What is TAC on marijuana packaging
What is TAC on marijuana packaging

What Does TAC Mean in Cannabis? (Total Active Cannabinoids)

Are you seeing the letters 'TAC' more and more on marijuana packaging?

Posted by:
Chiara C on Thursday Oct 28, 2021

What is TAC

It is very common to see your regular cannabis user know what THC or CBD means and the role it plays in the effects of the natural herb. However, the concept of TAC and what it means in terms of the effect a cannabis strain gives is less common. This is why this article will be dedicated to explaining what TAC means and how it is important to medical and recreational cannabis users. Read on as we also correct some wrong notions that have been passed around about cannabinoids.

What is TAC?

For starters, TAC is short for Total Active Cannabinoids which is the number of detectable cannabinoids present in a cannabis product. These available cannabinoids work together in synergy by what is known as the entourage effect to give rise to the overall effects of the natural herb. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant matrix that gives rise to the euphoric feeling users experience during recreational use. However, there is more to the cannabis plant than just the THC content of the strain and many cannabis users are starting to come to this reality.

For cannabis users that are very particular about the kind of high they want, knowledge of TAC is very important. Understanding the type of cannabinoids that are detectable can go a long way in helping to maximize your experience. It is also very important for medical marijuana users who rely greatly on the medicinal effects that arise from the entourage effect of cannabinoids and terpenes. This is because there are some of these cannabinoids whose direct effects have to do with the condition being treated or managed. This is one of the reasons why when purchasing cannabis from a legal dealer, the TAC is always displayed on the cannabis level.

There is still much research ongoing into the possibilities around the entourage effect of cannabinoids and terpenes. This is largely because it is not an exact science that can easily be explained with numbers. Nonetheless, its effects are without question and very pivotal to expected effects in users. One common example is the unique relationship between THC and CBD which are the two most important cannabinoids in the plant. THC is known for euphoria and stimulation while CBD promotes calmness and relaxation. The entourage effect of both cannabinoids at a 1:1 ratio helps to reduce some negative effects of THC such as tachycardia and paranoia.

Does TAC always mean Total Active Cannabinoids?

Earlier we stated that TAC refers to Total Active Cannabinoids and while this is true, it can still refer to another concept in the world of cannabis. The other meaning of TAC is Total Aerobic Count which refers to the total microbial content of a product. This is more important when it comes to the cultivation of the natural product and less concerned about the effects when it is smoked or vaped. A low total aerobic count shows that there is a reduced number of pathogenic microbes. This makes them less risky to the cannabis plant and less likely to affect the overall yield of the cultivation process.     

It is however possible to have a high total aerobic count without the microbes being harmful to the plant. Bacillus subtilis is a common organic bacterial fungicide used by cannabis growers to limit the growth of mold in cannabis plants. The final product in this case will have a high TAC count without it being risky to the final consumers. One notable thing to note is that total aerobic count will not be advertised in the final product. This means that TAC on the label will always refer to total active cannabinoids.

Total active cannabinoids stated on the labels of cannabis products refer to the sum of all active cannabinoids at the point of testing. The total amount of cannabinoids available for use in the product is instead referred to as total cannabinoids. Total active cannabinoids will not be present in cannabis products such as oils which already have all their cannabinoids available for use.

Compounds in cannabis


113 cannabinoids have been identified in the matrix of the cannabis plant with THC and CBD being the most popular to date. All cannabinoids in the plant matrix of cannabis form from cannabigerolic acid (CBDGA) which acts as a precursor for other cannabinoids. THC does not exist in the matrix of the cannabis plant instead it exists as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). THCA must undergo decarboxylation through heating to give rise to THC which is what happens when cannabis is smoked or vaped. THC itself degrades to give rise to cannabinol (CBN) which has strong effects on sleep. Other examples of cannabinoids include cannabidivarin (CBDV), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), and cannabichromene (CBC)


The entourage effect of cannabis plants is not limited to cannabinoids alone. Terpenes are more known for their effects in inducing scents and flavors in most plants however in cannabis plants, it is also known for its medicinal effect through entourage effect with cannabinoids. There are hundreds of terpenes in the cannabis plant which include pinene, limonene, linalool, and eucalyptol. Some of these cannabinoids have been identified to interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system which is how the cannabinoids modulate their medicinal effects.


This class of compounds is known to play the role of pigmentation. They have an antioxidant effect that helps the body to get rid of unwanted free radicals when ingested. Flavonoids also affect the endocannabinoid system of the body to a certain degree which suggests that it plays a role in the entourage effect of the cannabis plants.

Fatty Acids

The cannabis plant plays host to numerous fatty acids and although little has been researched on their effects on entourage effect, there are early signs to show that it is significant. This is because preliminary studies have shown that they can interact with the endocannabinoid system. They also facilitate the binding of 2-AG to CB1 and CB2 receptors which are a part of the endocannabinoid system of the body.


While THC and CBD are the most important cannabinoids, there is still more relevant information around cannabis that must be considered. One such is total active cannabinoids which help to paint a better picture of what is available in the plant.








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