What Am I Vaping? Making Educated Vape Purchases

Cannabis 2.0 brings a lot of exciting new products to the industry, the stars being edibles and concentrates. Vape distillate is really having its moment, arriving amidst reports of illicit-market cartridges causing health issues. A regulated system for the high-demand product came right on time. Many people are taking kindly to vaping; we wonder how many people know what they are getting when they purchase cartridges. We figure a guide might help some folks.

There are two primary cannabinoid-extraction methods for distillate: CO2 & Ethanol extraction. What’s the difference?

CO2 Extraction isolates specific cannabinoids (i.e. THC & CBD) at specific temperatures. So, a CO2 cartridge’s cannabinoid make up is hypothetically precision-designed. However, it’s possible the cart may not contain the entire family of cannabinoids & sub-compounds at the same ratios that were in the cannabis before the extraction process. Ethanol extracts the full entourage of cannabinoids in one process, which renders a more balanced distillate. So, an Ethanol cartridge should contain the source cannabis’ original family of cannabinoids at similar ratios.

This brings us to the other primary options for carts : “full spectrum” & “botanical” terpene-extraction. Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis and other plants responsible for aroma, flavor, and in cannabis’ case – effect. After extracting cannabinoids, terpenes are extracted and introduced back into the distillate to curate its flavor & effects. Bear in mind that all terpenes are the same, no matter where they’re from.

Terpenes are generally extracted using CO2, but isolating them requires a lower temperature than cannabinoid extraction. So, CO2-based carts still go through this additive process. Ethanol extraction almost completely eliminates most terpenes. An ethanol distillate is therefore essentially flavorless & odorless after cannabinoid extraction. For this reason, most edibles use ethanol-extracted THC/CBD as to not present a “weedy” taste to your snack.

So, terpenes. “Full-spectrum” carts have the source flower’s original terpenes re-introduced, to create the a ‘true’ distillate for that strain. It should taste & feel like the original cannabis. Botanical terpenes are specifically curated and introduced to create a desired flavor & effect. This essentially renders a brand new, intentionally designed experience. Botanical terpene carts could taste nothing like cannabis. Other botanical carts can be a play on their original strains, presenting a creatively ‘enhanced’ version of them.

When you browse a menu and you see a cart that’s Ethanol-Extracted/Full Spectrum, you can assume it’s an honest representation of the strain. CO2-Extracted/Botanical Carts are the opposite: intentionally rendering the effects & flavor they produce. The other two permutations sort of sit in the middle; either the terpene profile (Ethanol x Botanical) or the cannabinoid profile (CO2 x Full Spectrum) are purposefully designed, the other left honest to the source.

On a final, important note, let’s quickly talk about thinning agents. Pure, distilled THC or CBD would be too viscous to vape, so terpenes act as a natural dilutant that allows distillate to vaporize properly. Be aware that some companies use additional thinning agents in their cartridges; substances like propylene glycol (commonly abridged to “PG”) & phytol are also present in some vape options on the market. These materials have proven to be volatile at high temperatures, and can potentially be dangerous depending on the device or heat settings you use. At Evergreen, we make sure not to carry any vape cartridges that contain these substances. So, make sure to be informed of which options are safe and which contain potentially harmful additives if you are shopping elsewhere.

Hope this all helps you make educated decisions when it comes to vape distillate!

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Ultra Sour by Wildlife, a Staff Review

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this review. The first strains that I would truly label as “craft” are available at Evergreen!

We are still waiting for BC micro producers to be available, but if this is any indication of what to expect then the future looks bright.

I sampled Ultra Sour by Wildlife. I was really hoping to give it a super positive / exciting / holy cow! review…. and that is exactly what I get to do.

I was hit with a very strong smell when I opened the package, the flavor was classic Ultra Sour, with the diesel aspect really popping out. It also reminded me of a Haze or Congolese. The buds were moist but not damp, a really nice cure. Tight and spongy.

They ground up beautifully. The smell got even stronger, there was no dust and nothing got stuck in the grinder teeth.

I packed half a gram into my PAX3 and got ready for the beach. My plan was to finish my book then take a quick dip before getting high and listening to tunes in the sun.

That didn’t happen. I was way too excited. I had the vape heating up (lowest setting) before I put down my blanket.

It was delicious. The vapor was strong and consistent, the flavor was exactly like the smell. I was immediately very high. Pure sativa buzz. Often when I jump in cold water I find myself instantly sober but when I jumped in the water the high held. I finished my book after the swim, which is big news as I normally find it hard to read after consuming. My focus was strong. The high lasted a long time and as a pleasant surprise wore off into a nice heavy stone feeling (probably the mk ultra mix as it is a cross of MK Ultra and Sour).

Craft has arrived.

Blue Dream by Tantalus Labs – A Staff Review

Blue Dream (Blueberry crossed with Haze) has been one of the all time most searched online and one of the most overall popular strains in recent history. While it may not be the right strain for everyone, there’s a good reason why it’s so popular. Personally, it gives me one of the best and most balanced highs of any strain I’ve tried. Consistently, after I smoke a joint or vape some, I have to stop about an hour later and think “Wow, I feel amazing, what was it that I smoked earlier?” The answer is almost always Blue Dream.

Tantalus grows a great Blue Dream. It’s smooth, tasty and very uplifting. Their “Sun Lab 1” facility in Maple Ridge BC is very impressive. I had the opportunity to tour the compound last year and I felt like I’d traveled into the future. The place is clean, fresh and very high tech. They recycle rain water, use sunlight as much as possible and filter air through a giant vat of wood chips. No wonder their product tastes and feels so natural and delicious.

The Tantalus Blue Dream I tried used to be fairly expensive but they have recently dropped the prices considerably without sacrificing any quality. It’s one of the best deals on the market, especially if you bulk up with the 15 gram packages.

Conclusion: If you want a great daytime/afternoon, sativa dominant strain that always makes me feel super creative, happy, relaxed and focused, give the Tantalus Blue Dream a try.

Bud Dryness & Re-hydration

A common question we hear is “why is my weed not as moist as stuff I used to get?”.

Many factors are put into play when it comes to the moisture levels of flower.

Your flower should have a moisture content between 10-15%.

Higher than 15% may cause mold to grow, less than 10% and your bud may be too dry and powderize.

Growers tend to weigh their flower after it’s been dried and cured as well, so when you’re buying a gram you’re getting a gram of flower, not water weight.

Something to keep in mind is your preferred method of consumption. If you use a bong, pipe or vaporizer you may prefer your bud a little drier, compared to rolling a joint, where you may find it easier with more moist/sticky bud.

Luckily if you’ve been finding your bud to be drier than you like there are many great re-hydration options.

One being the Boveda pack;

Bovedas are maintenance free and don’t require activation. All you need to do is keep a Boveda pack in an airtight container with your bud. When your Boveda gets dry and crispy it’s time to replace it. I’d recommend one Boveda pack per gram, 2-3 packs per eighth. The Boveda’s will keep each other moist, lasting longer.

Another re-hydration method that’s better in the long run (and personally my favorite) is the Dewbie stone. The Dewbie is a hard, porous stone made from Canadian-sourced kiln-fired clay. To recharge your Dewbie all you need to do is soak it in water for 30 seconds, up to 2 minutes, for maximum absorption. Then dab it dry and nestle it among your buds in an airtight container for about 5-10 minutes per gram. Make sure to remove the Dewbie from the container so your bud doesn’t get too moist. The Dewbie stone can easily be cleaned with soap and water and is reusable, so you’ll never be without your trusty Dewbie.

We carry both Boveda packs as well as Dewbie stones here at Evergreen, so you can enjoy your favorite strains at the moisture level that’s best for you and your next smoke session.

Don’t Limit Your Experience Based on THC Content!

“What’s the THC percentage on that?”
“I need your highest THC Sativa, please.”

This sort of question is something we field dozens of times a day. And we get it; for those of us who engage with alcohol, we’ve been trained to know that 100-proof liquor is going to have a stronger effect than a bottle of wine – and we’re convinced Canadian beer is so much better because its 5% alcohol volume must be different than America’s measly 3% hop water.

It should be no news to anybody that cannabis is fundamentally different than alcohol, but we seem to remain in this place where numbers matter. Well, do they?

I saw an opportunity to smoke weed in the name of science, and I will always be there to answer that call, so I decided to be the guinea pig and smoke “low THC” products on your behalf. Brave, I know. I also tried some strains with big, beautiful numbers to compare. Here are the details of my experiment.

When RE-UP (Namaste‘s white-label value brand) launched, we got a couple of strains from them, at virtually unprecedented value for the time — the “catch”, I suppose, is that the packages contained small buds with THC content between 11-14%, which would be low, if you asked somebody who values those numbers. I grabbed their Sensi Star, one of my favorite indicas, which they branded as SNSSTR. “Sinister”, we jokingly called it behind the desk. It wasn’t very sinister. I experienced a mellow high, decent body effects – nothing remarkably “strong”, but pleasant no doubt. What I noticed more than anything was that the trademark vanilla-extract aroma and flavour I’m accustomed to with Sensi Star wasn’t super present. (I don’t need to be sneaky here, that observation serves as a little foreshadowing.) I was satisfied, especially for the value, but as a daily user it was a bit light for me.

Next came the Sensi Star from Alberta craft cannabis producer 7Acres, which touted 20% THC on its label, and came with the classic spade-shaped buds I’d expect from Sensi Star, along with a much more powerful aroma & flavour. It was lovely. The result was a classic SS buzz, happy and relaxed. Perhaps this content thing does matter?

Well, Namaste re-enters the chat with pre-rolls of their traditional Sensi Star. These PRs were at the same percentage as the RE-UP buds, at around 12%. I figured that if these weren’t under the white-label, they must be different. These PRs were perfect: full of flavor, and the half gram session took me exactly where I wanted to go in terms of intensity. It was absolutely on par with my experience with 7Acres.

Finally, I recently took home an eighth of Kelowna Kush from THC Biomed, a BC company whose quality/value balance is consistent and impressive. This batch of Sensi Star came in at 14.5%, had my nice round buds, and the trademark vanilla scent. I had to get another eighth when I got through it – a rarity for pot snobs like us. It’s so good. Perhaps my favorite batch from this experiment.

So what gives? THC content seemed to end up having nothing to do with which batch gave me strong effects. This is the part where I drop some knowledge on you. You may have heard your favorite cannaseur talk about terpenes, the compounds in cannabis and other plants responsible for aroma & flavor. If you have, you may also have heard that they’re being found to correlate to certain effects when we’re talking strains. It is truly the terpenes that make the difference. If there was one thing that correlated to strength in effect for me, it was strength of flavor and aroma. And since I picked a strain that I knew I enjoyed, I was satisfied no matter the size of the impact.

Think of it this way; terpenes are records if THC is a volume knob. You could play any song as loud as you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good song, or that you’ll even enjoy listening to it (it might not even be appropriate at high volume). That said, your favorite song of all time is going to hit perfect no matter how loud it’s playing. So, why ask for the loudest record on the shelf when you could let us know what you like to listen to, or how you like music to make you feel? Perhaps you could ask for our highest-fidelity record, or our most dynamic record, or any other analogy for experience-based questions. In other words, which strain has a high quality terpene profile? Which has intense effects? Which has this effect, or that effect, at this sort of strength? The volume knob does not change the quality of the music. Yeah? Everybody following?

You must understand that it can be a little frustrating when you are passionate about finding your customers the right product, but potentially perfect choices are turned down because of a number nobody knew or cared about in the decades before brick-and-mortar pot shops. The current method of cannabinoid testing has only existed for a year and change – and we are learning that current testing methods are taken from an average of multiple plants in the grow room, and are allowed a pretty significant margin of error. Even if we told you a strain is labeled at 20%, it could be 17%, or 23%, and regardless – it may not be the super-strong strain you think it must be. Our heaviest indica right now is 16%. That doesn’t mean we don’t have anything with a bigger number, it means the indica we have with the heaviest, most sedative effects is 16%. Additionally, testing has been moving to a stage in the grow process when there is less water content in the plant, and the result is that these listed percentages are going to appear noticeably lower. So, when you ask us those classic questions about THC content, expect some of our new favourite responses:

“Do you mean you want a strain with strong effects?”
“What are you trying to accomplish or feel?”
“We’re happy to tell you, but do know this is not the best way to find a perfect fit.”

Please trust your server at cannabis stores! Ask us to help you find what’s right, and we will. Ask us what has the highest THC%, and we will sell you some. We’re happy as long as you are, but everyone on both sides of these transactions would be much happier if we were open to unlearning some common misconceptions. Cannabis is an ongoing experiment, and trying new product is supposed to be exciting and educational. Don’t stop your adventure short, and be open to new information and experiences. We love you!

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The Truth About Palm-Oil


My name is Maria and I am a proud co-owner of Evergreen Cannabis Store, Vancouver’s first retail cannabis store. We are always trying to do our best to be 100% palm-oil free and would like to take further action. We need other stores to come together on this. As well, what we really need is government to ban palm-oil in Canada because it is ironically an unnecessary ingredient that is extremely unethical.

First of all why?

Palm-oil production is destroying global rain-forests. Replacing rain forests with palm-oil plantations is the direct cause for entire ecosystems destroyed which involves loss of natural habitats and bio-diversity, including the slaughtering of large numbers of orangutans every year. It is responsible for accelerating climate change, reduction of global air quality, and human rights violations. To top that off it is very unhealthy to consume!

There are so many reasons to avoid buying products containing palm-oil. However we are faced with the fact it is being added to more and more of our processed foods and topicals as a cheaper alternative to all other oils.

It is found in many of our processed foods and topicals such a chocolates, cereal boxes, chips, snacks, crackers, shampoos, and soaps … pretty much everything. However, there are brands and products that do not contain this unnecessary ingredient and we the consumer can make an ethical choice when shopping.

So far, we have put pressure on the government and the brands we carry to be more transparent about labelling ingredients. As soon as we discover a product containing palm-oil we stop carrying it or refuse to order it. We have spoken to the brands and our customers as to why.

We have written emails to individual brands asking them to fully disclose all ingredients they’re using in their products. We discovered that certain companies weren’t disclosing that their MCT oil was actually derived from palm and not coconut oil so we have completely stopped carrying those products.

Recently, through further research, much to my horror, my staff have discovered that glycerine and SLS (commonly found in soap and shampoo) are often a disguise for palm-oil.

Although Canada has strict rules about labelling, companies are finding ways to legally break those rules. There are countless other names for palm-oil. We need to improve labelling laws in Canada so consumers have full transparency in what they are purchasing and can make informed choices.

As for the cannabis industry, alarmingly, we have noticed that more and more new edibles coming into the legal market contain palm-oil. All the gummies for example contain palm-oil. Would you want to chew a gummy knowing its unhealthy when we have high quality, fair trade, organic chocolates available?

I do my best to reduce my impact on the climate, but we also need our governments (municipal, provincial and federal) to act at the scale and speed necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and to keep Canadians healthy. I expect our elected officials in all levels of government to prioritize bold climate action. Inaction is too costly, risky and unjust.

I have always been deeply concerned with the environment and although I sign petitions, donate monthly to good causes, and try to shop ethically when I can, I have often felt a sense of helplessness as most people do. I remember David Suzuki saying “think globally, act locally” and as a shop owner I am exploring how I can do that, armed with a talented staff who are also concerned about the same thing, and a cannabis community that can hopefully help.

Unfortunately, many people still happen to remain unaware of the global issues associated with palm-oil.

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