The pleasures afforded by a puff at a cannabis joint depend a great deal on the amount of THC and CBD they contain. These two cannabinoids are the most commonly found ones and are present in the highest proportion as compared to other chemicals. THC, as you may know, is the psychoactive compound. CBD is valued for its many medicinal uses. It also regulates the effects of THC on the brain. Therefore, the ratio of CBD to THC plays an important role in deciding the effects of a newly developed strain.
This ratio is a result of the genetic properties of a given strain. Genes determine the amount of THC and CBD that each plant produces.
How are THC and CBD Produced
Cannabigerol is a cannabinoid that is a precursor to THC and CBD. Cannabigerol (CBG) is actually present as CBGA. THC and CBD are present as THCA and CBDA, respectively. When these latter forms are broken down because of heat from a chillum, oven, or vaping pen, then we get THC and CBD. THCA and CBDA are inert, in a manner of speaking. So, if you consume a handful of cannabis flowers, you won’t experience a high. Heat is missing in this case.
One molecule of CBGA will yield one molecule of THCA or CBDA. The nature of the molecule depends upon an enzyme that can occur in two variants – E1 and E2. E1 results in the creation of CBDA, while E2 delivers THCA. Cannabis strains may have either one of these enzyme variants or both. Since the gene controlling these enzymes is present in two variants; therefore, there are three combinations available to each strain – two copies of E1, two copies of E2, or two copies of both. All three possibilities are a function of the THC:CBD proportion. Other cannabinoids do not influence the nature of the enzyme.
The three overarching categories of THC:CBD ratios are –
1. Strains with a high amount of CBD. These are strains that get two copies of the gene that produces only E1. One of the most famous representatives of these strains in Charlotte’s Web.
2. A strain that has one copy each of both E1 and E2 enzymes will have both THCA and CBDA. These are known as mixed strains. Harlequin is a good example of such a strain.
3. Strains with a high amount of THC will contain two copies of the gene that produces the enzyme E2. Most commercially produced strains come under this category.