Is California Weed Losing Potency?

Stephen Andrews
26 Mar 2024

The average THC potency in California cannabis cultivars appears to be going down, according to latest data. Between January and March 2024, relative potency levels reportedly fell for 7%. But this just might be the result of stricter regulation that makes it harder for labs to doctor test results in the age of THC inflation.

California weed is well-known for its strong potency. However, the latest analyses show that cannabis cultivated in the Golden State is getting weaker. Or so it seems. It just might be a long-overdue labeling intervention. 

With THC being the major psychedelic cannabinoid, the potency of weed is determined by the amount of THC it contains. 

There’s sufficient data on how strong weed is in each legal state, since all cannabis products must be tested for THC content by law. 

California Weed Strength Has Weakened in the Last Six Months

The average THC potency for marijuana flower has been falling for the past half a year in California, according to data from analytics firm Headset. 

The difference is particularly noticeable in the past three months, with relative THC levels in weed having fallen for 7% during this period, shows a report from SFGATE which first obtained the data from Headset. 

The analytics company reportedly produced the data based on 90,000 cannabis test results. The products were sampled from cannabis dispensaries across all of California and grouped into monthly averages. 

The median THC potency in December was 30.7%, but as of March 1, it’s standing at 28.5%, according to the data. 

The report points to a 7% relative difference in THC potency over the past three months. It may not seem much, but the falling level is the result of an ongoing problem with how California labels its dunky weed. 

For years there have been complaints on how weed potency data has been presented on product labels in California. There has been doubt if this data is completely accurate. 

The reason why some operators engage in doctoring THC data is not that hard to guess. Weed shops can charge more money for products that are richer in THC. 

California regulators have tried to address the problem, however. More than two-third of cannabis testing labs in the state were not allowed to continue with business as usual at the start of 2024, after irregularities were found in their work. 

The slight but steady drop in THC levels that we’re currently seeing might indicate that it’s becoming harder to manipulate lab results. Less testing labs are willing to act deceptively or don’t comply with the rules. Which is not  bad actually. We just might be starting to see a more accurate picture of what is happening with cannabis product strength. 

Does this mean you are getting less potent weed out there? Of course that’s not the case. It’s the same cannabis as before, just the labels are changing. 

It’s also worth keeping in mind that marijuana strains above 30% THC are botanically hard to produce, and when a lot of cultivars with above 30% THC content appear around, it might be a sign of something fishy going on. 

It’s likely that the potency numbers for California weed continue to fall. It won't be surprising to see the same trend soon taking off in other states where industry insiders have warned for distorted THC data. Bottom line, we’ll see the real percentage of THC in products and perhaps pay slightly less when making purchases. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

THC Inflation is a Big Problem!

Gene Technology for Boosting THC Levels Is Here

Is THCA the Same as THC?

Stephen Andrews