The budtender at Urban Wellness nodded when he recognized me. I'd been there about two hours earlier. We'd had a long talk about terpenes and hash oil. “I'm back,” I said. “I want some of that terpene juice.” He didn't look as surprised as I'd expected.
On my first trip: I was impressed by his knowledge of cannabinoids and terpenes—the underappreciated stepchildren of cannabis' chemical profile. I mentioned my favorite terpene, limonene, and he said something about sativas, and I said “Tangie” like it's a code word. One whistle. A half-shake of the head. Three taps to the nose. I think this is how friends are made. His name is Ryan.
People with actual working knowledge of the science of cannabis (whatever that happens to be this week) are a rare find in most dispensaries. It's not anyone's fault, really. Keeping up with the undulating mass that is current cannabis wisdom is a full time job in itself, and these people are already spending their days trying to make a buck. The state sure as hell isn't providing any sort of education or certification for budtending. (And it probably never will.) So when I meet someone who is managing the juggling act without dropping any balls, it's like two sailors bumping into each other in the desert. “My god! What are you doing here?” And so on.
I quizzed him on the lineage of every strain in the house (all of which he knew off-hand, of course), and settled on White Cookies (THC: 26.9%, CBD: unlabeled—$11/gram) and Green Ghost (THC: 21.51%, CBD:0.16%—$10/gram).
Then we got to talking about Terps, a terpene extraction Urban Wellness sells in tiny little jars. Terpenes are the chemicals in plants (not just cannabis) that provide scent. The bright, citrus smell of lemons we find in Lemon OG is the terpene limonene—also found in citrus fruits. This terpene is known for its mood-enhancing benefits and its ability to counteract the paranoia sometimes associated with THC. Myrcene is a terpene that can be found in strains bearing a strong dirt smell. It's known for its sedative effects and is believed to enhance the psychoactive side of THC.
There have been over 100 of these chemicals found in cannabis, and the extent to which plant terpenes in general have been studied means a fuller knowledge of these compounds than cannabinoids (which have obviously not been studied so deeply), meaning a patient armed with knowledge of these stinky bastards will be better equipped to treat their specific ailments. Finding the right strain for you can be a hit-and-miss journey otherwise.
I was thinking about it the whole way home. When I got there, I sat down with a bowl of Green Ghost—a 50/50 hybrid that tastes sweet and smells like a floral garden—and put on the Lemon Twigs. The effects were slow to come on, creeping up my spine and settling at the base of my skull for the duration. There was a pleasurable sensation in my limbs that was relaxing, but didn't cross over into the so-called “couch-locked” area. My brain stayed bright and creative with no sleepiness.
I wanted to get real weird with it, but I just kept thinking about plant scents. Urban Wellness was selling a teensy bottle of Terps ($30/0.05ml) derived from Blue Dream, one of my personal favorite strains. Sugary sweet and fruity, it never fails to put me in a good mood. The potential of adding its power to the already pleasant experience of Green Ghost was calling to me.
I pushed it aside like a professional and packed a bowl of White Cookies. This indica-dominant derivative of Girl Scout Cookies tasted sour with earthy hints at the edges. It was pretty powerful and I was immediately sedated, losing all sense of fatigue or pain. I moved very little over the next half hour or so, except to cough ferociously at a peppery hit here and again. To be honest, I stopped thinking about terpenes and chemicals and cannabis. I got lost in some music, went down a YouTube hole and generally tapped out.
When it wore off, I'd seen a tutorial on beatboxing, a hive of bees rejecting a queen and a disturbing video starring a pregnant Elsa from Frozen that shouldn't be spoken of in polite company. I was exhausted and in no position to deny myself. The next thing you know, I'm back at the dispensary asking a slightly amused budtender for terpene juice. The tiny jar smelled like a pound of Blue Dream had been packed into my nostrils. I could taste the fumes.
Back home, again: I smoked another bowl of Green Ghost with a tiny dab of Terps on top. It definitely tasted like the two strains had made a baby. Whether the effects were all that different was hard to tell, though. It sure seemed like an enhanced experience, but you always have to account for placebo in these situations. At least, I do.
Don't worry. I plan to experiment with the rest of the jar as soon as possible.