Marijuana Concentrates Buyer’s Guide

marijuana concentrates

image courtesy of High Times

With marijuana concentrates more popular than ever before, it’s easy for the average consumer to get lost in trying to navigate the many options available on the market. While price is generally a reliable indicator of quality relative to similar products, its hardly an empirical method for determining how good a concentrate will be before you have a chance to try it. In this article, we’ll discuss what experienced connoisseurs look for in their concentrates so you can be better prepared the next time you head to the dispensary to pick up some dabs.

Use Your Senses

You have five senses at your disposal— sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. You should use as many of these tools as you possibly can when shopping for concentrates! Of course, the easiest way to accomplish this is to test a sample but since that’s rarely an option for the average consumer, it often falls on sight and smell to do the bulk of the investigation. No worries! These two very powerful tools… if you know how to use them.

Color, Clarity, Consistency

A shattercareful visual inspection of a concentrate can determine a lot right off the bat. Better concentrates will have a lighter color to them and will take on a color similar to blondehash. Darkness or a green tinge is usually a sign of impurities pulled from the plant as a result of poor-quality butane / technique (though darker-colored purple strains seem to come out a little darker). Good shatter is filtered and should be mostly translucent— there should be no discernible particles trapped anywhere.

Consistency should be as advertised, So, if you’re paying for shatter, you shouldn’t be getting sugar. More liquid, sappy shatter will either be poorly purged or have a high terpene content whereas more solid, stable shatter will always have substantially fewer terpenes leading to a less pleasant flavor.

Sugaring can be caused by prolonged improper storage, a rushed purge, or from substantially high volatile terpene content so additional inspection is usually required. Its generally harder to determine how good sugar will be before sampling which is why it tends to be cheaper.

If you can, be careful to observe if the concentrate sticks to whatever its on or if it breaks apart easily— drier, more crumbly concentrates are usually over-purged and lack the flavor profile of “wetter” looking concentrates.

Follow Your Nose

According to Dr Alan Hirsch of the Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, 90% of what is perceived as taste is actually smell. That means that a solid whiff of your concentrate in question should be a good indicator of how said concentrate will taste. That’s two senses in one… you should always smell your concentrates before you buy! A stronger smelling concentrate is bound to have more flavor and be more enjoyable than a mild-smelling concentrate.

And while there is really no way to determine if one flavor profile is “better” than another (to each her own), there are some smells that you want to avoid; you should be skeptical if you detect any unpleasant or chemical smells, especially if the concentrate has a more liquid consistency or a strange color. Be wary of liquid-like “solvent-less” concentrates available in different fruity flavors, these are often achieved with flavor additives (same with pre-filled cartridges that use e-juice). If you can’t smell anything, you can expect the concentrate to not taste so great.

Nug Run vs. Trim Run vs. Popcorn Nug Run

nugsFinally, we have to address the different qualities of plant matter that go into making concentrates. Obviously nug runs are going to offer the most potent, flavorful concentrates because those buds have higher concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes. This is what you want if you’re looking to get the full concentrate experience.

Popcorn nug runs and trim runs, thotrim runugh still potent, contain considerably
fewer terpenes than nug runs and more impurities— these always tend to be darker and more “stable” with much less impressive flavor (even though some will pass the “smell test”). Is there good, tasty PNR or TR shatter? Sure! You’re just going to be disappointed many, many times looking for it. If you’re going to spend the money, its almost always worth it to spring for the nug run.

It’s a lot to remember… but after enjoying higher-quality concentrates for a while, these considerations become second-nature. Perhaps the best way to get started is to treat yourself to the nicest concentrate you can get your hands on and enjoy it… really enjoy it. Make yourself familiar with what a really good concentrate is like and work your way backward… that way you’ll be ready to pounce next time you see a deal at the dispensary (and avoid the disappointing traps)!

Growing Marijuana: The Fringe Benefits of Saving Trim

Why-Farmers-Who-Grow-Marijuana-Save-Trim-Now

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when a weed farmer would grow marijuana simply for the bud, trashing the brittle, dry leaf trim like common waste. These were the days before the popularity of shatter, marijuana edibles, and concentrates. The popularity of dabbing and marijuana oils has shed new light on the way a savvy farmer chooses to grow marijuana in that less goes to waste. That’s because the once overlooked trim is now bringing in upwards of $400.00 a pound.

The Massive Appeal of THC Concentrates

Companies working in edibles and weed concentrates like shatters and hash oils are now asking farmers who grow marijuana Shatter-Marijuana-Concentrateto sell them their trim. It only takes ten pounds of trim to make a pound of concentrated marijuana oil or hash oil. Concentrates are forged using an extraction system that brings with it risks due to the gases used in the process. Producers are left with a thin sheet of amber-colored concentrate ranging in consistency from gooey to brittle. The goo can be sold as concentrated hash oil or wax while the brittle sheets are appropriately dubbed “shatter”.  These concentrates boast between 80% – 90% THC content versus the 15% – 25% consumers get from flower.

Trim: A New Fringe Benefit to Grow Marijuana

Marijuana-Trim-Another-Benefit-to-Grow-Marijuana

When farmers grow marijuana, the focus remains firmly on the flower. Flower can still bring in more cash to the grower than bags of trim. But until recently, it was common for a farmer to dispose of the trim completely. Finally, farmers who grow marijuana are realizing the value of a commodity once regarded as garbage.

Concentrates are the fastest growing facet of Colorado’s marijuana industry. The average weed shop credits anywhere between 30% – 50% of sales on concentrates of some form. Adding onto that a sale price of between $40.00 and $50.00 per gram and it’s obvious why those who grow marijuana are changing the way they handle their harvests to save the trim.

A Rabid Demand for Trim

But concentrate production companies are hitting a glass ceiling when it comes to their need for trim. The suppliers that grow marijuana for these companies can’t always provide them the amount of trim that they need. Many concentrate companies now grow marijuana themselves in addition to buying from farmers to guarantee production expectations are met.

Making-Hash-Oil-from-Marijuana-Trim

In addition to maintaining supply, concentrate companies that grow marijuana on their own have the added bonus of quality control. High demand doesn’t mean that companies will always buy whatever trim is available. Customers are more drawn to buy concentrates in a lighter shade of amber with a clear appearance as opposed to cloudy. Such an appearance comes when the trim is newly harvested and at its freshest. This market nuance means those who grow marijuana can’t collect the trim and store it over long periods of time before turning it over to the concentrate companies.

The lean market for trim still leaves plenty of room for rejection. Concentrate companies turn away trim bags peppered with fan leaves and stems. In addition, with autumn on the horizon, farms that grow marijuana are preparing for a big harvest that is likely to flood companies with quality trim options, driving those top dollar trim bag prices down. Yet farmers are now aware that when they grow marijuana, tossing trim in the trash is throwing away good money. Everyone wins with less waste.

Choosing The Right Dab Tool

wax dabberYou’ve picked out some glass, you’ve decided on a style of nail, you’ve got a torch and some high-quality concentrate… but how are you going to get that concentrate on to the rig? Though its often overlooked, choosing the right dab tool can mean the difference between a pleasant and unpleasant dabbing experience. A good dab tool should be thermally insulated, make it easy to handle your preference of concentrate, and should carry little residue upon delivering the concentrate to the rig. Let’s take a look at the most popular styles of dab tools below:

Pointed / Skinny Tipspointy dabbers

These incorporate the stainless steel dental picks everyone is familiar with as well as small flexible spatulas (like Skillet Tools Flexy) and glass (borosilicate) dabbers pulled to a point. These tools are excellent for traditional “shatter” type concentrates because of their ability to cut individual hits away from a larger piece of shatter and the very small amount of residue that gets left behind on the tool itself (thanks to its low surface area). The small spatula is particularly useful because it can also be used for more “sugary” concentrates as well so long as the concentrate is not too dry… then it’s like trying to eat soup with a fork. It’s also not a great choice for very hard, stable shatter which can create hash shrapnel upon piercing with such a fine tip.

Good for: Shatter, Sap, Sugar, Oil

Bad for: Crumble / honeycomb, harder shatter

Spatulas / Scoopsscoop dabbers

These are the second most common type of concentrate tools on the market and are particularly useful for harder, dryer concentrates that don’t stick as well to the dabber tool. If you tend to prefer crumbles, the scoop is an essential part of the arsenal… especially if you’ve opted for a “banger” or “side-car” style nail— just scoop and go. The spatula is most useful for waxy concentrates which can be pressed into a hit though these tend to create the most “holdup” residue with their large surface area and require regular cleaning to avoid getting that stale “recycled” flavor. They also make a spatula with a sharpened edge that is the perfect tool for breaking apart small hits from stubborn harder shatter.

Good for: Crumbles, wax, harder shatter, sugar

Bad for: Sappy shatter, less viscous concentrates

Carb Caps

Sometimes (for whatever reason) you just don’ttitanium carb cap heat your rig up enough and end up creating a pool of concentrate that vaporizes weakly and slowly… too slow to take-in in one hit. In the old days, this “cold hit” would be weak, hurried, unpleasant, and you would have to watch your expensive concentrate literally go up in smoke. The carb cap fixed this problem by covering the nail (or whatever) and allowing vapor to collect so it can be consumed in a second or third hit. These are a must-have for everyone with a nail. Some of them even come attached to the nail itself.

Wether you’re considering a new rig or just looking for a way to make life easier, we hope you’ll use these considerations when buying your next dab tool! Since most dabbers work as 2-in-1 tools (using both ends), you should try to choose something that best fits your preference of concentrate. Remember, the dab tool is an essential part of your rig!

Happy dabbing!

How Clean Is Your Cannabis Extract?

how clean is your cannabis extractThough we don’t often think about it, consuming marijuana means you’re ingesting more than just THC. The process of growing and curing weed often subjects the plant to numerous chemicals and pathogens, and without any oversight or regulation, consumers are forced to rely on growers to be responsible in their use of pesticides and fertilizers.

Unfortunately, most marijuana growers lack a proper understanding of agriculture science.

One example is the widespread use of the fungicide “Eagle 20 EW” which has been detected in commercial grows in Colorado. Though its commonly used on hops and grape crops, the compound has been banned for use on tobacco because the residue left behind becomes toxic when burned.

A recent independent study in the state found that nearly every sample of medicinal marijuana obtained contained trace amounts of harmful, potentially carcinogenic pesticides. Even though these chemicals were only present in very low concentrations, regular long-term exposure could pose a health concern, especially to patients with already compromised immune systems.

Concentrating Cannabis

marijuana sprayed with pesticidesThe improper use of pesticides becomes an even bigger problem when we begin to look at cannabis extracts. By concentrating the marijuana plant, one can also unintentionally concentrate any residual pesticides left behind in the plant. As any toxicologist will be happy to tell you, “the danger is in the dose,” the more concentrated a toxin is, the greater a threat it poses to peoples’ health.

Additionally, though butane itself is considered generally non-toxic at mild concentrations, 99.99% pure butane is nearly impossible to obtain without ordering from a specialized, regulated scientific supply company leaving most “extract artists” to rely on disposable butane canisters that use any number of toxic adulterants as a carrier gas (some of these canisters may advertise themselves as “pure” but even the most expensive lab-grade reagents can only assure a >95% purity as the gas can decompose into primary products).

Outsourcing CBD

One last concern specifically addresses CBDchina agricultural runoff concentrates which are often manufactured from industrial hemp. As these concentrates have risen in popularity, China has begun exporting extracts made from Chinese hemp which could pose a health risk. The New York Times and BBC recently published several articles covering how heavy metal runoff from mining operations has made its way into the food supply, skyrocketing cancer rates by as much as 500% (maybe more, its hard to determine exactly how bad things have gotten with a lack of reliable self-reporting from China). It’s been well established that plants like hemp readily absorb these heavy metals and that Chinese environmental authorities cannot be trusted for proper analysis or certification of such materials. Consumers must be cautious and make sure to only purchase extracts produced in countries with  strong regulations like the U.S. and Canada.

So how clean is your cannabis concentrate? It’s impossible to know without thorough independent chemical analysis. The extract industry has exploded largely unchecked and only now have we begun to realize that these concentrates pose a new set of concerns previously unknown with consuming the marijuana plant alone. As places like Canada and Colorado begin to adopt policies that regulate the marijuana industry, there’s no doubt we’ll gain a better understanding of exactly how these substances actually affect our health.

Cannabis Coffee Has Arrived

marijuana infused coffeeAs legalization/ decriminalization sweeps across the country, marijuana enthusiasts are becoming more and more creative with how they consume cannabis-infused products. The latest craze meets at the intersection of the two most readily consumed drugs in the U.S.: coffee and weed.

Caffeine is a Drug

Though it’s hard to imagine nowanti caffeine movement, coffee and weed once faced FDA had officially come out as opposed to caffeine with commissioner similar opposition. In the late 1800’s there was a strong anti-caffeine movement inspired in part by the popularization of a revolutionary new drink, Coca-Cola. By 1912 the newly establisheand lead-chemist Dr. Harvey Wiley publicly stating:

“Coca-Cola is a first artificial cousin of coffee, because the dope that men put in Coca-Cola is the dope the Lord puts in coffee-caffeine… I would not give my child coffee or tea any more than I would give him poison”

It may very well have been the FDA’s wish to have congress levy a tax on coffee similar to what would be the 1937 Marijuana Tax but  it was far too late to do so, coffee had become one of the most valuable commodities in international trade and with the advent of WWI followed by the Temperance Movement, Americans were consuming millions of pounds per year. By the mid 1950’s the “coffee break” had become a standard in the American workplace– the United States would never put down the mug….

A New High: Cannabis Coffee

…But it would pick up the pipe. With recreational marijuana now legal in four states and more legalization on the way, it’s only natural that people begin experimenting with products that combine these two now-legal highs.

Smoking weed and drinking caffeine is nothing new (it’s affectionately referred to as “the hippie speedball”) but a few entrepreneurs have started creating “cannabis coffee” in which THC is directly infused into the coffee bean itself. This isn’t your usual bulletproof coffee with cannabutter in it (if that can be considered usual). In this case, companies like Portland-based Fairwinds Manufacturing are actually using chemical processes to add THC to their cannabis coffee so all you have to do is brew “a cup o’ joe.”

Chemically, that’s not such an easy task. According to Fairwinds’ owner James Hull,
“To infuse the coffee beans with the cannabis oil, It is not as simple as spraying the coffee beans with the oil. To ensure proper extraction of the cannabis oil from the coffee grounds and to ensure solubility in the cup of coffee, we must first prepare the cannabis oil mixture prior to application. We add ingredients that allow the cannabis oil to become soluble with the water-based coffee.” Fairwinds makes both loose coffee and packets compatible with instant coffee machines.

weed infused coffee

image courtesy of laweekly.com

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, coffee shop owner Kian Abedini of Compelling & Rich has taken an entirely different approach to his “cannabis coffee.” Rather than focusing on infusing THC (which arguably defeats the purpose of drinking coffee in the first place), Kian has opted to create a cannabis coffee which focuses on infusing the aromas and flavors of cannabis without THC, creating an entirely different (and legal) experience: “It’s a way to take an extraordinary coffee and make it even better,” claims Kian who accomplished the task by steeping coffee beans with vaporized marijuana as they roast, allowing the beans to absorb aromatic compounds. Though all the THC is burned off in the process, the dank flavor still remains which means this cannabis coffee can be marketed to everyone, not just medicinal patients– so far the response has been largely positive.

Could cannabis coffee be the new ultimate experience for connoisseurs? Could this become its own category of consumption perhaps even getting its own competition ala The High Times Cannabis Cup?

Where Can I Legally Grow Cannabis?

Image

growing weed

Turn Kief into Hash with a DIY Pollen Press


kief and hashKief
— most tokers have a small collection of these coveted resin glands sitting in their grinder (especially if said grinder comes with a ‘pollinator’ or ‘kief catcher’) but it often goes unsmoked due in part to how difficult it is to handle. Even when kief does get smoked, its often wasted as the fine powder gets sucked through the bowl or joint without being heated. This problem is what inspired the most ancient form of hash making as cultivators learned to heat and press this kief into bricks of hashish.

Fast-forward several hundred years and we’re still using similar methods to turn kief into easier-to-handle hash via a device that’s known as a “pollen press.” A pollen press is essentially a vice that compresses “pollen” (aka kief) into pucks of hash (not unlike how a ‘pill press’ is used to form pills). In 2015, there are an abundance of different commercial pollen presses online for as little $10 but if you aren’t generating enough kief to warrant buying a pollen press of your very own, that doesn’t mean you can’t press your own hash!

We’ve compiled three DIY methods to turn your kief into hash so you don’t have to keep watching your hard-earned stash get wasted!

Step On It

This is the method you’ll hear from the real weed veterans and hippies— fold the kief into a piece of wax or parchment paper and stick it in the heel of your shoe. As you walk around, the heat and pressure from your foot will press the kief into a nice little slab of shoe hash! This method works wonders if you don’t mind your shoes smelling like hash / your hash smelling like feet (pro tip: use clean shoes and socks!).

Build Your Own Pollen Press

You can easily press pollen with an adjustable vice or clamp similar to the shoe method by folding your kief into some wax paper and applying a good amount of pressure for a few minutes but in case you don’t have such tools lying around, here’s the simplest DIY pollen press that can be made with common house-hold materials:

Materials: A small piece of paper, scotch tape, two unsharpened pencilspencils, tape, paper for pollen press

Step 1: Cut the paper so its no bigger than 2”x2” and make sure the ends of your unsharpened pencils are as flat and clean as possible.

Step 2: Wrap the paper around one of the pencils as tightly as possible and tape the paper to itself so it remains wrapped around the pencil.pollen press step one

Step 3: Slide this paper cylinder half-way off the flat end of the pencil it’s wrapped around and scoop kief into the newly formed chamber.pollen press kiefscoop kief

Step 4: Insert the flat end of the other pencil into the open side of the cylinder and apply steady pressure using a table to anchor one end of the pencil-cylinder-pencil setup for 10-20 seconds.

smash kief

Step 5: Stop applying pressure, remove one pencil and slide the cylinder down the body of the other pencil, you should have a small disk of pressed kief sitting on the top! Peel off and enjoy.

pp8

kief pressed

Rosintech

With dabs having taken over the hash-smoking world, its often desirable to have a hash that can be consumed using a nail or similar smoking implement. In this case, pollen needs to be both pressed and heated so that resin can be released from the trichome heads into a sappier, dabbable product. Though careful temperature control is critical for obtaining a product high in terpenes, the process is as simple as using a hair straightener to heat and press some kief (or bud) in between a piece of parchment paper. That’s it! You’ll see the rosin begin to form as a golden sap on the inside of the paper.

Don’t let that kief go to waste! If you don’t feel like spending the money on a pollen press, be sure to use of these methods to convert that stash into sweet, sweet hash!

If the pencils aren’t cutting it for you, and you have a little dough to spare, here is a pollen press for only $14 by RAW: http://www.marijuanapackaging.com/raw-press.html

Is Dabbing Really Dangerous?

is dabbing dangerousWe’ve all seen the news stories about how dangerous dabbing can be — dramatic accounts of clandestine “drug labs” being blown up by amateur hash-makers– but really, how dangerous is dabbing for the average user? Though there’s been little formal scientific research specifically on the topic (due mostly to the DEA’s listing of marijuana as as schedule 1 substance), empirical data suggests that under ideal conditions, dabbing should pose even fewer health risks than traditional combustion of marijuana.

Dabbing Is a Form of Vaporization

The key to understanding dabbing is to realize it’s just a contemporary form of “hot knife” vaporization– a stainless steel (or ceramic or quartz) surface is heated directly and that surface is used to vaporize hash oil below the ~450°F required for actual combustion (remember THC vaporizes around 300°F)– flame is never applied directly to the hash oil. As a result, the vapor contains mostly water and cannabinoids rather than the mix of tar and potentially dangerous aromatic hydrocarbons contained within smoke.

It’s been well established: vaporizing is much healthier than actual smoking. Of course, certain dabbing rigs can present different safety challenges… propane and butane torches require compressed gas which always requires proper storage and safety to avoid explosion. E-nails can also be hazardous if left on and forgotten and knocked over– though they require about as much precaution as a waffle iron.

The Quality of Your Concentrate Is Important

Now that we’ve established that vaporization is less harmful than combustion, its important to consider what exactly you’re vaporizing. Under ideal conditions, your concentrate will be butane-extracted and the solvent purged below the 3ppm taste threshold (though CO2 and pressure-extracted concentrates offer similarly healthy but less potent alternatives). Butane is relatively non-toxic and is often used as a preservative in the food industry. Under such circumstances, concentrates are composed mainly of plant resin and offer the purest form of cannabinoids available on the market. Very high quality concentrates are also able to capture volatile terpenes stored within the cannabis plant which provide “entourage medicinal effects” and contribute to a concentrate’s flavor.

Of course, dabbing poorly-made concentrate can be just as detrimental to your health as smoking. Amateurs chemists like professional janitor Rick Simpson have become famous for perpetuating “light naptha-based” concentrates, solvents which are not available commercially without severe adulteration of highly toxic chemicals. These solvents are absolutely not safe for use with any product intended for human consumption and concentrates made this way present a serious threat to both the health of patients and the legitimacy of marijuana as medicine.

Negative Health Effects from THC?

Despite the greatly elevated levels of THC in concentrates, there has still yet to be a single case of marijuana overdose in the history of time (and believe me, some folks are out there trying). Still, there are certain hazards to consider with such elevated concentrations of THC. Such high levels of THC can quickly lead to increased tolerance, dependence, and more pronounced withdrawal effects upon cessation of marijuana. Some people can also be overwhelmed by the strength of a dab, causing a marijuana-induced panic attack.

While there appears to be no significant long-term effects from smoking marijuana or its concentrates, more research is needed to fully understand the long-term physical and mental impacts it has on human beings. Until the federal government is willing to clear the way for researchers to do what they do best, we may never have a clear understanding of how marijuana affects our health in the long-run. Still, it would appear that dabbing presents no significant health risks and may provide a healthier alternative to traditional combustion of marijuana.

As states being to legislate their own rules regarding marijuana, we’ll likely see this topic appear more and more– hopefully that will drive the government to reconsider its position so a serious long-term study can be performed.

Vaping Technology for 2015 and Beyond

futureofvapingVaporization has been unanimously considered the healthiest, safest way to consume cannabis for a decade. The original “box vape” was developed by Vaporbrothers in 1999 but it wasn’t until the mid-2000s when the Storz & Bickel Volcano became popular that people began to take vaporization seriously. Since then, a series of revelations about medical marijuana have driven some major advancements in vapor technology leading to wide range of options being available to the consumer today. Here are a few of the more important ways that vapor technology has changed for the better:

Portability

Though there had been many attempts before, it wasn’t until a few years ago that we began to see truly portable, efficient dry-herb vaporizers make their way on to the market (thanks to a wider availability of lithium-ion batteries). Products like the Pax the Mighty (made by the same makers as the Volcano) and the Magic Flight Box have proven to be popular solutions for people looking to take vapor hits on the go. Both the Pax and the Mighty offer similar, high quality experiences but the Mighty offers a full-convection experience (only hot air comes in contact with the herb) making it bulkier.

Airflow

da budda vaporizerWith the popularity of convection vaporizers like the Volcano, it was only a matter of time before people become concerned with how airflow affected vapor flavor and strength. The electronics inside vaporizers (especially cheaper, Chinese-made models) let off small amounts of potentially toxic gas as the resins used for manufacture heat-up and degrade. Though most vaporizer companies ignore this in their design, the company 7th Floor from Colorado makes their vaporizers with heating element completely isolated from the electronics offering the cleanest, most efficient airflow possible. Da Budda and  Silver Surfer vapes are each made 100% in the U.S.A., can be custom designed, and feature a little hand-blown glass art making each one of a kind. They have a unit that’s been running constantly for almost 6 years that’s still going strong.

Dynamic Temperature Control

We know terpenes and other volatile compounds in cannabis have beneficial medicinal entourage effects so it’s only natural that a vaporizer would directly address a way to obtain the maximum benefits from these compounds. Many people set their vaporizers to a single temperature but in order to coax out the maximum number of terpenes without damaging them, it requires a dynamic range of temperatures… enter the Firefly. This vape uses a unique ‘dynamic convection’ heating system allowing the user to experience a full profile of volatiles through  slow, controlled heating. Not unlike performing a “frequency sweep” to determine the acoustics of a room, this could very well represent a practical way for consumers to analyze marijuana similarfirefly to how we appreciate wine.

As technology becomes cheaper and more integrated and marijuana use becomes more mainstream, we’re bound to see even more advancements in vapor technology. Until then, there are plenty of comprehensive options available to even the most discerning smoker… combustion is so 2000’s!

Terpenes: Medicinal Benefits and Characteristics

dank budTHC has often been the chief concern of growers, patients and connoisseurs for decades but experiments have shown that Cannabis can contain dozens of active cannabinoids and hundreds of another class of active chemicals known as ‘terpenes.’ Though often overlooked, terpenes have long been known to possess powerful medicinal properties (they are the molecules responsible for many of the odors we know and love) and recent studies have suggested that they may play a more important role in the beneficial effects of cannabis than previously thought.

The cannabis community has always reinforced the anecdote that more odorous (my personal favorite term is ‘louder’) buds tend to be more potent but it wasn’t until 1998 that a scientific connection was be made to identify the synergistic effects between terpenes and cannabinoids. After over a decade of research, an article was finally published in the well-respected British Journal of Pharmacology outlining the potential medicinal properties of terpenes found in cannabis. We’ve outlined his work for a few of the more prevalent terpenes below:

D-Limonene:

  • Has a strong ‘citrusy’ scent and is responsible for the smell of citrus fruits, this is the second most common terpene found in nature.
  • Shown to have strong anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects
  • Being tested as treatment for breast cancer
  • Treats gastro-esophageal reflux
  • Demonstrated to have effective ‘antioxidant’ properties

β-Myrcene:

  • Found in hops, bay leaves and eucalyptus and fresh mango
  • Strong anti-inflammatory properties
  • Shown to prevent liver cancer
  • Has a sedative effect that may be associated with “couch lock” when combined with THC

α-Pinene:

  • The single most common terpene found in nature, responsible for ‘piney’ odors.
  • Insect repellant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Bronchodilator at low concentrations (opens breathing passages in the lungs)
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotic properties with ‘prominent activity against MRSA’
  • Appears to aid with short-term memory by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase (a neurotransmitter)

D-Linalool:

  • Responsible for the scent of Lavender
  • shown to have strong anti-anxiety properties
  • Sedative properties
  • Effective local anesthetic
  • Anti-convulsant

β-Caryophyllene:

  • The most common terpene found in decarboxylated cannabis extracts, has a ‘black pepper’ scent
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Shown to be effective in treating stomach ulcers
  • May have anti-malarial properties

Nerolidol:

  • Found in lesser concentrations in orange peels
  • Used to fight colon cancers
  • has strong skin-penetrating properties and may be useful in treating fungal growth

Caryophyllene oxide:

  • Common to lemon balm and Eucalyptus, this terpene is responsible for the scent detected by drug-sniffing dogs
  • Strong broad-spectrum anti-fungal
  • Shown to be an effective anti-coagulant in vitro

As you can plainly see, cannabinoids are not the only factor at work when it comes to the real medicinal properties of cannabis. Still, many growers and “concentrate artists” still take little care to ensure that these volatile terpenes are preserved during processing (they begin to decrease in concentration as soon as a plant is harvested and over purging only accelerates that process). Armed with the information we now have, it’s up to providers to ensure that these compounds are preserved and it’s imperative that the federal government remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act so that more research can be done.