If you’re just getting started with cannabis, there can be a lot to learn when it comes to figuring out the differences between the many cannabis products out there.
When you walk into a dispensary or browse an online marijuana menu, you’ll often see a dizzying array of options. Many folks—especially those new to cannabis—don’t know where to start. While there are many factors to consider when selecting a cannabis product, one of the most important factors (and sometimes the most confusing factor) is the cannabidiol (CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ratio.
These numerical indicators are on many cannabis products these days, but not everyone knows what they mean. If you find yourself confused by what these ratios are and how they’ll affect you, you aren’t alone.
But don’t worry. We’ve put together a simple guide to these cannabis ratios with tips on how to find the ones that work best for you.
So, what are CBD-to-THC ratios? Well, to start, cannabis is made up of a wide variety of active chemical components, which provide the medicinal effects the plant is known for. In fact, there are over 500 different chemicals identified in the cannabis plant.
The two most plentiful and well-researched cannabinoids in the plant are THC and CBD. These power a lot of the medicinal effects in cannabis, although other chemicals augment them to create a wider variety of effects.
When taken by themselves, THC and CBD can each have their own health benefits with some overlapping characteristics and some differing ones. But when taken together, they modify each other’s effects, creating therapeutic potential not found within either alone.
These shifts that come when cannabis’s active ingredients are combined is known as the entourage effect and is an acknowledgment that cannabis's active chemicals work together synergistically to create effects that wouldn’t come from any of their parts individually.
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THC is a powerful chemical known to help ease:
But THC also comes with euphoric and sometimes negative effects. Some people complain that THC leaves them with:
CBD doesn’t usually cause this high feeling. Although it’s technically psychoactive due to its ability to affect the brain, helping relieve anxiety and depression, it tends to leave people thinking clearly. Few describe themselves as being high after consuming CBD.
Still, while CBD is able to ease pain, inflammation and anxiety, studies have shown CBD isn’t as effective at pain relief as THC is.
While THC and CBD each have their benefits and drawbacks, scientists and consumers alike have discovered that combining the two can create effects that are superior to having each of these cannabinoids alone.
For this reason, cannabis product manufacturers began to produce products with varying ratios of CBD to THC, so people could find the ratio that worked best for them. You may encounter these ratios in different formats such as:
These all mean the same thing. In California, the first number represents the amount of CBD, and the second represents the amount of THC. So, in this example, this means that there’s 1-part CBD for every 2-parts THC.
Of course, the order is reversed in New York, meaning the first number represents the amount of THC and the second accounts for the CBD in the product. This is something you’ll want to watch out for, depending on the state—and assuming medical and/or recreational cannabis is legal—where you live.
When it comes to the many CBD-to-THC ratios, there are a lot of options to choose from. Here are a few that you may run into in California:
A 0:1 ratio means that there’s no CBD to balance out the THC in the product. This means you’ll likely experience THC’s euphoric effects. And if you’re sensitive to THC, you may experience its negative effects.
Some people prefer isolated THC, as it can provide pain and inflammation relief, and may boost mood and energy. If you enjoy a strong psychoactive high, this ratio may be a good option. In addition, some prefer isolated THC, because they don’t experience negative effects from it.
For example, ADHD sufferers may find THC to be more effective at helping them focus and relax than the average consumer will. For those with ADHD, THC is the part of the plant they need, so dulling it down with CBD doesn’t help them.
On the other side of things, you have the 1:0 CBD-to-THC ratio. This means that the product contains no THC and shouldn’t make you feel high. Usually these products aren’t as powerful as those with a blend of the two cannabinoids. However, it’s still likely to enhance your overall mood and offer some pain and inflammation support.
Often, folks opt for these CBD products if they live in places where THC isn’t legal, or if they don’t want to feel a THC high. High-CBD options without THC are often helpful for treating epilepsy as well as conditions with psychosis where THC may be problematic and could end up making some symptoms worse.
You may have seen ratios like:
For these products, you’ll find more THC balanced with a moderate amount of CBD. You’ll still experience THC’s high, but since there’s CBD present, it’s less likely you’ll feel anxious and more likely you’ll feel relaxed. Ratios in this range are typically great for anxiety and pain relief.
When you see a ratio like 1:10 or 1 to any number higher than 10, you’ll know that these are high-THC ratios. While these products aren’t as extreme as all-THC ones, since they have some CBD to take the edge off, they’ll have many of the same high-THC characteristics. These THC-rich strains and products can usually help those facing health challenges like:
A 1:1 ratio means that you have equal parts CBD to THC. This is often recommended as the most effective option to start with, because it’s so balanced. It has the power of THC to drive the medicinal effects, but also plenty of CBD to dampen THC’s negative effects. It usually provides mild psychoactive effects that are pleasant and leave the consumer fairly functional.
There are some ratios that also blend the two cannabinoids well, but have more CBD than THC, such as:
In this case, the CBD keeps euphoric effects very mild, and unnoticeable for most. But the THC seems to help make the products more effective. These ratios are the ones often given to children who take CBD for various health conditions or folks who are more sensitive to THC’s effects.
You can also find CBD-to-THC ratios with even less THC, such as:
While these don’t offer much in the way of a psychoactive high, the THC gives the CBD a little punch that may make it more effective than pure CBD alone. For people who want to avoid getting high entirely, but have found pure CBD less effective and are looking for the entourage effect, these are great options to try.
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When it comes to finding the right cannabis ratios for you, it’s always great to start by talking to a nurse or doctor familiar with cannabis who can advise you on the best options for your health challenges. Some conditions respond better to different ratios, so it’s good to get expert insight on your condition.
Still, the right ratio can also depend on your unique biochemistry and the way you metabolize CBD and THC. Some are more sensitive to one or the other, which can shift how different blends may affect you. You may need to try out some options until you settle into the blend that works for you.
To find your ideal marijuana ratio, start with a 1:1 product and see how it affects you over a few days. If you find it too psychoactive, you may want to increase your CBD content. If the level of psychoactivity is OK for you, but it isn’t as strong as you’d like in terms of its medicinal effects, try increasing the THC content.
Each time you shift the blend of CBD to THC, try it for a few days to see how it affects you. Continue this process until you’ve found a blend that suits your needs.
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