In days gone by, the only thing that mattered when you were buying marijuana was how much Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it had. Even Absolem, the blue caterpillar from Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” would have turned up his nose at cannabis that did not register a healthy amount of THC.
In fact, the old axiom leftover from cannabis’ black market days, or from dispensaries that existed many years ago, was that if marijuana had less than 10 percent THC, it was considered bottom shelf or regular-grade cannabis.
But when shifting the focus away from THC content to the cannabinoid profile and terpenes of cannabis, it becomes all about medical or connoisseur/lifestyle cannabis consumption.
When you purchase medicine from dispensaries that has been tested by independent labs in Nevada, you will see a cornucopia of terpenes listed on each label. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds that give each cannabis plant its unique smell — interacting with THC and CBD — and therapeutic effect. Terpenes provide many lovely bouquets — ranging from lavender and pine to orange and oregano — when you put your nose into a bag or jar at a dispensary.
Terpenes also balance the psycho-activity in high THC strains, in turn reducing THC-induced anxiety. For example, you might decide to treat your back pain with the strain Bruce Banner #3 that has over 28 percent THC but a strong amount of terpenes so you could still join your friends for dinner.
Some of the common therapeutic terpenes in cannabis include Alpha-pinene (pine oil), which is a bronchodilator helpful for those with asthma that also promotes alertness and memory retention — advantageous when counting cards at a blackjack table in a smoky casino.
Myrcene (thyme and lemon grass) is a terpene that assists with reducing inflammation and pain, sedation and relaxing muscles — it proves helpful as a sleep aid after a hard day of work standing on your feet.
Limonene (citrus oil) improves mood, is antibacterial, and helps with gastrointestinal disorders — try some Lemon Kush after a day indulging at a Las Vegas buffet. Linalool (lavender oil) is great for helping reduce anxiety and increasing happiness — Mother Nature’s Prozac when you need it.
Beta-caryophyllene (black pepper and oregano oil) benefits those with ulcers, autoimmune disorders and inflammation.
Top-shelf cannabis does not have to have a THC percentage over 18 percent. It is the smell and taste of the medicine consumed, created by the terpenes and proper cultivation curing techniques, that matter to a true connoisseur. When you elect to use a clean vaporizer or water pipe, though preferably rolling paper, the “nose” or smell of the cannabis from the terpenes is pronounced in the sensory experience.
As a cannabis patient, with help from the budtender at your local dispensary, you will soon distinguish terpene profiles that are not only medically therapeutic, but offer a pleasant kaleidoscopic of aromas worthy of a caterpillar on a mushroom.