How strong is most cannabis on the market today?

Published Apr 11, 2023 09:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / CRYSTALWEED cannabis

The strength of cannabis, in general, has been a controversial topic in recent years, with pro-cannabis advocates pointing to its critical role on the market, particularly for medical users, and those who are opposed to its recreational use citing the supposed dangers of such a powerful product. With legalization sweeping the globe, there’s been an even bigger demand for high-THC strains, which is why now is such a good time to look at our current situation.

Just how potent is cannabis today? In this article, we’ll explore the data, and highlight some of the many reasons why so many people still want stronger cannabis even though we now have safe and regulated access to some of the most powerful strains to ever exist.

The evolution of cannabis potency

According to research published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, the average cannabis strain on the modern market sits somewhere around 17.1% THC, which is quite the improvement from the average in the 60s and 70s which was closer to 1%-3%. That study also talked about some of the most potent cannabis strains that may contain more than 30% THC.

Researchers from the University of Mississippi looked at the average strength of cannabis that was seized between 1993 and 2008 by law enforcement agencies, with results that suggested it had increased significantly in that relatively short span of time from just over 3% to almost 9% THC.

Reasons for the increase in strength

There are many reasons why we’ve witnessed such a dramatic increase in the amount of THC produced by the average cannabis strain, but the primary driver behind this shift has always been consumer demand. As cannabis became more socially acceptable growers began to adopt methods of selective breeding and cultivation practices to raise the amount of THC produced by their plants as much as possible, because these buds became worth more than others with lower concentrations of the psychoactive cannabinoid.

Those high-potency strains have been altered and manipulated time and time again to improve the THC content and now the majority of cultivars that exist today are the product of decades of hard work, dedication, and skill, with a much higher average than ever before.


Another reason why the strength of cannabis has changed so drastically, particularly in the last decade is due to new cultivation techniques and all of the technology we now have available to maintain optimal environments where these tropical plants truly thrive, delivering bigger yields and more THC. Advancements in our understanding of and ability to manipulate genetics have also allowed growers to create new high-THC strains.

Not all cannabis is as strong as the average strain

It is so important to mention that not all cannabis strains are super strong. In fact, there are still many types that are widely available today with much lower THC averages, and some have even been created specifically to amplify CBD content to support a broad range of therapeutic uses and benefits. Some were bred to produce high amounts of CBD and low concentrations of THC, so consumers have options  in terms of the potency of their cannabis.

How psychoactive a strain is may depend on several different things like growing conditions, genetics, and the techniques used during harvest. It is not uncommon, especially for the average home grower to nurture two different plants with the same genetics, only to find that each one developed entirely unique cannabinoid profiles. This is why it’s essential for consumers to pay close attention to labels and testing results more so than the strain name that’s boldly printed on each package.

In conclusion

The exact answer depends on where you look but most recent studies prove that the average potency of cannabis strains that are available on the legal market today sits somewhere between 17% and 23% THC.

Why so many cannabis users seek out high THC products


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