With hundreds of compounds present in cannabis, there’s no reason why you should make purchases based on the presence or potency level of a single cannabinoid. In the case of CBD, previous research has shown that full spectrum, or products that contain other cannabinoids in the mixture, is more effective for treatment, compared to isolated variants that eliminate other supporting cannabinoids from the solution.
Yet, this is how some people at dispensaries select which strains to take home. During the shortlisting process, most individuals focus on the amount of THC in the flower or concentrate and determine its value based on that criterion alone. Mike Pizzo from Reef Dispensaries compares this overrated practice to pairing food with wine based on alcohol content.
In a recent post on Medium, Pizzo recommends focusing on other cannabinoids and terpenes that are responsible for inducing the “entourage effect” during consumption. For example, the Jack Herer strain contains a variety of active compounds, such as CBN, CBG, D-limonene and linalool. Based on the plant’s profile, it would be possible to conclude that the strain is ideal for addressing inflammation (due to the presence of a-pinene, which also contributes to its piney smell, and myrcene), while helping promote energy and creativity.
If you repeatedly ask your local budtender for flowers with the highest THC content, you might be missing out on other options that could be more suitable for your medical condition or personal preferences. This gap in understanding can be traced back to the prohibition era. Before legalization, cannabis was mostly consumed for recreational purposes. Growers catered to this lifestyle by pushing out strains with extremely potent THC levels.
The cannabis landscape has changed over the years to serve the medical needs of patients suffering from different illnesses. Because of this, the practice of cultivating while focusing on maxing out a single compound in the plant is no longer effective. Most commercial dispensaries now offer a diverse selection of buds with robust combinations of compounds.
Cannabis research labs, like Steep Hill, have also made it easier to understand the complex nature of the plant. Through rigorous laboratory testing, the group has successfully mapped out and profiled numerous popular strains available in the market today.
The important thing to remember is that what works for your friends or a specific group of people simply may not work for you. That’s why it’s highly recommended to carve your own path in your journey with cannabis.
For instance, you might be naturally energetic but also sensitive to the effects of THC (this is a common combination). So a high THC or a full-blown energetic strain might not be appropriate. Instead, a flower with medium-to-low THC levels and a mixture of linalool, myrcene and limonene (terpenes that promote relaxation, stress relief and alertness) would likely be more effective.
“It’s synergy; multiple elements that work together to amplify an effect. When the cannabinoids are paired with terpenes and certain concentrations of them, that’s what generally provides the particular effect,” said Darin Carpenter, Director of Cultivation at Tryke, during an interview with Medium.