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The Importance of Terpenes in Cannabis

You read in last month’s issue that the strain name of the cannabis you purchase may not be as big of a factor as you may think. Now, I’m not telling you to disregard the name completely, but use it more as a guide to what type of profile that cannabis is likely to have. We will never know the exact genetics of cannabis because of the many factors that can go into breeding and producing strains in different states with different grows and licenses as well as growers breeding their own genetics and crossbreeding and so on and so forth. The only way to know is by growing your own and, even then, it can sometimes be difficult. If a strain has a particular name, then you at least know that breeder or grower is going after a specific profile similar to that strain that was originally bred.

When most people shop at a dispensary, they mostly look for two things, the strain name and the THC percentage. Now, I have already explained about the name, but what about the THC? Well, I’m here to tell you THC is also not as an important factor as you may think when looking for cannabis products. You may be asking yourself, “but THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, how is a higher percentage of the main psychoactive ingredient not an important factor?” Well, it’s really not as important as you think for a couple reasons. One being that THC is not a true sign of potency and another being that THC is not the only psychoactive component in cannabis.

What people really should be shopping for is the quality of the products and the effects they give you. What you want to look out for is pungency. This has been very difficult during the Covid era. Companies that prepack their flower may be hard as well, so again, unfortunately this comes down to trial and error and finding the quality and non quality products. You may find a high testing strain, but if you can barely smell that cannabis or it has no odor, that means the terpenes have evaporated out of the plant.

Terpenes are the living hydrocarbon chains that produce the smell molecules, not only in cannabis, but all plants. Terpenes do not only produce the various scents we recognize in individual strains; these molecules are also psychoactive components in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are what actually determine whether your flower is going to be a stimulant or a sedative. So, if you can smell your flower, the more pungent the better and as I have said in many reviews, I always trust my nose. That’s because I know the effects that certain terpenes give me by the smell they produce.

The amount of THC in an herb is the percentage by weight of the herb to the THC. That percentage of THC does not necessarily reflect the amount you’re going to receive, nor how much of it will have effect. The effects of cannabis are felt when the psychoactive components, the THC, terpenes and other cannabinoids, cross the blood brain barrier. The blood brain barrier is basically the filter for microorganisms, chemicals and bacteria. So, obviously, the more THC, the higher potential for it to cross the blood brain barrier.

Here’s the deal though, say you’ve got a flower that’s 25% THC and another 10 to 12% THC. How is it possible that the herb with half the THC can get you twice as high? Well, if the bud that has the higher THC is old (because it takes longer for a dispensary to sell or really wasn’t taken care of during the curing process) then those terpenes which are important psychoactive components left in a constant state of evaporation are no longer there. With there being less psychoactive components, there will not be as many cannabinoids crossing the blood brain barrier which will have a milder effect regardless of THC percentage.

So, as I said before, it’s all a game of trial and error. With us not being able to smell samples, it makes it difficult to determine quality before purchasing, but still use these strain names as a guide to learn which terpenes they carry and which ones work for you. Most people like sativas due to the fact that they keep them up and energized. This is due to the sweet and citrus terpenes most sativa strains carry. Whereas most indicas have those gas and pine and more earthy terpene profiles. Except, I enjoy sativa strains because those terpenes have a calming effect on me whereas indicas are not really very uplifting but a bit more energetic for me.

If you want to try some low testing strains, I suggest you try the Mac Daddy 22 from Grow Sciences. One of my all time favorite strains actually is a low testing strain and can be found at Reef. Grown by Tryke, Purple Apricot is hands down one of my go to strains and I don’t think I have ever seen it rest above 16% THC. Next time you’re at the dispensary, instead of asking for the highest testing, ask the budtender if they know the stinkiest. Hell, get them both to do a comparison and let me know how it went. Stay high Stay safe and have a Happy Halloween.



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