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

Two young girls lying on the grass and holding a map. One is holding a joint

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?

Two hands holding a plastic bag full of cannabis

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

A vibrantly coloured cityscape

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?

The back of a policeman in uniform observing a crowd of people

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

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

  1. Hi I’m live in Berlin last 5,5 years and come here from Ukraine. We have long long story of non legal usage weed, and crimea strains or strains child from “fergan fields” or cazahstan “field of Choo” where many years it’s grow and impossible to kill strains plus in Fergana it’s grow with opium poppy’s one field century’s giving us very high strains with more than 40-42% of thc, not main active but real thc. I give some childs examples growing from base choo field and thay look it at police method’s using in catching weed on post packages🏤 So info about percentage I can trust.. it’s really depend if the method, exactly it’s strange doing so hard strains especially

  2. Well the Government of Ontario is selling strains at 30% – 38.5%
    They provide the low and high ranges, because there are always variances between plants and crops. But the measurements would be as accurate as science currently can do, this is up 6%+ in over 2 years …and concentrates are already well into the 90’s% THC….now they have an 80% ventalator….no smoking, no vaping …same delivery as Asthma medicine

  3. Another thing to consider when people or labs make claims of abnormally high thc levels, how many plants have the buds all over it test at the same level? Its highly likely they dont. You can have varying levels on one plant. Eg the few buds near the very top might give a very high percentage yet on the same plant you can have buds from a lot lower down in the canopy testing a lot lower. So with the abnormally high claims the key would be how many people can get their plant to consistently test 30%+ thc on every bud on that plant ? Until something like that can be done these claims arnt much use. Because im sure there are certain buds on the plant in specific areas that can reach very high levels yet go undetected so just because people dont understand this properly and some tests on some plants are detecting these high levels with the chances being that on many many plants some of these buds arnt getting picked up and tested the whole system isnt very reliable is it.
    An a lot of these packages in the dispensaries with these labels on with results, do people even realize that the exact product in that package has probably not been tested. Only chosen parts have been sent for testing from the plant parts that end up in your package, meaning if whats in your package is tested it can end up have quite different results to the label.

    1. David Suzuki – The Nature of Things – Science and Cannabis led me here.

      A bud tender at Khatsahlano Kannabis has to double check before telling the customer that the product is 43% THC…

      This is ridiculous, please fix this problem Health Canada.

      I don’t want to be sold a product that states 40%+ THC, then open the container when I get home and laugh at how naive I was thinking it was true.

      The products percentages are being almost doubled in some cases based on my experience with the BC Cannabis Stores…

      Very deceptive in their claims of product quality.

  4. JimjamJenkins

    Has anyone considered that the cannabis may have been sprayed with synthetic marijuana? (Spice) That seemed the most likely answer to me immediately…. My understanding and I’ve done extensive research… is that it is absolutely physically impossible to create a strain greater than 33.3% thc…. The measurement is the actual physical/biological make up! If you were to push that value beyond the aforementioned then the biological make up of the flower would break down thus creating a product not conducive to what we understand to be marijuana flower! That is the simplest explanation I can provide and it’s almost undeniably, undebatable…. It’s simple Physiology and Biology!

  5. Just for clarification Jorge Cervantes at the 2006 highlife cup in Amsterdam supplied the canna on-site lab with flower of the pink kush strain that was entered and won it was a Canadian clone from Charles “reeferman” Scott who was working with Barney farm it tested at 30.2% THC for the time was unbelievable.
    I think certain genetic have a the potential but often it requires the perfect storm of many factors factors that are becoming more common with advanced technology in Lighting and overall cultivation knowledge.

  6. TAC is not THC TAC is Total Active Cannabinoids that includes the thc and cbd along with all the other cannabinoids

    1. Mark - Sensi Seeds

      Good morning Derek,

      Thanks for your comment,
      Absolutely right, TAC stands for Total Active Cannabinoids.

      This article on Cannabis Sex: What Determines It? might also be of interest to you.
      Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog!

      Mark

  7. ITSNOTIMPORTANT

    It may be that these high strain plants “sweat” a lot of thc, either in the form of trichomes or resin. There has to be a ceiling internally to allow for the scaffolding and biologic processes to function, which may be ~ 30% thc. The extra 10% might be held externally. However, I would think that would have to happen late cycle otherwise adequate light wouldn’t get through. There’s probably some trick to doing this during flowering that Berlin growers figured out. Maybe they put them in saunas? 😉

    1. Mark - Sensi Seeds

      Hey,

      Thank you for your comment,
      Maybe the Berlin growers have it figured out!
      Thanks again, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog.

      With best wishes,

      Mark

    2. Probably testing pieces of bud that have been wrapped in cellophane and the outer layer of crystals has been pressed and cracked and opened up smothering and soaking the immediate vegetable material beneath it in pure oil. With the bud just below the very outside already holding its crystals and peak thc level and then having a dose of almost pure oil smothered over it its bound to have very high readings.
      Some of us use similar methods when curing and storing flower wich after a process similar to above coupled with a few other procedures leads to a finished product far superior to almost anything of the same type.

  8. Matty Dubyah

    It’s funny…as I sit here currently, I am vaping a batch of Special Ops OG from the dispo here in PA, and the labeling on it says 39.5% between THC and THCa.(which has to be accurate for pharmaceuticals, which MMJ is in PA; I go to med school btw and have a degree in biochemistry…you can absolutely grow >40%, whoever says you can’t is simply not properly educated. It’s all genetics.) But yeah hope that crushes the myth…I would explain, but unless you’re a scientist, literally, you likely will not grasp an understanding. If anyone wants, I will gladly share a pic of my dispo jar labeling and maybe even a pic of the trees. But yes, >40% is absolutely possible, and that’s a matter of fact. And Joe…as far as what you should do with it…do something special…you know how to run a frac dist? I recommend that or some edibles bruv…or, getting a little deep here, but making a crit mass concentrate is top notch…but only thing is, when you get done making it, your problem of what to do with it returns lol. I always want to put my creations on the mantle haha

    1. From experience in working in grow/production facilities. Those facilities sometimes get their percentages tweaked by the lab. One of the places I worked for was state certified to internally test their own product. Allowing them to easily make up their own tests. Do not always trust dispensary tags to be accurate. If you truly want to know your test results. Take your flower to a private lab. it takes a .1g to run a simple test and most labs don’t charge very much for a toxicology as well as a cannabinoid report.

    2. I 100% agree, it’s all about the water and growing! I’m no scientist but I have had a few ideas how to make it happen haha

  9. Frank Jaeger

    Hey Joe. Clone it, develop feminized seeds then send me some for my personal tasting oops I meant to write testing😎. Which I will with full objectivity give of course for free my valuable opinion of the flowers for taste, aroma effects average yield per square meter. etc.

  10. I live in ketchkan Alaska and i recently bought weed from the shop and it was 38percent and that’s the highest level iv seen by 3%

  11. Paul Martens

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

  12. 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

      1. Stop saying consumed you sound like a idiot. It wasn’t an edible it was weed; you smoked it.

      2. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

        Hi Ryan,

        Medicinal cannabis users such as Dave are far more likely to use a vaporiser, an edible, a tincture, a pessary or suppository, or another method of consuming cannabis other than smoking it. On this blog, we only use ‘smoking’ to refer to the specific act of smoking, and the rest of the time we use ‘consuming’.

        We also play nice in the blog comments.

        With best wishes,

        Scarlet

      3. Mike John Leon Plantus

        Eh Ohio ! Canadian here my brother !! Skunk #1 crossed with Purple Kush = Green Crack now called Green Cush do to labelling purposes Is a good strain that has that oldskool beautiful mesmerizing skunk paired with the good ol’ purple that makes for a solid strain for lots of people. I love the pure skunk style strains that are not as popular or seen as much today but was and is timeless.

      4. Although many things have changed since “SCIENCE” took over. Over the years, the flavor, the scent, and the effects have been, somehow bred into a product which is totally different from what it was 50, 40, or even 30 years ago…… and it has completely changed the final effects. No matter how high the THC, the “HIGH” is not the same. I prefer pure strain.

      5. the use of consumed doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the reference to a skunks ass…just saying lol

  13. 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

    2. Its only impossible until its possible. Just because nobody has found a way yet doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Shit 25 years ago we friended on the yellow pages and pat phones, plan a time and day when to call someone. Now we have Google. And even further we have cars that can drive their selves. So don’t believe what one scientist says. He will be proven wrong.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    2. Where’s you pull all that information out of??? All lies nothing has legit broke 38% thc the record is barley in the 37%

      1. Uncle Mike Koontz Pacademic

        I have indoor licensed CA Certified lab tested Flower of 40.26% THC with documentation and package sticker to verify ad genuine. Pacademic brand

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Author

  • 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.
    More about this author
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