High Level Overview of Concentrates in Alberta, Part 1 of 2
Weed looks a lot different these days. Concentrates have hit Albertan Retailer’s shelves. On the market, we hear words like shatter, caviar, badder, rosin and resin. We walk down memory lane when people mention hash.
In Part One of this two-part series, we look at how concentrates are different from oils, why people talk about live and cured concentrates, and what distillate is.
Oils and Concentrates
Cannabis licensed producers (LPs for short) collect plant biomass (in other words, anything that’s green: stems, leaves and all!). They activate the THC within the product, through a process called decarboxylation. LPs combine the activated biomass with a carrier oil, infusing said oil with cannabinoids. You can use oils to make edibles. On the Canadian market, we find MCT oil derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil, as well as sunflower oil as carrier oils.
Why this matters: You absorb medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) more easily than household oils, which are typically long-chain triglycerides. This helps the effects kick in faster.
Concentrates, on the other hand, are more like a cannabis reduction. Think “maple syrup”. LPs reduce tons of cannabis until an oily product is left.
The type of concentrate you get depends on the exact process you used to obtain your end product.
Live and Cured
Licensed producers use never-dried cannabis product to make live products. The plant material is either used immediately after harvest or cryogenically frozen to preserve it.
Why this matters: Fresh and flash-frozen cannabis contains the most terpenes, yielding a more flavourful experience.
On the other hand, licensed producers can also use plant material that has been cured or dried to make… cured cannabis products! (Sometimes, the naming conventions are creative; other times, we have 7 products called Sativa on our menu — it makes no sense to me either.)
Distillate isn’t just a cannabis reduction. You obtain distillate by distilling cannabis biomass down to until you obtain a specific cannabinoid — typically THC and CBD. CO2 is currently the main method of distillate extraction on the market.
Distillate applications include:
Distillate allows licensed producers to control with precision the levels of cannabinoids within for a product, ensuring consistent THC potency. LPs will sometimes add terpenes back in. If LPs use terpenes derived from cannabis plants, we deem this product to be “full spectrum.”
Why this matters: There is some debate as to whether adding back in plant- or botanical-derived terpenes contribute to effects, or if they are only used for flavour.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the different products that are considered concentrates on the legal Canadian market in Part 2.