Terpenology 101, Part 3: Open Your Eyes to a New Culture of Cannabis

Ari Aumont

Ari contributes to Ask Growers as a terpene specialist from Denver, Colorado. His cannabis experience reaches back to the earliest days that Colorado allowed PTSD as the first qualifying mental health condition to qualify for a medical red card. Since then, he has been dedicated to discovering an advanced cannabis medical strategy for both his own health and the health of the cannabis community. Ari served in the US Army and has been sent on several war deployments. His Terpenology series of posts seeks to educate others on the opportunities that terpene profiling and a terpene based cannabis approach offers to consumers, businesses, and growers.

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Terpenology 101, Part 3: Open Your Eyes to a New Culture of Cannabis

One word is going to change the way you see cannabis permanently. Yes, it is that powerful of a word. One word will unlock your potential to become one of the most seasoned marijuana masters in the world! And that’s not a joke. One word that will set you aside from the rest is… decarboxylation /de-carb-ox-uh-lay-shun/.

What Is “Decarb?”

Feel free to shorten that and just say “decarb” from now on. But let’s face it - if you’re out to impress friends, businesses, and customers, you’re going to need to get comfortable with the full pronunciation of this amazing vocabulary.

But let’s get started by jumping into the science of what decarbing is or how to accomplish it. Why should you care about this? Decarbing will enable you to make edibles out of anything. Decarbing because it introduces you to a range of exceptionally high-quality cannabis products that are not available in dispensaries. Not only that, but they’re all easily made at home. Further still, you should care about decarbing because if you expect to be a regular recreational user and/or long-term medical patient, then you need a plan to keep your lungs healthy and tolerance low. Are you starting to put together the prowess of this word now? But great things usually come with a high cost. So, prepare your mind for the challenges that lie ahead you must endure achieving such ends!

How Decarb Works

THC-A is converted into THC (Bloom Medicinal, 2021). The inactive element of cannabis that produces your psychotropic experience is made active. If you were to just eat raw cannabis flower then you would only fill your stomach with THC-A, and not your endocannabinoid system (ECS) with the gloriously converted THC*. Normally this is achieved with the combustion provided by the lighter in your pocket. When you light cannabis on fire, the dormant THC-A is instantly converted into THC that, laced with a delightful medley of terpenes, is carried in the smoke to your lungs and onto your ECS. But this is far from the only delivery system available to reach those starry highs from within your own mind.

Steps to Decarb Your Flower

  1. Use a standard grinder to separate your whole flower.
  2. Put into a mason jar.
  3. Place in oven for 60 minutes at 240ᵒF or 116ᵒC.
  4. Let cool.
  5. And… that’s it.
  6. Oh! Nearly forgot - if you don’t have a mason jar, that’s fine, but your place is going to smell an awful lot like pot if you just put it on a cookie sheet or something. Olive, jelly, or pickle jars work too.
  7. Oh! And any heat source is fine, not just an oven. Just a consistent 240ᵒF is all you need.
  8. Come to think of it, if you don’t grind it, that’s fine too. The whole flower works also. Grinding is just a good suggestion.
  9. Yea, so just heat for 60min at 240ᵒF. That’ll get you there. So, just a one-step process, really.

When it comes to cannabis, decarboxylation takes place in 60min at 240ᵒF or 116ᵒC (Lynch, 2020). And we’re not exaggerating about how awesome the payoff of this is. KEEP READING. You are so close to new marijuana horizons.

What Happens Next?

Recently, edible providers have figured the decarb process out, but they don’t quite like to share their secrets. Many small-batch producers aren’t likely to even know the depths of this knowledge themselves. That sort of thing is being left to the pros within the cannabis market. Maybe that grapevine recipe for weed brownies, or weed tea, or even canna-butter has managed to reach you. You’ve taken a stab at crafting your own edibles, the recipe worked well, and it’s probably your friends’ favorite party favor by now!

Alright, buckle in, because this is where things could get really complicated . Once that mason jar you placed in the oven has finished and is thoroughly cooled, pop it open, and take a nice deep whiff of that musty goodness that releases itself from under the cap’s seal. Now, take some of that flower inside the jar… and… eat it with anything you’d like. We know, we know! It’s more than one step this time, but you’ll get the hang of it!

Active THC

Remember? The THC is active now. And you don’t need the smoke you are used to inhaling to deliver it to your body because of the flame you decided to use this time. Think of decarbing as holding your cannabis in suspension between leaving the flower and entering the smoke. You can pluck the THC out of your cannabis just before it latches onto those noxious fumes and use it to open an entirely new world of consumption.

What could be used instead of smoking to enjoy your pot with now? How about butter, jelly, chocolate sauce, syrup, or ice cream, among many other terrific choices! All you really need is a bit of fat to help you get over a bitter taste. But you can eat it raw if you want to! You can sprinkle decarbed weed over your morning Fruit Loops and start the day off right if you so choose! It’s active. If you get it to your stomach, it’s going to do its job for you.

Here’s the Kicker

You can still smoke it too. The only trade-off is that the taste is compromised over a raw flower. What’s better is that it’s not even a bad taste. It’s just a little toasty, which diminishes the sweeter flavors of limonene and linalool. The earthiness of terpinolene and hopped pinene will still carry, though. We can all agree that there is a time and a place to enjoy a nice bowl, and decarbing doesn’t rob you of that.

Edibles take a while to kick in, and there are times when faster relief may be required. But if you have an hour to spare before your personalized edible creation takes effect, you can save your lungs and respiratory system a lot of distress by converting your stock to decarbed cannabis. There’s no reason to be against the inhalation of cannabis. We fully advocate using the vaporized dry herb to treat acute symptoms. Medical patients may require this in the morning before their edibles take effect. The average user may need it when suddenly overwhelmed by the stresses of life. But with the slightest of patience, one can not only get a better, longer-lasting experience but one that is also 100% healthy. And the benefits have just begun.

Edibles Are the New Black

If you live in a weed legal state and have been to the dispensaries before, you’ll notice one common trait among all the edibles you see there. It doesn’t matter what form they put it in or how it tastes or whether it’s a tablet or tincture. Only THC and CBD percentages are written on the package. Not Sativa, not Indica, and no strain identification either. It might as well say, “Contains pot, will get stoned.” This is how Terpenology puts you on the edge of cannabis knowledge. If you don’t know the terpene profile of your weed, then you don’t know what effect it will have on you without trial-and-error of every strain, every edible, every product on the market until you find the one that works for you. If you don’t even know the name of the strain you are smoking, and you don’t even know if it’s a Sativa or Indica, then what are you really accomplishing? Getting high. There’s nothing wrong with that, but decarboxylation is so much better. If you set your sights just a bit higher, you’ll see that your cannabis journey is only just starting to bloom.

Know the Terpene Profile

When you become experienced with a few of the 1000s of cannabis cultivars available, you can identify certain activities that are well suited for certain strains. You probably have a couch-lock blend that is perfect for after a long day at work. You may have a nice high-CBD, light-THC strain that won’t drown out your critical thinking during the day. You may have even found a hybrid that keeps your anxiety low yet doesn’t sedate you during evening activity. Current market edibles cannot target activities like this. Eating edibles on the market today is like closing your eyes, reaching into a jar filled with the names of strains written on paper, pulling out a fist full of them, and saying to the budtender, “I’ll take something made out of these, please!” It could be anything that contributed to that edible product you are consuming. These edibles do not have the specific terpene content that whole flower content does. They have been processed and reproduced, and chemically derived, and that has completely destroyed the tasty, homemade terpene recipe that growers have specifically cultivated for you. What you get sold is a crude brick of “Let’s get stoned” that relies only on the THC and CBD experience. Terpenology has provided you the ability to select specific strains, target specific symptoms, and make edibles that are better than what the dispensary has to offer. And not just better, more potent too! A perfect 240ᵒF for 60min will achieve a near-perfect THC-A to THC conversion (Lynch, 2020). Thus… you cannot get a higher quality edible than what you just crafted. Yea!


Read More Our Terpenology Series: Part 1, Part 2


How About Some Icing on That Weed Cake?

By far, the greatest advantage of decarbing over commercial edibles is that you keep your terpenes intact. Having access to high-quality edible products with terpene profiles is a cavernous void in the middle of the marijuana industry right now. Don’t know about you, but we haven’t seen anything like this at our dispensary, and none of our friends could even pronounce decarboxylation until recently! And if these products are out there, we stopped paying attention a long time ago when we realized how easy it is to make them on your own. Yet, there is still another layer of icing on this cake you haven’t likely considered. Tolerance management.

Keeping your pot working for you is a chief concern for a chronic consumer. You can smoke and smoke and smoke weed until it’s lost its effect so much that a joint to yourself will barely cut it. And we don’t just mean your Saturday night wasn’t as fun as it used to be. There are arthritis and cancer patients depending on this drug to live another pleasant day on this earth. Building tolerance through a single cannabis ingestion method is the surest way to ruin this medicine for yourself. Not only will your condition suffer lesser relief, but all users’ wallets are hit hard by the cost of additional products to get the same results you’ve come to depend on. What’s worse, you have to smoke all that extra pot into your lungs to target what you need it for. Well, with Terpenology 201, that’s just not true anymore.

If you only smoke weed, and you do it often – dare we say, habitually – then you already know well that your system quickly gets used to what was once a soaring, psychedelic experience. If you suffer from chronic pain and once found cannabis as a reliable daily prescription, only to find yourself drifting back to the big pharma brands because it wasn’t having the same effect after a while, then you have been looking for another answer. The only product you have available with a terpene profile to treat your specific symptoms is whole flower cannabis. We’ve already discussed why commercial edibles aren’t the best to supplement the strains that work for you. They just won’t be the same. They can’t be without the terpene profile. But… now that you are decarbing… and your edibles do have a terpene profile, and your edible is targeting the same symptoms that your whole flower does… not only do you have a whole new world of delicious marijuana munchies to explore, but you are also managing your tolerance now!

Different Products and Ingestion Methods

With decarbing your body now has two delivery systems to regulate your use of cannabis. Alternating between different products and ingestion methods will lower your body’s tolerance to any single method alone. And this is only the start of the discussion on how the full spectrum of tolerance will be managed with Terpenology. The possible permutations between the differing ingestion methods of the inhaled whole flower, inhaled decarbed flower, edible decarbed flower, inhaled fresh kief, and edible decarbed kief are numerous enough to eliminate the concern of tolerance. Altogether that’s 31 different combinations of products and delivery that you can use to manage tolerance with.

Creating a New Cannabis Culture

Now let’s talk about the possibilities you have with your decarbed cannabis beyond just the act of ingesting it. Whether you depend on it or simply find frequent enjoyment in your cannabis, the act of smoking it is not safe outside of your home. Whether you are in a weed-legal state or not, you can’t smoke it in public without the risk of being harassed or worse. But the current commercial edibles just aren’t good enough for consumers to take out with them into their day and be assured that their experience is well suited for their demands.

Why smoke a joint on the hiking trail, nervous and cautious of who may pass by, when you can eat a delicious spoonful of peanut butter and Blue Dream that you have in your pack? Why continue to ruin your car’s upholstery by hot-boxing before you head into the club when you could have a Northern Lights street taco before your night gets going? Should medical patients be forced to stay at home with the shades drawn because they can’t smoke a dose of Grandmaster Kush while walking down the sidewalk? Should we all have to hide ourselves so willingly to take part in this miracle plant? No! So let’s take advantage of decarbing and take it to the next level!

We see a world where cannabis is available to all. The healing properties of this plant are unmistakable and further scientifically proven. But we all have to realize that the world is moving towards a smoke-free environment. We can’t expect to find a refuge, even in legalization, to have a place to smoke weed anywhere we would like to go. If we did, it would be at a bar that gets associated with alcoholic conventions and would threaten the legitimacy of the cannabis movement. Our community must work with the world and not isolate ourselves from it. We must grow in the direction that society is moving if we ever have hope for regional or global legalization. That takes a new way of looking at weed.

Rather than rely on just the smoke or even your favorite tasty homemade edible treat, take your freshly decarbed cannabis and pack it into empty gelatin capsules. They’re cheap and widely available. Amazon has options for organic, vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and even Kosher and Halal certified capsules in just about any color you can imagine. They also come in a range of standard sizes for you to begin understanding your necessary dosing amounts. Just transfer your decarbed strain of choice onto a stable, scratch-free surface (large cutting boards work great) and use a butter knife to pack your weed into your gel caps. Now there are no environmental concerns so great that you are unable to take your cannabis freely, and at the moment, you need it, anywhere you happen to be. If you are a medical user, this possession of your prescription is commonplace and carries no risk of misinterpretation outside the walls of your home. You get the privacy of taking your medicine without intrusion. It lasts for 4-6 hours before your next dose and doesn’t require you to return home or hide behind a dumpster to take it.

New Cannabis Culture

If you are a recreational user, you get the safety and pleasure of enjoying your cannabis from a bottle that could be labeled “Homeopathic Anti-Anxiety Medicine” without being deceptive or ill-intentioned. The cannabis you have selected will be guaranteed to promote your specific health needs while not deteriorating your respiratory capacity unless you choose it to be so. We don’t have to hide our puffs, worry about the smell, or stash pot cookies in our pockets anymore. We can make cannabis purely about the experience and benefits of this plant rather than any health or social consequences attached to the smoking of it. It is this type of thinking that enables the entire world to mature their approach to cannabis and make it just as acceptable as the aspirin in the bottom of your bag because it should be! Cannabis is a lifestyle for many consumers. Smoking pot is a central tenet of that culture. But what we are talking about is a new culture, one that doesn’t need to fight conformity to exist among it.

Conclusion

And herein is the pinnacle of our journey today. Whether you have or will become a patient of cannabis, terpenes are the new black. Not only can you use cannabis to target psychological conditions ranging from procrastination to chronic mental illnesses and physical ailments from headaches to fibromyalgia, but now your cannabis is now available in the most flexible, safe, and healthy form currently possible - edibles. And what did it cost you? One hour in the oven and one hour before symptomatic relief. Could you have possibly imagined the world available to you just from warming your pot for 60 minutes at 240ᵒF? It’s that simple. What are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking!

References

Ask Growers, (2021). Durban Poison. Retrieved Dec 14, 2021 from https://askgrowers.com/strains/durban-poison-strain-review

Ask Growers, (2021). Blue Dream. Retrieved Dec 14, 2021 from https://askgrowers.com/strains/blue-dream-strain-review

Ask Growers, (2021). Northern Lights. Retrieved Dec 14, 2021 from https://askgrowers.com/strains/northern-lights-strain-review

Ask Growers, (2021). Master Kush. Retrieved Dec 14, 2021 from https://askgrowers.com/strains/master-kush-strain-review

Bloom Medicinal, (2021). Demystifying the Differences Between THCa and THC. Retrieved Dec 14, 2021 from https://bloommedicinals.com/cannabis-education/demystifying-the-differences-between-thca-and-thc/

Cresco Labs (n.d.). What is THCA? Retrieved December 13, 2021 from https://www.crescolabs.com/cannabinoids/thca/

Lynch, P. (2020). Decarboxylation: A Beginner’s Guide. Way of Leaf. Retrieved December 13, 2021 from https://wayofleaf.com/education/decarboxylation

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