Information for Weed Nerds

Information for Weed Nerds

Friday, October 23, 2020

If you’re anything like us, you want to know what you’re putting in your lungs. You’re too old to be ripping bongs made of soda bottles. Here’s the how and why of what we do to keep our products safe.

Why we created blends instead of using strain names:

Strain names are pretty much meaningless. There’s no regulatory body verifying “Alaskan Thunderfuck” as authentic Alaskan Thunderfuck. Many growers, brands, or dispensaries will decide to call a plant by a specific strain name simply because that’s what’s selling at the moment, and many others make the decision arbitrarily based on anecdotal feedback of what the high feels like or the plant looks like without performing any genetic or ancestral analysis.

When it comes to distillate pens like our Smart Vape (practically all pens on the market fit this category), the process of extracting distillate makes strain names even less meaningful. The process involves separating the compounds (such as THC) in the plant, purifying and concentrating them, and then mixing them all back together in various proportions. You can try to be true to the plant you originally extracted from but science doesn’t know all that much about the roughly 150 phytocannabinoids in the plant, much less all the other compounds (such as terpenes) that we’re just beginning to realize have an effect on the high, so we think these efforts are mostly marketing ploys.

So what’s in each Optimist blend?

Optimist blends are made up of 80% cannabinoids and 12% natural terpenes. The rest are plant pigments and phospholipids that are extracted with the cannabinoids. The THC and CBD %’s on our labels don’t add up to 80% because there’s a large percentage of rarer cannabinoids in our oil (which helps provide a full spectrum high).

We have three products:

  • Brain Vacation gets you pretty fucked up. 10:1 THC to CBD ratio meant for experienced users or people who want to be very high.
    Terpenes: Myrcene, Alpha-Pinene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Beta-Pinene, Limonene
  • Her Majesty has a quiet dignity to her. She has a 4:1 THC to CBD ratio with a high we found to be social and good for parties.
    Terpenes: Terpinolene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Myrcene
  • Guacamole? A 1:1 THC to CBD blend which we found to be pleasant, relaxing, and productive. You could probably call your mom on it or hang out at the neighborhood BBQ.
    Terpenes: D-Limonene, Myrcene, Beta-Caryophyllene, Linalool, Beta-Pinene

Why we don’t use ‘sativa’ & ‘indica’:

Sativa and indica have become easy marketing terms to communicate the ratio of THC to CBD present in weed. Sativas have more THC, indicas have more CBD, and hybrids are somewhere in the middle (generally). Certain terpenes like pinene and linalool are also associated with stimulating or sedative effects, regardless of plant lineage. However, just like with strain names, the genetic ancestry of a plant rarely has anything to do with the final words on the label. Almost all strains are some kind of hybrid because cannabis plants interbreed so easily and have been interbreeding for a long time. For distillate pens, the process of purifying and then remixing the various ingredients means that the ancestry of the plants is almost irrelevant to the final THC to CBD ratio.

The bottom line? Buy something with more THC if you want a head high, buy something with more CBD if you want a body high, and buy an even ratio if you want a mix. Research terpene effects if you want to go deeper.

What’s the deal with the ‘entourage effect’?

The entourage effect is the idea that all the compounds in cannabis work together and that the final high is better if you smoke the plant as a whole than if you smoke those compounds separately. It’s just a theory right now, but brands everywhere (including us) are using terpenes, as well as CBD, and THC in our distillate to hopefully provide this effect.

Scientific study on cannabis and its effects has been held back by criminalization and we’re just starting to understand how all these compounds work together. In fact, beyond some interaction between CBD and THC, the entourage effect remains a theory and science cannot explain if, let alone how, it works.

A lot of brands are implying that this or that terpene will make everyone feel a specific emotion (‘bliss’, for exe.). However, we think it’ll be a while before science understands how all these compounds work together, how they interact with each individuals’ body chemistry, and can then prescribe that this or that blend will produce a certain emotional effect for a specific customer.

Why don’t we use thinning agents or fillers?

In its purest form, cannabis oil is very thick and viscous. This isn’t ideal for vape cartridges, which were originally designed for thinner e-cigarette oils. For this reason some companies use a variety of thinning agents. This can make the vaporizer operate more smoothly, but when heated to high temperatures these thinning agents produce harmful byproducts such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. There is actually very little science on safe use of thinning agents, and even less regulation. For this reason we avoid them altogether, adding only plant derived terpenes.

Don’t take our word for it, read more about it:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28522559/

https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/cannabis-vape-oil-ingredients-to-avoid

Why do we use CO2 extraction?

Two big reasons: health and viscosity.

  1. The alternatives to extracting with CO2 are chemical solvents (e.g. butane, hexane, isobutene, isopropyl alcohol), which can remain in finished products and can have serious health consequences when vaped (butane is just lighter fluid, for example)
  2. Because we don’t incorporate thinning agents in our formulas, we have to use a method that naturally creates a less viscous cannabis oil. That is CO2 extraction.

What was that health scare last year about? What’s vitamin E acetate?

Vitamin E acetate is viewed as the likely culprit of the vape-associated lung injuries and deaths that made headlines last year (EVALI). It’s a thinning agent that was used by many brands to make their oil less viscous (see the section on thinning agents above). It’s found naturally in cannabis plants, but only in tiny quantities. Brands were adding large quantities as a thinning agent because they could advertise they were only using stuff found naturally in the plant. Our products do not add any thinning agents, including Vitamin E Acetate, and have been tested, as required by law, to confirm this.

What about heavy metals?

Heavy metals contamination owes to two main factors:

  1. Heating coils that are literally made from toxic heavy metals due to their conductivity (they heat faster than ceramics), and
  2. Cheap ceramics that contain heavy metals

Our heating elements are ceramic, so the first doesn’t apply, and we’ve been thoroughly tested to make sure that our ceramics are well within safety limits.

Do I need to worry about pesticides?

Pesticides remain a problem throughout the industry. They are tested for and regulated, but some farms may find ways around the testing and laws and some extractors source from a variety of farms with little transparency to the end consumer. A study in 2015 found that one out of three concentrates available medicinally in California contained pesticides. That was a while ago and the industry seems to have made considerable progress since, but it’s something to be mindful of.

We source all of our cannabis from Sparc’s farm in Sonoma, which relies on biodynamic pest control. This means maintaining the health of the soil, and ecosystem as a whole, to encourage beneficial insect populations and more resilient crops. Partner that with consistent crop rotation, and you end up with a stable, self-regulating system, which discourages large populations of harmful insects.

Do you winterize and why does this matter?

Cannabis flowers, as with all plants, will naturally have a layer of lipids called cuticle wax coating their exterior. When the flower is smoked, the wax is harmlessly burnt off. Vaping however, does not occur at a high enough temperature to remove the wax on its own. Additionally, the process of concentrating cannabinoids also concentrates these waxes.

Winterization is a process that removes these waxes by literally freezing the cannabinoids and purifying them through crystallization. And yes, we do that.

If there’s anything else you want to know, shoot us a message and we’ll consult our super smart scientists.