Where does cannabis’ smell come from? Learn about terpenes

Cannabis’ smell — it’s something you either love or hate. Few people have a neutral opinion of the pungent plant’s distinctive odors. The word “cannabis” comes from the Hebrew word kneh-bosm, which literally means “aromatic reed.”  

But where do these aromatics come from? Why are they there? What exactly are they? And why are they important? Read on to better understand the world of terpenes.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are the aromatic components of the cannabis plant’s essential oils and they play an important thera­peutic role. Terpenes are very small, volatile molecules created by the cannabis plant as an evolutionary adaptation to simultaneously attract and repel certain insects and animals.

According to one study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011, “Terpenoids are quite potent, and affect animal and even human behaviour when inhaled from ambient air. They display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts.”

The aromas and flavors of any given cannabis strain also depend on which terpenes predominate. Terpenes are one of the chief differentiators between different strains of cannabis (Journal of Natural Products, 2016). Terpenes are common throughout the plant world, and while cannabis can create about 1,000 of them, we’ve catalogued about 20,000 in nature. Some terpenes present in wine like linalool are also present in cannabis. More than 60 percent of cannabis buyers use smell to help make their purchase, and the terpenes is what they are smelling for. The word “terpene” comes from the root word “turpentine”, which refers to the pungent resin extracted from the terebinth tree found in the Mediterranean since ancient times.

Why does cannabis make terpenes?

We think cannabis creates terpenes to deter predators like insects and mammals, who are often repulsed by the strong odor of terpenes in cannabis. According to a landmark study, “limonene and pinene in flowers … are repellent to insects (Nerio et al., 2010), while lower fan leaves express higher concentrations of bitter sesquiterpenoids that act as anti-feedants for grazing animals.”

For the last couple thousand years, humans have selected cannabis in part for its terpene production.

Why should I care about terpenes?

In addition to THCCBD and the other cannabinoids, terpenes play an important part in the overall effects of cannabis and provide additional therapeutic effects aside from the desirable “high” or “stoned” feeling.

Leading cannabis horticulture author Ed Rosenthal has said, “If THC is the engine, terpenes are the steering wheel.” They shape and control the high of THC. Interestingly, some terpenes are thought to act as an antidote to acute THC intoxication. The most promising terpenes to try if you get too high are those found in lemons, black pepper, pine nuts and calamus plant roots.

The multitude of terpenes found in cannabis also provide countless flavor and aroma combinations. Each strain produces its own unique fusion of terps to provide its signature palette of sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, and/or savory aromas and flavors.

Sixty percent of cannabis users make purchases based on smell. | Photo: Noah Berger

Sixty percent of cannabis users make purchases based on smell. | Photo: Noah Berger

What medical effects do the most common terpenes in cannabis have?

Lab, cell, animal and scant human trials have yielded a lot of data about what terpenes might do.

  • Alpha-pinene is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and memory-enhancing effects.
  • Limonene can act as a stimulant and may help treat depression, it also has been found to cause breast cancer cells to commit suicide, as well as help control stress, and gastric reflux. (Russo, 2011).
  • Linalool, also found in lavender, offers sedative effects and may treat skin burns without scarring. It’s a local anesthetic.
  • The terpene Myrcene, also found in the hops— a cousin of the pot plant— also has a sedative effect but can also offer ant-inflammatory and pain relief.
  • The terpene Nerolidol is an anti-fungal, anti-malarial, and has sedative properties. The list goes on and on.

However, more research needs to confirm these findings. “Scientific investigation of the therapeutic application of terpenoids in psychiatry has been hampered by methodological concerns, subjective variability of results and a genuine dearth of appropriate randomized controlled studies of high quality,” Russo found in 2011.

Terpenes are deemed by the FDA to be “Generally Recognized as Safe”.

Russo's Taming THC chart of Terpenes, 2011

Russo’s Taming THC chart of Terpenes, 2011

Where do I find terpenes?

All the chemical com­pounds found in cannabis (cannabinoids and terpenes) are encased within the tiny, crystal-like structures seen on the surface of the bud called trichomes. The amount and quality of terpenes in a plant depends on how well it is grown (Journal of Natural Products, 2016).

Where else are terpenes found in nature?

Nearly 20,000 terpenoid compounds have been found in all types of plant life. They occur naturally in everything from fruits and vegetables to flowers and trees.

What are the most common terpenes in cannabis?

More than 1,000 terpenes have been identified in cannabis, but only a handful appear in significant amounts that can be noticed through smell and taste alone.

One of the most common terpenes is alpha-pinene, which is also found in pine needles, and another common terpene limonene is also found in lemons. Together, these terpenes give most Kush strains their signature lemony-pine smell and taste.

The amount of terpenes and cannabinoids present in a cannabis sample ( its “chemotype”) will likely replace old school folk taxonomies of strain names, followed by indica-sativa-hybrid classification. You can figure which chemotype you prefer by looking up the terpene profiles of your favorite strains, and the ones you hate.

For example, Blue Dream is uniquely high in Nerolidol and α-Bisabolol. By contrast, OG Kush is relatively high in pinene and myrcene. Grand Daddy Purple is relatively high in linalool.

How do I preserve my terpenes?

Properly storing your buds is crucial to keeping them fresh and flavorful for a long time. Light, heat, and low or high humidity will destroy terpenes and thus diminish its flavor profiles. Poor storage is what makes good bud go bad, but thankfully it’s pretty easy to keep them fresh and tasty: don’t use baggies, store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. And don’t handle the buds too much other than pulling them out from the jar right before you’re ready to use them. Also, most people use an herb grinder to grind their cannabis before putting it in a joint, or pipe. Make sure to use all ground cannabis promptly, as it begins losing its terpenes to the air immediately.

Shop at places that put a focus on terpene preservation — it’s your money and medicine you smell evaporating into the air. Appreciating terpenes is the same as savoring a high-quality glass of wine or a cigar.

Extracts of cannabis can boost or reduce the amount of terpenes depending on the extraction method. For example, CO2 extraction destroys most terpenes due to the relatively high temperatures involved (Planta Medica, 2017).

How do I learn more about terpenes?

You can research terpenes on medical literature indexes like PubMed and Google Scholar.  A handy guide to the most popular terpenes, what they smell like and potential therapeutic uses comes from Dr. Ethan Russo “Taming THC”.

15 Cannabis Terpenes Explained (Complete Visual Guide)

You might have noticed that not all strains smell the same. Pine, berry, mint…There’s more than a few distinctive fragrances in cannabis.

Cannabis has a unique smell. Some people find it unpleasant and overwhelming, while most marijuana enthusiasts find it very calming and enjoyable. Just like any other plant, pot has components which are responsible for its unique aroma and flavor.

These components are terpenes, aromatic molecules of cannabis, secreted inside the tiny resin glands of cannabis flowers.

Terpenes produce a citrusy aroma in some strains, fruity and sweet notes in others and while some may smell and taste like lavender, others can be more earthy and pungent. Certain strains even smell like cheese. However, it’s not all about the smell.

Terpenes also produce a wide range of medical effects and that is exactly what’s so captivating about them in the first place. There are at least 80-100 terpenes unique to the cannabis plant and the combination of these chemicals and cannabinoids is responsible for the entire success of the cannabis plant as we know it.

 What are terpenes and what is their use?

Terpenes are organic chemicals produced by most plants and even some animals like swallowtail butterflies and termites. The term terpene is also often used to refer to terpenoids, which are oxygenated derivatives of terpenes.

The easiest way to understand them is to think of them as volatile aromatic molecules.

What’s so special about these chemicals is that they give plants their unique aroma.

From the chemical point of view, terpenes are derived from the basic molecule of isoprene which replicates to make terpenes.

These substances have two very important roles in every plant’s life: to protect the flowers from predators and to produce resin.

They are a major part of resin and are heavily used in the production of essential oils, so they are a good fit for medical and beauty products. That is how terpenes made their way into the fragrance industry, as well as conventional and alternative medicine. They are most commonly used in aromatherapy, but they’re also synthetically made as flavors and aromas and as food additives.

There are a few more fun facts about terpenes: natural rubber is made of terpenes, as are many steroids. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to know that an organic and completely natural maple syrup contains about 300 terpenes, which makes it so yummy in the first place.

But what about cannabis?

Terpenes basically give each strain its unique smell and taste. Not only that but they also enhance the effects of cannabis by influencing how we process cannabinoids.

Let’s explore this in more detail.

How terpenes work with cannabinoids?

What we usually consume from cannabis is the flower.

And just like any other flower, cannabis flower has its own recognizable smell.

As mentioned before, there are about 120 terpenes found in cannabis. They coexist in the herb with cannabinoids like THC and CBD (sometimes even working with them for our better experience), but they are not psychoactive like THC.

Some of those terpenes can be found in other plants, while others are exclusive to cannabis.

But, It’s not all about the smell, though. Terpenes also have therapeutic properties and can aid in plant’s medical effects:

They interact with our endocannabinoid system and assist cannabinoids in entering the bloodstream, in a process called the entourage effect.

Myrcene, for instance, increases cell permeability and allows cannabinoids to be absorbed faster than they would on their own.

Limonene is responsible for increasing serotonin levels which influences how weed affects our mood. That means these terpenes can influence neurotransmitters in our brain which entails that different strains may have different effects on our mood.

Terpenes and the “Entourage Effect” explained

The “Entourage Effect” is a term coined by S. Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam back in 1998 to represent the biological synergy of cannabinoids and other compounds like flavonoids and, of course, terpenes.

According to Chris Emerson, these compounds work together to make “the sum of all the parts that leads to the magic or power of cannabis”. When terpenes work with cannabinoids like CBD and THC, they form a sinergy that creates stronger and better effects than both would achieve on their own.

This symbiosis between cannabinoids and terpenes is what gives cannabis its special powers, as it improves the absorption of cannabinoids, overcomes bacterial defense mechanisms and minimizes any side effects.

Research on medical properties of terpenes in cannabis

Some terpenes are very effective in relieving stress, others are great when you need to relax, while there are some that boost focus. There are many options here, as you’ll have a chance to see.

For example, myrcene induces sleep, while limonene uplifts our mood.

In recent years, terpenes found in cannabis became an important subject of scientific research.

It was Jürg Gertsch who first noticed the ability of beta-caryophyllene to bind to the CB2 receptors, calling it “a dietary cannabinoid”.

He also concluded that all green vegetables that contain this terpene are extremely beneficial for human use.

Shortly after that, Dr. Ethan Russo published an article in 2011 in British Journal of Pharmacology, which pointed to all the therapeutic properties of terpenes in marijuana, especially those missing in cannabis products that only contain CBD.

He discussed the cannabinoid-terpene interaction as a “synergy with respect to treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections”.

Further research discovered that terpenes, terpenoids, and cannabinoids have the potential to kill respiratory pathogens, for instance the MRSA virus.

However, that’s not even half of the story. Terpenes have a lot more health effects which we’ll discuss next.

15 terpenes in cannabis explained

As I mentioned before, there are more than 100 terpenes in just one cannabis flower. Here are some of the most well known terpenes right now, most of which you’ll find in legal cannabis products in your area.

Myrcene

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis, which is where it’s mostly found in nature. In fact, one study showed that myrcene makes up as much as 65% of total terpene profile in some strains.

Myrcene smell often reminds of earthy, musky notes, resembling cloves. Also, it has a fruity, red grape-like aroma.

Strains that contain 0.5% of this terpene are usually indicas with sedative effects. It has also been reported that myrcene is useful in reducing inflammation and chronic pain, which is why it’s usually recommended as a supplement during cancer treatments.

Strains that are rich in myrcene are Skunk XL, White Widow, and Special Kush.

Bonus tip: If you want to experience a stronger buzz from marijuana, get yourself a mango and eat it about 45 minutes before smoking.

Mango contains significant amount of myrcene, so eating it before consuming cannabis will strengthen the effects of THC and increase its absorption rate.

Limonene

Limonene is the second most abundant terpene in all cannabis strains, but not all strains necessarily have it.

As its name says, limonene gives strains a citrusy smell that resembles lemons, which is no surprise as all citrus fruits contain large amounts of this compound. Limonene is used in cosmetics and also in cleaning products.

For therapeutic purposes, limonene is known to improve mood and reduce stress. Researchers also found it to have antifungal and antibacterial properties and one research even found it to have a role in reducing tumor size.

Strains that have “lemon” or “sour” in their name are usually rich in limonene.

High levels of limonene can be found in strains like O.G. Kush, Sour Diesel, Super Lemon Haze, Durban Poison, Jack Herer, and Jack the Ripper.

Linalool

This terpene is the most responsible for the recognizable marijuana smell with its spicy and floral notes.

Linalool is also found in lavender, mint, cinnamon and coriander. What’s interesting is that just like those aromatic herbs, it has very strong sedative and relaxing properties.

Patients suffering from arthritis, depression, seizures, insomnia and even cancer, have all found aid in this amazing terpene.

Some well known linalool strains are Amnesia Haze, Special Kush, Lavender, LA Confidential, and OG Shark.

Caryophyllene

Best known for its spicy and peppery note, caryophyllene is also found in black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and spices like oregano, basil and rosemary.

Beta-caryophyllene binds to CB2 receptors, which makes it an ingredient in anti-inflammatory topicals and creams. Caryophyllene is the only terpene that binds to cannabinoid receptors.

Besides its analgesic and anti-anxiety properties, some studies have found that caryophyllene has some very promising properties when it comes to alcoholism rehabilitation.

A group of scientists performed research on mice and found that this terpene reduces voluntary intake of alcohol. They even recommended caryophyllene for treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

You can benefit from caryophyllene by using strains like Super Silver Haze, Skywalker and Rock Star.

Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene

These two terpenes smell like pine trees and that’s also where they can be found in large amounts. Other plants rich in pinene include rosemary, orange peels, basil, parsley and cannabis of course.

Like many other, pinene terpenes have an anti-inflammatory effect on humans.

But more importantly, they help improve airflow and respiratory functions, while also helping to reduce memory loss related to THC. I know that this can sound weird because we’re talking about cannabis, but if the strain is rich in alpha and beta pinene, it can actually help with asthma.

Pinene also helps patients with arthritis, Crohn’s disease and cancer.

You can find pinene in strains like Jack Herer, Strawberry Cough, Blue Dream, Island Sweet Skunk, Dutch Treat and Romulan.

Alpha-bisabolol

Alpha-bisabolol (also known as levomenol and bisabolol) has a pleasant floral aroma and can also be found in chamomile flower and candeia tree.

This terpene found its use primarily in the cosmetics industry, but lately it has caught the attention of researchers since it showed medical benefits, especially in cannabis.

Alpha-bisabolol proved to be effective in treating bacterial infections and wounds and is a great antioxidant with anti-irritation and analgesic properties.

It can be found in strains like Harle-Tsu, Pink Kush, Headband, OG Shark, and ACDC.

Eucalyptol

Also known as cineole, eucalyptol is the primary terpene of the eucalyptus tree. It has recognizable minty and cool tones in its smell but most cannabis strains do not contain large amounts of it. It usually makes up around 0.06% of a strains complete terpene profile.

This terpene has been used in cosmetics as well as medicine. When it comes to its medical value, eucalyptol relieves pain but also slows the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Although it is still in the early stages in research, this terpene has shown some promising effects on Alzheimer’s as well.

Eucalyptol can be found in Super Silver Haze and Headband.

Trans-nerolidol

This one is a secondary terpene found mostly in flowers like jasmine, lemongrass, and tea tree oil. The smell of trans-nerolidol reminds of a mixture of rose, citrus and apples and can be described in general as woody, citrus and floral.

Trans-nerolidol is best known for its antiparasitic, antioxidant, antifungal, anticancer and antimicrobial properties.

Strains like Jack Herer, Sweet Skunk, and Skywalker OG are rich in nerolidol.

Humulene

Humulene was the first terpene found in hops. Its aroma contains earthy, woody and spicy notes.

Besides cannabis, it can be also found in clove, sage, and black pepper.

It has a variety of medical properties. Early research has shown humulene to be anti-proliferative, meaning it prevents cancer cells from growing. Also, it proved to be effective in suppressing appetite, making it a potential weight loss tool.

Furthermore, like many other terpenes mentioned above, it also reduces inflammation, relieves pain and fights bacterial infections.

You can find humulene in strains like White Widow, Headband, Girl Scout Cookies, Sour Diesel, Pink Kush and Skywalker OG.

Delta 3 Carene

This terpene is found in a number of plants like rosemary, basil, bell peppers, cedar and pine. Its aroma is sweet and resembles the smell of cypress tree.

When it comes to the medical side of carene, it seems to be mostly beneficial in healing broken bones. That gives hope to patients suffering from osteoporosis, arthritis and even fibromyalgia.

What is also interesting about this terpene is that it stimulates our memory and helps memory retention. This is a major point in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Camphene

The best way to describe the smell of camphene is fir needles, musky earth and damp woodlands. Camphene aroma is often mistaken with myrcene, which is that trademark marijuana smell as most of us know it.

From the medical point of view, camphene has great potential. When mixed with vitamin C, it becomes a powerful antioxidant.

It is widely used in conventional medicine as a topical for skin issues like eczema and psoriasis.

Its greatest potential lies in its ability to lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, further lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Camphene is present in Ghost OG, Strawberry Banana, Mendocino Purps.

Borneol

Borneol, with its herbal minty scent, can be found in herbs like rosemary, mint and camphor.

This terpene is a good natural insect repellent which makes it great in preventing diseases like the West Nile virus, being passed by ticks, fleas, mosquitoes etc.

One study found that borneol kills breast cancer cells. It’s also widely used in Chinese traditional medicine, in acupuncture to be precise.

Strains high in borneol are Amnesia Haze, Golden Haze, K13 Haze.

Terpineol

The aroma of terpineol can be best described as floral-like, reminiscent of lilacs, apple blossom, and a little bit citrusy. Terpineol tastes like anise and mint.

Terpineol has a pleasant scent, similar to lilac, and is a common ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics, and flavors.

It relaxes heavily and it’s usually the one responsible for the notorious couch lock effect. Medical benefits of terpineol also include antibiotic and antioxidant properties.

It can be found Girl Scout Cookies, Jack Herer, and OG Kush strains.

Valencene

This terpene got its name from sweet Valencia oranges — where it’s been found in large amounts. With its sweet citrusy aromas and flavors, it’s used as an insect repellant, too.

Valencene can be found in strains like Tangie and Agent Orange.

Geraniol

Besides cannabis, geraniol can be found in lemons and tobacco. Its smell reminds of rose grass, peaches and plums.

It’s usually used in aromatic bath products and body lotions.

Geraniol has shown a lot of potential as a neuroprotectant and antioxidant.

It’s present in strains like Amnesia Haze, Great White Shark, Afghani, Headband, Island Sweet Skunk, OG Shark and Master Kush.

This Mysterious Marijuana Ingredient Is What Makes Your Weed Smell and Taste Great

Like many emerging cannabis companies, Mr Terps was founded largely out of personal necessity. Although the owner  (who requested we don’t use his last name as L.A.’s legal market is still in a gray area) had started a small-scale grow operation with his wife, he soon realized the growing popularity of cannabis oils and extracts. Upon puffing on a vape pen himself, he realized many of these concentrate-filled cartridges had a harsh, artificial taste to them.

“Why did I buy an OG Kush that tasted like Pine Sol?” he says.

What he soon realized was that many oil manufacturers use chemicals or synthetic materials to fake the taste and aroma of the cannabis strains they’re named after. Ever wonder why Girl Scout Cookies weed tastes so much like, well … Girl Scout Cookies?

The answer, without going down a scientific rabbit hole, is terpenes. A terpene is an organic compound found in all plants — fruits, vegetables and cannabis included — which provides the product with its aroma and flavor. Terpenes commonly found in cannabis strains include Pinene (which smells like a pine forest and is the most traditionally dank smell), limonene (which has a bright, citrusy vibe) and Humulene (a hoppy, woodsy aroma). Many say that terpenes also contribute to the “entourage effect” of weed, a hotly contested principle that refers to how the different components of cannabis — THC, CBD, terpenes, and more — interact to produce distinct physical or therapeutic effects.

While terpenes are naturally occurring in cannabis plants, extracting and refining them for use in a concentrate or oil is a difficult process. More important, it’s an extremely expensive one, as the weed plant that it’s being extracted from is destroyed in the process. Cannabis terpenes on the market today can cost upward of $250 per milliliter, says Ryan, which is why they are relatively rare, in low supply and not often used by California manufacturers.

So Ryan began researching the process, experimenting with extraction, and through trial and error came up with a system that uses cold temperatures to keep the full terpene profile intact — high heat can destroy some terpene molecules, he says. Los Angeles Refinery now sources its organic cannabis from “strategic” partners and then uses a proprietary process to break the plant down into molecular parts, remove contaminants such as waxes and lipids, and then reassemble the desired ingredients of THC and terpenes into a final product, he says.

Ryan C. uses a proprietary process to manufacture his own cannabis oil that uses actual cannabis-derived terpenes.EXPAND

Ryan C. uses a proprietary process to manufacture his own cannabis oil that uses actual cannabis-derived terpenes.
Courtesy Los Angeles Refinery

“If you vape on our product versus another company that puts in artificial flavor … you can tell,” Ryan says. “We’re trying to capture that [flavor] profile that nature created … rather than create our own.”

While cannabis terpenes may work for a small-scale, boutique company like Los Angeles Refinery, which produces them in house, they can be hugely cost-prohibitive for larger manufacturers. That’s why most producers opt for food-based terpenes instead — a safer, better-tasting alternative to chemicals and much more affordable and readily available than cannabis, explains Drew Jones, founder and owner of Connoisseur Concentrates.

“What would be preferable would be if everyone extracted it [terpenes] from cannabis, but there’s just not enough of it,” he says.

A weed industry vet and one of the first to sell terpenes, Jones officially founded his Portland, Oregon–based company in 2014 and, earlier this year, opened the Terpene Lab in downtown L.A. Jones’ business now consists largely of selling terpenes wholesale to companies flavoring distillates or creating vape pen cartridges. At Jones’ store in L.A., cannabis business owners can come in to sample terpenes, mix and match flavors and create their own blends — cherry mixed with cheesecake mixed with gelato, he says as an example. The Terpene Lab itself mixes flavors including Skittles, Tangerine and Sour Diesel.

Connoisseur Concentrates uses organic terpenes sourced from non-cannabis plants — from lemons to pine trees — to re-create the cannabis aroma. After all, the Pinene found in cannabis is the same that’s found in a pine tree, says Jones.

“It’s all the same terpene,” he says.

Obtaining the right cannabis flavor isn’t as simple as pure extraction, however. For one, a high-quality blend that accurately re-creates a flavor could contain up to 20 different terpenes, Jones says. But some manufacturers will use just one.

“It’s like saying I’m going to make a cake but just [using] an egg,” he says.

Like any specialty product, terpenes have fostered a bit of a cult following and become the stuff of cannabis connoisseurs. Mixing and matching strains to come up with new aromas, developing proprietary methods of refinement and figuring out how to best preserve the true cannabis essence, terpenes have become the subject of much experimentation.

In addition to use in weed products, cannabis terpenes — which, if refined properly, contain no THC or CBD and are legal to sell on regular grocery store shelves — are being used in the culinary world as well. Holden Jagger is a longtime chef and pastry chef in L.A.; he’s worked at the Soho House, was named one of Zagat’s “30 Under 30” and, two years ago, began to focus on cooking with cannabis.

Through his company Altered Plates, Jagger works as an educator, brand consultant, and chef, using cannabis terpenes as a potent flavor component in everything from salads to baked goods.

“Terpenes, I think, are probably the more interesting thing I’ve come across in cannabis,” Jagger says.
“It’s really opened my eyes to a lot of things about flavor, about taste.”

The Blue Dream Salad is inspired by the blueberry-esque Blue Dream cannabis, one of the most popular strains of weed in states where it's legal.EXPAND

The Blue Dream Salad is inspired by the blueberry-esque Blue Dream cannabis, one of the most popular strains of weed in states where it’s legal.
Courtesy Holden Jagger

Analyzing terpene profiles and discussing and experimenting with cannabis aromas is much more interesting than simply getting people high, Jagger says. While he does create cannabis-infused foods that contain the standard THC or CBD, he also makes his own terpene sugars and salts, which are more intended to capture the essence of the cannabis as opposed to the psychoactive effects. Jagger also makes his own terpene honey, by taking raw cannabis he grows himself, placing it in a jar, pouring honey over it and then storing it in a cold, dark place for three to six months.

The chef also builds entire dishes around cannabis strains. One example is the Blue Dream Salad, which includes terpenes of its namesake blueberry weed and plays off these flavors with dehydrated blueberries, pine nuts and aged Gouda cheese.

Overall, cannabis terpenes are simply a new, creative tool for creating flavor, Jagger says.

“I really think that just like there’s a place for fine wine, there’s a place for fine cannabis, and a lot of that is going to be terpene-rich cannabis,” he says.

Check out Mr Terps to purchase terpenes.

What are terpenes and why do they matter when it comes to cannabis?

Most cannabis consumers take a whiff of the bud jar before buying flowers. But what exactly are they smelling? And why?

The answer — whether these shoppers know it or not — is terpenes.

As marijuana becomes more mainstream, awareness of terpenes is becoming so common that it’s now a category in many cannabis competitions. And as our collective knowledge of the plant grows, more people are subscribing to the idea that terpenes — much like essential oils — play a role that goes far beyond smell.

The science and insider lingo can get pretty thick here. But you don’t have to be a cannabis sommelier to get in on the terpene talk.

The Cannifornian discussed the basics of terpenes with John Bailey of DaVinci Vaporizers, a Las Vegas-based company that makes some of the most popular high-end dry herb vaporizers.

Cannifornian: What are terpenes?

Bailey: Simply put, terpenes are aroma profiles derived from naturally produced oils from resin glands of the cannabis flower. Terpenes can be found in various other fruits, plants and common legal herbs.

J

Cannifornian: Why do terpenes matter? Do they actually change how cannabis strains affect consumers?

Bailey: They matter because as we start to further research and expand our knowledge of cannabis, we are finding they may have a great role in understanding medicinal benefits and potency. Not only do terpenes enhance flavor, but also contribute to the effects of cannabis and have been known to increase THC absorption therefore enhancing your high, while others are what gives certain sativas that alertness.

Cannifornian: Do you think growers and manufacturers should test for terpenes and include that information on product labels?

Bailey: Yes, absolutely. The more information we can reference and guide to customers the better — and what better trusted source than straight from the originator?

Cannifornian: What should consumers look for when buying products with terpenes in mind?

Bailey: Consumers should look to leverage the knowledge of budtenders while identifying commonalities in the relief from each strain. They should try to become more familiar with pungent, piney, citrus and earthy, and then correlate this when purchasing from dispensaries.

Cannifornian: Do you have a favorite terpene that you personally always look out for?

Bailey: Given that I tend to drift towards mood uplifting and energetic strains, I’m a personal fan of strains heavy in limonene, like Tangy and Durban Poison. These strains tend to have a citrusy aroma and are subtly sweet.

Cannifornian: What’s your view on inserting terpenes from marijuana into non-cannabis products, such as beer?

Bailey: Beer brewers have been inserting terpenes into beer for a long time for flavor profiles. Just think about all of the popular beers that contain orange peel, coriander and other herbs.

I think the difference will be that the terpenes are going to be marketed as derived from cannabis instead of other plants.

Personally, I’m all for maximizing the benefits of the plant. But with anything that people are putting into their body, I caution each to do their research on the effects prior to consumption.

Read more about terpenes here.

Green Report: Getting on the terpene train

What to know about terpenes:

Smell and flavor of plants, specifically marijuana

Legal for everyone

Medical benefits

Terpene examples: Pinene, Limonene

Four small bottles of liquid terpenes/essential oils surrounded by colorful flowers
Terpenes/essential oils Photo Credit: Statix.Pexels.com

Marijuana terpenes have recently been gaining ground in the cannabis community, particularly in legalized states, but what are terpenes? And who can enjoy them?

Terpenes are the chemicals found in marijuana—and every other plant—that give the marijuana its smell and flavor. Without terpenes, Blueberry Yum Yum would not have its distinctive blueberry flavor that makes it tastier, to most, than say that of Pink Kush, which has an earthier flavor.  Other plants have terpenes too, like the pine tree, or tangerine tree, that give them their signature scent.

These terpenes are extracted in the same way other cannabinoids like THC and CBD are for various forms of hash, or hashish.  They come in a liquid like an essential oil and can be applied to anything you are about to smoke for a more flavorful experience.

Different scents and flavors come from different terpene chemicals. For instance, a piney scent comes from the terpene pinene, but a more citrusy scent would come from the terpene limonene.

Application of the terpenes can be difficult, and it is suggested to use an eyedropper, as a little goes a long way, which is a good thing when you realize terpenes cost at least $20 per milliliter. That is about as much as a gram of hash. Just a single drop can add a lot of depth to the flavor of your smoke, so much so you probably will not be able to taste your flower or hash hardly at all.

Now for the real question: who can purchase and consume terpenes? Anyone in the United States can buy it. Since terpenes are found in every plant, they cannot be made illegal; otherwise we would not be able to eat things like oranges. Terpenes are also free of cannabis’ psychoactive chemical, THC, the product is also free of other cannabinoids like CBD and others.

Terpenes are sold as concentrate and flower enhancers, and it does an excellent job at this, especially if your stuff is not the normal dank, it usually is. As great as putting terpenes on good tasting weed is, it is even better on your shake and other low-quality weed, meaning these are great for those out of state, since you should only be on that fire while in Colorado.

Although terpenes can be smoked with flower or dabbed, for the best flavor experience, the lower the temperature the better. High temperatures can easily damage the flavor profile of the terpenes, although, you will still be able to taste them, it just will not be as good.

Another great benefit of terpenes are the benefits that they provide, they are not just for recreation, they can help medically. Each terpene has its own benefit. Use the terpenes from earlier as examples. Pinene is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help improve airflow to the lungs and counteract the short-term memory loss associated with using marijuana. Limonene helps to elevate mood and relieve stress.

Terpenes are a new craze in the marijuana community, and it is not just a fade that will go away from the looks of it. Check Out Mr Terps for quality Terpenes For Sale.