Before joining MCR Labs, I was once a budtender. Filled with ambition and a budding passion for cannabis, I was excited to help those who entered our doors to find the right cannabis product for them. Little did I know, about 95% of those who walked through our doors would hit me with the same question:
“What is the highest THC product that you have?”.
While I firmly believe no question is a stupid question, it has played its part in impeding the cannabis industry’s progression. A budtender’s knowledge of the cannabis their dispensary is offering has a significant effect on the consumer’s ability to make an informed decision on their cannabis use. Therefore, there needs to be a push past this obsession with high THC numbers, and more of cannabis in its entirety.
With that in mind, the following is a quick crash course into the different components that should be considered when purchasing cannabis.
The Other Cannabinoids
When looking at a cannabis product within a dispensary, you will notice a label that lists different cannabinoids along with percentages and milligrams per serving. The two that most tend to look at are THC and CBD. However, there is more to cannabis than just THC and CBD. Some other cannabinoids we have found to be present in samples are:
- CBGA/CBG: Known as the “mother of all cannabinoids,” it is the precursor to all other cannabinoids. Its potential medical benefits include anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immunosuppressive, and anti-tumor.
- CBN: Through excessive heat, light, or air THCA is converted into CBN. CBN is known to be a very soothing cannabinoid. Other potential medical benefits include appetite stimulant, pain reduction, and anti-tumor.
- CBC: Though it is considered a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, it has demonstrated powerful pain-reduction effects. Other potential medical benefits include anti-depressant, anti-epileptic, and anti-microbial.
- THCV: Though it is a psychoactive cannabinoid, it does need a larger dose to be effective. Some potential medical benefits include being an appetite suppressant, anti-diabetic, and anti-nausea.
Though this is a shortlist, we have a long list of cannabinoids within the scope we test for. Those cannabinoids include Delta 8-THC, Delta 9-THC, CBL, CBT, THCVA, and others that can be found here.
The critical thing to remember here is that though THCA and THC will be the most prominent cannabinoids present, other cannabinoids could assist you in achieving the desired result.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why does a lemon smell and taste citrusy?” Well, the answer to that question would be limonene, a terpene. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in a variety of plants, including cannabis. Though they are the main component in creating a unique aroma, they are also known to provide medical benefits. Here at the lab, we test for terpenes daily. Here are a few of the most common ones we see and their medical benefits.
- Caryophyllene: Often found in black pepper and cinnamon, this terpene is known to have a spicy/peppery taste. Some of the potential benefits include anti-cancer treatment, pain reduction, and helps with anxiety/depression.
- Limonene: Often found in citrus rinds, it is known to have a citrus flavor. Some potential benefits include inflammation reduction, can reduce anxiety, and help with sleep deprivation.
- Myrcene: Often found in hops and thyme, this terpene has a musky flavor and somewhat earthy flavor. Some potential benefits include help with sleep deprivation, arthritis, and spasms.
- Linalool: Often found in lavender, it has a floral and sweet taste. Some potential benefits include assisting with anxiety/depression, inducing a calming effect, and an active anti-inflammatory.
- Pinene: Found in rosemary and pine needles, this terpene has a pine taste to it. Pinene is also the most common terpene found in nature. Potential benefits include anti-depression, anti-inflammatory, help in treating pain.
Though the terpenes listed above are among the most common, there is still 100 plus that has been identified in cannabis and counting. A complete list of other terpenes we test for can be found here.
What is important to note here is that, alongside cannabinoids, terpenes play an essential role in creating your cannabis experience. Each terpene has something to offer, which pushes the importance of knowing what is in your cannabis to ensure that you are creating an experience that is right for you.
The COA and Testing
For those who don’t know, every product on the legal cannabis market in Massachusetts must be tested before landing on store shelves. The tests performed can vary depending on the product type. When it comes to flower, all products must be screened for microbial contaminants, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and pesticides, in addition to the cannabinoid potency profile.
So, why does all of this matter? Well, no matter what type of product you are purchasing all these results are reported on to what we call a COA, otherwise known as a Certificate of Analysis. This document is provided to all who have their products tested with us. More importantly, this document gives a full breakdown of not only the cannabinoids present but also the tests performed and their results. Though we cannot release documentation to the public per our confidentiality agreements, your dispensary of choice should have them on hand.
Though very brief, the sheer variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, and testing options listed above are a great place to start and understand the importance of knowing what is in your product. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cannabis. Of course, other factors are at play in your cannabis experience, such as the Endocannabinoid System.
Whether you are a patient or a recreational user, it is highly recommended you do your research and see what different cannabinoids and terpenes are available. This curiosity will only improve your cannabis experience and push the industry towards a more data and science-focused future.
For an in-depth look at different cannabinoids and terpenes not mentioned above, make sure to check out our Cannabis Review.