44% THC – Does Berlin have the strongest weed in the world?

Photo of two young female tourists lying on a large lawn in front of the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin. They are gazing happily into the distance and holding a map of the city in their hands.

Since 2007, extremely high peak values of THC content have been regularly found in Berlin. Statistically speaking, Berlin is the record holder since 2010, with an active ingredient level of 44% THC in cannabis. What is really behind this?

A question from a Berlin FDP politician about the THC content of the cannabis products seized between 2007 and 2017 revealed some surprising peak values. Although the average level of active ingredients in the cannabis seized in Berlin was only between 11.1% and 13.7%, the peak values were surprising: Although the 46% THC level for hashish is credible, the peak value of 44% THC in a batch seized in 2010 is almost unbelievable. And 37.9% and 39.7% THC in respectively 2009 and 2011 also caught our attention. Except in 2016, cannabis buds with more than 30 per cent THC content have been found every year.

Given that values like this are not even achieved when growing medicinal varieties, and that you will search in vain in the Dutch coffeeshops or in a Californian dispensary for buds with more than 30% THC, the peak values in Berlin are puzzling to anyone who has taken the time to look more closely at the active ingredient levels of different varieties of cannabis. The strongest medicinal strain in Europe currently has 22%, and in Canada 26%.

Master growers or miscalculation?

Close-up of two hands holding up an open plastic bag of cannabis buds towards the camera.

Even Godfather OG, the strongest ever tested weed in the world and High Times Cup Winner in the category “Highest THC content” could “only” go up to 34% THC when measured. With the exception of these varieties, only bred recently, even the cup winners in this category never reached 30% until 2016. In light of this, the continual high values in Berlin cannabis, grown illegally and under worse conditions than all the medicinal strains or cup winners, is astounding.

Overall, except in 2016, the top values for Berlin weed showed higher THC levels than all other varieties that were tested worldwide under medicinal programmes or for Cannabis Cups. A good enough reason to ask the Berlin police what might have caused these glaring differences; the Press Office for the Berlin police replied as follows to a question along these lines:

“The occasional high values for marijuana (cannabis weed) can be explained by occasional measurements of a combination of cannabis weed and cannabis buds with a high proportion of buds.[…]. A “glaring difference” to measurements in other countries around the world cannot be asserted, as the figures are not seriously comparable without a precise description of the measuring methods and an exact description of the material being evaluated (leaves, buds or a mixture of both). […].”

With a mixture of buds and less potent leaves, the buds would have had an even higher THC content than the already questionable 44%.

The Test Criteria

Photo of the television tower on the Alexanderplatz in Berlin.

To the question as to how the seized cannabis products were tested, the Press Office replied:

“For many years now we have had an accreditation from the German accreditation authority (DAkkS) under DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025, covering among other things the testing of narcotics and determination of levels of active ingredient THC, under the registration issued by DAkks number D-PL-13241-01-00. The samples are examined according to the provisions of the “Guidelines on quality assurance for forensic chemical testing of narcotic and medical substances” from the Society of Toxicological and Forensic Chemistry (GTFCh), […].”

As a comparison, when asked, they referred to the test results of medicinal cannabis from Canada and The Netherlands, which are supervised by the German ‘The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices’. Medical cannabis from Canada or the Netherlands is also tested in DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 certified laboratories, and the laboratory also needs to be approved under DIN EN ISO 15189. Voicing doubts about these comparative values does not make the statements from the Berlin police about the THC content of their seized cannabis any more credible. When this was pointed out to them, the Press Office added:

“[…] the results of measurements of the samples seized from illegal cannabis plantations with a large number of different varieties cannot (be) compared to the hemp grown under controlled conditions for the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, following a ruling by the upper regional court, the measurement of cannabis products containing the psychotropic substance THC is carried out in most forensic laboratories using gas chromatography, in order to include the non-psychotropically active THC acids that become THC at higher temperatures. Alternatively, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) can be used to measure the cannabis products. As this analysis technique involves the separation in liquid form using a separation column at approximately room temperature, the THC acids are not converted into THC. Cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol (CBD), THC and THC acids are recorded and measured separately. Adding together the THC and THC acids following conversion then yields the actual THC content. This THC content may then end up being higher than using the methods you mentioned at other laboratories.”

Two different measures or just different methods?

Photo of a German policeman taken from behind. He is looking slightly to one side. In front of him is a group of people who are out of focus.

Even if the total THC acid level was converted into THC, the presence of these high THC levels over the years cannot be explained, especially if they were found in a mix of buds and leaves. Variances of 10% to 20% in test results from medical laboratories cannot only be the result of different ways of measuring the THC acid content. To yield a peak value of between 33% and 44% it would have to be almost as high as the actual THC content.

If that were really the case, then patients could also increase the THC content of their medication to such high levels using simple decarboxylation. There are no recorded instances where medicinal cannabis has shown a THC content as high as the peak values found in Berlin, even after full decarboxylation.

If the values really do meet the criteria of the law, then either they are random and far from precise, or even worse: Two different standards are used to measure for patients and for offenders. The values in Berlin lead inexorably to the suspicion that the THC content for criminal offences does not reflect reality, but is inflated using unrealistic measurement methods because that affects the level of the sentencing.

Comments

11 thoughts on “44% THC – Does Berlin have the strongest weed in the world?”

  1. Paul Martens

    I read through selective breeding that opium poppies have crossed the 90% morphine concentration opposed to the average 5-20%

  2. How could what you’re saying be regarded as anything other than hearsay? It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been smoking cannabis. What laboratory tested them and are they considered to be a legitimate lab? Most labs in the US will take a bribe to increase THC levels. And if you brought back 1000 feminized seeds we would consistently be seeing flower testing at that high percentage here in the states, but we’re aren’t.

    1. I am a Ohio medical marijuana patient and as I consume the strongest tested Ohio medical marijuana I have come across yet at 35 percent + garlic cookies,it seams weak compared to the strongest small grow hydroponic street marijuana,the best test is consuming it because it’s not always about THC, maybe those Germans got there hands on some pure skunk weed from Afghanistan that smells like a skunks ass it’s still the best I have ever consumed but it’s been years since I’ve seen it

  3. In conversation with Dr.David Meiri of Technion University, Israel’s leading onco-cannabinologist, he said it is “physically impossible to have more than 35% TOTAL COMBINED CANNABINOIDS.”

    1. I have also head this ^

      Due to the physical make up of the plant, there is a limit.

      These figures of 40%+ THC are absolutely astounding, selective breeding and genetic alterations are increasingly pushing this limit

  4. Richard Harvey

    Hello. having spent the last five years in Berlin i can attest too the fact that pot is much stronger than in the u.s. why? iam not sure. Hashish also reflects this. i have been a daily user for the last 50 yrs. iam 71 yrs of age. upon my return to u s i
    brought back over 1000 fem. seeds.these seeds were obtained from a grower that i did business with the 5yrs i was in Berlin. These plants produce XXL yields.. Solid tight buds sparkling with tricromes. This strain ran a consistant 38 too 43 % thc.

  5. There are indeed occasional 40+ THC strengths recorded around the world. A study of thousands of tests in Australia in the late 2000’s found levels as high as 39,8% and a number over 30%. When Washington State legalized in 2014 and started requiring laboratory tests for each 5# lot one farm recorded one 5# lot that tested 42.2% THC another over 40% and more than 24 separate lots testing well over 30%THC. It was a really great growing year but those were extraordinary results.
    The results were at first met with quite a bit of skepticism but repeated testing (up to 6 times) proved they were accurate. There was even an article in the magazine Marijuana Venture about the farm in winter 2014. Probably still a record for the US!

    1. Olivier - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Steve, thanks for your comment. We haven´t heard of those records but that sure sounds like a lot of THC. Best, Olivier

      1. Hello. I recently had a flower/plant tested that I’ve been breeding. It has left me (and the testers) in awe and wondering. I have a hard time believing the results, but they checked and rechecked and came up with the same – 35.8%. My biggest question, now what do I do with it?!! I know that sounds silly, but I feel I should do something other than let it disappear into the nether.

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  • Michael_Knodt

    Michael Knodt

    Berlin-based Michael Knodt specialises in cannabis and hemp-related journalism. Over the years, he’s written extensively on the topic for various German and English magazines, including Vice Magazine. Michael is the face and moderator of DerMicha, the popular German YouTube channel on cannabis and its prohibition.
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