Will Terpenes Revolutionize Cannabis?
Written by Erica Roane
From OG Kush to Granddaddy Purp, cannabis connoisseurs are known to have their preference in strains. With colorful names based on chemical profiles and characteristics including fragrance and appearances, strains have been the guiding force in categorizing and marketing marijuana. Soon consumers may be able to combine their love of the smell of a certain type of Cannabis with the mood that their looking for the plant to provide, all with the help of data.
The chemical compound that gives cannabis its different types of scent, could become a household name. During “Re-Imagining Cannabis with Lab-Verified Data,” a panel featured this year as part of the Cannabusiness track at SXSW. Presenter Nick Jikomes, Principal Research Scientist with Leafly offered attendees a glimpse of how data and personal preferences have the potential to revolutionize the way consumers shop for cannabis.
A New Era In Testing
Terpenes -the naturally occurring combination of carbon and hydrogen found in all all plants is what actually gives cannabis it’s fragrance. While there are over 100 terpenes within Cannabis, there are 8 that are the most widely used. ““Understanding the full range of chemical compounds [in Cannabis] is everything. Testing data with terpenes will help understand structure better.” Using terpene data opens the door for new types of strains to be created and a clear path to understand consumers better.
Terpenes such as Ocimene which carry a sweet aroma and provide decongestant and antiviral effects. Then there’s Limonene, a terpene which carries a citrus aroma and offers qualities such as elevated mood and stress relief, it is found in strains such as Lemon Haze. “The use of terpenes have the power to support consumers in making the best Cannabis purchase for them.” With the implementation of terpenes into branding, cannabis companies have the power to market to consumers based on preference and mood.
Current Issue With Labs
During his presentation, Jikomes referenced a 2017 investigation that Leafly conducted in Washington State, which alleges that Cannabis-testing labs within the state may be reporting artificially high THC levels for the brands that hire them. Furthermore, he also mentioned an instance in California when a lab director at Sequoia Analytical Labs faked the pesticide test results for a large number of companies. “It’s imperative for Cannabis companies to have a strategic lab partner that they trust.” In the era of corporate responsibility, a company’s practices and associations could have more bearing than the quality of their actual product.
Consumers Deserve More
Testing for THC may no longer be the most descriptive method in marketing Cannabis products. “Indica, Sativas, and Hybrids, they all have the about the same level of THC which is 18%” Sophisticated Cannabis consumers already know this information and now want a more specificated experience. The use of terpenes takes not only their fragrance preferences into account but their individual mood as well.
“The goal for brands is to get to the right straight, with the shortest steps possible.” Even though testing with terpenes is yet to become an industry standard, educating customers on terpenes could not only offer consumers more options along their cannabis consumption journey, but also build brand loyalty.