While cannabis strains are typically lauded for the strength and effects of their cannabinoids, more and more connoisseurs and industry professionals are realizing that a strain’s terpene profile can be of equal importance.
Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in all plants, give each variety its special taste and smell. A cannabis plant can contain over 100 different terpenes, and the particular balance of each one helps set it apart from its competitors. The closer cannabis gets to the mainstream, the more curious consumers become about terpene profiles – especially legendary strains like Jack Herer and Pineapple Express. Fortunately, a number of products have come out to give people a taste of the OGs.
Let the magic happen (again)
Lock & Key Remedies in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park industrial district is one of those terpene-focused companies that specializes in stress recovery. Co-founded by industry veterans Oleg MaryAces and Andres Moreira, the company has developed a line of CBD vape cartridges that seek to recreate the terpene profiles of four cult strains: Girl Scout Cookies, Cherry Pie, Tangie and Blue Dream. When I visited the company’s office on a gray morning this January, it quickly became clear that Lock & Key’s vision is rooted in a love of precise science and of cannabis itself.
For example, the company’s name refers to the way connections are interlocked at the cellular level. And Lock & Key uses already existing laboratory reports of various strain profiles as starting points for developing your own CBD alternatives. Moreira, who runs the company’s on-site laboratory, went through a dozen trials with each formulation before bringing them to market.
Maryasis was eager to explain to me the myriad health benefits of terpenes, which he did in a way that was reminiscent of a mad scientist and a foodie cook alike. The terpene myrene, for example, has a calming effect, he says. Additionally, Maryasis said to me, “It has the superpower to help the blood-brain barrier that increases the access of all other terpenes to the brain.” Lime, which plays a bigger role in the Tangie variety, has a more citrus taste. But too much, Maryasis warned, “wouldn’t be pleasant even if you like citrus fruits.”
He pointed out that even traces of different terpenes can have an overwhelming influence on the aroma of a plant. “The synergistic effects cannot be overstated,” he said, citing sweet orange and grapefruit as examples: “[Their terpene profiles are roughly only 3 percent different]but it changes everything about them. “
Turn terps into innovation
Other terpene-focused companies have taken a different approach: Blue River Terpenes in Oakland, California, for example, took inspiration from the fragrance industry to create a number of cannabinoid-free versions of some premium strains, including cookies and wakanda grapes (and sells them too Top prices) that can be applied to the skin or even added to food. The company’s CEO, Tony Verzura, developed a modified steam vacuum distillation system that, as Leafly pointed out, can extract terpenes “using only nitrogen, oxygen and reverse osmosis water (RO)”.
Colorado-based Evolab strikes the middle ground between these two companies by adding “Fresh Terps” extracts in varying proportions to its various products. The slogan is: “Sommeliers have wine collections. Cannabis connoisseurs have FreshTerps. “
The key behind all of these products is the balance of the various terpenes; Maryasis called it her “specialty sauce” and was reluctant to divulge even the most general information about her specific proportions. Her tight-lipped approach, however, reinforces the innovative nature of terpene science, which only becomes more exciting as the industry progresses.
While Lock & Key Remedies uses plant-based terpenes and Blue River terpenes derived from cannabis, other companies also manufacture strain profiles with synthetic terpenes. Science was early on to learn about the medicinal effects of vaping terpenes, but like most cannabis products, it’s best to know where the compounds you are consuming come from.