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Understanding Cannabinoid Test Results and “Total Active Cannabinoids”

weed testing for cannabinoids
Testing for cannabinoids

So, you’re at Mankind and you’re looking through the 50+ plus strains of marijuana the dispensary has on the flower wall. You end up with a bag of Sonoma Pacific’s Alien Rock Candy in your hands, and find it has a “Total Active Cannabinoids” of 21.04%. What does this number actually mean? What does “active” mean in this case? As consumers we are often looking for high THC percentage, yet THC makes up only a portion of the percentage of total cannabinoids. What else makes up a plant’s Total Active Cannabinoids, and why is this number important?

As mentioned in one of our previous blog posts, Rob’s “Cannabinoid Reference Guide and Breakdown”, cannabinoids are the main chemical component that gives cannabis its effects. There are over 85 cannabinoids documented by science. Some of the most common ones are THC (delta9-THC), CBD, CBN, CBG, and THCV. Each strain has what we call a Cannabinoid Profile, or the amount of each cannabinoid present in that specific strain. This profile is typically what testing results are referring to when listing a strain’s percentage of Total Active Cannabinoids.

What are “active” cannabinoids?

Companies like Sonoma Pacific, who cultivate cannabis flower, list “Total Active Cannabinoids,” along with levels of delta9-THC and CBD. However, listing delta9-THC on flower can be confusing. Total Active Cannabinoids on most Sonoma strains range from 15%-32%, yet delta9-THC is often listed around 0.3%-5%. If levels of THC dominate most cannabinoid profiles, why is the delta9-THC so low?

weed from sonoma pacific at mankind dispensary
Marijuana flower from Sonoma Pacific

To answer this, we must address the descriptive words used in test results; more specifically, what the term “Active” means in the context of cannabinoids. Cannabis does not produce delta-9-THC, but its precursor THCa (Tetrahydrocannabinolic-acid). THCa becomes “active” after going through the process of decarboxylation, where heat energy is applied to the THCa (usually during the smoking or vaporizing method of consumption). Here the acidic portion of the non-psychoactive THCa is removed. The THC can now be processed by the body to create the euphoric, pain-relieving and calming experience we all know and love. Other cannabinoids with acidic properties are also activated in the decarboxylation process.

However, referring to decarboxylation as activation should not cause you to think a cannabinoid’s acidic form is useless. Cannabinoids in this form are able to be processed by the body, and produce beneficial medical effects. Yet they do not create the psychoactive and more powerful effect most users are looking for from their cannabis. Common terminology has simply referred to THC as the popular and readily desired chemical. This is why a more accurate labeling of THC in a finished flower will be Total Potential Cannabinoids and will isolate the detected amounts of THCa combined with THC.

marijuana vape carts local dispensary
Marijuana in oil form

What else is in a cannabinoid profile?

When listing isolated cannabinoids most companies will only provide potential THC and CBD percentages in the plant, as they are the most well-known and sought-after cannabinoids. Unless selectively bred otherwise, most cannabinoid profiles will be dominated by THC and low in CBD and other minor cannabinoids. Yet when you add up these other 85 phytocannabinoids potentially present in that strain, they can make up around 2%-15+%, of the total cannabinoid profile. Though small in comparison to the levels of potential THC (often around 10%-30+%), these others can have a major influence on the type of high and experience you get from consuming that specific strain.

These complex and infinitely unique effects are why it is important to individually list the levels of all potential cannabinoids in a specific strain. As conscious cannabis consumers searching through dispensaries in San Diego like Mankind, we hope the future brings more accurate testing and transparency. The listing of major and minor cannabinoid levels will help to better understand how the cannabis we are inhaling will affect us. Knowing what ratios of specific cannabinoids work best for your body can create a more consistent and fulfilling experience. It can also make shopping for the perfect strain at Mankind a bit easier.

About the author: Zac is a cannabis devotee and one of our lead cannabis consultants at Mankind Dispensary. He is San Diego county born and raised (Carlsbad) and has been a professional in the cannabis industry for 8 years. You can find him on instagram at zabadaba.sd .

I Heart Jane Online Order Set-Up

i heart jane marijuana ecommerce

What is Jane?

I Heart Jane is an eCommerce solution that provides the ability to more effectively filter, search, and find your favorite Mankind products. With added functionality we believe that our customers will have a smoother, more efficient online process than we currently have in place. The goal is to make your journey better.

What do I need to do?

Great question. All customers will need to go in and set-up a new user profile within I Heart Jane when they place their first order. To make this easier for you we lined out what you will need and the steps you will need to take. Here are the steps:

Sign-Up

Enter a username and a VALID email address. You will need to access this email if you ever need to recover the account.

Enter a VALID Phone number. We will use this to communicate with you via text about your order

Under ACCOUNT > IDENTIFICATION please upload a copy of the front of your ‘government issued ID’. We cannot complete your order without this!

Make sure to enter the name that is on your ‘Government issued ID’.

Pretty straight forward. Here’s some additional information about the new menu coming.

Browsing the Menu

You can view results in a list or grid view. You can also sort products by price or alphabetically.

The search bar will allow you to search for a product by name. You can also search for products by the effect you desire or symptom you are experiencing.

The filter tool will allow you to search by genetic linage, you can search for just indica’s, just sativa’s or strictly CBD products.

The filter tool also lets you search by product type, brand and potency in both THC and CBD.

Happy Shopping

While we recognize that this process may not be ideal we do believe that this will greatly improve your cannabis shopping experience. We also know that with new technology their may be issue. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Mankind team if you run into any issues. We are here to help, and we definitely appreciate your patience in this change over.

The Potency Paradox – Edibles and Vape

How Strong Is That Weed?

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Higher THC isn’t always better

It’s a question as old as time. Everyone remembers talking to their guy and asking what the strongest weed they had was. There might have been a little science in the answer if your guy was on point. More often than not the answer was “this one will send you into outer space”. That was good enough and out the door we went. Things have changed a bit but the question still remains, how strong is it and how high will I get?

Cannabis has evolved. More science is being put into each grow. Strains are combined to get specific effects. THC content is documented. The list goes on. So how do you know what to get? We asked resident cannabis science guy Rob, to give us a little knowledge on what he refers to as the Potency Paradox.

The Great Potency Question

When a large percent of cannabis consumers are shopping, they have very similar questions before they make their final decision. What is the cheapest product I can get with the highest THC content? What is the strongest cartridge? Which edibles hit the hardest? This isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. Let me explain.

There are so many variables when it comes to potency that it’s basically impossible to predict how something will effect you. What we can provide are key pieces of information to aid you in finding the product that’s right for you.  Let’s run it down and get a little education flowing.

Edibles On The Move

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District Edibles cannabis infused gummie

In the world of edibles, we’ve come a long way from dumping an oz of shake into some brownie batter and knocking your family out on thanksgiving. Almost all edibles used to be made from a full spectrum cannabis butter or oil. This led to the usual brownies, cookies and rice krispy treats, even at dispensaries. Most consumers complained that there was very little homogeneity or consistency between edibles and that doses were all over the place. Which they were. The general consensus was edibles were not going to effect you until they knocked you out. My favorite adage was, “the edibles don’t kick in until you start talking smack about them”.

There were brownies with 1000mg a pop, and cannabis syrup with 2500 mg in a tiny bottle. It was a glorious time. Alas, things change with regulation and these days the market has definitely changed a lot.

Edibles in California have to be 10mg max per dose, and 100mg max per package. The other big change in the market is the shift to distillate. With a pure 99% THC cannabis distillate you can very easily get a homogeneous product from batch to batch. You can also ensure that the edible will not have an overwhelming cannabis flavor unlike a full spectrum cannabis butter even at only 60% THC. Here’s where it gets funky.

That 99% cannabis distillate has a very narrow spectrum of cannabinoids, usually just delta 9 THC. That 60% THC butter has almost all the cannabinoids and terpenes that were found in the whole plant. CBG, CBD, THC-A. Not to mention the flavonoids, one of largest nutrient families known to science. As well as the lipids and fatty acids that your body needs. All these other compounds have a marked effect on the potency of a product. So for my money, a 100mg full spectrum edible is worth 2 of it’s distillate competitors. 

Vape Is Your Friend

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Lowell preroll marijuana stashed in a park

When I was a kid if I wanted to get high on the go, I had to hide rolling papers and one hitter pipes all over the city. I had to make sure I had my bag of weed on me and constantly make sure the lighter fairies hadn’t nabbed my ability to make fire. If all that was handled, I needed to find a nice place to hide and discreetly smoke my small amount of mid grade cannabis. These days you just pull your vape out of your pocket and take a deep breath. What a time to be alive.

It’s super easy to look at the packages on the wall and see what has the highest THC content these days. That’s not where the information ends dear reader. There are still more questions to know.

For Instance is it a cartridge with botanical terpenes or are they cannabis derived? Is it a CO2 cartridge or a distillate cartridge? Did you spend the extra money on a HTFSE cartridge? Is it worth it?

Much like edibles, the advent of distillate swept the market and changed what most producers use in their cartridges. It’s easy to get a cartridge that’s over 90% THC when you use the narrow spectrum distillate. However you will sacrifice flavor and a lot of the broad spectrum effect for the sake of a high test. Some brands like Finch & Sons use a blend of distillate and high terpene full spectrum extract to find a happy medium between the two. This provides more flavor while keeping costs down and potency up.

Other brands like Friendly Farms use only the HTFSE oil in their cartridges giving you a much more flavorful and broad spectrum effect. Generally these cost you much more for the treat and sometimes the oil will only test around 75%. Brands like Select choose to use distillate and large batch terpene blends to keep potency as high as possible and keep prices competitive. Our local favorites Outco use a small batch C02 oil with single source terpenes reintroduced for a very unique and flavorful cartridge experience that’s much more true to the cannabis flower it came from.

They all have their place and you’ll need to experiment to find what you like the best. Just keep in mind, it’s not all about that THC test result. It is a combination of factors. At Mankind we have an amazing staff that can guide you the right product when you stop in. It’s all about personal choice and what you are looking for. Knowing what to look for is where we come in. See you soon.

Rob Espinosa is Mankind Dispensary’s very own cannabis whiz. Rob handles product purchases and has a long history of love, and education, within the cannabis world. You can find out what new hotness Rob has found for Mankind customers by stopping in at 7128 Miramar Rd in San Diego. You can find him on IG @blue_ridge_rob. He smiles more there.

The Indoor vs. Outdoor Grow Cannabis Debate

There is a conversation that takes place among cannabis connoisseurs all over. The indoor vs. outdoor grown conversation. We decided to tap into resident canna-science nerd and genius, Rob, to talk about this topic. Rob’s passion for quality products is well known among staff, vendors, and Mankind members (even if they don’t know it). Think of him as the E.F. Hutton of weed. When Rob talks, we should all listen.

Quanlity, Quantity, Sustainability

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Growing cannabis outdoors

The word “outdoor” has always had a negative connotation among cannabis buyers and consumers. It’s generally regarded as lower quality or a commercial venture rather than a high quality passion project. This line of thinking has a few critical errors and oversights. I hope to cover some of the key points here.

The levels of cannabinoids present in a plant, as well as it’s overall appearance, are really the only determining factors in judging the quality of any sample. There are a million factors that can lead to the levels of one strain being higher or lower than another. Genetics, environment and light spectrum tend to be big three. Taking genetics out of the conversation today, let’s focus on environment and light spectrum.

Climb Into The Light

When we talk about environment, we’re referring to the conditions, climate and control of the plant’s light and nutrient exposure while it was being grown.

Light spectrum is referring to the source of lumens feeding your plants. A lumen is the amount of light emitted per second from any particular light source. The sun provides a certain spectrum of light. Meanwhile high pressure sodium, or LED lights, provide a different spectrum respectively.

“Full term”, “outdoor”, and “sun grown” refer to plants with very little environmental control. The sun provides the only light spectrum and the plants are exposed to whatever is in the air around them. This is the traditional way to grow cannabis. It gives you the ability to scale the size of your production to whatever the size of your plot of land will allow. Cheaper cost of production leads to cheaper retail prices, for better or for worse. Companies like Roots and True Humboldt specialize in outdoor grows.

Here little environmental control can lead to problems with microbial and pesticide testing. The sun however will always be the preferred source of light for producing a broad spectrum of cannabinoids. This is especially true in the production of complex volatile terpenes which are responsible for the plant’s flavor and aroma.

Upsides: Sustainable, scalable, low impact to the surrounding environment

Downsides: Low environmental control, only 1 grow per season, appearance of flower can sometimes be subpar

A Greener House

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Green house produced cannabis offers sun and artificial light

“Greenhouse”, “light- dep”, or “mixed light” grows are becoming more and more the industry standard. There is some wiggle room in these terms but generally a true greenhouse is just an enclosed glass structure. These are used to control the environment while maintaining the pure sunlight spectrum.

Light deprivation, or “light dep” grows utilize the sun’s light as well as some form of light control. Things like black out tarps or light movers ensure a specific amount of light reaches the plants. “Mixed light” grows are some of the more advanced systems today. They utilize the sun’s natural light, supplemented by LED and/or HPS lights to ensure plants get the widest spectrum of light possible.

Upsides: Sustainable, scalable, medium to low impact to the surrounding environment, fully automatable for year round production, high quality flowers

Downsides: Cost of production goes up the more advanced your grow becomes

Indoor All The Way

True indoor grows came into existence for 2 main reasons. The first was because it’s easier to hide a clandestine grow inside a house than it is outdoors. The second, and probably more important reason, was the ability to grow year round. The influx of indoor hydroponic grows along with the impetus for higher and higher THC contents converged to create the notion that indoor inherently meant higher quality.

While you have a higher level of environmental control on temperature and outside influence, most commercial indoor rooms produce about 60% of what their Mixed Light counterparts do. It also costs more to produce it this way. Small batch, boutique indoor grows with unique branding and exorbitant price points have seen a rise in popularity in the recreational cannabis space. Brands like Garrison Lane and the Jungle Boys specialize in exotic strains grown completely indoors. It’s pretty costly on the water supply, power grid, and your wallet, to start an indoor grow or to purchase the finished product.

Upsides: The highest level of environmental control and security

Downsides: Cost prohibitive, smaller yields, and the highest impact on the environment

The Circle Of Life

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Choosing the right product matters

When we consume cannabis we become part of the chain of production. It’s our responsibility to choose products that align with our conscience. Looking into the business practices, sustainability, and the environmental impact of the companies we deal with is as important in the cannabis industry as it is in the food industry. The rise in demand for cannabis will lead to more and more growers, that means more water being used, more gas being used, more plastic being used and more electricity being used. So be informed, and be aware of the large impact our small choices can make.   

@blue_ridge_rob

Rob Espinosa is Mankind Dispensary’s very own cannabis whiz. Rob handles product purchases and has a long history of love, and education, within the cannabis world. You can find out what new hotness Rob has found for Mankind customers by stopping in at 7128 Miramar Rd in San Diego. You can find him on IG @blue_ridge_rob. (PS we asked him to smile…he said he was.)