Cannabis Primer

Why We Don’t Carry 40 strains

Many dispensaries choose to carry far more strains than we do, which may fit their philosophy of giving patients the greatest possible choice, but there are 3 primary reasons why our selection is far more curated.

1. Quantity is not the same as variety.
Variety is created by understanding which differences are important and should be highlighted. Each product we carry serves a purpose within a range of medicinal and aesthetic qualities. We select products with varying degrees of THC, CBD, CBN; products with differing side effects; products with unique aromas and visual properties. This is how a selection is curated. As easy as it would be to place strains on a chart and tell you which ones are suited for which conditions, this is an overly simplistic and insufficient approach. Choosing optimal products for patients is a nuanced process that will always involve trial and error. 

2. Freshness.
The best way to offer variety while maintaining the integrity of the product is to have a constantly rotating selection. By selling out of products quickly, we can ensure freshness.   How long does it take to sell 40 different strains? We can only guess, but patients would very probably be buying products that are several weeks old. Over that time, oxidation degrades THC and reduces moisture content, resulting in loss of aroma and a harsher smoking experience. When we receive new inventory it is immediately vacuum-packed and stored in a temperature controlled environment. Even so, we are constantly racing against the clock to ensure the freshest product.

3. Excellence over strain recognition.  
We often pass on strains that excite us in general, but which display poor lab results. The strain and genetics that a grower uses only tells us the potential; how the plant was cultivated will determine whether or not its potential was met. When we see a Durban Poison with a high CBN count and sub 15% THC, we do not purchase it, although it is one of our favorites. We do not purchase it because that is not the profile an outstanding Durban Poison should present and our patients would not be served by offering it simply because of the name. On the other hand, when we’ve seen see a batch of Gorilla Glue #4 from Revolution testing at 22% THC, or Skywalker from Natures Grace and Wellness testing near 25% THC, we buy the entire lot.

Our selection is curated with the belief that offering the best products is the highest possible form of customer service.  We hope you agree.

Why We Display All Our Flower

Lab results and strain lineage can tell part of the story, but in order to fully understand product it has to been seen – as well as felt and smelled. This is why we display everything we sell, both in-store and online, and why we personally handle samples of everything that comes through our doors.  With flower, this is some of what we look for:

1.  Structure: the outermost sepal (or calyx) structure of the bud should not be stacked on top of each other (“fox tailing”) or loosely grouped together (“larfy”). These traits indicate that the growing conditions were sub-optimal – usually some combination of too much heat or too much humidity.

2. Cure: the curing process is among the most important factors in producing quality flower.  The goal after the initial drying phase is to bring moisture from the stems back into the flower. If flower is dried too quickly the buds will become brittle and pulverize to dust upon grinding. This leads to a smoke that is harsh to the throat and burns too quickly. Rapid drying will also deteriorate volatile aromatics, or terpenes, diminishing flavor and effect. Overly wet flower, on the other hand, will take on the smell of grass or hay, and also leads to a harsh smoke, although it is harsh on the lungs as opposed to the throat.  Wet flower can also be susceptible to mold during long term storage. The ideal range of moisture usually falls between 7%-11%.  To the touch, buds should be spongy, with only a slight crunchy texture on the very outer parts of the nug.

3. Size: bud size reveals how a grower sorts and grades harvested flower. Larger buds come from the top of the plant, are closer to the light source and are generally more potent and have a greater density of trichomes than smaller buds, which are from lower down on the plant and generally less potent. When a grower harvests a batch of plants, they may sort by size, choosing to group all large bugs together, typically referred to as “A” nugs; or they may choose to mix varying sizes together into one container. The most particular growers (and the ones we like most) will sort by bud size as well as by plant. This means any particular container will have all “A” buds from a single plant. The advantage is not only increased quality but consistency.

4. Color: no color is inherently better than another, although each strain has an ideal range of appearance. Color can also be indicative of plant placement – buds located closer to the top will present more vibrant colors that are indicative of that particular strain. If a Grand Daddy Purp is lacking a strong showing of purple, for example, it suggests that the buds are of a lower grade or that there is an issue with the genetics or the growers protocols.

The Skinny on Decarboxylation

The cannabis plant doesn’t make THC or CBD. Instead, the natural form of these compounds are in their acid form (THC-A and CBD-A) and only become useful to ingest when it is decarboxylated (converted from the acid form to one without a bunch of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms clinging to them). Decarboxylation occurs a little during the drying and curing process (which is why some small amount of THC and CBD show up in the lab reports), but occurs completely when heated – which is what happens during smoking, vaping or cooking, and also why you won’t feel any effects from eating the raw plant.

However, you can’t just add the THC-A and THC to arrive at the Total THC because 12.3% of the THC-A content is made up of those acidic atoms, which is lost in the decarboxylation process. The correct formula (and the same numbers hold for CBD as well)  is this:

(THC-A) * (.877) + THC = Total THC

So if someone says they have this amazing bud that has 28% THC because the labs say it has 27% THC-A and 1% THC then they are overstating how much actual usable medicine that flower contains.  The real potency of that batch is (27% * .877) + 1% = 24.67%

What We Look For In Concentrates

Just as with flower, a full assessment of a concentrate’s quality must include a visual inspection.  Here are some reasons why:

1. Color: good waxes can vary in coloration. A wax that is a dark brown might be fine if it is a BHO extract, but it’s a bad sign if it was made using CO2. A green hue means that it contains chlorophyll, i.e., plant matter, either because the starting material was low-grade or the refinement process was poor. It signals a lack of purity and will create a poor taste. This is a color we never want to see.

2. Texture: concentrates have all kinds of names (crumble, honeycomb, budder and just plain wax, and there are plenty more). In some cases, the extractor decides on the type of wax only after seeing the results; other times the extractor works to achieve a specific, pre-planned outcome. With the exception of shatter, the distinctions usually come down to a matter of preference rather than quality but, either way, we look to make sure the final product matches the name.  With shatter, however, the standards are considerably higher. Concentrates get their waxy texture from the plant’s lipids (or fats), but an exemplar shatter should be purified of its lipids (a purer shatter will vaporize more efficiently). This is why it should never pull apart like taffy, it should snap.

3. Clarity: with shatter, cloudiness is caused by small pockets of lipids, so an exemplar shatter will be perfectly clear.