Know Your Terpenes

What Are Terpenes?

When choosing cannabis, many users will focus on two things: indica vs. sativa, and THC percentage.  In most cases these attributes will determine what a customer purchases before scent, taste, or appearance are even considered. This is problematic for a few reasons. One sativa might make you feel happy and relaxed, while another sativa could make you feel anxious and overwhelmed. Similarly, cannabis with a lower THC percentage may give one person a distinct high, while other users may not experience anything. This is where terpenes come in.

The word “terpene” has been part of the cannabis lover’s vocabulary for years now, and is quickly becoming just as prevalent as THC percentages or the “indica vs. sativa” debate. As average users become more educated about cannabis, the concept of terpenes is beginning to become a common topic in our stores. Terpenes are, quite simply, the oils that contribute to the smell, taste, and effects of a substance. There are countless terpenes in our world, and over 200 have been found in different varieties of cannabis. Outside of the cannabis world, terpenes are commonly used in perfumes, flavorings, and essential oil diffusing.

Today we will be discussing some common terpenes found in cannabis, and why terpene profile should be a deciding factor when purchasing cannabis.

“I like cannabis, but I don’t want to be lazy.”

Good news. You don’t have to be! While cannabis is great for relaxation, it is also widely used as a creative stimulant, mood enhancer, and energy booster. Many users associate sativa dominant cultivars with energetic, uplifting effects. In reality, certain terpenes are the culprit for that goofy laugh or that intense focus on your most creative project. In the image below, we detail some terpenes that are generally found in sativa dominant cannabis plants.

“I like cannabis, but it makes me too anxious. I just want to relax.”

If you’re someone who enjoys cannabis for it’s relaxing, calming effects, you probably ask for an indica cultivar when shopping for cannabis. The fact that the cannabis plant was an indica, however, is not necessarily the reason why it makes you sink into the couch or have a good night’s sleep. Terpenes are the culprit here too. The terpenes detailed in the image below are also found in lavender and hops, two very relaxing substances.

How do I figure out what terpenes are for me?

Ask your budtender! Think about why you want to use cannabis; what are you seeking from cannabis? Some users seek energy and focus, while others are more concerned with cancer fighting and appetite stimulant properties. Let us know what you’re trying to accomplish, and we will have something for you.

As a final rule: The Nose Knows. If you smell a jar, and are immediately taken by it’s scent… give it a try!

Bud

Debunking the THC Myth: Why a Higher THC Percentage Isn’t Necessarily Better

THC isn’t everything. Our friends at Phyre do a wonderful job of explaining why in their recent blog post. 

Introduction

Imagine walking into a liquor store in search of the perfect bottle of alcohol. “Which one’s the highest proof?” you ask the clerk, scouring each label for the alcohol content of each.

After carefully reading each label, you walk out with several bottles of 190 proof, 95% alcohol, “might-as-well-be-drinking-battery-acid” Everclear.

Seems unlikely, right? Even ludicrous?

Unfortunately, this scenario is not unlike what’s happening at cannabis retail shops and dispensaries across the (legal) nation: Many consumers are walking in and demanding the highest THC content available, often without realizing that the THC percentage of any particular flower is only one indicator of the resulting high.

You don’t choose your wine or liquor based on alcohol content — so why would you choose your cannabis based on THC percentage?

No cannabis connoisseur I know chooses her weed based primarily on THC content, and here’s why: First, this method overlooks a multitude of factors that contribute to the ultimate effect of any given flower. (Think about the wide array of factors that contribute to the effects of a glass of wine, for example.) Second, it turns out that THC isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of potency in the first place.
Yes, you heard me right: Perhaps the biggest myth about THC is that it has ever been a reliable indicator of potency in the first place.

“The most potent strain I’ve smoked,” said Dr. Donald Land during a Green Flower Media talk, “was in Jamaica and it was 12% THC.”

Phyre co-founder Stefani Malott has had a similar experience:

“This OG Kush is one of my favorite strains,” she explains. “It gives me the giggles, melts away my pain, and it just makes me feel so happy. And at 14%, it hits me a lot harder than most strains testing in the mid to high twenties.”

Maybe you’ve noticed this before, too: lower-testing flower might have hit you harder than expected, or perhaps higher-testing flower has sometimes turned out to be — ahem, slightly underwhelming in effect. Whatever the case, you can almost certainly relate to holding a preference for the effects of a particular strain over those of another.

What causes these kinds of differences among cannabis varieties? If THC content alone cannot reliably explain variations in effect and potency among strains, what can? And if not based primarily on THC content, how should we choose our weed?

We’re glad you asked.

Cracking the THC Code

David Mapes, founder and researcher at Epsilon Research in Sacramento, California, has been researching the therapeutic use of whole plant cannabis for years.

“You must remember that cannabis is not just about cannabinoids [such as THC],” Mapes states. “It also contains numerous types of constituents that are responsible for the various ways that those cannabinoids will act and how the body will react.”

In other words, like your Facebook relationship status, it’s complicated. With over 430 unique compounds identified in the cannabis plant, the way in which the various components interact to create a range of effects and potency levels is complex.

As a simplified analogy, you might think of THC as just one of many colors in an artist’s watercolor palette:

Blue plus yellow = green.
Blue plus red = purple.
Even when both combinations contain the exact same amount of blue, the end result is entirely different.

Likewise, in the context of cannabis, two plants with the exact same THC percentage can produce very different effects and potency levels depending upon the specific combination of additional compounds present in the plant.

It’s not the THC content that matters most, but how the THC combines with other compounds in the plant to create unique synergistic effects of varying magnitude and effect.

For example, you may already know that CBD has been found to soften the effect of THC — so much so that for most people a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD results in a very mild psychoactive effect, if any at all. In comparison, a flower with the same THC content but, say, one-twentieth the amount of CBD would undoubtedly result in a much stronger high for the user.

That’s just one illustration of how the properties of different compounds can interact to create a unique synergistic profile. But in addition to cannabinoids like THC and CBD, what other types of compounds play a central role in determining the effect of any given flower?

If you guessed “terpenes,” you guessed right.

Terpenes are a class of organic hydrocarbons responsible for giving cannabis its glorious range of aromas, from fruity to skunky to earthy and beyond. It turns out that terpenes do much more than provide a pleasing aroma, however: In large part, they are responsible for a vast range of effects that cannot be explained by THC or other cannabinoids alone.

What’s the difference between an Indica and a Sativa? Why is it that two strains with the same THC content can affect an individual so differently? Terpenes, it turns out, have a lot to do with this.

What Combination of Terpenes is Right for You?

Just like a fine whiskey or wine, cannabis comes with many flavors and subtleties, many of which are deeply influenced by the plant’s terpene content. So when selecting your cannabis, it’s important to consider the effects you’re seeking.

Are you using cannabis to relax and unwind? To energize? To aid your sleep, ease your pain, or calm your anxiety? Do you like a heady high or a body high? A lighter or a heavier effect? Do you have any medical concerns you’d like to address using cannabis?

As a starting point for helping you determine your personalized terpene profile, consider the effects of five of the most common terpenes listed below.

Table 1.1: 5 Common Terpenes and Their Respective Effects

How to Determine the Terpene Profile of Your Flower

There are a couple of ways to determine the terpene content of your flower.

The most accurate method is to obtain terpene test results that have been performed by an accredited laboratory. A few forward-thinking dispensaries, including Zion Cannabis in SW Portland, make this easy for you by listing the terpene profiles of each type of flower right on their menu.

Other dispensaries have terpene test results available for some (but not all) of their flower if you inquire, so it never hurts to ask your budtender to dig into a particular flower’s test results and verify whether terpene testing was performed. Here at Phyre, we test all our flower for terpene content. The terpene analyses we receive from our lab look something like this:

 

Pretty cool, right?

In the absence of terpene laboratory tests, you can also utilize your sense of smell to get an idea of the prominent terpenes present in a particular strain. As noted in the chart above, Pinene smells strongly of pine, Limonene smells of citrus, and so on.

Take the THC/Terpene Challenge

Go ahead, we dare you: During your next visit to a dispensary, purchase a variety of different strains ranging in THC, CBD, and terpene content — and try each one out for yourself. Pay careful attention to the smell of each flower, the terpene concentrations as indicated by laboratory testing, and your budtender’s recommendations.

As you consume your cannabis, take note of the subtle (or not so subtle) differences in how each variety affects you. How does your body feel? Do you feel couch-locked or energized, sleepy or creative, anxious or euphoric? How strong of a buzz do you get from each strain in relation to your comfort level?

When a 14% strain knocks you off your ass or you finally find a variety that calms rather than agitates your anxious mind, you’ll know firsthand: There is so much more to cannabis than just THC.

Cannabis Concentrate

Distillate: The cannabis concentrate of the future

distillation | dis·til·la·tion | noun

a: the purification or concentration of a substance, the obtaining of the essence or volatile properties contained in it, or the separation of one substance from another, by such a process.

You may only remember this word from high school chemistry class, but distillation is quickly changing the cannabis industry. Concentrate producers are using innovative distillation techniques to create potent, pure, and clean cannabis distillates that can be dabbed, vaped, eaten, dropped under your tongue… the list goes on.

Where Does A Cannabis Oil Distillate Come From?

Pure, potent cannabis oil distillate does not just appear in the wild. There is a specific scientific process that takes place before users are presented with what may very well be the future of cannabis concentrates. In order to extract THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant a solvent-based (butane, propane, CO2) extraction must be performed first.

The solvent-based extraction removes valuable compounds from the plant itself, however many other compounds remain in the extract. In order to distill down to a more pure form, further refinement is done through the processes of winterization and decarboxylation. Finally, the oil is run through a distillation chamber multiple times to refine the desirable compound (THC or CBD) to its most pure form.

Consuming Cannabis Oil Distillate

As we mentioned above, cannabis distillates have a wide variety of applications that can appeal to just about any type of user. Pure cannabis distillates contain virtually no flavors or aromas, which makes them perfect for practical applications where the cannabis “flavor” is not needed or wanted (think edibles and drinks!). Additionally, these powerful distillates have great medicinal potential because of the small amounts needed to produce strong effects.

With a potential potency of nearly 99%, cannabis oil distillate should not be taken lightly. Check out this simple graph below to get an idea of how potent distillate is compared to flower.

Final Word

While cannabis distillate may be somewhat new to the concentrate market, this well-developed, scientific extraction technique looks to be the next gold standard for cannabis extraction and refinement. While we still love our BHO, CO2, and PHO dabs… cannabis oil distillate is certainly worth trying if you’re looking for the most pure, clean, and potent concentrate.

Marijuana Smile

Cannabis Reactions

People often react very differently to cannabis consumption. For many, it’s a relaxing, even meditative experience, while others often feel anxious and paranoid. Some find a small, light dosage effective. Others need high quantities of extremely strong cannabis to feel any effects at all. So why do our reactions vary so widely? Today, we’ll explore a few fundamental components of our reactions to cannabis consumption.

The Endocannabinoid System

Our bodies process the cannabis plant through the endocannabinoid system. This system helps us maintain homeostasis. It works by producing endocannabinoids, natural chemicals that help our bodies with bioregulation. Endocannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system play a crucial role in regulating a variety of biological functions, including our reaction to chronic stress, nervous system functions, and even our body’s response to cancer.

Cannabinoids are chemicals naturally secreted by the cannabis plant. They mirror the endocannabinoids produced by our body, and interact with the endocannabinoid system in a similar manner. These interactions help cause the plant’s psychoactive effects and therapeutic effects.

THC vs CBD

One of the most well known cannabinoids is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This cannabinoid is primarily responsible for the high we associate with the cannabis plant. It also stimulates appetite, can reduce muscle spasms and vomiting, and relieves pain.  For some, THC can cause anxiety. Understanding your sensitivity to THC can help you better regulate the psychological effects you experience, and help you deal with any feelings of anxiety or paranoia.

You may also be familiar with cannabidiol, or CBD. Unlike THC, cannabidiol does not cause any psychoactive effects. It does, however, produce a wide variety of therapeutic benefits. Early research shows that it may be effective in treating several particularly difficult diseases, including multiple sclerosis, post traumatic stress disorder, and Crohn’s disease. It can also reduce anxiety, and may strengthen the painkilling effects of THC.

While THC and CBD are naturally found in the highest relative quantities of all the cannabinoids, it’s important to remember that there are over 100 different cannabinoids, and they all have different effects. Cannabinol, or CBN, for example, can induce sleep and help relieve pain. Additionally, because everyone has a different endocannabinoid system, different consumers experience some effects more strongly than others.

Other Factors

Cannabinoids are not the only factor at work in our reactions to cannabis. The essential oils of the cannabis plant, called terpenes, can alter the kind of psychoactive effects experienced, as well as what therapeutic benefits result.

Psychological factors are also important. How comfortable you feel with your environment, your mood while consuming cannabis, and what you expect to feel can alter the intensity of psychological effects and whether or not you experience anxiety. Gender may also be a factor — recent research indicates that women may be more sensitive to THC than men. As we explored today, we all experience cannabis differently. So take your time, and find out what works for you.

 

 

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Know Your Type: Cannabis Classifications

If you’re familiar with cannabis basics, you may have heard of two common terms used to describe different types of weed: indicas and sativas. These terms refer to two different species of marijuana, cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. Indicas and sativas look, smell, and taste different. Indicas tend to grow shorter and stockier, while sativas grow taller and thinner. Indica bud may have a purplish appearance.

Indica Verse Sativa

More fundamentally, these differences refer to the plant’s easily observable traits, or its phenotype. While they do correlate with certain effects — indicas are known for their stoney body highs, sativas for their more cerebral high — we’ll have to dig deeper to get a better understanding of what lies behind the many psychoactive effects and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant.

Phenotypes, Genotypes, and Chemotypes

We mentioned that a cannabis plant’s phenotype — its easily observable traits — tends to correlate with certain effects. But correlation doesn’t imply causation, so what causes those pleasing, therapeutic benefits that we associate with marijuana? To get a better understanding of what some of those causes may be, we’ll have to explore two additional terms: genotype and chemotype.

Gentype and Phenotype

A genotype is a living being’s genetic makeup. While phenotype refers to external, observable traits, genotype refers to the genetic, internal blueprint that a being inherits from its parents and ancestors. A genotype outlines the set of possible characteristics that a being could have or pass on to its offspring.

Essential Oil Chemo-Type

While a plant’s genotype refers to its genetic makeup, its chemotype refers to its chemical makeup. That is, what chemical compounds are most prevalent and in what combinations.

Cannabis Types

As noted above, indica and sativa refer to different phenotypes of the cannabis plant. More accurately, they refer to different phenotypic expressions. The plant’s genotype is what outlines the possibilities of what it can taste, smell, look, and feel like, and its phenotype is what actually shows up. That means that even if a plant has a strongly indica-like appearance and smell, it may still be storing some sativa genetics, or vice versa. This can lead to unexpected effects. With the ever-expanding range of hybrid strains out there, mixed genetics are also becoming more and more common, and mixed effects along with them.

Chemotypes in cannabis refer specifically to its THC versus its CBD content. These are two of the better-known cannabinoids, one of the main “active ingredients” in cannabis. Cannabis comes in three different chemical variations, or chemotypes. Type I refers to the so-called “drug type”, meaning that its high THC to low CBD ratio induces psychoactive effects, as well as other therapeutic benefits. Type III refers to the “fiber” or “non-drug type”, also often called hemp, because its high CBD to low THC ratio means that it induces little-to-no psychoactive effects, although it can still offer many therapeutic benefits. Type II is a sort of intermediate.

While these basic chemotypes are helpful for understanding some of the effects a particular strain may have, it is important to remember that there are at least 85 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and that they produce different therapeutic benefits. Cannabinoids are not the only factor at work, either. Terpenes, the essential oils of the cannabis plant that give it particular smells, also play an important role in cannabis’ psychoactive effects and therapeutic benefits.

We hope this breakdown has helped you understand what you’re getting with any one strain, and will help you find what works for you.

Dabbing

Cannabis Ingestion Methods: Dabbing

In our previous two posts, we covered two of the more common methods of consuming cannabis: smoking and vaping. Today, we’ll be moving in a newer and more powerful direction: dabbing.

What is it?

If you have heard of dabbing, you probably know something about its potency. For cannabis, the word ‘dabbing’ comes from ‘dab’, as in, “A dab’ll do ya”. Dabbing has much stronger effects than either smoking or vaping. Dabs hit considerably harder, and they tend to last much longer, too.

Dabbing

Part of the reason dabs are so potent is because of what they are made of. Dabbing refers to a particular way to consume extracts, also called concentrates. These products are so strong because they have high concentrations of cannabinoids — what might be considered the main ‘active ingredient’ in weed. They are produced when solvents strip away much of the cannabis plant itself, but leave large amounts of the cannabinoids behind (and hopefully some terpenes, too).

How do you consume them?

Dabs are consumed using a dab rig. This contraption usually looks something like a bong (though not always). To smoke from a dab rig, a ‘dab’ of extract is lowered onto a super-heated nail — this is where one would find the ‘bowl’ when smoking flower from a bong.

The extreme heat of the nail causes the concentrate to vaporize, rather than combust. The consumer then breathes the vapor in from the pipe. Combined with the already highly concentrated cannabinoid content, this method tends to hit harder than just about any other.

Dabbing vs other methods

The main difference between dabbing and smoking or vaping is that dabbing is simply stronger. That does not mean, however, that your tolerance or how high you want to be are the only factors at work. For those with severe medical needs, such as chronic pain or severe nausea, dabbing may be the only method capable of delivering effective relief.

Additionally, a high cannabinoid content does not exclusively mean a high THC content. Many concentrates focus on high CBD content instead, and some shoot for a more balanced cannabinoid profile, creating different therapeutic effects and serving different medical needs. Of course, whatever your preference, it’s important to be sure that you know what works for you.

Bud

Know Your Bud

For those of you new to cannabis, what’s inside of any variety of ganja can be a bit overwhelming. To help you navigate the sometimes seemingly endless array of weed-related jargon, we’ve prepared an intro for you on the primary source of all your favorite cannabis products: bud, or flower.

What is it?

Bud is the literal flower of the cannabis plant, thus why you may hear it called both bud and flower. It contains weed’s active ingredients: cannabinoids and terpenes.

Cannabinoids and the ECS

Cannabinoids are the chemicals secreted by the cannabis plant. Most people are familiar with the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, as it plays a primary role in cannabis’ psychoactive effects (it gets you stoned). However, there are actually at least 85 cannabinoids, each with a variety of psychoactive effects and/or therapeutic benefits. Cannabinoids interact with your body via the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

The ECS is endogenous to the human body. Your body produces its own version of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids. These help your body maintain homeostasis. How cannabinoids interact with your ECS and the endocannabinoids it produces will help determine both what kind of high you will get and what other therapeutic benefits the plant might yield.

Terpenes

Terpenes are the essential oil of the cannabis plant. They’re what give each variety of bud its own distinctive smell. Terpenes affect the way in which cannabinoids interact with your ECS. They can alter your high, or provide additional therapeutic effects.

Species

Cannabis intended for human consumption comes in two different species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. The third species, Cannabis ruderalis, contains too little cannabinoids and terpenes to be of much interest for cannabis consumers. These species refer to the plant’s phenotype — its easily observable traits, such as its appearance, smell, etc. Generally, sativas are known for their cerebral effects, and indicas for their soothing body effects.

However, since indica and sativa refer to the plant’s external, easily observable traits (and not its cannabinoid and terpene composition or its genetic makeup), it’s hard to say the exact effect of a cannabis plant of either species. Further, most cannabis today is some combination of the two, often referred to as a ‘hybrid’.

Strains

The strain of any cannabis plant refers to its genealogy (its parents, grandparents, etc.) A plant’s strain will tell you if it is an indica, sativa, or a combination of both. They are also generally indicative of its cannabinoid and terpene content, although this varies considerably from grower to grower.

We hope you’ve found this intro helpful. Keep an eye out for further introductory posts on different cannabis products and ingestion methods, and don’t forget to stop by Substance soon to put your weed knowledge to work!

Dab Review: Headband Gold Label by Om Extracts

Here’s what Steve has to say about his recent experience with Headband Gold Label from Om Extracts —

I really have to give it up to the guys over @OMExtracts for their quality lately, and this Headband Gold Label was another brain stopper.

Visually speaking this stuff looks like bright fish eggs, and when you easily pull away exactly how much you’re looking for, you’ll enjoy the sticky crunch consistency.

As usual I went for a low temp flavor dab first, and the flavor was a little on the light side, but definitely got that Headband lemon flavor.

Second dab I went in for the kill, and it was executed. I do have to say it was a little on the harsh side, but I immediately got the “Headband” feeling around the top of my head, and had a decently long lasting experience for me.

So if you’re looking for some stylish new headwear, I think the OM Extracts Headband Gold Label will look nicely on you.

-Steve Hubbard

Thanks, Steve!  Substance is super excited about limited recreational sales of extracts starting on June 2nd.  Recreational marijuana users will be allowed to purchase 1g of CO2 or BHO extract per day.  Start making your wish list today! 

Dab Review: Charlotte’s Webbing Cake from Sterling Gold Extracts

This week I was very excited to review one of my personal favorite processors, Sterling Gold Extracts. They are the in-house extraction team of Liontree Farms in Southern Oregon, and these guys know what they are doing. When it comes to quality and consistency with their products, Sterling Gold Extracts hits the mark every time.

Charlotte’s Webbing Cake has a great 2:1 THC:CBD ratio with 44.8% THC and 23.2% CBD, beautiful color and clarity and a sweetness to the aroma. As expected with a higher CBD content, the consistency is a bit on the sap side, but on a cold morning it pulled and snapped just fine for me.

First dab I went with a nice low-temp nail for flavor. The sweetness and CBD mint combination was delightful, the taste of cake really does come to the palate. Second dab as usual, I went in for the big “Steve Size” dab to see what Charlotte had for me. With that nice 2:1 ratio, the inhale is really nice and smooth even on a higher temp nail, and the experience was just as smooth.

This concentrate really clears the mind in a soft and soothing manner. There was a perfect balance of effects to the head and body and I kept thinking how refreshed I felt with each dab. This would be great concentrate for anytime of day and for all levels of users.

I don’t normally crash weddings, but I’d crash Charlotte’s party for some cake any day.

~ Steve Hubbard

*It’s a pretty rough job sampling these dabs for research purposes, but Steve gets it done like a champ.  Try out our ever-changing selection of extracts at Substance.  We love feedback and want to hear about your experiences!*

Heck Yeah, We Do Sell Recreational Marijuana Here!

Gone are the days of, “Pssst! Hey, do you know where we can score some pot?” It is now legal for participating Oregon Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to sell marijuana to adults who are 21 or over.

That’s right, folks, you can all (21 and over) come in to Substance and buy marijuana from us, legally. For real.  No code words or secret handshakes are necessary. You know what makes us extra awesome? We accept credit and debit cards, so you don’t even need to drive by the ATM first.

Oregon Recreational Marijuana law states that we may sell up to 7 grams – 1/4 ounce – of flower per day to someone who is at least 21 years old.  We also have seed packets available and a list of clones that are available to pre-order.

Due to the high demand of our client base, we rotate through a variety of marijuana flowers –buds – and our selection is always changing.  Flower is packaged in 1 gram, 3.5 gram, and 7 gram bags and we have a wide selection of pre-rolled joints available.  We also carry a selection of pipes, grinders, lighters, and other non-medicated items.

Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) cardholders have their own sales island and are allowed to purchase all of our flower products as well as our tinctures, edibles, concentrates, oils, candy and beverages.  Unfortunately, those products will not be available for the recreational users until the end of 2016 due to pending legislation.  We highly recommend you obtain your medical card to have access to all of our delicious products.

Please be respectful and don’t spark it up in our parking lot.