I’ve learned from experience that often, in the cannabis industry, consumers aren’t getting the best possible experience from the cannabis products they are purchasing. Now, I’m not saying that current patients are having bad experiences, quite the contrary. This is the best time in the history of our country to start or continue using cannabis. […]
I’ve learned from experience that often, in the cannabis industry, consumers aren’t getting the best possible experience from the cannabis products they are purchasing.
Now, I’m not saying that current patients are having bad experiences, quite the contrary. This is the best time in the history of our country to start or continue using cannabis. The access to and quality of medicine available has never been better. And though I and many others would argue that all cannabis use is medicinal, its increased availability means positive steps forward for both medical and “recreational” use. The issue with new products is that the average user hasn’t been given enough information to make an informed decision on what is best for their specific needs.
When I talk to budtenders or dispensary managers about what drives most purchases, I get the same answer “consumers want the highest THC%”. This makes sense. Many cannabis users and non-users alike have heard of THC and CBD. These two plant components have been publicized so much that people’s grandparents have heard of them, even if they’ve never taken a single hit of a joint. If you are a patient, you generally want the strongest medicine for your dollar, so it makes perfect sense to equate a higher THC% to a better medicinal value. However, if you ask your grandparents about terpenes, flavonoids, and the 100+ other cannabinoids that have been isolated so far in cannabis, you will mostly likely hear crickets and face blank stares.
Those of you who already know about the “entourage effect” are probably starting to get bored, but stay with me because you need to hear this too. The term “entourage effect” doesn’t do justice to the synergistic power of the compounds in this incredible plant. While I certainly appreciate the intention to convey that cannabis as a whole is much more than the sum of its individual parts, the problem is that the use of the word “entourage” in this sense typically makes it seem as if THC and CBD are the stars of the show. When in reality, it’s a whole lot more interesting than that.
The additional elements are an integral part of experiencing the full potential of cannabis. They modulate the THC experience, provide us with added benefits similar to those from other plant-based essential oils, enhance flavor/aroma, can provide different and more potent medicinal benefits, and can completely alter the way we feel when enjoying cannabis.
Just how important are the other compounds beyond THC and CBD? Imagine that up until this point in your life you could only see the world in black and white. Then, imagine I gave you a pill that allowed you to see the color red. You would be amazed by how profound it would feel to experience just one more color. Adding just one piece of the spectrum would change your life completely.
Now, let’s say that I give you an additional pill that allows you to see the color blue. If you went from being able to see no colors to seeing two, you might think seeing red and blue is the most incredible visual experience you’ve ever had. Red and blue would seem like the most important colors in the universe.
Now, let’s say that I have one more trick up my sleeve and gave you a pill that allowed you to see EVERY color. Not only would your experience be exponentially greater, but it would also completely change how you perceive red and blue.
While you would still appreciate them, they would no longer seem like the most important colors in the rainbow. The experience of all of the colors together would dwarf the experience of red and blue on their own, just like focusing on only THC and CBD drastically minimizes the potential experiences that a full spectrum cannabis product could provide.
If you ever smoked “ditch weed” but later in life experienced high quality medical grade cannabis, you’d think you were smoking two different plants. Ditch weed growers aren’t taking care to maintain important compounds in the plant and develop them to full potential while growing. By the time the harvested plant gets to the end user, it’s degraded to the point that the full experience of cannabis cannot be achieved. Most likely by that time, the majority of terpenes have been lost, and likely there wasn’t an amazing amount to begin with, meaning the user is primarily restricted to experiencing the simple sedative effects of THC.
If you live in a legal state and have access to medical grade cannabis, here’s some tips about what to ask for as you learn about the components of different strains:
• When purchasing, ask your budtender for detailed test results. By finding strains with more robust terpene profiles and focusing less on the THC% (beyond a certain threshold), you will most likely get a better bang for your buck.
• Do the same when purchasing infused products like edibles. Pay attention to terpene content. Products can vary widely, depending upon the process of the production facility making them.
• When purchasing concentrates, look at the test results and make sure you see terpene content along with your desired THC%. If you see something like “the clear”, which is 95-98% THC, you shouldn’t be impressed by the high THC%. Instead you should be asking about the label: Where’s the rest of it?
• When you see an edible/infused product with only THC, you can ask: Where’s the rest of it? The information should be readily available to patients, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. “It gives the patients more understanding of lesser known cannabinoids and their therapeutic benefits. It’s important to evaluate the synergistic relationship between the lower concentration cannabinoids and the other chemical compounds of the cannabis plant.” says Ryan Treacy, owner of C4 Laboratories. Lab reports containing these smaller amounts of terpenes and cannabinoids will help you get a full view of what’s contained within your medicine. Do not be afraid to ask your budtender for the information!
As consumers become more savvy and their taste profiles change, manufacturers are beginning to realize that THC on its own just simply won’t do. This means you are less likely to find concentrates completely devoid of terpenes, but to find out which concentrates render you the best payoff, you’ll want to evaluate the terpene portion of the test results rather than the THC%.
Regarding THC content, edibles are a completely different animal than flower or concentrates. When you smoke, the THC you inhale is in the form Delta-9 THC. Many are unaware that when you orally consume Delta-9 THC, it converts in your liver to 11-Hydroxy THC. This creates a distinct effect and is why edibles often take one to two hours to “kick in”. The effects of 11-Hydroxy THC are estimated to be three to six times more psychoactive than Delta-9 THC.
Many patients are satisfied with this because they get a much heavier THC effect through edible consumption. If you are a person battling a serious illness, it could be exactly what you need to allow your body to rest and recover.
Since THC sells itself, manufacturers were determined to fit as much of it as they can into as small of a space as possible. This can lead to an intense and heavily sedative experience, especially for new users. While producers may feel they are giving the customer the best bang for their buck, they could be creating a confusing, and potentially dissatisfying, situation.
For example, when I see an everyday, non-infused, cookie, I usually eat the whole thing without batting an eyelash. If I purchased an infused version, that single cookie may have up to 200mg of THC (or more!), which is a massive dose for most users. This means that unless I go against my natural instincts (see one cookie, eat one cookie), I could be in for an intense and lengthy ride.
This practice of putting as much THC as possible in what would normally be a single serving may seem like good business to manufacturers and seasoned medical users, but I believe that it ultimately deters many users. Eating one whole cookie seems natural, but in this case it could seriously overwhelm a new user and inhibit future use of edibles. You shouldn’t have to cautiously nibble on a few chocolate chips or take one small bite of a cookie to get your desired effect.
Edibles and infused products have the potential to offer so much more! That 200mg of THC is cool and all, but where are all the other amazing compounds found in cannabis? Edibles infused with only THC have ONLY one effect: different degrees of sedation. Edibles that are produced to maintain the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids can have several different effects and enhance a wide range of experiences.
Not only do the effects vary, but smaller doses of THC can be used in combination with these other maintained compounds to produce results that can be just as effective as higher doses. This means new users can have a profound experience on a relatively small dose, and seasoned users can enjoy an upgraded experience without having to repeatedly increase their THC doses to make up for growing tolerances.
Remember, when it comes to edibles we are dealing with an active compound that is three to six times more psychoactive than what we experience by smoking, making it imperative that we maintain these other compounds in order to modulate the effects of the 11-Hydroxy THC. Next month, we will explore some of the Terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids allow us to have experiences with cannabis that go beyond just feeling sleepy.
The next time you are at the dispensary, don’t be afraid to ask for test results. It will give you the power to analyze something other than THC% when making your decision. Over time, you can discover which terpene profiles mesh well with you. If you are lucky enough to find edibles with those “other colors of the rainbow” visible, do me a favor. Buy one, and buy a THC-only edible with the same THC dose. Take them on different days, and write down your thoughts on each. I think that like me, when I made and enjoyed my first “full spectrum” edible, you will truly understand that all milligrams are NOT created equal.
Garrett Gardner is Co-Owner of Higher Concepts LLC – At Higher Concepts LLC, we aim to establish a higher standard and elevate the cannabis industry through superior product design and development, licensing our well-designed products and methods to cannabis production facilities. For business inquiries and more info please visit www.higherconceptsllc.com.