Legally available buds with a minimum of THC and a high CBD content are enjoying extraordinary attention from sellers and purchasers alike in many countries now. For the ordinary medical user, it can be hard to distinguish between the myriad of strains on the market. What should one look out for so as not to get burned?
The first thing to do is to always buy from sellers who are completely open and honest about their goods, and eager to provide essential info. It’s a good idea to ask about the origin of the varieties on offer. In addition to the USA and Canada, the main exporters of CBD buds are Switzerland and Italy, but producers from other countries are catching up.
When asked, the proprietor should let you look at the results of lab tests which they should have on hand in case of visits from state inspectors. You should check on at least two items in the lab documentation: the measured content of the most important cannabinoids, and the date the test was carried out.
Ideally, the seller should store buds together in larger quantities within a suitable container, away from heat and light.
From the date you can figure out the approximate age of the dried buds and the regularity of sample control analysis. This is extremely useful information with respect to the volatility of several substances contained in the plant, as well as how much interest the proprietor really has in the goods they are selling.
CBD buds come under many fancy names associated with legendary strains – this is mostly an advertising gimmick. If you ask what variety it actually is, you usually will not get a clear answer. The truth is that the majority of growers make use of just a handful of proven strains for commercial purposes, because they require stable, reliable results.
The most problematic development on the CBD bud market currently is dried plant material for sale which has already been used for extracting resin. In some countries, e.g. Italy and Switzerland, the limits for THC content are higher than elsewhere and so some opportunists have come up with a method of how to pad their pocketbooks… selling the buds in question twice!
With the help of CO2 or alcohol extraction, the majority of the resin can be removed from the plant material, leaving the buds mostly intact, and reducing the cannabinoid content to almost zero. This kind of denuded cannabis is legal to sell in many countries, but cannabis of this sort has absolutely zero medicinal use.
After extraction the buds will have a brown hue, including the stems and petals, and they will appear somewhat shriveled. If you took a magnifying glass to them, you could see the evident lack of intact trichomes.
Another controversial technique is “improving” the aroma of the buds via various combinations of natural terpenes, because poorly handled or already extracted cannabis does not have a strong aroma. Terpenes are aromatic substances, and many experts are certain they play a key role in several therapeutic properties of cannabis.
It is thanks to the terpenes that the plants captivate us with their special combination of sweet and harsh aromas, but the smell of gummy bears left on the backseat of your car on a hot day is not something you want to associate with your buds. There isn’t much research to date on the risk of inhaling vapor from terpene essences, but it is a factor that every experimenter should take into consideration.
Don’t forget that at present, we buyers cannot easily nor reliably determine whether the goods in question contain harmful substances such as heavy metals, mold or pesticide residues without proper laboratory analysis. The presence of mold can sometimes be ascertained on dried buds with the naked eye. The warning signals are white “fluff” and colored flecks of an obviously different hue than the flowers and stems. Avoid such cannabis like the plague.
Follow your nose…
As opposed to the criteria mentioned above, which one could consider objective, choosing a specific product mostly comes down to personal preference.
The anecdotal experience of many users and the most recent studies indicate a remarkable connection between how we like the smell of a certain strain and the effects which its use may have on us. If you have the chance to sniff the buds before purchase, certainly take advantage of it, and choose your strain by smell.
Buds which have been quality grown, processed and stored can be recognized by the deep green color of their petals.
Also pay attention to the package in which the sample is sold and stored. Transparent packaging is not the most suitable, as it allows light to enter, degrading the sample. Plastic containers are unsuitable, because the buds inside can steam up. Packaging should be airtight in any case. Ideally, the seller should store buds together in larger quantities within a suitable container, away from heat and light. Only the amount necessary for a few days’ sales should be taken from said container at a time.
…and your eyes
Buds which have been quality grown, processed and stored can be recognized by the deep green color of their petals, sometimes reaching even purple hues. There can be many reasons for a brown or gray-green color, but this always means an inferior product.
Buds should also have their proper humidity, which can be determined by seeing if they are sticky to the touch and slightly springy when pressed between thumb and forefinger. The optimum humidity for cannabis storage is approximately 50–60 RH, depending on the strain and the bud structure.
A useful aid is a handheld magnifying glass with at least 300% magnification. With it, you can check the color and amount of the trichomes, which are the main source of the medicinal substances in cannabis. Trichomes look like tiny translucent hairs with spheres of resin at their tips. In mature cannabis, the resin should have a milky to golden color. At such magnification, one can also detect mold, which has the appearance of tiny white cobwebs.
Despite being quite critical on several aspects of CBD cannabis for sale, it was not my goal to give the impression that you cannot find honest and trustworthy sellers. Many of them are true enthusiasts and are doing their best to find wiggle room within the narrow confines of not very well thought-out legislation.
Evaluating the aroma can be done easily by sniffing from a distance.
Keep in mind a few unwritten laws when buying: Never manipulate the samples on display without prior permission, and neither buds nor containers should be placed directly under one’s nose. Evaluating the aroma can be done easily by sniffing from a distance.
In closing, a word on e-shops and other forms of Internet sales. When buying online, one has limited possibilities of determining the quality of goods purchased, and so you should ask beforehand for laboratory certification and other information.
Author: Filip Ostrowski
Source: Cannabis Therapy Vol. 2
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