Weed All About it, A Glossary of the Cannabis Industry Part II
(In case you missed the first part of the series, I attached Part I which covers basic terms used across the cannabis industry here. Part II includes more technical nuanced terms.)
First, I would like to thank everyone who commented and messaged me asking to define the below terms. I was truly impressed with the supportive and encouraging messages I received and will do my best to ensure all of the terms I define are researched and factually supported.
Extract: An extract is the end-product of an extraction. An extraction is the process by which raw material is selectively separated or extracted commonly through alcohol, butane, or Co2. In terms of cannabis, an extract could mean many different products like cannabis oil, concentrates, or crystal isolate. Extracting THC or CBD significantly increases the potency of the product. For example, flower normally peaks around 25% THC while dabs (highly concentrated THC) can reach up to 90% which can create intense highs compared to flower.
Distillate: Similar to an extract, a distillate is the end-product of a distillation. Distillation is the process by which a raw material is first put into liquid form and then, through heating, condensing, or cooling down, an often almost pure product is created. In cannabis terms, the process of distillation helps create one of the purest forms of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids (See Part I for definitions). Cannabis distillate is known for its clear look and for its unique chemical profile from the strain it was isolated from.
Isolate: An isolate, as briefly mentioned under “distillate”, is when one compound of a material is separated from all other materials. Often, it is accomplished by first extracting the desired compound and then crystallizing it (crystallization involves putting the compound in an isolated environment, usually within a solution, so it can grow into a crystalline form — think of how rock candy is made). Crystallization removes impurities. For example, a CBD isolate or distillate that undergoes crystallization can produce CBD that is 99% pure.
Biomass: The common industrial definition of biomass is the actual mass of the vegetative organic material that can be converted into energy. The biomass of a tree is the vegetation that can be converted through an exothermic process like combustion into energy. In laymen terms, a campfire uses the biomass of the tree to release heat energy stored in the wood.
In the context of cannabis, biomass includes stalks, extracted buds, and residual plant material from extraction or distillation. Although flower and buds technically count as biomass, they are not normally included within the cannabis definition of biomass because they can be used in their current form. Biomass is a waste product that can be used as fuel although some buyers may still be able to further extract CBD oil from it.
Sativa: The term ‘Sativa’ refers to the plant species Cannabis sativa L. known for its slender leaves, light green coloring, tall stalks with long branches, and loose flower budding. Sativa strains are known for their high THC to CBD ratio. The medical effects are often referred to as uplifting and energizing. The terpenes most prevalent in sativa strains are limonene and pinene. These as well as the flavonoids present in the strains are what give sativa strains their signature flavor and scent profiles.
Indica: The term ‘Indica’ refers to the plant species Cannabis indica L. known for its large and wide leaves, dark green and often purple coloring, shorter plant stalks with short branches, and dense flower budding. Indica strains often are characterized by a higher CBD to THC ratio and high amounts of terpenes like β-myrcene. Indica stains have calming and relaxing effects in contrast to sativa strains.