Nugget of cannabis flower in front of three empty flower jars

TAC vs THC: What’s the Difference?

“TAC” stands for Total Active Cannabinoids, which is the total percentage of active cannabinoids in a marijuana strain or product. This includes the detected amount of THC, CBD, CBN, and many more. You’ll find this percentage on the label for any cannabis product you purchase at a state-licensed dispensary.

We get plenty of questions about this number–specifically how it relates to THC. In this guide, we’ll explain:

  • What is TAC & What Does It Mean?
  • What is a TAC Analysis?
  • TAC and The Entourage Effect
  • How is TAC Different from THC?
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What is TAC & What Does It Mean?

If you’ve ever looked at a cannabis product label, you likely noticed that it is VERY different from anything you’d find on food packaging. That’s because there are hundreds of different compounds present in the cannabis plant, each with its own potential experiences. However, one of the most confusing percentages found on marijuana labels is “TAC.”  

“TAC” stands for Total Active Cannabinoids, which is the total percentage of active cannabinoids in a marijuana strain or product. This percentage is determined by a process called a TAC analysis.

What is a TAC Analysis?

In the world of cannabinoids, a TAC analysis takes into account all of the active cannabinoids in a cannabis product. TAC is usually expressed as a percentage, which means the total of all of the cannabinoids that have been found in the product that could be used or absorbed by your body.

There are other cannabinoids that are present in cannabis, including THCA, CBDA, and CBGA. These are acidic cannabinoids which convert into active, decarboxylated cannabinoids gradually when the plant dries or rapidly when it is exposed to heat. The TAC analysis doesn't count these acidic cannabinoids or other compounds like terpenes. It only counts the percentage of active cannabinoids in the product.

What are Active Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THCA, CBDA, and CBGA. During a process called decarboxylation--basically applying heat or light–these cannabinoids are activated, which turns THCA into THC, CBDA into CBD, and so on. When you smoke, vape, or otherwise heat cannabis flower, the cannabinoids become activated and can be processed by the body.

This nuanced experience is called the Entourage Effect.

TAC & The Entourage Effect

There are over 400 chemical entities in the cannabis plant, and only a few of them have been extensively studied for their bioactive and psychoactive effects.1 In addition to THC and CBD, other active cannabinoids include CBG (Cannabigerol), CBN (Cannabinol), and CBC (Cannabichromine). CBG, as one example, is the chemical precursor from which other cannabinoids can be synthesized.

Together, the cannabinoids, along with other chemical compounds in cannabis, have been theorized to work together to produce a synergy of effects. These different compounds are potentially why one strain of marijuana seems to produce such different effects from another even if the two strains have the same percentage of one cannabinoid, such as THC or CBD. Researchers refer to the potential effects of the combined phytochemical compounds as the Entourage Effect.1

How is TAC Different From THC?

TAC refers to the total active cannabinoid compounds found in a cannabis or hemp plant, or in a cannabis product. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. THC is the primary compound in cannabis that makes people feel high. TAC represents the percentage of all of the cannabinoids in a cannabis product, which can include psychoactive THC, bioactive CBD, and others.

Frequently Asked Questions

With so many different initials, understanding the effects of different compounds could seem confusing. Which ones produce the "high" effect? Which ones can help with relaxation or other physical effects? Here are some questions and answers:

Does TAC make you high?
TAC is a measurement of the different active cannabinoids in a product, so by itself, it doesn't make anybody high. THC is the primary compound in cannabis that makes you high.

Is TAC or THC more important?
Both are important, but they also both mean different things. THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces a high effect. TAC gives you the information you need about all of the active cannabinoids in the cannabis flower or other product you're consuming. You can get information about how much THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are in each product through the TAC analysis.

Where can I find TAC in my cannabis products?
If you want to find out the total active cannabinoids in your product, you can locate the information on the package label.

Understanding TAC vs THC

For a long time, THC was by far the best-known cannabinoid in the marijuana universe. As the most psychoactive compound in cannabis, THC stood for getting high, and some people looked only at the percentage of THC when considering different strains or products.

TAC, which gives information about all the active cannabinoids in a product, provides a well-rounded picture of the potential effects and qualities that a marijuana strain or other cannabis product can possess.



1. “Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals”, National Library of Medicine, December 2012,  

Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Ohio and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.