While there are currently many ways to ingest cannabis, they are not all created equal. In fact, despite the progression into concentrates, oils and edibles, cannabis flower is still the best ways to consume cannabis for health benefits.
The reason that cannabis flower is losing popularity is simply because it is not as potent as other forms of cannabis. The THC levels of dried cannabis typically max out around 30%, with an average being around 18-22% THC. Concentrates on the other hand are easily hitting between 70% and 90% pure THC levels.
This may be great news for individuals just looking to get “high”, but if you are looking to reap all the benefits of cannabis, flower is still the best option. Let us explain.
Higher Potency Not Always Best
Given the THC content reaching an upwards of 90% in concentrates, versus around 20% in cannabis flower, you would think concentrates would be better, right? Not necessarily. Compare it to alcohol - if you went into the liquor store looking for the highest alcohol content you would come out with several bottles of 190 proof, 95% alcohol. Sure, this is the highest potency but will surely destroy your liver and is definitely not as tasty as wine or beer.
The recent consumerism of cannabis has led individuals to believe that the higher the THC content, the better. However, this view completely negates multiple other factors. Since THC was first isolated back in 1964, science has found over 480 natural compounds present in the cannabis plant including a variety of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc) and terpenes. To ignore these other compounds is a great failure to both individuals who consume recreationally and patients who are using cannabis as a form of treatment.
Additionally, many cannabis users have had experiences where a lower potency of flower (ie: 18%) can have more powerful effects than a higher potency flower (ie: 25%). It simply depends on the quality of the flower - as a whole - and not just the THC levels. Different levels of terpenes, flavonoids and mixture of cannabinoids will have an impact on the users experience, including the effects and benefits of that particular strain.
The Entourage Effect
Factors such cannabinoid levels and the terpenes present in a cannabis plant all influence the effects of that particular strain - not just THC. This is known as the “Entourage Effect”, which is simply the realization that every compound within a cannabis plant or strain works synergistically together to produce those effects.
The idea of focusing solely on one factor (such as THC or even CBD), can severely limit a users experience and even result in failed therapy for patients as not all ailments can be solved by pure THC or pure CBD. In fact, THC and CBD work better when used in combination.
While CBD can somewhat limit the psychoactive effects of THC, this is great news for individuals who are prone to anxiety or paranoia when consuming THC in high doses. Beyond this, CBD actually inhibits the breakdown of THC thereby enabling longer-lasting effects. Research has also proven that the painkilling properties of THC and CBD are indeed more powerful when taken together.
The “Full-Spectrum” Difference
According to Emma Chasen, a cannabis science educator with a plant medicine biology degree from Brown University, “cannabis flower is the most natural form of the full-spectrum, whole plant medicine you find in cannabis”. Meaning, that while oils and concentrates have their place in the cannabis industry, they often do not provide the same full-spectrum benefits as the flower itself.
Cannabis flower is still one of the only products that contains pure, full-spectrum cannabis. While some companies are getting into full-spectrum CBD options and 1:1 options featuring a balanced ratio of THC and CBD, many of these oils can still lack terpene or flavonoid profiles. In addition, during the processing of many concentrates, cannabis is filtered through compounds such as butane or alcohol and often the secondary compounds (terpenes, flavonoids) are not preserved, which diminishes the health benefits and potential for relief.
While production of concentrates is improving, processors are still not able to capture the full-spectrum of compounds available in the cannabis plant. Therefore, it is hard to find an intact full-spectrum product once you deviate from the flower itself.
For individuals who wish to get the most out of their cannabis, focusing on flower is a great option - but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore edibles and concentrates too. Vape pens, shatter and gummies all have their place in recreational and medical cannabis, but it is important to be aware of what has been removed from your concentrates and the benefits of smoking whole, untouched product.
Got a Light?
VanCity Rolls produces pre-rolled cannabis joints because we believe that cannabis flower is the best method for ingestion. We also love joints! Our pre-rolls are produced from 100% flower derived from some of BC’s most potent and sought-after strains. Why not light one up today? Click here to view our selection!