In this article, we go beyond the reasons typically presented when it comes to choosing between flower and concentrates. A quick internet search will yield a list similar to the one below. Instead, this article will approach the topic from the viewpoint of an individual who is most concerned about purchasing quality product. Specifically, why buying premium flower is generally the best option when quality matters.
Before listing the typical pros and cons for flower versus concentrate and then continuing on with the real focus of the article, selecting quality product, a brief mention as to what a “concentrate” is may be helpful. Specifically, a concentrate is any product that extracts the cannabinoid, terpenes, or both from the cannabis plant (almost always done using a solvent), and then evaporates off the solvent leaving behind a oil, wax, shatter, or the like that is very high in cannabindoids (THC, CBD, etc), terpenes, or both.
|Flower Pros and Cons|
|● Whole Plant Compounds Work Synergistically||● Misconception That Flower Must Be Smoked|
|● Accessible & Less Expensive||● Not As Easy As Taking Drops|
|● Many Uses: Smoke-Vape-Rosin-Edible-etc.||● May Require Decarbylation|
|● Can See What You’re Getting||● Can Go Bad When Improperly Store|
|Concentrate Pros and Cons|
|● More Potent Than Some Flower Applications||● Synergistic Plant Compounds Are Lost|
|● Easy to Add to Food or Drinks||● Often Contains Chemicals/Pesticides|
|● Requires Little Effort||● Quality is Not Easy to Discern|
|● Often Additional Equipment Not Required||● Expensive - Processing Costs|
In addition to the pros and cons sited, a brief look at our CBD Resource page may be in order. It shows that concentrates are often untested, diluted, contaminated, and likewise. For those new to CBD, buying a product they can trust is so important. How many people have tried CBD with little to no effect? Or worse, they had negative effects because the product they purchased was unknowingly bad? How many have walked away from CBD simply because they purchased bad product? Based upon the CBD Resource links and what is discussed below, there are a lot. This is truly a tragedy especially for those that aren’t doing well.
So before we actually get into the topic of quality, we’re going to first start out by looking at two purported cons often sited when it comes to flower. They are that smoking is unhealthy and that a person can’t get high doses from flower. Let’s dive in.
Alternatives to Smoking & Concentrating Flower
One common argument often put forth when it comes to flower is that smoking is unhealthy. This is in spite of the fact that “well-designed population studies have failed to find an increased risk of lung cancer associated with marijuana use”. Nonetheless, for those that don’t like smoking or are rightly cautious about smoking, there are many, many ways to use flower besides smoking.
For example, let’s assume you want the faster acting effects of smoking but don’t want all of the questionable combustion by-products. Well, there is dry herb vaporizing where the flower is heated just enough to volatilize the resin without actually burning the plant matter. No more tar, no more combustion by-products. Sure, a person could go on about the potential side-effects of vaporizing the resin but this is difficult to do in light of the facts that you’re actually vaporizing a pure product, not a oil blended with a whole host of other agents as in various commercial concentrates, along with the fact that vaporizing has an incredibly safe track record.
The second common argument against flower is that you can only deliver smaller doses. While this is true to some degree when it comes to smoking or vaporizing, there are many alternative ways to using flower! For example, hash concentrate can be made using dry-ice or ice water. Alternatively, you can use a little heat and pressure and squeeze the oil (rosin) out of the bud. This could be done as simply as using a curling iron or by buying an inexpensive “rosin press”. Yet again, concentrates from flower can be extracted using Everclear alcohol and dry ice. To learn more about making concentrates just as potent as commercial products that are much cleaner and of guaranteed high quality, go to the private search engine Qwant and enter the key phrases “how to make cannabis”, “rosin press”, “alcohol extraction”, “bubble hash”, “dry ice kief”, “MagicalButter machine”, etc.
So the main point is that concentrates are relatively easy to make and more importantly, you’re much more certain of getting a high quality product. When it comes down to it, it’s easy for commercial producers to fake oil and other concentrates; it’s impossible to fake dried flower. A $5 magnifying glass will show you if the flower is loaded with trichomes/resin/sugar/crystal. When you vaporize flower or make your own concentrate, you don’t have to worry about commercial concentrates being loaded with toxins/solvents/pesticides, being watered down, being tainted with a synthetic, or otherwise.
When it comes to usage, concentrates from flower are roughly four times the potency of the flower. They’re as potent as typical, commercially produced concentrates. If the CBD content of the flower is 15% then the concentrate will be roughly 60% CBD by weight. This concentrate can then be vaporized and inhaled, placed under the tongue, mixed with a carrier oil like MCT, or cooked into an edible depending on how quickly and how long a person wants the effects to be. In other words, used just like any other concentrate.
In a perfect world, concentrate producers would all be trustworthy. The unfortunate reality is there are so many places numbers can be “tweaked”, where lab results can be faked. There are so many contaminates not tested for. There are so many products that have been diluted. With all the money that is to be made in the cannabis industry, it’s like blood in the water to all the “sharks” out there looking to prey upon the unknowing public.
At a minimum, our recommendation for folks starting out, or who have tried CBD with no benefit, is to try some high quality flower. If you don’t like smoking, then an inexpensive “dry herb vaporizor” works well. In so doing, you’ll have a known baseline of experience to work from. You’ll know for real what the plant can do for you. Later, if you want to purchase concentrate, you’ll know if it’s any good because a good concentrate should impact you similarly as high quality, organic flower.
Significant Flower Advantages Over Concentrates
Having lain to rest the two most commonly touted “drawbacks” of flower, let’s continue on with the topic of quality. When you buy commercially produced oil, shatter, wax, or some other concentrate, you’re typically buying product from many growers that has been blended together. Given this, it’s impossible to “know your grower”. It’s impossible to “get a read” on the sincerity and commitment of the grower(s). And as such, you’re left with having to rely upon lab results. Note: The picture from Medicated Squirrel on Instagram shows rosin concentrate pressed from our flower.
For example, we’ve looked over labs provided for various concentrates. Often, they simply aren’t available. In these cases, the consumer is left with pretty pictures and tailored sales pitches. When labs are provided, they’re not particularly easy for the novice to read. And when you do read over them, quite often they clearly show the presences of toxic chemicals. Sure, sure, the seller no doubt has all sorts of arguments as to why these levels are “safe”…
Not wanting to be too mistrusting, but it bears noting that when it comes to lab testing, the assumptions often made are that the product that was tested is the same product that is sent to consumers, that the testing lab is well-established and known for not tweaking results, and so on. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Once again, it’s really important to know your grower.
Setting testing limitations aside, let’s now shift our attention to instances where oil and other concentrates test high in pesticides or mold. It happens. When you make a concentrate, you’re concentrating both the good and the bad. What I’m guessing you probably didn’t know is that these concentrates are often “remediated” in order to get them to pass.
By this I mean that through the use of more chemicals and various filtration media the offending pesticides and molds are brought down to acceptable limits. I know because we’re looking into producing our own CBD oil right here on the farm where we control everything from the field to the bottle. From our research, remediation of bad product is often discussed in the concentrate world.
Let’s step back think about this for a minute. As mentioned, concentrating by definition means amassing not only the good cannabidiols and terpenes but also everything bad that has been done to the plant. So when a grower sprays pesticides, not surprisingly, the resulting product often comes back above lab limits. This is of course assuming it’s one of the 66, out of thousands, of pesticides being tested for in the U.S.A.. Otherwise, it goes undetected.
Pesticides aren’t good for people. Generally speaking, pesticides are damaging to our nervous system. When the oil or other product is concentrated, so are the pesticides that were sprayed. So are the adverse health effects.
So what do producers do when a product tests high? Does the producer throw out the product? Not if they can help it; that’s just “money out the window”. Instead, a knowledgeable chemist uses different chemicals and filtration media to pull out the target pesticides (or mold). That’s cool but what’s left behind? In States where testing is required, testing for remediation chemicals is never done. Also, given the fact that the grower wasn’t adverse to using chemicals to begin with, what other chemicals did he/she apply that weren’t tested for? What are the impacts of all of these chemicals on the actual cannabinoids and terpenes? And so on, and so on.
The same arguments hold for mold contamination but the negative health effects may be worse. By this I mean that the population in general, and this includes growers, are unaware of the fact that while some mold spores can be damaging to health, such as the inhalation of aspergillus mold spores (seeds) leading to lung disease, there is this a whole soap of chemical toxins being emitted by many of the different types of mold and bacteria that are munching away at the decaying plant matter. Many of these toxins can severely damage health.
Think of it this way. There are literally armies of bacteria, fungi, and other micro-organisms, that are many in number and kind, fighting it out with one another for control over the food source – the decaying cannabis plant. The way these tiny microbes stake out control of a portion of the pie is to emit wicked chemicals that fend of other competing micro-organisms. In the case of mold, the most commonly discussed class of chemical toxins emitted are called “mycotoxins”. Now get this. Many of the chemicals emitted by mold and bacteria are super toxic to people too – especially those folks that are already not well. These include mycotoxins, endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOC).
So while it’s great that the better mold testing currently available on cannabis includes looking for the mycotoxins from two types of health damaging mold commonly found on rotting plants, it doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing all the toxins that these armies of microbes can exude. It’s a great start and catches a lot of bad product but the main point is that when producers make a concentrate from moldy product that has then been “remediated” for the handful of mycotoxins tested for, there is assuredly a whole soap of toxins left behind from all the other microbes that have been warring over that rotting material. These have all been concentrated too. Given that truly wicked bio-warfare chemicals have been derived from mycotoxins along with the likelihood that these chemicals were not removed, this is no trifling matter. Note: It makes a person wonder if the relatively small number of adverse health effects from using marijuana is really not from the higher THC levels but from some untested contaminate.
So in the end, we’re of the conviction that it’s especially important for those first starting out with CBD, or who have tried CBD before with little to no effect, to try flower from an organic grower that shows you how they grow and has lab work and certificates to back up their work – like Organic Entourage. In so doing, you’ll have a solid baseline to work from.