Part 2 – Be an Educated Consumer; Important Questions to Ask your Budtender
Navigating Vermont’s New Cannabis Marketplace; A Three Part Series on Building a Positive Cannabis Experience
In Part 1 of this series, we shared some basic guidance on what you need to know in order to purchase and consume cannabis in Vermont. In Part 2, we focus on which questions you can ask budtenders in order to make informed decisions about your purchases. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a good place to start.
What are the cannabinoid and terpene contents of this particular product?
First and foremost, it is important to understand the chemical constituents of the products you are buying, primarily the cannabinoid and terpene content. There is a lot to learn here and it is best to go into the dispensary with a little knowledge under your cap. There are a lot of online resources that discuss the differences between ∆9THC, CBD and CBN, the cannabinoids you will see the most on product labels, as well as terpenes like pinene, limonene and linalool. We highly recommend the website, projectcbd.org for this information; it is valuable for beginners and experienced consumers alike. Martin Lee and his team do a great job of educating on the cannabis plant and presenting the research behind its potential therapeutic benefits. They also go into the importance of the ratio of cannabinoids in each product. For instance, THC and CBD go well together; in combination they can boost therapeutic effect. CBD also has the ability to tamper the euphoric effect of ∆9THC. This is beneficial for those that want symptom relief or elevated creativity without disorientation.
Budtenders should be able to speak to cannabinoid and terpene content. At a minimum, they are required to provide a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) for cannabinoid content on each of the products they sell. Terpene analysis is not required at this time, but product manufacturers and dispensaries bringing their “A game” will make this information available to you. Ask for it when you are at the dispensaries.
Why is terpene content important?
Terpenes are volatile aromatic compounds found in a variety of plants; they are responsible for a plant’s aroma and flavor profiles. Terpenes serve to attract pollinators and to repel pests. They also perform important immune functions for the plants, which can be passed on to humans when we consume them. Cannabis flowers are abundant with terpenes. Research and personal experience show that terpene profiles in cannabis products contribute greatly to the overall experience for the consumer. It is important to pay attention to terpene content as you experiment with products to learn which ones work best for you. If CoAs for terpene content are not available, follow your nose, especially when it comes to flowers. You may discover that flowers with a citrusy aroma and taste may be more uplifting, while buds with an earthier, floral scent may be more relaxing.
Are these products tested for safety?
Cultivators and manufacturers are required to analyze products for pesticides, molds & mildews, residual solvents and human pathogens. These are all important considerations for public safety. Be sure to request this info at the dispensary. Some businesses may also provide this information on their website.
What type of cannabis extract is used in this product?
Besides the chemical constituents of the products, it is important to understand what type of extracts are used in infused products. Some edibles will be made with a fat, like butter or olive oil, which was infused directly with cannabis flowers or trim. Others are made with concentrated extracts. These can be made either with solvents or without, commonly known as solventless. The solventless extracts usually retain more of the terpene profile of the original flowers and can lead to both a stronger cannabis taste in the finished product and possibly a better effect for you. They also have the benefit of being free of residual solvents like alcohol. As a side note, Vermont does not permit hydrocarbon extraction with solvents like butane. Butane is a neurotoxin and is dangerous when present as a residual solvent. Vermont does permit CO2 extraction which allows for the creation of a variety of different extracts, some more concentrated in cannabinoid content than others. Distillates are commonly used in edibles because they allow for accurate dosing. They also diminish the flavor of cannabis in the product. You will learn over time what you prefer when it comes to extracts in your edibles. Ask your budtender what they know about the extracts in each product before you purchase. Manufacturers might also include these details on their label.
What can you tell me about the company that made this product?
Finally, we think it is important to know who the people are behind the products – the growers and the manufacturers. Vermont has taken extra care in its laws and regulations to create a sustainable marketplace that features environmentally sound practices and supports those that have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. It is up to the consumer, that’s you, to hold regulators and vendors accountable to these initiatives. When at the dispensary, ask the budtender what they know about the farms or cultivation facilities supplying the products in their store. Is it an indoor or outdoor crop? Do they utilize organic cultivation practices? Other questions of interest may be whether the brand is BIPOC or women owned. Is the company doing good in their community, offering livable wages and benefits to their staff or supporting critical non-profits? What is important to you? Ask those questions at the dispensary or look for these answers on company websites ahead of your visit.