Cannabis 101: Intro to Terpenes

Cannabis 101: Intro to Terpenes

Mmmm … We open our pot containers and out comes this amazing smell. We add some heat and now we taste it. What causes this experience? It’s not the THC, CBD or other cannabinoids –they have no flavor or scent. Terpenes are the molecules that give each strain the flavor and smell we associate with it. With over 200 terpenes found in cannabis, there are many different combinations.

Terpenes affect more than just the senses. A great example of their effect is the relaxing quality of lavender. You do not relax because it has a lovely fragrance. It is a result of inhaling linalool, the main terpene in lavender. It affects your brain and helps you relax. There are terpenes that can improve our moods, lower anxiety, decrease pain, and even give us couch-lock. One can even improve your memory – yes, really, smoking pot can improve your memory. It’s also been found that a few of these molecules can actually work to enhance the effect of THC and other cannabinoids. Scientists call this the “entourage effect.”

The majority of the plant’s terpenes are found in the trichomes, the things that look like tiny little crystal hairs coating the buds in sparkles. Because most terpenes are produced as the plant flowers, the scent of the plant increases and changes as the buds grow and mature.

You may notice a slight difference in scent when you pick up your favorite strain from a new dispensary or grower. Fear not, there has been no mistake. The level of each terpene is affected by the soil and nutrients the plant was grown in, the time of day the bud was harvested, and even how old the bud is when you buy it. Since many terpenes begin to evaporate at temperatures as low as 75 degrees Fahrenheit, a decrease in some terpenes will occur during the curing process. The scent and flavor change when there are differences in the plant’s environment before, during and after harvest.

Take a journey with me into the world of some of the predominant terpenes in cannabis and share about your favorite strain’s taste and aroma.