Jun 21, 2024

Understanding Cannabis Labels and Packaging

Shopping for cannabis in a legal dispensary for the first time can bring up a lot of questions. The state of Massachusetts requires cannabis products to be labeled in specific ways, so customers can make informed decisions about their purchases. Therefore, cannabis product labels can be a little overwhelming to try to dissect and understand if you’ve only ever experienced cannabis in the wild.

To make sure you have the best experience possible, understanding some of the basics of what you see on a weed label is no doubt important. Here’s a full guide on how to read cannabis labels to make sure you walk away with the right product for you.

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Understanding Cannabis Labels

Acronyms, strain names, serving sizes, THC vs TAC … There can be so many things to read and understand when shopping for cannabis. Check out the biggest questions most customers have when it comes to shopping for weed at a dispensary:

What is TAC?

TAC, or Total Active Cannabinoids, refers to the combined percentage of all active cannabinoids present in a cannabis product, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), and others. This holistic approach to labeling offers consumers a more nuanced understanding of the potential effects and therapeutic benefits of the product they are considering.

Be sure to pay close attention to the TAC vs the THC percentage. The former tells you how many active cannabinoids are in a strain and the latter tells you more about overall potency. Some strains can be especially rich in minor cannabinoids. For example, a strain like Garlic Breath contains around 26% TAC and 22% THC. Therefore, roughly 4% of the active cannabinoids in the strain are more therapeutic cannabinoids like CBD and CBN (cannabinol).

What’s THCA vs THC percentage?

THCA is the acidic precursor to THC found in raw cannabis, while THC is the psychoactive compound produced when THCA is decarboxylated through heating or aging. The THC percentage indicates the amount of activated THC present in a cannabis product. However, you may see some flower labeled with THCA percentages, which can be assumed to be almost identical to THC percentages.

What is Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid?

Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid are classifications of cannabis strains based on their genetic makeup when it comes to flower. With edibles, these labels may be more associated with the classifications’ perceived effects. Sativa strains are known for their uplifting and energizing effects, Indica strains typically induce relaxation and sedation, and Hybrids are a blend of both characteristics.

While these distinctions provide a general guideline for expected effects, individual experiences may vary due to factors like personal tolerance, terpene profiles, and consumption methods. Experimentation and understanding personal preferences are key to finding the right strain for each individual.

Why are THC levels so high in vapes or concentrates vs. flower?

When you come across something like a package of hash rosin from Bountiful Farms or a live resin vape from Happy Valley, you’ll see TAC and THC percentages are far higher than standard flower. These higher potencies are accurate. Both products are a form of highly potent cannabis extract; the majority of the plant material has been filtered out. Therefore, the concentration of THC is more profound.

What is the serving size of cannabis edibles?

The serving size suggested on cannabis edibles tells you the size of a recommended unit for consumption and the potency of that unit. For example, if you pick up a pack of cannabis gummies, you may see a suggested serving size of one gummy that contains 5mg of THC. 

The product may have two potencies listed on the label: the amount of THC in one serving and the amount of THC in the full package. Be sure to pay close attention to these serving sizes and dosage recommendations, so you don’t accidentally consume too much THC.

What’s different about medical cannabis labels?

Most medical cannabis labels contain the same information as adult cannabis products. However, there can be a few differences. For example, these products must state “For medical use only” clearly on the package and will boast the nationally recognized symbol for medical cannabis.

Still confused about cannabis labels? Just ask!

When you stop in for a visit to Green Choice Cannabis, we are happy to answer any questions. If you see something on a product label you don’t understand, be sure to ask one of our team members. You can also get more familiar with the various labels you will see in our dispensary by exploring our online menu.

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