What is cannabis potency?

The potency, or strength, of cannabis is determined by measuring the content of the two main cannabinoids found in the plant: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Both CBD and THC share the same molecular weight and chemical formula, but differ in their structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.


A slight difference in the arrangement of the atoms accounts for the differing effects a person may experience.


THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation. Recreational users prefer the strains of the plant with higher THC content. Inhalation ensures the quickest effect. It’s also available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more. Reports indicate that cannabis potency has been increasing over the years.


CBD does not produce a high sensation, but it is considered effective for treating a wide variety of health issues.

There are three major “chemotypes” defined by THC:CBD ratios:

THC-dominant strains contain mostly THC and little CBD with strong psychoactive effects.

CBD-dominant strains contain mostly CBD and little THC and will have little or no obvious psychoactive effects.

Balanced strains fall somewhere in the middle. They have THC and some CBD, but generally not as much as THC- or CBD-dominant strains.