The cannabis industry’s understanding of cannabis on a chemical level is constantly expanding. THC and CBD are the most popular cannabinoids we hear about, but they are just a few of the 150+ cannabinoids produced by cannabis. Presently, terpenes are also among the chemical compounds categorized as cannabinoids. Although I challenged this categorization in a previous article, I do still believe that they should be included on product labels in states where cannabis is legally sold.
Alright so what is a Terpene?
In the simplest of terms, a terpene is a smell and/or flavor molecule.
Of course, all plants produce smells and flavors. The smell of flowers is the result of terpene production. Many recognizable terps, like Linalool, the smell of lavender, or Pinene, the smell of pine trees, are also found in cannabis.
Plants produce these smells for various reasons. Defense against predators and pathogens is the best-established function for why plants produce these unique scents. Many smells and flavors repel herbivores or attract parasite enemies. During my undergraduate research, I studied e-beta-farnesene, a terpene that mint produces to help deter aphid predators.
While we know a good deal about THC and CBD and their effects on the body, there is conflicting evidence about the effects of each type of terpene. That is to say, we have not found evidence to support the impact of terpenes on THC or CBD binding or effects.
The assignment of specific roles to each specific terpene is difficult in all plant science, not just cannabis. Typically, multiple similar terpenes are produced within a single plant organ. The plant also produces a variety of terpene types throughout its anatomy.
Very few terpenes have been studied for their solitary biological impact. Still, not knowing exactly what function they serve does not mean that we should not list them on cannabis packaging.
Why Listing Terpenes Is Important?
Listing each of the top 5 terpene profiles on packaging puts the power in the hands of the consumer.
In states with a “deli-style” sales system, consumers can smell the flower before purchase. Places like California and Nevada have been known to rely heavily on smell jars which display the cannabis and enable users to smell the weed and see the flowers.
I often tell people that if a strain smells pleasant to you, it will likely react positively with your body chemistry. I believe that similarly to how we enjoy the smell, the pharamones, of our romantic partners, we find the scent of complimentary cannabis strains pleasant.
Listing the top five terps allows the consumer to identify a pleasant terpene profile that they’re looking for. Each scent is a selling point to those who are aware or for whom are trying to get more and more educated.
For many people, including thorough information will help the customer understand what they’re purchasing. That will often lead to a better experience and increase the likelihood for repeat visits.
While many studies have been conducted to determine the medicinal benefits of each individual terpene, we are always still learning more.
This study lists a detailed report on the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, anticonvulsive, antidepressant, anxiolytic, anti-cancer, anti-tumor, neuroprotective, anti-mutagenic, anti-allergic, antibiotic and anti-diabetic attributes of various terpenes.
Not every terpene can fit on a label which means listing the top 5 seems appropriate given our current knowledge and testing lab capabilities.
Remember that current lab testing technology is only somewhat accurate, and the percentages may differ in actual retail reality. Only so much flower or oil is ultimately tested which means that scores fluctuate from batch to batch as well as lab to lab. We ultimately recommend you keep a journal of your experiences for certain strains and products so you can start to understand how each terpene reacts with your body chemistry.
If you have any questions regarding a specific terpene, type of cannabis, or strains to try, please reach out to our team via email at info@RespectMyRegion.com.