Have you ever thought – “I wish I liked vaping, but it doesn’t feel the same as smoking”. Well, you were right. It comes down to chemistry, but all is not lost. Let’s explore why you feel different when you vape versus smoke, and how to fix it.
If you like smoking flower, but want the benefits and portability of vaping, read this.
It’s 2019 and vaping cannabis is now such a familiar method of ingestion it’s not uncommon to see PAX ERA’s sprinkled through the open rubber bins in the TSA lines as airports. Many people have turned to vaping over smoking for health benefits and because it is easier, more discreet, and more portable.
At the same time, however, for many people vaping cannabis oil produces a unique and “less profound” experience as smoking cannabis (marijuana) flower (bud). We hear things like “I don’t feel as high when I use a vape pen” or “vaping cannabis doesn’t do as much for me medically as smoking flower.”
Why do people feel this way? They aren’t crazy – they are right. It comes down to the chemistry of what is being vaporized. Most cannabis oils (extracts) have a very different chemical profile from cannabis flower. It’s no wonder the consumer feels different when they smoke Grape Ape as compared to vaping it – the chemical profile is, in most cases, drastically different.
If the chemistry of what is being consumed is different, the effects on the endocannabinoid system will differ.
Why is the chemistry of cannabis oils vastly different from cannabis flower? To examine this question we have to look at the history and development of cannabis in the United States.
In the early 1970’s cannabis was listed as a Schedule 1 drug by the Nixon Administration for a variety of reasons which can be explored separately. The prohibition of cannabis led to the development of a black market, an underground economy for a product that people wanted. The illegality of cannabis led to a narrowing of selection and marketplace freedom, meaning consumers had little-to-no choice on what they could buy from black market dealers. This meant the market had very little room to compare products, evaluate experiences, and place value on quality. The market was poorly educated about the qualities of what was being purchased, or what each product might contain from a chemical (analytical) perspective.
The development of medical markets in the 1990’s in states like California and Washington began opening the door for greater product evaluation, comparison, and development. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) became the poster-child for what made a “quality” product. It was known that THC was the chemical in cannabis that caused the feeling of being “high” and it was valued as if it was the only the thing that mattered.
When recreational markets launched in Washington and Colorado in 2014, other chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD, began making their way to the public consciousness. Still, THC dominated the headlines and a race for higher and higher THC potency has unfurled in every recreational market that launched in the United States.
Eventually, however, users began realizing that higher-and-higher THC flower wasn’t producing better-and-better highs. The concept of “Entourage Effect” entered the public awareness and CBD along with rare cannabinoids and terpenes popped onto the scene on a path toward greater recognition and respect.
The concept of “Entourage Effect” entered the public awareness and CBD along with rare cannabinoids and terpenes popped onto the scene on a path toward greater recognition and respect.
Back to the question at hand – why do cannabis oils have chemistry that is so markedly different than the cannabis plant? This history explains a lot. The race for the highest THC possible in flower played out even more pronounced in cannabis concentrates. Products like touted themselves for their potency of THC their clarity of color, expecting consumers to adopt a single-compound perspective of the cannabis plant.
During this period, many consumers recognized that the highest THC extracts didn’t produce the highest-quality experiences. Now, if we think back to the question of why cannabis flower experiences differ so markedly from cannabis oils, the answer seems more obvious – the chemistry of most cannabis oils resembles nothing of the cannabis plant.
In addition to the real and perceived market demand for high THC products, another factor was in play driving the presence of high THC extracts. Trim material is cannabis that has been trimmed from the buds (flowers) and left behind. It doesn’t make for a good smoke with its low level of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Trim material, however, is very cheap and can make for a very high THC potency extract if it is first refined and then distilled down to a cannabinoid fraction (distillate). Distillate is nearly-pure cannabinoids, and it is very far from the chemical makeup of the plant. This is a popular method for cannabis processors, but distillate is a product devoid of many of the compounds in flower that contribute to the feeling of being “high”.
Heylo doesn’t make distillate for this reason – it’s very different from the chemistry of the flower. Our mission is to make cannabis oil that resembles the flower. We want to be as “close to the plant” as possible.
So how do you find cannabis oils that offer a “full-spectrum” of the compounds that you would find in cannabis flower? For the time being, there is no standard. It is necessary to know your processor and understand their method of extraction. You want to find oil that has a broad spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. In the end, you want cannabis oil that resembles the cannabis flower.
Tips for buying “full-spectrum” cannabis products:
· Look for “native terpenes”, “cannabis terpenes” and “processed with bud” on the package.
· Look for at least some CBD alongside the THC. If there is 0%, it has a narrow profile.
· Look for rare cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, CBN, and THCV.
· Look for a terpene content between 5-20%.
· Look at the color – if it is very clear it is not close to the plant. Good cannabis oil looks like this:
· The overall cannabinoid content should be between 50-70%. Over 75% and you likely have a distillate – something that's been purified to the point that it no longer resembles cannabis flower.