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What is Total Active Cannabinoid Content, And Why Does It Matter?

When it comes to choosing cannabis products, knowledge is power. One of the most important bits of information to seek out when evaluating a product is its phytocannabinoid content – which compounds are present and in which amounts. Thankfully, this information is required to appear on product labeling, including a useful metric called total active cannabinoid (TAC) content. Here’s what the TAC figure tells you, what it doesn’t, and how to use it when choosing the best cannabis product for your goals.

What is TAC content?

The TAC content of a cannabis product is the combined sum of all the various active cannabinoids it contained at the time of testing, including compounds like Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Cannabigerol (CBG), as well as their acidic versions. Acidic cannabinoids are precursors to active cannabinoids, and they are included as part of the total active cannabinoid tally. THCA, CBDA, and CBGA are examples of acidic cannabinoids; they convert into active cannabinoids THC, CBD, and CBG respectively when exposed to heat. 

TAC is the total sum of all active and acidic cannabinoids and is usually expressed as a percentage. For example, if a cannabis flower has a TAC of 22.22% because it contains 20.45% THCA, 1.2% CBGA, and 0.22% CBG.

Why is TAC important?

TAC is important because it shows consumers the breakdown of active cannabinoids before a process known as decarboxylation, the conversion of acidic cannabinoids into their active forms when introduced to the catalyst of heat. The result is a clear accounting of all the active cannabinoids in the product at the time it was tested, helping to give you insight into how a product might affect you.

TAC is one of several important factors when determining which cannabis product might be right for you. Understanding which cannabinoids are present in a product can help you understand the types of effects it might have, as well as how the cannabinoids might influence one another, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.

Are acidic cannabinoids part of TAC content?

There is still much research to be done into THC to determine more specifically how it affects our bodies and how it could serve as a therapeutic agent fAcidic cannabinoids are precursors to active cannabinoids, and they are not included as part of the total active cannabinoid tally. THCA, CBDA, and CBGA are examples of acidic cannabinoids; they convert into active cannabinoids THC, CBD, and CBG respectively when exposed to heat.

What about total cannabinoid content?

TAC does not show the total amount of cannabinoids available for consumption. For that figure, you’ll need to know the total cannabinoid content, a useful metric that shows the amount of acidic and active cannabinoids in one figure. 

Building on the example above, if a cannabis product contained the same levels of active cannabinoids alongside 50% THCA, 20% CBDA, and 1% CBGA, its TAC would remain 18%, while its total cannabinoid content would be 89%. 

Notably, both TAC and total cannabinoid content do not include terpenes, volatile organic compounds that influence the product’s flavor and aroma, as well as benefits of their own. Those compounds are tested for and listed separately in lab results.

Where can TAC be found on cannabis product packaging?

The TAC can typically be found on the product label affixed to the packaging, sometimes alongside information about when and where the product was tested. This may even take the form of a QR code that brings you directly to the complete testing results for the product. 

Usually, the TAC content is included in a table that includes a list of the present active cannabinoids, accompanied by a percentage and/or milligram amount. It may also be called out separately as a percentage. The example below is a breakdown of the cannabinoids in a broad-spectrum cannabis oil.

In addition to the packaging of a product, you can find information about TAC for the products we carry on the menu for your nearest Ethos Cannabis locations.

What else does TAC stand for in the context of cannabis?

While TAC content is the most common number cannabis consumers will encounter, those who access the full testing results for any product may also run into “total aerobic count,” a metric often expressed as TAC in shorthand. These two TACs – total active cannabinoids and total aerobic count – could not be more different.

TAC in this context refers to microbial testing, an analysis performed by a laboratory to determine the levels of microbes from organisms like mold or mildew present on a product. To reach dispensary shelves, cannabis products must contain less than a threshold total aerobic count specified by state regulations.

TAC can help you better select a cannabis product for you

Understanding information like TAC content and total cannabinoid content can help you choose a cannabis product that achieves your desired effects and offers you the relief and experience you’re hoping for. If you need assistance analyzing the TAC content, total cannabinoid content, or any other labeling information included on a product’s packaging, don’t hesitate to speak with an Ethos associate or pharmacist. The more information you have about what’s in a cannabis product, the better sense you’ll have as to whether you’ve selected the right product.

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