Consider the following scenario. You’re putting together a nice dinner for yourself and your partner. You walk into a liquor store in search of the ideal alcoholic beverage to complement your meal’s flavours. Do you approach the merchant and request the bottle with the greatest alcohol percentage? Most certainly not, considering Everclear’s flavour isn’t that appealing.

However, since the legalisation of marijuana in several states, many shops in the United States indicate that medicinal patients and recreational users alike tend to do just that when choosing strains. “Which one has the highest THC content?” budtenders are frequently asked, implying that anything with a lesser value isn’t worth their money. However, nothing could be further from the truth. After all, why do you drink a beer sometimes, a glass of wine another time, and a smooth whiskey on the rocks another night?

Choosing cannabis strains simply on the basis of THC level is akin to drinking the worst swill at the bar merely because it has a high alcohol content. By doing so, the user not only misses out on the strain’s rich fragrances and flavours, but also on the positive effects that can be imparted through a strain’s unique terpene profile.

Terpenes are essential oils that control all of these variables and distinguish each strain. We get what’s known as a “entourage effect” when the cannabinoid content — substances like THC or CBD — is combined with the cannabinoid content, which ultimately determines what type of advantages you can get from a certain strain. In fact, it’s nearly to the point where a person can pinpoint exactly what they want a strain to do for them, and by studying the effects of different terpenes and a little trial-and-error, they may identify the ideal strain for their requirements.

Examine your terpenes to see if Fire OG is suited for you.

Many of these discoveries have been developed “in the field” by clandestine cannabis users due to the minimal scientific research done on marijuana in the United States.

“It’s almost as if the rest of the scientific community is living in the present, but when it comes to marijuana, we’re at the vanguard of the scientific revolution,” says Adam Laikin, Tryke’s Director of Marketing.

Darin Carpenter, Tryke’s Director of Cultivation, is passionate about terpene science. We met with him to learn more about the remarkable discoveries that are taking place in this space.

Darin Carpenter, Tryke Companies’ Director of Cultivation

Darin Carpenter: I believe that back in the underground days, people were looking at terpenes — whether they knew it or not — because terpenes are what give cannabis its fragrance. Some people love fragrances that are particularly strong and pungent. Others enjoy scents that are sweet. Other growers were adamant about not smelling anything. But it was all based on the terpene concentration and composition.

Terpenes became more of a focus of attention recently, I believe, when states began requiring analytical labs to evaluate the varied potencies of various chemicals. People began to seriously question the effects and combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids as a result of this.

What are some good instances of how the entourage effect works or how cultivators determine which components of a strain will work together?

It’s called synergy when several things work together to enhance an effect. The unique effect is often provided when cannabinoids are combined with terpenes and specific amounts of them. What science now knows is that the combination of those terpenes has the most influence on the sort of reaction and intensity one gets from cannabis consumption.

Cannabinoids have a very specific effect, but terpenes magnify that effect and shift it to a more precise subset, whether it’s anti-anxiety, pain relief, or aiding people with insomnia, for example. CBD, for example, is a well-known neuroprotectant. So that’s how it works, aiding folks with seizures and so on. People who consume a CBD plant with one terpene profile may experience a different effect than those who consume a CBD plant with a different terpene profile.

Users can utilise Leafly’s terpene chart to better choose their cannabis strains.

For example, myrcene emits a pleasant aroma that is more associated with indica plants. Then there’s limonene, which has a citrus scent and is more prevalent in sativas. There are about 200 different terpenes, and their molecular composition determines their odour and function.

I believe that there is a lot more testing that needs to be done. Certain laboratories are increasing the number of terpenes and cannabinoids they are looking for in order to better understand the entourage impact of a genetic’s molecular profile and how it affects individuals. You can break down the terpenes into core groups, but there may be other compounds that are improving that core group for the overall benefit. There is still a lot of work to be done.

Isn’t it because there are so many possible combinations?

Right. So, for example, Medusa, some people simply despise her. It is ineffective for them. However, it could be the item that relieves my suffering. It could be something that helps me cope with anxiety or a symptom I’m attempting to manage. One strain may be effective for you, but it may not be effective for me. One may make you feel peaceful and at ease, while the other may make me feel uneasy.

“I have to have the maximum THC percentage,” everyone insists. It’s not about that for me. It’s all about the effect and finding the right strain for you. Yes, THC has a psychoactive effect, however some of the better strains do not have a high THC content. Its potency comes from the combination of tastes and terpenes, which are combined with THC and cannabinoids. People regard THC as a bargain, as in “I’m paying $25 for an eighth, and this one has 30% THC.” Why would I spend $35 or $45 on something that only has a 15% return on investment?” They could discover that it’s not all THC if they try it. Because of the terpene/cannabinoid profile that works best for them, they may have a superior effect, taste, and experience.

Because it is extremely difficult to study cannabis in the United States due to federal law, there isn’t a lot of scientific research done on marijuana, right?

In the United States, there isn’t much. The majority of the study is being done in Israel and England.

That brings up another point: a lot of “testing” takes place in the field, with people saying things like “This worked for me, this didn’t,” and so on. Isn’t it true that such discoveries are becoming “viral” among the cannabis world as a result of word-of-mouth?

Yeah. Many of the males in Mendocino and Santa Rosa, often known as the Emerald Triangle, were cultivating and breeding what worked for them and spoke to them. That’s been the case, but no one that I’m aware of has undertaken a targeted breeding programme to establish strains for a library with a wide variety of specific effects, quality, and yield.

Reef Dispensaries in Las Vegas provide a variety of strains.

So, do you think folks who buy cannabis just because of its high THC content are being naive?

The concentration of psychotropic chemicals in the flower isn’t necessarily the deciding factor. That effect is caused by the interaction of terpenes and cannabinoids. So, if someone is looking for something, they don’t have to go for the strain with the highest potency. Yes, it might work for them, but there are other possibilities as well.

I despise high-priced beers. If you take a very craft, microbrew with a high number of hops, it tastes too bitter to me. It isn’t enough to quench my thirst. When it comes to beer, I love a variety of flavours. I believe that while educating patients, we should explain that in most circumstances, you will still obtain the intended effect, and as a result, you should appreciate something with a flavour profile, fragrance, and appearance that speaks to you and regulates your particular symptoms.

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