Cannabis Education: Terpene Overview

If you’ve been in a dispensary in the last several years, there is a high likelihood that you’ve heard the conversation surrounding cannabis grow beyond THC and CBD levels.  One of the most popular topics of conversation has been the growing importance of a strain’s terpene profile.  So, what are terpenes, and how do they influence the high of cannabis?  We at Anthologie are excited to shed some more light about this fascinating topic in our ongoing educational series; today we will start with a basic overview, and get into more granular detail as blog posts continue.

Terpenes Explained

On a very basic level, terpenes are chemical compounds that comprise the taste and smell of any particular cannabis product; If you’ve ever smelt a fresh evergreen forest in a jar, or tasted a bowl of fruity pebbles in a dab, those experiences are directly attributed to the presence of terpenes.  While the large majority of terpenes are not psychoactive in the same way that cannabinoids (I.E THC and CBD) are, they are thought to provide an influence on the high of cannabis beyond just a sensory experience. So far scientists and researchers have discovered over 400 different unique terpenes in the cannabis plant!  While only a portion of these have been linked to meaningful effects on a cannabis high, more information is being discovered every day.

Cannabinoids and terpenes work in confluence to provide what is called the “entourage effect“, meaning that all of the independent chemical markers in cannabis flower work together to create the holistic, unique effect that we associate with different strains.  To analogize: if cannabinoids are the engine of cannabis, terpenes could be considered the steering wheel.  Cannabinoid content may gauge how fast you’ll get to your destination, but terpene profiles can be a great judge of which direction you’ll be heading along the way.

To dive a little deeper, the effects associated with terpenes goes far beyond just feeling “high”.  Different amounts of individual terpenes offer compounding effects that influence the way you feel, depending on the concentration. In other words: strains that have a large amount of terpenes associated with a “sativa”-like effect (Limonene, Terpinolene) may also have some calming or relaxing feelings if there is a large enough presence of terpenes associated with an “indica”-like effect (Myrcene, Beta-Caryophyllene).

Cannabis: More Than Just a Name

It’s important to keep this in mind when strain shopping at your local dispensary. While a strain name can be great guidance in what you can expect from a high, there is a lot more at play than the name of a plant.  Terpene profiles for particular strains can vary from farm to farm, and even harvest to harvest. Terpene levels can change dramatically based on the soil the plant was grown in, the type of soil amendments used, whether the plant was grown indoor or outdoor, and even fluctuation in temperature.

If possible in your local area, be sure to ask your budtender if they have the terpene profiles of strains you might be interested in.  Not only can this information offer insight into how the high might feel, there is also a good chance it will make the budtender’s day, as well.
Hopefully this overview piques interest into the fascinating world of terpenes.  Our next several posts will cover a deeper dive into individual terpenes, and what to expect if you see their names pop up in strains that you love.  One thing to note: you can find terpene profiles for all of the flower we grow by checking out our strains.  We hope to see you back here soon for our ongoing terpene coverage!