cannabis experience in a positive way. Different strains have different terpene profiles which can be tricky but as you learn more you can find the cannabis products you want that may have a complex terpene profile but that will give you the desired effects, specific effects and potential benefits you may be looking for.

Do terpenes get you high?

We need more research, but there is some evidence that terpenes may influence the effects of cannabis/THC in what’s called “The Entourage Effect” (more on that later.)

Do terpenes have therapeutic effects?

The science of terpenes is on the cutting edge of cannabis research. Some studies have identified some therapeutic properties and effects from terps, but they’re not human studies. That said, a 2011 Review of Studies in The British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking cannabinoids and terpenes together may provide additional therapeutic benefits for the treatment of:

  • Pain

  • Anxiety

  • Inflammation

  • Epilepsy

  • Cancer

  • Fungal Infection

Moreover, a benchmark 2021 study found that terpenes may mimic the pain-relieving effect of THC and CBD. What’s significant about the 2021 study is that it looked at the effects of terpenes when combined with cannabinoids. 

Just as CBD and THC seem to work better together, terpenes and cannabinoids may also work better together in an Entourage Effect.

Below are just a few of the dominant terpenes found in cannabis and their flavors/aromas and benefits.

Popular Cannabis Terpenes Infographic

What is the Entourage Effect?

To recap, there are over 100 cannabinoids and 150 terpenes found in cannabis. Moreover, every strain on your favorite dispensary’s shelf has different combinations of these compounds. 

But here’s the rub:

While almost everyone on planet weed agrees that this is why different cannabis strains can look, smell, and taste different, there is still controversy over whether cannabinoids and terpenes work in synergy, as suggested in the Entourage Effect Theory.

Origins of the theory

In 1999, chemists Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shaba used the term Entourage Effect to name their theory that cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically. The theory was controversial then and is still controversial today, clashing with the established belief that THC alone is what causes the effects of cannabis. 

Why don’t we know more about the entourage effect?

It’s hard to believe that we live in the age of AI and commercial space travel, but we still can’t say for sure if cannabinoids and terpenes work together.

How is that even possible? 

In 1973, the Nixon administration classified Cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic in the Controlled Substances Act. Nixon did this despite the Schafer Commission’s recommendation that it be decriminalized. That decision has severely impacted the cannabis industry and stifled research on the plant for half a century.

So, where does that leave us? 

We definitely need the science to catch up so we can answer the vital questions about how THC and terpenes can improve human wellness. But we don’t need any of that to tell us the whole story about how cannabis makes us feel. We have over 2,000 years of actual human experience to learn from.

THC and Terpenes Both Matter

This might not be scientific, but it’s as real as it gets:

If smoking weed was just about high THC, we’d all be ripping high THC distillate carts. But guess what? We’re not. In fact, most real smokers hate them.

What do real smokers like?
Craft flowers and craft cannabis extract.


Yes, they both have high THC, and we love them for it, but that’s not the only reason. There’s another one that’s just as important. That reason is THE TERPENE PROFILE.

growing cannabis to be high thc and high terpenes

Testing the Terpene Theory

Let’s play a game. Pick three strains that test high for THC. Mine are:

  • Cereal Milk

  • Mac 1

  • OG Kush

Certain strains such as the following three strains have comparable THC potency, testing around 30% when cultivated to a high standard for the amazing potential effects. But that’s where the similarities end as they each have a unique cannabinoid profile and can impact your endocannabinoid system differently.

  • Cereal Milk is a sativa-dominant cross of Y Life (Cookies x Cherry Pie). It has a sweet milk and ice cream nose, and the dominant terpene is caryophyllene.

  • Mac 1, AKA  "The MAC," is a cross of Alien Cookies F2 with Miracle 15. People love The Mac because it’s happy and balanced with a nuanced vanilla, citrus, and butter flavor. The dominant terpene is limonene.

  • OG Kush has a murky history,  but according to legend, this strain was created when a cut from Northern California was crossed with Chemdawg, Lemon Thai, and some Hindu Kush from Amsterdam. The result was a unique terpene profile with a gassy, skunky, spicy nose. The dominant terpene is myrcene.

We could also play the same game for connoisseur concentrate, but it would just be redundant. All three of these strains have similar THC percentages but are distinct and unmistakable for what they are, how they taste, and how they make you feel.  A key reason for that is their unique terpene profile.

The Alcohol Analogy

If you’re still on the fence, permit me one more anecdotal point before I roll a fat blunt of OG Kush and chill:

If you know anything about alcohol, you know Everclear is not the same thing as a glass of fine wine or single malt. No one would even argue the point. They are very different experiences, with different flavors and different feelings.

95% THC distillate carts are the Everclear of the cannabis world. Craft flower and concentrate are the fine wine and single malt. Terpenes are what make it so.  Beyond that, weed is about so much more than just how high you are. It’s also about the experience and what kind of high you are. THC and Terpenes both contribute to that.

A Synergistic Dance between THC and Terpenes

In essence, the interplay between THC potency and terpene profiles is not a competition but a collaboration that enhances the cannabis experience. Our exploration reveals that THC's effects are amplified and modulated by the various aromatic compounds and terpenes, crafting a full-bodied encounter with the plant. The Entourage Effect is not just a theory; it's a testament to cannabis's complex nature, where every compound plays a significant role—a pivotal role.

At STIIIZY, we understand this intricate dance. We offer a curated selection of products that honor the power of THC and the finesse of terpenes. Whether you seek relief, euphoria, or a blend of both, our products are designed to deliver a comprehensive cannabis experience. So, choose STIIIZY, where the strength of THC and the essence of terpenes are always in perfect harmony. We carry all the best high-THC strains and extracts in every terpene profile you can imagine. Shop STIIIZY and enjoy the craft experience!


The Entourage Effect is a theory suggesting that cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically to enhance the overall effects of cannabis. This means that the therapeutic impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts.

THC potency can influence the intensity of the psychoactive effects. Higher THC levels may result in a more potent high, but they don't necessarily guarantee a better experience, as terpenes and other cannabinoids also play significant roles.

Yes, terpenes can influence the effects of THC. They can modulate the high and contribute to the strain's specific effects, such as relaxation or alertness, through what is known as the Entourage Effect.

Terpenes are known to have their own therapeutic benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and analgesic properties. They contribute to the overall therapeutic potential of cannabis.

Both THC and terpenes are important for medical cannabis users. THC may provide certain therapeutic effects, while terpenes can enhance these effects and contribute additional benefits.

Choosing the right cannabis product involves considering both THC potency and terpene profile based on your desired effects. It's also important to factor in personal tolerance and medical needs.

Not necessarily. While high-THC strains can offer potent effects, a rich terpene profile can provide a more balanced and enjoyable experience. It depends on personal preference and the effects you're seeking.

Many dispensaries, including STIIIZY, offer a range of products that balance THC potency with rich terpene profiles. Look for full-spectrum products to enjoy the benefits of both.

The content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your healthcare provider and local laws before purchasing or consuming cannabis.