Looking for high THC in your cannabis flower for greater effect? You may be looking at the wrong chemical compound. Award-winning strains are not always those with the highest THC. What they have in common are a riot of the compound called terpenes that give them a burst of flavour and aroma.
Ever heard of terpenes? That’s what you need to know about and sniff out to find your favourites too. Sounds complicated? It can be for cannabis neophytes but connoisseurs are aware and allow their nose to do the selection. Let’s explain more simply.
When you walk into a liquor store in search of the perfect bottle of wine, what do you look for? Do you look for higher alcohol content in a bottle or go by the flavour and aroma? Choosing cannabis is quite the same. New consumers look for the highest THC percentage available but that is just one indicator of superior quality. Cannabis connoisseurs know that a multitude of factors contribute to the effect of a joint, just like a multitude of factors contribute to a glass of the finest wine or whiskey. They sniff out the terpenes to select the best strains.
Terpenes are like the chemical fingerprints of cannabis that determine its chemotype. Just like alcoholic drinks have their own character, terpenes give each cannabis strain its own “personality.” This is why lower-testing flowers can sometimes make you feel better and higher-testing blooms can underwhelm.
Sometimes two strains with the same THC content can affect you in different ways. This is because, like fine wine, cannabis is influenced by the plant’s terpene content. When you are selecting cannabis, consider the effect of the terpene.
A few dispensaries list the terpene profiles of each flower but accurate results depend on lab tests in an accredited laboratory. Simply ask your “budtender” if the terpene testing was performed. Alternately, try sniffing it out yourself.
It’s the ensemble of terpenes and cannabinoids that makes every strain of cannabis unique and special. There are over 150 of them, each influencing your mind and mood in a different way. Below are some terpenes to start with:
Limonene: Smells strongly of citrus. It elevates your mood and de-stresses.
Pinene: Smells of pine. It increases alertness and memory retention.
Myrcene: This is musky and relaxing with sedative effects.
Caryophyllene: Heavy with the woody smell of cloves, this terp is anti-inflammatory and relieves gastrointestinal disorders.
Linalool: This terp carries floral notes of lavender. It calms, sedates and relaxes, relieving anxiety.
The best way to master the art is by trying out different strains with different levels of THC, CBD and terpene content. Observe the subtle differences in the fragrance of each flower; check out the concentration of terpene indicated by lab tests and follow your “budtender’s” suggestions. Then observe the effects closely. Are you energized, relaxed, creative or anxious? Go for the strains that leave you feeling best. Over time, practice will make selection easier.