We have all smelled a skunk. Or the at the least we have smelled something that indicates the presences of a skunk. We turn our nose up and make a face. I used to do that too. Now, part of my brain associates that scent with a positive and not a negative, so the smell makes me grin and not frown now. On a road trip with the family, we hit one of those spots along the path that a skunk had been right before us. Everyone in the vehicle moaned, not me. I smiled and wished I was in a legal use state. Some types of cannabis also have a similar skunk smell to them. There are other scents as well. Some are fruity, some are earthy, there is pine or citrus. Some will seem pleasant to you and others you may not prefer. Did you know that all cannabis has its own scent profile? Why should you care? What's the smell got to do with anything?
The scent of the cannabis plant comes from the terpenes in the plant. All plants have them, but there are a significant amount in the cannabis plant. Some of the more common terpenes have names like Borneol, B-Caryophyllene, and a-Pinene. So many, too many to list here and we are still learning about the role they each play in the human body. Some are ideal for use as an anti-bacterial, another can be utilized as a bronchodilator. It is also the combination of specific terpenes that are responsible for why you feel either an Indicia high or a Sativa high from one plant to the next. When you hear a particular strain name, it should be indicative of the terpenes in the plant, down to its genetics.
I always recommend that a patient tries to smell as many different strains as they can when they visit a shop. Start to keep a list of those strains that you find the smell appealing to you. Just like essential oils, each can have effects on the senses just by catching a good long whiff of the plants flowers (which are in jars usually on or behind the counter at the shop). The terpenes in a cannabis plant, like essential oils, can also have some minor effects just by sniffing the various plants.
If you find one you love to smell, that's one I would recommend that you try. First, I would see if you can identify the same scent in various strains. A familiar scent is pine or citrus. You don't have to buy something just because you smell it. But once you spot a trend in the scent you like best, buy a small amount and try it, and next time buys a small amount of the same scent in a different strain. If the results are as positive as the scent is to you, you will now be able to find new strains to try that you will probably like just by the way they smell! Ta da!
Cannabinoids and Terpene combo are the two things that make cannabis different than other plants. Although other plants may have terpenes or cannabinoids, only cannabis has them in significant quantities, and many of the cannabinoid compounds from this group are found only in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids present in the raw plant are acids and are not psychoactive. The raw acid THC-A is one of these raw cannabinoids and is an excellent anti-inflammatory but that compound is found only in the raw flower bud. There are benefits to the consumption of raw forms, but it also can cause some gastric distress because of its high fiber content. When these same compounds are heated, they become neutrals and become psychoactive. There are also different cannabinoids that are found when it is aged, like CBN and CBL. Who really cares?!! Some day you will, and I'll tell you why.
As testing of cannabis in other parts of the world like Isreal continues to develop, the information we will have to understand how these compounds work together and what each one does best will be a game changer. As for now just by testing the cannabis raw flowers, we can identify a few of the primary cannabinoids and terpenes.
The reason that these traits are important to you is that we are gong to learn about how to read test results soon and having some insight into what they test for will help. Honestly, the strains, the names and all that (shh, don't tell some of my friends in the industry) its is all nonsense. The name rarely actually represents the actual genetics of the original strain and are so watered down or mishandled that the names mean little anymore. Even the most reputable retailer may think its Blue Dream they are selling, when in fact if tested and compared, most are not. I heard a speaker recently who tests cannabis and he said that 700 genetically different strains are marketed in Colorado right now under then name Blue Dream. You don't have to be a cannabis expert to understand that there can not be 700 genetically different versions of one strain. That's like saying there are 700 of me running around out there and we all know the world isn't ready for that.
When you go to a shop and find that you're always drawn to the pine scented cannabis flowers, you will see the same terpene that is present if your dispensary has lab testing results available and they show terpenes, you may be able to pick which strains to use based just on the test results. We aren't quite there yet. But if you let your nose lead the way and develop the ability to discern from one scent to another you will be ahead of most folks when the day comes that we can all choose the medicine we use based on the laboratory test results that will be available in all retail shops.
A girl can dream. Its worked so far.
I'm a cannabis consultant who helps people that want information about cannabis as a wellness option but don't know where to go for expert answers. I offer those answers and confidential support tailored to their personal needs.