Understanding Canadian Cannabis Labels | How to Read Cannabis Labels

Understanding Canadian Cannabis Labels | How to Read Cannabis Labels

Confused by Canadian cannabis labels? You’re not alone.

In fact, many consumers have no idea what the various numbers on Canadian cannabis labels mean – and we don’t blame them! Most folks are used to seeing THC displayed as a simple percentage, so when they receive a cannabis product labelled with four different figures (THC, total THC, CBD, and total CBD) and all kinds of numbers, it can seem a little daunting.

Of course, you can always ask your local budtender to help you decipher the various information displayed on labels, but we figured this guide to understanding Canadian cannabis labels might be helpful for reference – for those times when a budtender isn’t around.

Converting THC mg/g to Percent

Before we discuss how to read cannabis labels, it’s important to understand THC and CBD potency in terms of mg per gram.

As if things weren’t confusing enough already, new regulations introduced in October 2019 require Licensed Producers (LPs) to transition from displaying THC/CBD content on dried flower as percentages to mg per gram.

So, while you may have gotten used to seeing THC content displayed as “XX%”, you’ll notice that the next time you purchase dried bud the container likely displays THC in terms of mg per gram. Some containers will still show THC as a percentage, but those will eventually be phased out.

Luckily, converting THC/CBD content from mg/g to percentage is easier than you might think. There are two basic methods for this conversion. The first method is to divide the mg/g figure by 10, then add a percent sign at the end. If math isn’t your strong suit, simply move the decimal over one space to the left.

Now you have an easy way to convert mg/g to percentage, so you can once again think of THC and CBD content in the old fashioned way. Well, not exactly old… but you get the point.

If you find yourself explaining this concept to a friend who just doesn’t get it, you can direct them to this handy mg/g to percentage chart that makes the THC/CBD conversion even easier:

Difference Between THC and THC Total

Another confusing aspect of understanding Canadian cannabis labels is figuring out the difference between THC and THC Total. As we’ve seen, converting mg/g to percentage is pretty straightforward – but why are you presented with four different figures for THC/CBD content instead of just two?

Well, this might sound shocking, but THC isn’t the most common cannabinoid found in cannabis! In fact, the most abundant cannabinoid is actually THCA – the precursor to THC.

In freshly harvested cannabis, there is almost zero THC content; rather, there is a much larger amount of THCA. During the drying process, a little bit of THCA gets converted into THC, but in order to “activate” the rest, cannabis must be decarboxylated (smoked, vaped, or cooked).

At this point, you might be wondering… why does any of this matter? Well, if dried cannabis labels only displayed total THC and CBD content, it wouldn’t be telling the whole story.

Simply put, Total THC and Total CBD refer to the total amount of cannabinoids after decarboxylation. THC and CBD, on the other hand, tell you how much “activated” cannabinoids are present prior to decarboxylation. This number is typically much smaller than Total THC/Total CBD.

So, when you receive a package of dried cannabis that displays something like 0.35% (or 3.5mg/g) THC and 23% (or 230mg/g) Total THC, don’t be alarmed; the Total THC or Total CBD figure is what most consumers are interested in. After all, most folks aren’t buying weed to ingest it raw – they’re buying it to smoke, vape, or cook with it.