Customizing your Cannabis Experience - It's Easier Than You Think!
Incredible advances in cannabis genetics and production methods now allow consumers to customize their experience to levels not possible in the past, and it’s easier than you might think!
Beginning with your strain of choice, whether it be an energizing Sativa, a relaxing Indica, or a Hybrid of both, along with your preferred levels of THC and CBD, the next step towards enhancing your experience is a basic knowledge of terpenes.
Terpenes are aromatic metabolites found in the oils of cannabis, and they are one of the primary reasons why two different cannabis strains with the same percentage or ratio of THC and CBD can produce different results.
The cannabis plant produces at least 100 different terpenes, each with its own unique aroma, taste and set of generally accepted medicinal properties. Different combinations of terpenes work together in what is known as the “entourage effect” to amplify or downplay the effects of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, creating a unique set of effects for each strain.
“Think of THC and CBD as two cowboys riding into town,” said Delta 9 Cannabis Specialist Jeff Konwalchuk on opening day at the new Delta 9 Store at 478 River Avenue in Winnipeg. “THC is the Rowdy bringing the party, the psychoactive effect. CBD is the mellow Sheriff who works to provide some balance and keep the Rowdy under control. The terpenes are their groups of friends.
“Some terpenes are friends with the Sheriff (CBD). They’re a more relaxing group that includes Myrcene and Terpinolene, and they’re going to help calm the Rowdy (THC). The terpenes on the side of the Rowdy include Limonene and Pinene, and they tend to magnify the effects of THC. So the blend of CBD, THC and the friends they ride in with, determine your experience.”
Information on terpenes and their basic effects is widely available on the Internet, but there is no way to know for sure which balance of THC, CBD and terpenes are going to work best for you. Different strains and combinations may effect you differently depending on your body chemistry.
Basic guidelines can help you get started on the customization process and Delta 9 Cannabis Specialists can assist you further using a combination of practical experience, advanced training from Lift and Co. and feedback from cannabis consumers.
“We're here to help you narrow it down a little bit,” said Konwalchuk. “To get the process started, we ask you what kind of experience you’re looking for. Our job is to help focus you on a couple of choices as opposed to being overwhelmed by all the different options. Cannabis consumption is a very subjective and personal experience though. No guidelines are going to apply to everybody. In order for someone to find their ultimate experience, they’re going to have to do some experimenting, there’s no way around that.”
Jeff Konwalchuk – Cannabis Specialist at Delta 9 Cannabis Store, Osborne Village
There are few shortcuts, however.
“You’ll generally start to associate a particular smell and taste with the type of experience you have,” said Konwalchuk. “That’s the connection you need to draw. Your senses will guide you towards what you like and steer you away from what you don’t like. There is no way to know which balance is going to work best for you until you experiment a bit and discover what you like best.”
Using a vaporizer also allows you to customize your cannabis experience. If certain terpenes are released at a high temperature and you use a lower temperature setting on your vaporizer, those terpenes will be absent from the flavour and effect. Using different temperatures combined with your own sensory input allows you to customize your experience even further. Many cannabis consumers make notes on different things they try and go from there.
“Once you’ve had a bit of experience, the smell is what gives you a lot of the information you’re looking for,” said Konwalchuk. “That's why we have the sensory bars at the Delta 9 stores. The terpene profiles are also on the labels of many of the Delta 9 strains.”
Most cannabis strains are bred for certain characteristics and contain several terpenes. Different terpene profiles will result in different aromas, tastes and effects. Genetics, harvesting and curing also have an effect on terpenes and how they develop and work together. It’s a whole plant experience and you can take advantage of all of it.
“Most importantly, think of it as an enjoyable exploratory process,” said Konwalchuk. “You have to jump in and try different things. That's what makes it so much fun!”
“Once you’ve had a bit of experience, the smell is what gives you a lot of the information you’re looking for.”
Common terpenes, their aromas and effects, based on studies and feedback:
- Pinene – Has a piney aroma and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to promote alertness, improve airflow to the lungs and reduce short-term memory loss from THC.
- Limonene – Has a citrusy aroma and is known for its ability to relieve stress and improve mood, as well as for its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- Myrcene – Has a more earthy, musky aroma and is known for its sedative and relaxation properties.
- Humulene – Has an earthy, hoppy aroma and is known for both its ability to reduce food cravings and its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Linalool – Has a floral, spicy aroma and is known for its ability to balance the anxious effects of THC, as well as its stress-relieving, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Caryophyllene – Has a spicy, peppery aroma and is best known to be helpful with depression and anxiety, as well as for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Terpinolene – Has a woodsy aroma and is known for its antioxidant, antibacterial and slightly sedative properties.