Hemp Flower and the Minimum Effective Dose approach to THC
What if hemp flower (Cannabis genetics Type III ~20:1 CBD:THC) marks the beginning of a phenomenon shift in the cannabis industry? Similar to the industrial revolutions of the past, the introduction of a new technology, new way of thinking or a new paradigm, this could shift the existing US cannabis-use landscape to an unprecedented new level of growth.
As a reminder, Type III cannabis genetics represent the category of Cannabis Sativa L that is hemp flower. Hemp Flower is cannabis sativa l. Type III cannabis and it is different from Type II and Type I only as it relates to the concentration of THC found in each type class. Tetrahydrocannabinol delta -9, otherwise known as THC, is the predominant psychoactive cannabinoid found in traditional Marijuana that is responsible for getting you “high”. THC concentrations found in cannabis are a direct representation of the genetic makeup of the cannabis genetics for each respective class.
The ratio of THC:CBD for Type I is typically ~15:1 also known as High-THC cannabis.
The ratio of THC:CBD for Type II is typically ~1:1 also known as 1:1.
The ratio of THC:CBD for Type III is typically ~1:15 also known as Low-THC Cannabis or Hemp Flower
It is this relatively new growth phenomenon of Type III cannabis better known as low-THC cannabis or hemp flower that seems to position hemp flower as a potential vehicle for shifting the cannabis industry away from a top-down cannabinoid value hierarchy, which traditionally placed THC at the top, to a more fragmented bottoms up value hierarchy with THC sitting near the bottom as a minority, alongside other cannabinoids as majority. In the case of high CBD hemp flower, also known as low-THC cannabis, the THC to CBD ratios are flipped from that of high THC cannabis which traditionally has very little CBD/CBG and a majority THC. Thanks to origin genetics providers of type III genetics; Oregon CBD, Phytonix, Frontier Bioscience this flipping automatically begins to position hemp flower as a vehicle for delivering fixed ratio cannabinoid profiles, with THC in a minimum effective dose (bottoms-up) manner.
To be clear, hemp flower naturally produces THC in a minimum dose manner with CBD as the inverse majority; low-level of THC equates to a high-level of CBD and a low-level of CBD equates to a high-level of THC, naturally, in cannabis found in the wild or cultivation. This is a natural inverse ratio that the plant physiology reflects, genetically.
Why is this significant?
It seems that a bottom-up approach to cannabis consumption could lead to a faster full-scale adoption of cannabis and reduce the number of people who see cannabis with a stigma, as “high-THC” has been stigmatized to induce negative effects.
I personally do not believe that once the THC market is federally legal you will see a bunch of folks that will embrace cannabis because it is now legal “although I am sure there is a % of folks that will”. I still think there are still other barriers to mass adoption.
A bottoms-up approach to cannabis consumption could help disillusion a lot the negative stereotypes driven in large part by federal propaganda and negative press during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s that have meant to associate cannabis consumption with violence, psychosis, anxiety, paranoia, etc., which seem to have been attributed wrongly or rightly, resulting in a negative demonization of THC. THC should not be demonized as it is not an evil compound, but it is a very powerful cannabinoid and for people that do not have a built-up tolerance, a little can go a very long way. There is also some consensus among addiction psychiatrists that the more potent a drug is, the stronger the possibility of addiction and the more likely the person will continue to purchase and use the product. The potency of THC has risen quite precipitously in the past two decades that it has seemed to skew the market towards a larger and larger dose per serving of THC. Even products touted as low-THC cannabis products with ratios in the 1:1, 1:2, 1:4, etc THC:CBD % are not low enough for many first-time users without increasing the probability for these users to incur a negative effect.
There is a belief that THC should be presented to people, new users primarily, in the most bottom-up of fashions in a minimum effective dose approach. Hence the profound opportunity for type III genetics/hemp flower to be the natura vehicle for presenting THC to the Endocannabinoid system in a natural minimum dose ratio set by the plant, with ratios closer to 1:15 THC:CBD. Even at this ratio there is a sizable portion of new cannabis users that will respond positively and report noticeable psychoactive effects.
It is from this base point of view that Type III cannabis genetics can begin to position users with the ability to titrate their THC use from a minimum threshold upward. This can enable someone to find their own personal desired levels of THC consumption based on their own specific needs and natural sensitivities, working up from a minimum effective dose manner. This idea is most important for unprocessed hemp/cannabis flower which the market has seemed to be responding to in substantial fashion, as hemp flower consumption is on the rise and many people are seeing the smokable hemp market as a growing segment of overall cannabis.
Note: This is not necessarily a new idea, but fixed ratio genetic makeup or raw flower form could begin to open the market up to an accelerated adoption for new consumers for smokable flower and for downstream products that maintain potency ratios close to the original genetic make-up as possible.
As we are seeing with notable growth in the smokable hemp flower market, there is a growth in value of the efficacy of CBD rich cannabis, far beyond what they have found in processed CBD products over the course of the past few years.
Why is this different from what was expected to occur in the CBD consumer products goods industry of the past 5 or 7 years?
It seems there is something special and naturally effective about the presentation of cannabinoids in natural form (raw flower in type III style genetic profile) as opposed to cannabinoid consumption in processed form where CBD has been isolated and void of the entourage of other cannabis constituents that are naturally found in raw flower. Even with full spectrum processed products it seems to fall short in comparison to the efficacy of craft hemp flower for the full suite of ensemble effects that are achieved via inhalation.
Anecdotal experience and common knowledge shared among early adopters in the hemp flower space, agree that the presence of THC is required to effectuate the full therapeutic benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids.
This leads one to believe that a bottom-up approach provides the most widely adoptable way for new cannabis consumers to begin to enjoy the value of cannabis and to discover the ratio profile of cannabinoids that are best for them whether it be 20:1, 2:1, 1:1, 1:3, 1:14, 1:25 THC:CBD) without invoking any of the negative experiences/stereotypes that are unfortunately cast about in relation to cannabis.
The nut to Crack for Hemp flower-
Where does the minimum effective dose range live for most new consumers to experience optimal therapeutic effects and recreation without any of the negative effects of THC?
I do not believe it fully lives below the .3% THC level. In my opinion, based on my own experience, I imagine it lives somewhere between 0.1 – 1.6% THC for the average American’s minimum effective dose range. Based on the needs and desires of the individual, one can assess the potency that they are looking for and then move up from there to optimize their individual needs based on preference.
My personal prediction is that Type III genetics and high CBD low THC cannabis will be a larger market then the high THC cannabis market in 20 years. I think celebrating 420 in 2041 is going to be marked by a strong global hemp flower support and prevalence.