Why the market needs low potency weed

low potency weed

Earlier this week, I read a statistic that all but surprised me. According to consumer insights analysts at The Brightfield Group, one in ten cannabis users prefers flower containing between six and ten percent THC content. That’s a far cry from the bud with 30 to 40 percent THC that is seemingly everywhere in this market, but how often do you find low-potency weed at the local dispensary? Pretty much never.

The cannabis industry is driven by supply and demand. With the majority of customers asking for the strong stuff, it makes sense that high-potency products get the lion’s share of shelf space. In doing so, a portion of the population is completely alienated from the regulated market—and canna-curious folks wary of the big THC numbers may never even try it at all. 

Shockingly, after years of the opposite, I’ve become one of the very people seeking low-THC products. But more about that later.

RELATED: Was cannabis designed to get you high? Maybe not.

CBD is in demand, but the industry is fractured

A while back, I interviewed a few retail buyers in California before the mega-brand showcase Hall of Flowers. When I asked what they were on the lookout for, CBD was definitely on the list. They understood the need for low-potency flower, edibles, and vapes at their dispensaries. However, producers trying to make ends meet have to go where the money is, leading them to pump out as much THC as possible.

It was a sentiment echoed at a recent visit to Emerald Bay Extracts. The brand makes strain-specific RSO and tablets popular with the medical crowd, including 1:1 varieties like Harlequin. The owner lamented that there was simply not enough CBD-rich flower on the market to meet production demand, directly impacting the customers who have come to rely on his products for relief.

The appeal of low-potency weed is something I’ve seen and experienced firsthand. My partner cultivates high-CBD strains of cannabis, selling smokable flower at local farmer’s markets. After handing out countless samples to curious passersby, the number of folks who return to make a purchase is astonishing. Many of them are older consumers, delighted there’s a product for them.

To be fair, these sales occur in Wisconsin, where there is no regulated cannabis market. However, THCA flower (aka weed that is considered federally legal hemp) is readily available, and there’s no doubt that people are procuring legal bud in other states and bringing it back to the dairyland. My partner’s loyal customers are choosing to smoke CBD because it gives them the experience they seek: a relaxing and mellow buzz without the overt stoneyness or anxiety that high-THC products can cause.

But it’s not just senior citizens who are enjoying the benefits of low-potency weed. I’ve started consuming it myself. After a lifelong battle with anxiety began to intensify last year, it became clear that, while I didn’t want to believe it, THC may not be helping. The years of smoking and dabbing all day, every day, were seemingly lost. Several instances where a couple of hits of weed sent me into a debilitating spiral made me realize it may be time for a break. 

I decided to try some of my partner’s Sour Jet Fuel, a lemon and gas-forward strain high in CBD. For those who say CBD doesn’t get you high, I beg to differ. It could have been the entourage effect, with terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds working in concert, but I definitely felt something. What I didn’t feel was panic—and gratitude soon enveloped me. 

Since then, I’ve also become fond of CBN, a minor cannabinoid often marketed for sleep. It started with Space Gem’s 1:1 THC:CBN gummies. The CBN content took the edge off, helping to prevent the paranoia edibles had come to give me. I then discovered TruCBN soft gels, which contain 50mg of CBN isolate. I had previously been a strictly whole-plant consumer, but I wanted to give them a try. The product has been life-changing, and I’ve never slept better.

RELATED: CBD may be legal, but people in this careers still need to abstain

A market for everyone

THC isn’t for everyone. That much is clear. But by ignoring the need for low-potency weed on the legal market, we’re doing a disservice to those who could truly benefit. Whether consumed for therapeutic reasons or a cool and mild high, the demand for CBD and other non-THC cannabinoids clearly exists. 

We’re supposed to be an industry for the people, but by catering to the customers who only care about THC, all we’re doing is driving the patients and canna-curious further away. I understand that this is a complicated issue, made more difficult by the fact that operators are desperate for dollars. But by inviting a wider population of consumers in, won’t we ultimately do better?


Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter