The cannabis plant has a complex composition, with over 100 different compounds found in the plant. Each of which has its unique effects on the human body. The two most well-known compounds in cannabis are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The primary psychoactive component in cannabis is THC, and it causes the “high” associated with its use. On the other hand, CBD has non-psychoactive properties and is known for its medicinal benefits.
However, a recent study out of Oregon shows that there is another critical aspect of the cannabis plant that plays a crucial role in determining its quality and subjective effect – its aroma. Terpenes determine the aroma and flavor of the cannabis plant. The combination of these compounds are responsible for the plant’s distinctive smell and taste.
The Importance of Terpenes in Cannabis
Many plants contain these magical compounds that play a vital role in nature. In the case of cannabis, terpenes determine not only the aroma but also the plant’s flavor, color, and potency.
Terpenes are like the superheroes of the plant world. They attract pollinators, ward off herbivores, and protect the plant from environmental stressors. When combined with other compounds such as THC and CBD, they can create a range of effects from sedative to uplifting.
Have you ever wondered why some strains of cannabis leave you feeling calm and relaxed while others give you an energetic buzz? The answer lies in the terpenes! Studies have shown that different terpenes have different effects on the human body. For instance, myrcene is known for its soothing properties, and limonene is famous for its euphoric and uplifting effects.
Imagine if you could enhance the quality and subjective effect of cannabis by combining the right mix of terpenes? That’s exactly what happens when different terpenes work together in a synergistic effect, known as the ‘entourage effect.’ This is why it’s crucial for cannabis growers to pay attention to the plant’s terpene profile. A plant with high terpene content is more likely to produce high-quality and potent cannabis. Conversely, a low terpene content may result in an underwhelming high.
The Nose Knows: An Oregon Study
A recent study in Oregon put the power of judgment in the hands of volunteer judges at the Cultivation Classic cannabis competition. With 276 judges evaluating a total of 278 cannabis flower samples over two consecutive annual events, the competition was a true test of quality.
The judges evaluated 144 samples in the first competition in 2019, and134 samples in 2020. The organizers provided each judge with a kit containing 8 to 10 one-gram sealed glass jars of cannabis. Their job is to sample each strain and rate them based on subjective effects and aroma.
The judges used a 15-item questionnaire to rate the samples, with questions about overall effects and aroma on a scale. The organizers requested that they consume the samples “mindfully” and report any possible adverse side effects and their level of enjoyment. The organizers instructed the volunteers to abstain from consuming any cannabis for 48 hours before sampling the kit to ensure accurate evaluations.
THC is Not the Most Prized Factor in Enjoying Cannabis
The findings were both unexpected and illuminating. The researchers conducted a comprehensive investigation of 3,063 separate sessions. The goal was to explore the correlation between THC, CBD, and terpene levels and their influence on the overall experience.
Defying conventional wisdom, the study uncovered no connection between the potency of THC or terpene levels and the subjective enjoyment or undesirable side effects of cannabis use. Instead, the researchers found that the most impactful factor contributing to positive experiences among the volunteer judges was the appealing scent of the flower. Interestingly, the levels of terpenes were not directly tied to the subjective experience of the participants.
Interestingly, the mode of consumption had a marked impact on the subjective experience of the volunteers. The results of smoking the flower in a joint, bong, or dry herb vaporizer were divergent. Moreover, there was a slight but statistically significant difference in responses between male and female volunteers. Males reported a slightly stronger enjoyment of high-THC cannabis samples compared to females.
Another noteworthy observation was the role of age in the subjective enjoyment of cannabis consumption. The results showed that older volunteers aged 40 and above reported higher enjoyment levels than those under 40. Furthermore, those aged 60 and older reported the greatest enjoyment levels of all the age groups.
Finally, the study emphasized the importance of moderation in experiencing the benefits of cannabis consumption. Participants who consumed smaller amounts of each sample reported higher satisfaction levels than those who consumed more.
Enhancing the Quality and Potency of Cannabis through Terpene Manipulation
One of the ways to enhance the quality and potency of cannabis is by manipulating the terpene content of the plant. Growers achieve this through various methods, including selective breeding, genetic manipulation, and terpene supplementation.
Selective breeding involves the selection of plants with desirable traits, such as high terpene content and potency. Then, crossbreeding them to produce offspring with those traits. Genetic manipulation involves the introduction of foreign DNA into the plant. Thus allowing for the expression of specific genes and the manipulation of the plant’s terpene content. Terpene supplementation consists of the addition of terpenes to the plant after it has been harvested, enhancing its aroma, flavor, and overall quality.
While manipulating the terpene content of the plant can be an effective way to enhance its quality and potency, it is important to remember that this should be done with caution. Improper manipulation can result in the introduction of harmful chemicals and potentially affect the safety and quality of the final product.
Science-minded brands have been preaching the power of the entourage effect and full-spectrum cannabis experiences for years. Now, the research supports the anecdotal claims. We hope that marketing and consumer trends catch up and that the highest THC percentage is not the sole purchasing factor when shopping for quality products.
At Bloom, we pride ourselves on terpene retention that honors the plant’s true profile and believe that flavor and aroma are essential to the overall experience. Now we know for sure that they also determine how enjoyable a particular product can be.