Cannabis Science

Do Terpenes Make You High?

woman using a bong

You probably have been hearing about terpenes lately. However, you’re not really sure what everybody is talking about. What is a terpene? Do terpenes make you high? What is their purpose? Don’t worry, we’re here to answer those questions and so much more. 

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Do Terpenes Get You High?

The short answer is no.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds naturally occurring in the cannabis plant responsible for its smell and taste

So if you love the musky, woody, skunky, or floral smell of cannabis, you can thank terpenes for that. 

These scented compounds are found in the glandular trichomes of the cannabis plant. 

As a matter of fact, terpenes are found in a variety of plants, not just cannabis. 

For example, if you love the smell of lavender you can thank the linalool terpene for that. 

Terpenes also help some plants to attract pollinators as well as protect the plant from predators such as insects. 

These aromatic compounds are pretty multifunctional. Not only will you encounter them in your favorite essential oils, cosmetic products, and cleaning products, but it’s also found used as a food additive. 

flash sale fish bong

Anyway, back to weed.

Terpenes are not the compound responsible for your high that would be tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

When you light up your favorite bong and take a hit, THC binds to the CB1 receptor and then you’ll start to experience euphoria (and anxiety) in some people. THC gives you a euphoric feeling because it causes a dopamine release. 

In addition to a euphoric high, THC may also cause increased heart rate, dry mouth, and red eyes. 

Do Terpenes Affect Your High?

They do! 

While terpenes don’t make you high, they can impact your high by producing additional effects.

According to a 2020 journal article says, “Some terpenes can enhance the effect of cannabinoids and synergize the feeling of relaxation, stress relief, energy boost, and maintaining focus along with their underlying pharmaceutical functions.”

For example, if you want to reduce pain or increase focus, stoners swear by getting weed high in alpha-pinene like OG Kush. 

Limonene, another terpene found in cannabis, could help your mood. 

The phenomenon described by the journal article is often referred to as the entourage effect. 

The entourage effect is the concept that the chemicals in weed, namely terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids, work together to produce effects. 

Scientists are particularly interested in the entourage effect for medical purposes. 

John Streicher, PhD, researcher and associate professor told the University of Arizona Health Sciences website, “We’re interested in the concept of the entourage effect, with the idea being that maybe we can boost the modest pain-relieving efficacy of THC and not boost the psychoactive side effects, so you could have a better therapeutic.”

Other Therapeutic Effects of Terpenes 

Besides adding to your high, terpenes can also have therapeutic effects. There have been a number of in vitro,  animal, and clinical trials that have shown these compounds can be pretty beneficial in medicine. 

A 2018 article published in the Medicinal properties of terpenes found in Cannabis sativa and Humulus lupulus said terpenes can exhibit the following properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Analgesic
  • Anticonvulsive
  • Antidepressant
  • Anxiolytic
  • Anticancer
  • Antitumor
  • Neuroprotective
  • Anti-mutagenic
  • Anti-allergic
  • Antibiotic 
  • Anti-diabetic

While terpenes clearly show the potential to be beneficial for people who suffer from a variety of ailments, some people are allergic to them.

For example, people with a linalool allergy should avoid probably avoid products and weed strains heavy in that terpene. 

Strains High in Terpenes 

If you’re looking for a weed strain high in terpenes, the first question you’ll have to ask yourself is, “What terpene do I want?”

Remember terpenes differ and so knowing what effect you’re trying to experience is key. At the same time, remember everybody experiences cannabis differently and so you may not get the experience you want. However, you’re free to experiment and find out what works for you.

Before we get into strains, you may be wondering what is a high terpene percentage. 

According to Moderna Cannabis, “A product with terpene content above 2% will have a much fuller high than one at 0.5% for example.  If you are lucky enough to find one over 3 or 4% then you are really in for a great high.”

Here are three high-terpene strains according to Advanced Terpene Solutions:

  1. Marionberry- This strain has over 3% terpenes and includes myrcene, limonene, and linalool.
  2. Dutch Treat- This strain, which is used to treat insomnia contains terpinolene, myrcene, and ocimene.
  3. Fire Alien Strawberry- Caryophyllene, limonene, and linalool are the dominant terpenes in this strain. 


So, do terpenes make you high? No. However, they can enhance your high by providing other effects such as pain relief. If you’re interested in trying out a specific terpene for their effect check out your local dispensary and experience the effects for yourself. 


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].