People often ask us about cannabis extract, and whether it can be an effective substitute for smoking, when treating their conditions. Well, there’s a long answer and a short answer. The short answer is: “yes, cannabis extract can absolutely help to treat your condition.” But there’s really quite a bit more to it.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is Cannabis Extract?
Cannabis extract is a thick, sticky distillation of the various medicinal compounds in cannabis. It’s what’s left after the plant matter has been removed. It’s a potent, and highly effective alternative to smoking, and, if processed properly, it retains all the unique terpenes from its source.
That belies the complexity of the process, though. Extract can be produced in any number of ways, so long as the plant matter gets dissolved or removed. Less scrupulous (and less effective) production methods use butane or some other reactive solvent to separate the plant matter from the cannabinoids, leaving behind only the medicinal ingredients to be further refined into a usable form. If you’ve ever used a grinder to prepare cannabis, and noticed a fine particulate residue, you’ve been performing more or less the same process. It’s that granular particulate which contains the vast majority of the active medicinal compounds.
So, what’s the dust?
On any cannabis leaf, under a microscope, you will find a myriad small crystalline stalks with rounded caps rising from the body of the leaf.
These are called trichomes. The plant evolved them as a way to protect the fragile leaves from insects and from harmful UV radiation, but they have another, more pertinent function. It’s in the head of the trichomes that the cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, are manufactured. Thus, it’s in the trichomes that you’ll find the highest concentrations, and it’s from these that the most pure extracts will be produced.
Types of Extracts
There are three major types of extract, each defined by its relative level of purity. That dusty particulate — the shed trichomes — is, itself, a sort of extract, so we’ll start there. That’s sometimes called kief. It’s just a collection of those crystalline trichomes, without the leaf-matter. That can get pressed into a more concentrated form, called hashish. The earliest kind of cannabis extract, hashish has been used medicinally for centuries, especially in the East.
If this concentrate is further distilled, by means of some sort of solvent (pressurized CO2 is a popular choice, since it leaves no residue or residual metals in the final product), removing even more of the organic matter, it will result in an oil, and eventually that pure, sticky concentrate. These concentrated extracts are just a hair shy of 100% pure THC or CBD (exact percentages will vary by product, but 97% is a fair estimate in most cases).
How is Extract Used?
Cannabis extract can be metabolized in three major ways. For each, let’s assume we’re talking about the most refined of the options above.
A common method for absorbing cannabis extract into the body is sublingual dissolution. Just a single drop (or a bead about the size of a grain of uncooked rice) is left to dissolve under the tongue, where it will soon be absorbed by the soft tissues of the mouth and passed into the bloodstream. This is a good middle-of-the-road approach, since its effects don’t come on too quickly, but they are relatively long lasting.
This works for both THC and CBD extracts.
This method of consumption is especially effective for THC extracts. At the right temperature, (around 400ºF, but not exceeding 450ºF, for most users), THC extract is almost completely vaporized, leaving virtually no residue. This can be accomplished with any number of off-the-shelf vaporizer kits, but it can also be done with other kinds of controlled heat sources.
Vaporization of this sort is significantly healthier than smoking, and brings the effects on with more crispness and texture than ingestion or dissolution.
Cannabis extract can be ingested, though the process of metabolization is slower. Like a more extreme form of dissolution, the effects from ingestion are much longer lasting, but relatively muted compared to vaporization. This method is particularly good when CBD is being used for pain relief, or treatment of conditions like anxiety, since the effects are subtler, and with greater duration.
Cannabis Extract at Kind Farma
Cannabis extract, when properly prepared, is a clean, safe way to use medicinal cannabis, and it carries almost exactly the same benefits as other preparations. If you’d like to hear more about cannabis extract, contact us or come visit our farm or dispensary to speak with one of our cannabis experts.