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As the options for medical marijuana continue to expand rapidly across the United States, there seem to be more and more items popping up behind the counter at your local dispensary every day. Fortunately for the discriminating medical or recreational marijuana consumer, gone are the days when consumers were forced to settle on flower to meet their therapeutic needs. However, with so many new products and potential methods of consumption, it can be difficult to find the right product to fit your needs and deliver the relief you deserve. In addition, it may even become a little intimidating to decide on the product that is best for you.
In fact, the best marijuana products and means of consumption are unique for every person. First, you must consider multiple factors, including your goals, the purpose of consumption, and your personal preference. While making these determinations, consumers commonly ask questions like “what are cannabis concentrates?” and other questions regarding the differences between marijuana concentrates and flower. To help you make the best decision for your needs, we’ve compiled a brief guide to cannabis concentrates and marijuana flower.
When most people think about marijuana, flower is likely the first thing that comes to mind. Traditionally the most common form of marijuana for both recreational and medical use, flower refers to the smokable or consumable part of the marijuana plant. This flower, frequently referred to as bud, must go through many processes before it is ready for consumption.
First, farmers must plant and grow the cannabis plant, which requires extensive attention to bring it to a bountiful harvest. After harvesting, producers must dry and cure the product, preparing it for use by the consumer. Once the dried flower is smoked, it releases the crystalline compounds with psychological or medical therapeutic effects on the consumer, such as CBD and THC.
In the past, smoking dried marijuana flower was considered the simplest and most direct way of consuming marijuana. However, with the addition of marijuana concentrates as well as many dispensaries, marijuana consumers have access to an even more direct form of cannabis.
If you look closely at a marijuana flower, you will observe what appear to be tiny hair-like crystals on the plant. These crystals are called trichomes and contain THC and other cannabinoid and terpene compounds. Marijuana concentrates are made by separating and filtering the contents of these crystals from the flower for the purpose of concentrating the THC, resulting in what is known as an extract or oil. The act of condensing the active ingredients is, in some ways, akin to the way vitamin producers condense helpful nutrients from plant and animal sources. Like vitamins, marijuana extracts makes helpful cannabis compounds easier for a person to consume.
The term “marijuana concentrates” is a general term that encompasses a wide variety of products that come in many different forms. Most commonly used to describe cannabis concentrates are terms like, shatter, wax, crumble, sugar, diamonds, honeycomb, sap and oil that describe the consistency.
The consistency of the concentrate is all about how the oil is manipulated (but more on that later). Most concentrates undergo extraction through heat, water, ethanol, alcohol, and hydrocarbons. The concentrates that use a solvent to extract the sought-after cannabinoids go through a process in which the residual solvent is purged, resulting in what’s known as a solvent-free concentrate. Solventless extracts, on the other hand, are made using only heat (e.g., rosin) or water (e.g., hash) and can be a better choice for anyone concerned about how consuming solvents might affect them personally.
Even though concentrates come in various consistencies, what might be even more important to understand is how the concentrate is consumed. For example, if you want to dab your concentrate, you should try shatter or rosin. However, if you prefer a more discreet experience or something you can take with you, a concentrate vape pen might be a better bet.
You may wonder, why not switch to concentrates to achieve the strongest possible effects? The answer to this question is complex and depends on many factors. Many people are more familiar with consuming flower recreationally and therefore continue medical use of flower for that reason. In addition, the flower retains its natural aromas and flavors, which can change during the extraction process.
However, this doesn’t mean that flower is always more flavorful. The act of combusting the flower produces smoke, which can obscure the profile of the strain consumed. Concentrates, however, are vaporized and therefore can be just as flavor-packed.
As briefly discussed above, cannabis concentrates are generally much more potent than flower. Over time, the body can build up a tolerance to the effects of THC. This decrease in sensitivity may undermine the goal of the regular user, who may end up using more flower for less effect. Tolerance can be aggravating for those who use THC to relax, but it is even more troubling for medical marijuana patients using THC for anxiety or other serious medical conditions.
Since a regular marijuana user will experience the effects of a concentrate more intensely, many medical marijuana patients prefer concentrates to flower. If you are frustrated with the results you are experiencing from the cannabis flower, concentrates may be right for you.
One of the benefits of concentrates is that you can consume them in numerous, discreet ways as compared to smoking the flower. For example, marijuana flower is often consumed in the form of joints or used in glass pipes or bongs. On the other hand, concentrates can be used in concentrate vape devices or consumed in oil and pill forms. These products and devices may also be more convenient for travel.
Another way experienced users consume cannabis concentrates is via a method called dabbing. Dabbing is the quick vaporization of concentrate for consumption and is used with hardware called a dab rig that comes with a hot nail and glass. You add your concentrate, such as wax or shatter, to the nail which is low the bowl for your bong and then heat it with a mini-torch.
If dab rigs and torches aren’t your thing, you can buy an e-nail, an electric nail that keeps your glass at the temperature you prefer to medicate at (no torch required), they are just a little bit more expensive than a rig and torch. E-nails help you to identify the temperature you prefer to dab your concentrates at, and to provide a consistent medicating experience with each session.
Because the cannabis extract is stripped away from its source material, there is no plant material left over within the concentrate. When plant material is burned, it leaves behind additional materials, forming a black tar. Unfortunately, the black tar you see in your pipe or bong means that smoking the plant material may introduce tar to your lungs. Concentrates don’t introduce any excess plant material or tar into your lungs, reducing or eliminating irritation – just be mindful of the temperatures you dab at to find your ideal setting.
While the more traditional flower is a relatively familiar experience no matter which strain you prefer, concentrates come in many distinct colors, forms, and consistencies. These additional varieties can add a little novelty to your experience if you are looking for a change.
Here at Zen Leaf we carry several ethanol-extracted cannabis concentrates so our clients can experience relief in a way that works best for them. We carry:
Strain-specific Shatter is a dense, clear and golden concentrate that quite literally shatters like glass when broken apart to be dosed. After extraction takes place, the viscous oil is poured onto a slab and placed in a vacuum oven to stabilize into the concentrate we know and love. Shatter is an ideal starting place for newcomers to cannabis concentrates as the material is easier to manipulate when compared to Crumble.
Crumble is a strain-specific, highly potent ethanol extract that crumbles apart when dosing. Think of Crumble as the sibling of Shatter; Shatter is melted down, whipped and agitated to add air pockets and then stabilized in a vacuum oven. The result is an airy concentrate that resembles a honeycomb in structure.
Pure Cannabis Distillate is a premium distillate with activated THC. The activation of the cannabinoid allows dosing orally with the simple syringe, either directly into your mouth or atop food. Distillate can also be used in cooking or vaporized with a concentrate vape device.
Rosin is an outlier in the world of concentrates, in that no solvent is used to isolate the desired cannabinoids and terpenes. Instead, trichomes are collected via dry sift, in which dried flower is bounced around to remove the desired trichomes; or via ice water extraction, in which flower is placed into an ice water bath and agitated (shaked) to remove the trichomes. After isolation, the trichomes are pressed using only heat and pressure to produce a butter-like consistency. Because no solvent is used, Rosin produces a true-to-flower dabbing experience.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a cannabis concentrate is quality. Low-quality concentrates can contain many harmful compounds that should have been stripped away in the concentration process.
Zen Leaf Dispensaries are located across the US and we only sell the highest quality marijuana concentrates. As a result, you’ll be able to ensure you are getting the best possible therapeutic effects without the worry of harmful additives or contaminants. If you’d like more information about our recreational and medical dispensaries or the wide selection of marijuana products we offer or visit your local shop and talk to one of our knowledgeable Wellness Advisors.