What is cannabis?
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabacea. It is also commonly known as marijuana. The main active drug component in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is one of the 400+ known compounds in the cannabis plant, including a large number of cannabinoids, which can help in treating certain conditions.
What are cannabinoids and what makes cannabis medicine?
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation. These work by imitating compounds our bodies naturally produce, called endocannabinoids, which activate to maintain internal stability and health. More simply, they mediate communication between cells, and when there is a deficiency or problem with our endocannabinoid system, unpleasant symptoms and physical complications occur.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout our brain, called CB-1, and the body, called CB-2. Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. For example, THC binds to receptors in the brain whereas CBN (cannabinol) has a strong affinity for CB-2 receptors located throughout the body. Depending on a cannabis product’s cannabinoid profile, different types of relief and affects are attainable. This concept is the cornerstone of marijuana as medicine, and the results are so promising that these cannabinoids have been synthesized for legal prescription use.
Cannabis contains at least 91+ types of cannabinoids, many of which have documented medical value. Products and strains have been developed to deliver larger doses of different cannabinoids, so knowing which types best treat your symptoms is a handy piece of knowledge to bring to your next dispensary visit.
What are the common types of Cannabis products in the market?
Flower: A general term that refers to the smokable, trichome-covered part of a female cannabis plant. Flower is the most popular form of cannabis due to its versatility, offering numerous consumption methods, such as being smoked using a pipe or bong, or by rolling it into a joint or blunt. As with wine grapes, there are different varietals, or sub-species of cannabis flowers which are called strains and grouped into “categories” referred to as “Sativa”, “Indica” and “Hybrids”. Each strain has a unique flavor and combination of cannabinoids and terpenes which provides a different desired effect and aroma.
Pre-rolls: Pre-rolls, or joints, are filled with cannabis flower. They can also be enhanced with cannabis concentrates at which point they are referred to as “enfused pre-rolls.” Pre-rolls, like flower, are a more traditional method of enjoying cannabis, without the effort of rolling.
Concentrates and Extracts: Substances in which the more desirable properties of cannabis, namely cannabinoids and terpenes, have been isolated. There are many cannabis concentrates in a variety of formats and textures e.g. sauce, sugar, diamonds, crumble, shatter, badder, budder, etc. Non-active forms of concentrate need to be heated to experience their effects.
Vape Pens: A discrete and convenient way to consume cannabis concentrates. A vape pen is handheld device consisting of a battery attached to a Cartridge filled with cannabis concentrate. With a Vape Pen, Concentrates are heated and not burned and instead of smoke, the output is vapor. Because of the lack of smoke and handheld convenience from vape pens, some cannabis users prefer vaping over smoking.
Tinctures: Tinctures are an increasingly popular way to consume cannabis as they are easy to dose and to take. The tincture’s versatility has meant that a growing number of product options are available in today’s modern cannabis market. A tincture is a concentrated extract contained in a liquid, most commonly coconut oil, palm oil, alcohol or glycerin.
Edibles: Edibles are food and beverages infused with cannabis. They can also take the form of capsules. They provide a healthy way to ingest and enjoy cannabis, but may have a longer and more intense effect than inhaled cannabis.
When consuming edibles, like all cannabis, the best advice is to start with a small amount and proceed slowly until you are comfortable with how your individual body responds.
All products are labeled with the number of milligrams in each individual piece. Our suggestion is to start with approximately 1 milligram which can be done by splitting (pill splitter) any of the mints that are on the market today.
Topicals: Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of soreness, inflammation and pain. Topicals are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the cerebral euphoria associated with other delivery methods because they are non-intoxicating. Other transdermal innovations are fast arriving in the cannabis market, including long-lasting patches and lubricants.
What are the common methods of extraction?
Today, there are numerous methods of extraction for cannabis. As of late, methods have become increasingly scientific, largely because of the medical and recreational marijuana industry. The two most common extraction methods for concentrates are BHO (Butane Extraction) and CO2.
BHO is a method of extraction that uses the chemical solvent, butane, to pass over the bud and plant materials. The butane is then separated from the mixture using heat and sometimes a vacuum pump or vacuum oven. The finished product, at room temperature, is typically a golden, soft wax. When heated, it is melted into a clear to yellowish amber oil. At its very purest, the substance is like a thin, hard glass. The substance, usually golden amber, hardens into a thin layer that can be broken down by heat, resulting in butane hash oil.
The end products have been coined as hash oil, sauce, shatter, diamonds, crumble and sugar,. These products are all comparable, and mainly differ in appearance due to the various melting and extraction points.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a supercritical fluid, meaning it converts into a liquid form when pressurized. This supercritical fluid extraction uses carbon dioxide, in liquid form, as the extraction solvent. Like BHO, CO2 is used to strip out different elements in the plant to create pure hash oil. When at or above the critical point for CO2, the gas becomes a liquid. With the case of botanical plant extraction, the solvent is pushed through the plant material at such a high pressure separating the plant from the purest essence of the plant. The end product is transparent amber oil.