The nose knows: Aroma, but not THC mediates the subjective effects of cannabis flower

Previous studies have shown that cannabis consumers are willing to pay more money for higher-quality products; however, the definition of “quality” cannabis has not been defined. Despite the known health risks of THC overuse, THC potency has been adopted as the primary market-driving feature of cannabis products. The purpose of this study was to objectively identify features of cannabis that contribute to its appealing subjective effects.

In the course of conducting cannabis competitions, commercially available cannabis inflorescences were distributed to healthy volunteers in a randomized, double-blind fashion. Anonymous online survey data about the subjective effects of each cannabis sample were analyzed independently by researchers not involved with the competitions.

Pleasant subjective aroma (but not terpene expression, THC potency, or THC dose) was positively correlated with pleasant subjective effects. There was also a moderate but significant negative association between the amount of cannabis consumed and subjective appeal. These results suggest that, unlike THC potency, pleasant aroma is predictive of pleasant subjective effects. Similar to other agricultural commodities such as coffee and tea, aroma appears to be a robust indicator of the quality of cannabis inflorescence. These findings have wide-reaching public health implications, given the well-established health risks of THC overuse.

Plumb J, Demirel S, Sackett JL, Russo EB, Wilson-Poe AR. The Nose Knows: Aroma, but Not THC Mediates the Subjective Effects of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis Flower. Psychoactives. 2022; 1(2):70-86. 

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