Terpenes are what makes cannabis possible

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What are terpenes?

Terpenes are what makes cannabis possible. THC and CBD are in terpenes. You may be familiar with the terpenes produced by pine trees. Terpenes are an aromatic organic hydrocarbon. This is where the smell and aroma of the tree originates. The resin of a pine tree is the sap and can be used in essential oils.

“Stinging nettle” is a plant, many would call it a weed, found in many parts of the world. The plant has small little crystals on its leaves. This is what makes it sting.

Cannabis also has tiny crystals on it. Except instead of stinging you, it sticks to your fingers. Cannabis is, after all, the “sticky-icky-icky” as per American rapper Snoop Dogg. The little crystals on the cannabis plant won’t sting you, they will stick to you. This is where all the THC is found.

If your cannabis is lacking these “crystals” or, more accurately, terpenes, then you do not have a good bud. The more “caked” a cannabis plant is in these terpenes, the more potent it is, the higher the aroma it carries, and for many connoisseurs, the tastier it is.

Shatter and other Extractions

Extraction methods can turn cannabis plants into a glass-like substance. This process isolates the terpenes and flushes the plant of all its carcinogens. You then vaporize the extracted cannabis product.

Known as shatter, this is cannabis-derived to its terpene essence. The consumer is not only getting a potent hit with one toke, but tasting aromas one can’t replicate by burning the plant substance.

This latter method of consumption is popular among medicinal patients who require high dosages for pain management. But it is also regularly demonized in the media likely due to its high-potency and lack of understanding among medical professionals. Certainly, heating your consumption device with a hand-held torch sends a different message than using matches or a Bic lighter.

Yet, shatter continues to be popular, especially among Canada’s medical cannabis population. Although it remains to be seen how they’ll manage under recreational legalization.

All previous medical regulations have been absorbed into the new legal framework. For better or worse, medical cannabis in Canada has become an afterthought for cannabis producers and lawmakers.

Instead of crafting regulations geared towards medical patients, the government has interpreted their court-mandated duty to “provide reasonable access” as completed under recreational legalization. With plenty of stores and producers to buy from, medical patients are instead given the choice of writing off their cannabis purchases as medical expenses. They also have more leeway when it comes to public consumption and operating heavy machinery. But this varies, province to province.

Treating cannabis as a gift

It’s hard to say why one plant works for so many different people for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we share an evolutionary history with the plant. Perhaps a higher power put it here for us to consume. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, a sort-of “it is what it is” situation. What’s the saying? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth? Perhaps this is how we should approach the topic. Whether it’s terpenes or the differences between sativa and indica plants.


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