Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2016
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2016 North Coast Journal
Author: Thadeus Greenson


If you spent your 4/20 crumbling up buds, rolling them up in papers 
and puffing away, you're going the way of dinosaurs, according to 
industry insiders.

"Nobody smokes flowers anymore," Emerald Cup founder and Mendocino 
marijuana entrepreneur Tim Blake dismissively told Bloomberg 
BusinessWeek in a recent interview, during which he estimated that 
concentrates - things like hash, shatter, rosin, oil, wax and 
honeycomb - will make up 90 percent of the legal pot market by 2030.

Judging from the recent data already available, Blake may not be far 
off. Burgeoning legal markets have tracked a remarkable spike in 
concentrate sales in the last couple of years, with the potent 
marijuana products now making up roughly half of all cannabis sales 
in Colorado, having doubled in popularity in the last year, according 
to a report in the Cannabist.

Enthusiasts report that concentrates - with THC concentrations of up 
to 90 percent, compared to the 20 percent boasted by the dankest of 
"flowers" - deliver a cleaner, more potent smoke, resulting in a 
stronger, more immediate high. As Blake told Bloomberg, "When you've 
tried extracts, you go and smoke a joint and it tastes dirty."

The world of concentrates has grown vast, stretching from the 
millenniums-old hashish to the relatively new advents of 
solvent-based extraction, resulting in products like CO2 oil and the 
butane-fueled shatter, wax and honeycomb.

Frenchy Cannoli, a Mendocino man renowned globally as one of the 
industry's top "cannabis resin consultants," is a traditionalist, or 
"old school," as he puts it. That's not to say Cannoli doesn't see 
tremendous medical potential in solvent-based extraction methods - he 
says they have the potential to "go into another domain" and create a 
product that's nearly pure THC, which could be fantastic for treating 
very specific symptoms. But Cannoli said he doesn't touch the stuff, himself.

Why? He feels much is lost in the quest for huge THC content, 
including part of the high.

Cannoli said that while most people get caught up on THC as an 
indicator of potency, marijuana is really a complicated plant. He 
said studies support the theory of an "entourage effect," meaning 
that a complex web of components - including THC, cannabinoids, 
terpenes and terpenoids - make up marijuana's psychoactive properties.

Traditional hash making uses dry sieves to remove the resin glands 
from the marijuana plant, and then uses heat to press that powdery 
substance together. This retains and concentrates the same compounds 
one ingests when smoking marijuana flowers. But with popular butane 
and CO2 extraction techniques, most everything but the THC is lost.

In Cannoli's mind, this often results in a monotone smoke and a less 
enjoyable high. Counter to popular opinion, Cannoli believes the 
less-THC-potent hash will actually get you more high than its new counterparts.

"You smoke a half a gram of hash, my friend, and you don't move for a 
long time," he said. "And if the hash you have is good, aged hash, 
you're going to spend the day where you are."

Colorado, which has kind of become the Kool-aid test for all things 
recreational pot, is currently grappling with the question of how 
potent is potent enough. A proposed ballot initiative and a proposed 
amendment to a bill in the state Legislature seek to cap the potency 
of marijuana and marijuana products at 15 or 16 percent THC. 
(According to the Cannabist, the average bud sold in the state comes 
in at 17.1 percent THC, with concentrates at 62.1 percent.)

But the horse is out of the barn, and it seems a prohibition on 
concentrates would just create a booming concentrate black market. It 
seems that we - individually and as a society - need to answer the 
question, how high is high enough?

Unfortunately, with national rates of heroin use and prescription 
opiate use skyrocketing, and a marijuana industry doing all it can to 
push the potency envelope, it looks like we've answered the question: 
There simply is no high enough.

Editor's Note: This is the first in a two-part series looking at 
cannabis concentrates. Next week's column will look at butane 
extraction process, its popularity and its dangers.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom