Cannabinoids: The Full (Spectrum) Picture
Many of you know that we differentiate Full Spectrum and Distillate vaporizer products on our menu. If you look at cannabis like a fruit:
- Raw cannabis: It’s like you’re eating grapes; it’s not too sweet and can be tart.
- Cured cannabis: You’re eating raisins; way more concentrated sweetness, but you still have the other components of the grape, just in lesser quantities.
- Full Spectrum: Juice from the fruit that’s unrefined and unadulterated so it keeps all the components.
- Distillate: Juice from the fruit that’s been refined until all you have is sugar.
Effectively, distillate is a single cannabinoid: no other cannabinoids or terpenes are present in a pure distillate product. Many companies choose to add terpenes back into their vaporization products, edibles or oils. These can be derived from cannabis (costly) or botanical sources (limonene can be extracted from fruit peels, for example). As a result, we don’t necessarily identify a product made with distillate but with additional terpenes added in as “full-spectrum” because there’s a piece of the puzzle that’s missing: minor cannabinoids.
Everyone has heard of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It’s a major cannabinoid found in (surprise, surprise), cannabis. Many have also heard about cannabidiol (CBD).
If you want to learn more about THC & CBD and how they play together, here’s Dr. Shields’ awesome explanation of their relationship and how they bind to our receptors:
When you come to visit daikoku, we list out the two major cannabinoids on our menu. We sort our list by highest to lowest THC. Because there’s so much more to cannabis than THC and CBD, we also list out the top three terpenes.
But wait: There’s more!
Just when we thought we knew everything about a plant we’ve been smoking for millennia, we slowly realize how right Socrates/Plato was.
In fact, the cannabis plant contains over 120 cannabinoids. Lab reports don’t test for all the components, but they do test for more than just the major cannabinoids and terpenes. These components are deemed “minor cannabinoids” because they’re present in very low volumes in cannabis that is typically consumed in the non-medical market.
We’re starting to see some minor cannabinoids get attention. Just this week, we’re got a CBN+CBD oil by brand Night Night. (And if that doesn’t give you an idea of what it’s supposed to do, read on!)
In the post, we’re going to look at 6 minor cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidiolic acid (CBDa), cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC).
I don’t expect you to be able to pronounce any of them.
1. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa)
If you want to get really high with weed, you gotta drop the acid.
Specifically, the THCa molecule can’t bind to the cannabinoid receptors responsible for yielding the feeling of “getting high”. When cannabis comes into exposure to light and heat, the acid is removed from the molecule: congratulations! You’ve created THC.
That being said, THCa does have therapeutic effects that are being looked into, such as anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic effects. For these reasons, some people consume raw cannabis, or put cannabis leaves in water and steep it like tea (THCa is more water-soluble than THC).
(Also, technically, THCa isn’t a cannabinoid since it’s an acid. Bear with me – weed is complicated.)
2. Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV, THV)
While we tell people to look for humulene as an appetite curber, the real munchie destroyer is actually THCV. The cannabinoid is being researched for medical purposes, and laboratories testing cannabis do test for the presence of THCV. As of September 2021, I haven’t seen any brand or product mentioning this cannabinoid.
In the cannabis plants we grow for inhalation purposes, the amount of THCV tends to be very low. However, some cannabis plants in Africa and Asia can produce up to double-digit percentages of THCV.
3. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa)
Looking for CBDa? You’ll find it in raw cannabis leaves and flowers. CBDa is the precursor to CBD, and like THCa, it needs to be cured, or exposed to light or heat in order to lose the acidic component and become the CBD. Fun fact: CBDa was only isolated in 1996.
4. Cannabinol (CBN)
Did you know? CBN was isolated and purified from cannabis before THC. I call this cannabinoid the “nighttime” cannabinoid. (Note: Health Canada regulations prevent me from telling you if a product makes you tired or sleepy.)
Like all the other minor cannabinoids mentioned, CBN doesn’t interact with your receptors in a way that gets you high. This, to me, is super interesting because CBN is actually what THC grows up to become. Or rather, what THC becomes when it’s old and degraded, that is.
Unlike terpenes which evaporate over time, THC doesn’t evaporate. Instead, it degrades.
It’s been theorized that the sensation of “couch lock” is due to CBN.
5. Cannabigerol (CBG)
The Mother Cannabinoid.
Now, CBG actually starts out as (you guessed it!) an acid. When CBGa comes into contact with UV rays, heat and/or curing, CBGa gets transformed into THC and CBD, and, to a lesser extent, CBG. In fact, in most cases, CBG tested will be well under 1%.
While CBG has a plethora of possible effects – it’s thought to come into play with a neurotransmitter that enhances pleasure and motivation, and regulates sleep and appetite – it’s sought after because of its suspected role in improving the “entourage effect” of the various cannabis compounds.
Some of my favourite cultivars – like 72 Volt by RGB, Cold Creek Kush by Vertical and Mango Taffie by Good Buds – have significant amounts of CBG (upwards of 1% and up to 5% in some cases).
So if CBG is such a BIG deal, why isn’t it on the labels?
As a minor cannabinoid, Licensed Producers aren’t mandated to post CBG levels on their packages. Since recalls can happen for any incorrect data on the label, many LPs only listed out what’s strictly mandated.We’re likely to see that change as people become more aware of minor cannabinoids and their interconnectivity with the cannabis experience as a whole.
6. Cannabichromene (CBC)
Just me, or does this cannabinoid also make you think of the news?
Cannabichromene (CBC) is the cannabinoid that most interests me as it’s being looked into for its anti-depressant properties. Mind you, this is possibly because it potentially reduces colonic inflammation (and gut health is intrinsically tied with mental illness such as depression, ADHD and anxiety). It’s also being looked into as an anti-microbial.
White Lightning by Highland Grow
We try and curate the cannabis on our menu such that, if you’re on the indica page, you get more couch-locking effects, whereas if you’re looking at the sativas, you should be good for getting your to-do cleared out for the day.
Of course, then we have to find the exception.
White Lightning is an Indica dominant cultivar. However, it actually got William rather active and gung ho – lots of energy and mood elevation, with increased body awareness. It does eventually taper off to a milder, more relaxing sensation, letting you get some needed shut eye. That being said, I’d still tell you that it can be paired with a game night or video game session. Or a great chat with friends.
The nugs are mostly mid-sized, though every now and then we find a couple of bags with only two or three nugs. They’re beautifully frosty and dense, but don’t present a strong aroma when whole.
About White Lightning:
- Indica dominant
- Lineage: Hindu x Northern Lights
- Cannabinoids: THC dominant
- Min THC: 23%
- Max THC: 29%
- Max CBD: 2%
- Terpene Profile: Caryophyllene, Limonene, Humulene
- Container: Mylar zipseal bag
- Humidity Pack: None
Orange Monkey by Liiv
Slightly gassy and mostly citrusy, this monkey is a cross between GG4 x Guinness. While it’s slated as a Hybrid, this is a product I keep for evenings when thinking is no longer necessary, and I just need to disconnect for a bit. In all seriousness, doing my daily crossword takes twice as long on Orange Monkey than it does on other cultivars. Do with that information what you will.
Pairs well with Barrel of Monkeys.
Beautifully sparkly, with nice mid-sized nugs. Aroma is pleasant, but not too strong.
About Orange Monkey:
- Hybrid, Indica leaning
- Lineage: Gorilla Glue #4 x Guinness
- Cannabinoids: THC dominant
- Min THC: 20%
- Max THC: 26%
- Max CBD: 1%
- Terpene Profile: Limonene, Myrcene, Caryophyllene
- Container: Large plastic jar
- Humidity Pack: None