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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The Truth About Palm-Oil

Hi!

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.

CBD Oil: Does it work better with THC in it?

What we know so far…

Now that cannabis is legal and you can just go buy it at a store, more people are curious about trying this new thing they’re hearing about called CBD (cannabidiol). A newly famous cannabinoid (like the well known THC except without the euphoric effects), CBD is making a name for itself among cannabis users who are not trying to get “high”, for lack of a better term, but are just trying to relax, sleep, deal with body pain, relieve anxiety and reduce stress. CBD is found in all cannabis plants, usually in very minute amounts (apparently trace amounts are also found in some green vegetables and in human breast milk). It is known to help the THC and other compounds in the plant “work better” in a process that scientists call “The Entourage Effect”. The question is, when it comes to CBD products, does having a little bit of THC in there with the CBD make it work better? Studies say yes, it does.

A tiny bit of THC with your CBD will not make you “stoned”.

Although cannabis is pretty much just as legal as alcohol, there is still some confusion, some stigma and even some fear left surrounding it. People who want to try CBD usually come to the store to buy it and say: “I just want CBD oil. NO THC, please.” The fact is, all CBD oil, even when it’s derived from hemp, contains at least some small trace amounts of THC as well as other cannabinoids and various compounds known to help the CBD work properly. The CBD is also known to regulate the effects of THC in a way that makes it feel even less potent. It seems like many folks believe that any amount of THC is going to get them “stoned” but that’s not how it works. If you have one sip of wine you’re not instantly drunk. Even an entire serving of an alcoholic beverage won’t make most people intoxicated. Some times finding the right dosage and ratio of CBD and THC for a particular individual can actually provide a very subtle effect that could possibly greatly benefit their quality of life without any negative effects whatsoever. It’s all about trying things out, starting slow (dosage-wise) and going slow until you find that sweet spot that works for you.

Here’s a great article to help beginners better understand the science of CBD products.

https://www.projectcbd.org/how-to/cbd-user-guide