Changing the Narrative of Cannabis: Reflections

Many people in the cannabis community are celebrating the fact that Jeff Sessions was asked to step down from his position as Attorney General, and, while I agree this could be a great thing for the cannabis industry, it is also fair to say that we have no idea what this change will bring. What we can celebrate is that, once again, another political season brought with it more states voting to legalize cannabis in both medical and recreational markets! We are currently at a place where over half of the states in the union have legal cannabis of some kind – and it’s not close.

We have come a long way since the height of prohibition. To see just how far we have come, I like to revisit the old messages about cannabis that used to, and in some ways continue to, influence the public’s consciousness. So, if you have some free time, go ahead and give Reefer Madness a watch, and think about all the people that put their lives and careers on the line to help people move beyond this propaganda and get access to this wonderful plant. Change is coming slowly. Hopefully we are wise enough to bring about good changes!

THC PERCENTAGES

One of the first things you learn when you start working in the cannabis industry is to ignore the THC% on the label. Why? Not only is there is no standardized way of testing for THC, there is also a THC variance within each plant. In short, it’s an unreliable number. Secondly, even if the number were reliable, the THC percentage is not an indicator of quality. Ever notice how the more budget friendly flowers are usually the highest in THC?

When someone comes into the shop looking for a great high and asks for the flower with the highest THC percentage, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I need to spend a little extra time educating this guest – for their benefit as well as the industry’s. A high THC number does no equal a good high. Also, if the public is chasing THC numbers, farmers will start adjusting their grow methods so they can more easily sell their product, and we are all going to miss out on the best cannabis. We should be looking for complex arrangements of compounds…not just THC.

THC is just one of over 400 compounds that contributes to your experience of cannabis. If cannabis were a car, THC would be the engine. But what good is an engine without the rest of the car? For a great ride, you want to make sure you have a solid frame and exterior. You will want the ability to turn and maybe open a few windows to catch a nice breeze. Without additional terpenes and cannabinoids, you are basically driving around on a very large engine with no brakes or ability to steer – talk about an anxiety provoking experience!

So even though it may seem counterintuitive to spend more money on a product that has a lower THC percentage, trust the science and give it a try. I promise you will enjoy the ride!

Terpenes: Follow Your Nose!

Before we knew anything about cannabis, my friends and I had a very scientific way of deciding whether the flower we had purchased was good. If you can smell it through the plastic bag…it was good. We knew nothing about the chemistry of cannabis; however, for some reason, we associated good cannabis with smell. We didn’t have THC numbers to chase – all we had were our senses. After getting educated on the cannabis plant, it is amazing to see just how right we were to use our nose to find great cannabis.

When you smell cannabis, you are picking up on the essential oils of the plant – terpenes. These compounds are volatile – as in they evaporate at room temperature; therefore, given enough time, they will completely disappear from the flower, and you will end up with something that smells like hay. But terpenes aren’t just about smell or flavor. They drastically affect the experience of cannabis as well. Yes, cannabis with no terpenes will still get you high; however, if the terpenes have all evaporated, the high is going to be short-lived and anxiety provoking. This is why smoking old/dried-out cannabis is never as good of an experience as buds that come directly from the curing jars.

The state of Washington puts the consumer at a disadvantage. All products are required to be sealed upon purchase, i.e., you can’t smell the product unless you can smell it through the packaging. Thankfully, I have lots of practice smelling cannabis through plastic 😊, but I also have access to one of the best groups of budtenders in the cannabis industry. So next time you come in to CBC, ask one of our knowledgeable budtenders for guidance on finding the products with the best terpene profile. See you soon!

Pot Snobbery: Phenotypes

Cannabis is more than a product – it is a culture, and, like every culture, it employs a unique set of words and phrases that can be confusing to outsiders. Understanding the language of the cannabis culture is vital in bringing your cannabis knowledge to the next level. A word that consistently comes up when talking about cannabis is “phenotype.” Phenotype is a word used to describe a specific expression of a cannabis strain. To better understand this idea, let’s look to soda for some help.

There are many different types of soda – cola, root beer, lemon-lime, etc., and each type has multiple expressions. For example, if you wanted a cola, you could pick a Pepsi or a Coke. Both companies produce cola; however, they are slightly different expressions. Just like soda, there are many different types of cannabis – Dutch Treat, Blue Dream, etc., and each type has multiple expressions. Those different expressions are referred to as phenotypes. What this means is that the Dutch Treat from Doc & Yeti is going to be different in character and effect than the Dutch Treat from Phat Panda because each farm used different seeds to start their crop. Each seed carries unique genetics; therefore, each farm can produce a slightly different end-product. This is also why you can find Dutch Treat as an Indica or Sativa, or why you enjoy Dutch Treat from one grower and not the other.

So, when you are looking through the shelves at CBC, pay attention to the strain names, but also pay attention to who is growing your cannabis. Part of the fun of cannabis is finding new phenotypes to enjoy. Happy hunting!

Edible Differences

When it comes to purchasing flower and oils, you are faced with a few choices. Most notably, you have the Indica or Sativa choice; however, when it comes to edibles, up until quite recently, your options had more to do with the type of food you wanted rather than the type of effect. Even though the vast majority of edibles are still nonspecific,we are now starting to see more edible companies produce products that can give an Indica or Sativa effect. What is responsible for this shift? Well, a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting an incredible edible company that had the answer.

Botanica is probably most well-known for their production of Moxey’s Mints; however, they also produce other tasty product lines like Spot and Journeyman – their Journeyman Couch Potatoes won Best Savory Edible at this year’s Dope Cup! One of the main differences between these lines of edibles is that Spot offers Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid options whereas the Journeyman offers no categories. When I asked about this difference, they gave an answer that made perfect sense…the Journeyman line is infused with distillate, and the Spot line uses canna-butter.

When you consider what is responsible for cannabis’ range of effects, terpenes and cannabinoids are primary sources. Products like distillate may impress you with their THC percentages; however, they are often severely lacking in terpenes and other cannabinoids. This means a more intense psychoactive high, but it also means a shorter high with less variance in effect. Butter, on the other hand, holds onto more of the terpenes and cannabinoids when it is infused with cannabis; thus, producing a high with the possibility of going in many different directions. Infusing butter is more labor intensive than creating distillate; however, if you are looking for options in the effects of your edibles, there really is not a better option than buying a product made with canna-butter. Enjoy!

Journey With Us

Navigating the never-ending brands of cannabis and finding those small-batch, artisanal cannabis products can often be difficult for the consumer. There is rarely enough to go around for the entire market, and that only makes people want it more. Creating quality cannabis is an art, and you have to make sure each plant is given enough time and attention – hard to do on a large scale.

In many respects, we are living in a golden age of cannabis. New strains are being created every day, and we want to make sure you have access to the latest and greatest cannabis – even when it’s hard to find. As a way to help our customers have access to these great products, we here at Commencement Bay Cannabis have started seeking out these farms so you don’t have to!

Journey is a brand that we know you will come to know and love; however, it also represents our dedication to bringing you those hidden gems in the cannabis market. So, next time you come through CBC, be sure to ask our Budtenders about the latest and greatest from the Journey line of products!

Avoiding Medical Language

If you have ever attempted to buy a cannabis product for a particular ailment, you should have heard something like this from your budtender: “We are not legally allowed to make suggestions for medical conditions; however, we can help educate you on the product and help you find something you will enjoy.” This can be a frustrating response for many reasons. The main reason being that most doctors that are writing scripts for cannabis are not familiar with the endless list of products available to the consumer; therefore, most people coming into a shop after visiting their doctor have no idea what they are looking for, and the last thing people want to hear when they are looking for medicine is that they can’t be helped.

It may seem inconvenient; however, I think we can all agree that it is a good thing that only medical professionals can offer medical advice. I just wish more medical professionals have studied cannabis and the available products on the market. Right now, we are in a situation where the people that know the most about cannabis products can’t offer their advice, and the people that can offer advice on what to take for ailments know very little about the actual products. Eventually the science and medical practitioners will catch up; however, what do we do until then? The answer…we get educated and creative! A budtender cannot tell you what you should use; however, they can tell you what they have used. They can also tell you all about a product like: terpene and cannabinoid profiles. You might not be able to ask a budtender for something for insomnia; however, they can tell you that products high in CBN and Myrcene will be heavy and sedative. In other words, a budtender should be able to give you enough information about the product to help you make an informed decision.

At CBC, our goal is to be the most informed staff in the market and offer every person that walks through our door the best customer service possible. We can’t offer you medical advice, but we can help you navigate your options. We look forward to helping you soon!

Label Laws: We Got Your Back!

One of the first things I noticed when I started working in the cannabis industry is that the laws that governed the industry seemed to be in a constant state of flux. As it is a completely new industry that still does not have federal approval, this can be understood. These changes often go unnoticed; however, they can have a large effect on the day-to-day operations of a store and the consumer. For example, as of June 7th, producers and processors are no longer required by law to include a harvest date (amongst other things) on their packaging. This may seem like a small change; however, it will greatly affect the way you buy cannabis. Experienced cannabis consumers know that when it comes to the quality and effect of the product, timing is very important. For example, as flower ages and degrades, THCa turns into CBN. CBN is a cannabinoid that makes you feel tired. This means that even if you purchase an energetic Sativa, if the product is old and degraded, it will give you the opposite effect you want. And what about the terpenes! Has the plant been cured and properly stored so it does not dry out? Dried-out cannabis without terpenes is an anxiety attack waiting to happen. Entourage Effect anyone? Combine this with the fact that you are not allowed to open a container and smell the product before you purchase (the best way to determine if terpenes are present), and the consumer is at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to finding the right product.

There is no way to be sure why these laws changed. If I were to put on my conspiracy theory hat, I would guess that there are corporations with large pockets, and no understanding of cannabis, using their influence to make it easier to make a profit at the expense of the consumer. Whatever the reason, you can be confident that the staff at CBC has your back! It may no longer be mandatory for producers to put their harvest date on the package, but you can feel confident knowing that we have asked all of our producers to continue to provide that information for you (and ourselves). We know its value! At the end of the day, CBC prides itself on cannabis knowledge and customer service, and we intend to make every effort to continue to be excellent at both!

Making Food Delicious: The Enhancement Smoker

 

I love food. Sitting down to a good meal with people I love is one of my favorite things in the world. I also really enjoy edibles. So, you would think that when it came to food, I would be all in on edibles; however, as I’ve continued to experience infused culinary delights, I have found myself more in line with Jon Stewart’s character in Half Baked than looking to find a meal infused with cannabis. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the unique nature of an edible high; however, as a lover of food, I have found that the cannabis flavor pretty much overpowers other ingredients. When I want a brownie, I want it to be dense, chocolaty and delicious. I do not want it to taste like I’m chewing on a bud dipped in chocolate. I’m sure that there are amazing chefs out there that can expertly balance the flavors; however, given the restrictions around public consumption, we are not at a point yet where that experience is widely available, but I can’t wait for Top Chef to have a cannabis episode!

I found it much more enjoyable to get high and then eat a well-constructed meal. Cannabis enhances our sense of smell, and, as we know, smell plays a major role in tasting food. All this to say, food is going to smell and taste a whole lot better when you are high than when you are sober – hence, the munchies. So, all that food I soberly invest in because it is amazing is brought to a whole new level when cannabis is introduced. Cannabis enhances my experience of the food – it doesn’t take over the meal. Yeah, if my goal is to get high, I’ll eat an edible; however, if my goal is to enjoy an amazing meal, I am going enjoy my cannabis as an appetizer. Bon appetit!

Edibles

It is not uncommon to hear a story about someone having a bad experience after taking an edible. Someone eats a homemade pot brownie, and the next thing they know, they are lying in the fetal position on the floor because they feel like they are tumbling through the fabric of time. There are several reasons why this has become a common, and sometimes comical, experience. Thankfully, it is easily avoidable. The first step in avoiding these types of situations is to know how much cannabis is in your edible. Unless you have experience, maybe don’t eat a whole brownie your friend made for you. One of the benefits of legalized cannabis is that every product is required to tell you exactly how much cannabis is in each item you purchase. In the state of Washington, 10 mg of THC is considered a single dose. For context, I like to compare a 2 mg dose to a cup of coffee in the morning. Yes, there is an effect, but nothing major. That being said, before you decide to ingest a large amount, it is wise to experiment with low doses first to see how it affects you.

Other ways to make sure that your experience with edibles is a good one involves understanding how your body processes edibles. Edible highs are very different than the high you get from smoking cannabis. When you smoke cannabis, Delta-9 THC is brought into your bloodstream through your lungs, and the effects are felt immediately. When you eat cannabis, the Delta-9 THC first passes through your liver, where it is metabolized into Delta-11 THC – a more potent version of THC. Yes, you read that correctly. Your liver will make the THC stronger! Edibles will also provide a more profound body high and last longer than smoking cannabis; however, they take longer to feel the effects. Depending on your body chemistry, and what is in your stomach, edibles can take up to an hour before you start feeling anything. This is another reason why people end up getting much higher than they had planned. They do not give the edible enough time, and they ingest more cannabis to try and feel the effect.

So, next time you are looking for an edible experience, be sure to look at the dosage and be patient enough to let the effect sink in. Happy eating!

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