The real secret in cannabis is, of course, where it’s grown: the terroir - the sun, the water, the soil. That’s why Northern California and Southern Oregon are the Bordeaux and Burgundy of cannabis. What makes Oregon the great state of cannabis is that we pay very close attention to terpene profiles.
Most people buy cannabis based on the THC values. The higher the THC, the “better” it must be (or so they think!). It’s not true. Choosing cannabis is a lot like selecting wine - you buy a bottle of great wine and it’s 14% alcohol - but it's the terpenes that provide the taste and smell, creating a beautiful bouquet for the senses and a pleasant high.
In cannabis, the terpene values are, to me, the most important strain attribute. I like cannabis with 3-5% terpenes. There’s myrcene, limonene, pinene, and maybe 18 other major terpenes, not to mention the many minor terpenes. The unique combination of these terpenes is what makes a specific plant so special - it’s what makes the bag smell beautiful when you open it, and it adds flavor to the smoke across the palate. Interestingly enough, terpenes actually affect things like your brain’s cellular walls.
One example is myrcene, which can be found in mangos. Myrcene thins the brain’s cellular wall and allows the THC and CBD to cross the barrier easier. If you were to smoke half a joint on Tuesday, and on Wednesday if you ate a mango and smoked the rest of that same joint, you would get almost three times the effect! The myrcene in the mango helps thin the cellular walls of the brain.
I also believe that with 3-5% terpenes, the anxiety and paranoia that some people feel smoking high THC will disappear. It has a fuller entourage effect, a chilling out. For instance, our Cherry Pie strain has 19% THC and 3.2% terpenes, which together gives you such a nice, chill feeling that you’ll be able to get along with your spouse. That’s why I call it The Marriage Counselor.
Here is a chart courtesy of our friends at Curaleaf:
Within our industry, the lack of terpene education is what we are most frustrated with because the consumer is still tied to the idea that the higher the THC level, the better the weed...but it’s the terpenes that they should be paying closer attention to. A great example of this is our original Captain Jack strain - the Gulzar Afghanica - with approximately an 18% THC. But it has 5.4% terpenes and 72% of that is myrcene. This is one of the great strains that we have to offer at Belushi’s Farm.
So here’s a little tip when you walk into a dispensary and you want to buy flower - ask the budtender what the terpene percentages or values in that strain are and see what they say. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, move on to the next budtender!
Learning about the importance and value of terpenes will help you better understand the complexities and wonders of cannabis, and will lead you to a very tasty delight!