Cannabis flowers, edibles, and concentrates are three different ways to use cannabis. Some use all three, but most prefer to take one path or the other. They differ in form, mechanism of action, and effects. So, newbies should know what they are in for when shopping or making choices.
Cannabis is a flowering plant. Its flowers are the smokable part. The cured flowers can be consumed by smoking rolled in papers, processed into blunts, or smoked in pipes or bongs. Using cannabis in this way, you can control the intake and effects simply by toking, holding, and repeating at will.
Sativa strains produce a psychoactive, creative high with the risk of increased anxiety, hallucinations, and paranoia. Indica strains calm and sedate to relieve stress, anxiety, and pain. However, most strains are hybrids offering countless variations of body and brain effects.
Business Insider reports the five most popular cannabis flowers are:
- Blue Dream (Sativa)
- Durban Poison (Sativa)
- Bruce Banner #5 (Sativa-dominant Hybrid)
- Sour Diesel (Sativa)
- Blueberry Diesel (Indica-dominant Hybrid)
Of course, you can add long-time favorites like Charlotte’s Web, Chemdawg, Girl Scout Cookies, Northern Lights, and White Widow.
People like what they like, and many have entered the weed world using the strains recommended by friends or black-market dealers. Smokers tend to stick with what they like, but legalized pricing sees low cost driving strain selection. Only the most sophisticated users with enough discretionary incomes can afford to try the whole menu.
The cannabis effects hit quickly when you use flowers. The potency moves quickly into your blood system through mucosal membranes and lungs, systems which distribute the benefits and effects throughout the brain and body.
The scores of cannabis edibles fall into two broad classes: those you prepare yourself and those prepared and sold through dispensaries and online. And, people use them for scores of reasons.
People discovered the medical and recreational benefits thousands of years ago. It was probably first used as an herb until folks realized there was something more to it. Some early medicine people took cannabis in a pharmaceutical direction. Some others used it to trigger spiritual events. And, still others just wanted to have fun.
But, somewhere along the line, they started to cook with it. Today, culinary pioneers are creating contemporary twists that add cannabis to traditional recipes for everything from soup to nuts. They do it because it can add a definite herbal touch with canna-butter, canna-oils, and dried flakes. It also delivers beneficial properties in an easy-to-consume, tasty form.
If you are preparing your own edibles, you must remember the heat will alter the strain and its effects, so you must control the dosing. Cannabis strains also have unique flavors and aromas that may or may not fit your recipe. But the most popular strains for cooking include:
- Gorilla Glue #4 (Sativa-dominant Hybrid)
- Super Lemon Haze (Sativa-dominant Hybrid)
- Orange Crush (Sativa-dominant Hybrid)
- Purple Power (Sativa)
- Skywalker (Indica-dominant Hybrid)
On the other hand, you can consume cannabis in convenient and discrete forms like brownies, lollipops, gummy candies, fudge, and luxury chocolates. All edibles process differently than smoking. They enter your systems after digestion and metabolization. This will delay their longer-lasting effects up to an hour, so you must be wary of overdosing. Edibles are especially valuable to do who don’t like smoking or in need of care.
Concentrates are various products processed in different ways to retain the desired cannabinoids and terpenes without the undesirable plant material and impurities. Clean of those “extras,” concentrates are more potent than cannabis flowers.
Concentrates are delivered in seven forms:
- Shatter is the most potent concentrate, filtered several times to produce a sheet like peanut-brittle that shatters with ease. The shatter is used by inhaling fumes issued from a dab device.
- Distillate is low in aroma, flavor, and taste. It is typically a THC-oil or CBD-oil used in vaping with high potency as a result of the purifying distillation process. Because the terpenes have been removed, the final product may lack the entourage effect of medical benefits.
- Crumble is a wax created by a butane extraction process producing a sticky and crumbly “candy.” It differs from crumble because the product purges the debris at a low temperature allowing for a slower distillation that retains more flavor. It is used as a dab or smoked through a pipe.
- Budder/Badder/Batter is a soft waxy substance with more terpenes and as much as 90% THC potency. It dries quickly and should be refrigerated. It retains more flavor and aroma than Shatter. Added to a joint or pipe, it can enhance a smoking experience.
- Crystalline isolates include Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). They produce the purest form concentrates available. Potency can reach 99.9% with no trace of fats, flavonoids, lipids, or terpenes. That also means they lack aroma, color, and flavor.
- Rosin is the result of heat and pressure. Two heated plated squeeze a cannabis product under high pressure to force extrusion of resinous trichomes. The resulting honey-like product can be reconfigured as wax, budder, or crumble. And, because no solvents are involved, the end-product retains the valued properties of the original strain.
- Dry Sift/Sieve may be the easiest way to produce cannabis concentrate. Dry sifting uses layers of screens, each with different permeability. You basically shake and shift dry flowers to yield cannabinoids and essential oils leaving branches, sticks, and non-effective plant material behind. Sifting takes some time and talent, but it produces a kief you can add to pipes, joints, dabs, and vaporizes for added potency and effects.
Except for Dry Sift, most processes include heat and chemicals presenting some hazard in the process and use. Most concentrates are reserved for the most experienced users because of DIY processing and potency.
Take it or “leaf” it!
Cannabis concentrates are not for everyone unless they know the difference between flowers, edibles, and concentrates. The FDA and some states are concerned about claims of medical benefits made by manufacturers and marketers of edibles with cannabis additives. But those concerns are not likely to affect home cooking.