A primer to help you better understand exactly what you’re buying.

When we were young, we bought our pot in Baggies and rolled the dice as to whether it was either decent, strong enough to cause anxiety in elephants, filled with stems and seeds, or cut with oregano – or who-knows-what. Now there’s a whole science to marijuana growth and production. Which is cool – you now know what you’re getting. And the more you know…

But a lot of this science can be daunting. For example, what are terpenes, why are people talking about them, and why is knowing a bit about them helpful in choosing the right cannabis product for your specific needs?

So, without getting all Einstein on you, here’s a simple course.

Terpenes are organic compounds in plants, including marijuana. They’re the stuff that provides the aroma and flavors of those plants. Do you enjoy the smell of roses and lavender? Thanks terpenes. If you got you some stinkweed that smells like a monkey’s bum after four burritos, blame terpenes.

In marijuana plants, they also interact with cannabinoids which influences the nature of the cannabis. As our Senior-High cum laude alumni will recall, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD influence the effect of cannabis products. Change the balance of terpenes and cannabinoids and you change the overall effect of the cannabis. It’s kind of like making a whiskey sour; change the proportion of ice or lemon juice to whiskey in a Whiskey Sour and the drink may just get you a bit tipsy or leave you with your head the toilet.

Common Terpenes

Let’s look at the most common terpenes you’re likely to run into, and their effects:

Limonene– Mmm, smell those lemons? The aroma from limonene can’t help but lift your spirits. It may help improve relaxation and aid in digestion.

Humulene– Like a whiff of the great outdoors! Humulene may help dieters suppress their need for a second helping of dessert and reduce inflammation.

Linalool – Smells a bit like lavender, floral and sweet. It’s found in many plants. Linalool-infused lavender has been used in aroma therapy for many years. In cannabis, it may chill you right out.

Myrcene – Found in hops and is responsible for the aroma of beer. It’s found in many strains of cannabis as well as lemongrass. Many believe myrcene can aid in sleep; you’ll find many lemongrass-infused teas are used in different parts of the world to help people sleep well.

Beta-caryophyllene – You can find this terpene in cloves and rosemary It’s used for helping manage symptoms of stress and depression.

These are just a few of the most prevalent terpenes found in cannabis. Knowing what they do and how they may influence the cannabis product you’re interested in may be useful to help ensure what you’re getting is what you want.

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