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Do You Have Good Weed?

Do You Have Good Weed?

Judging the quality of your cannabis at first glance may seem like a challenge. But once you know what to look for, it’s very simple.

To some people, all cannabis looks the same. To others, it all smells the same or tastes the same. The reality is that every strain you get at the dispensary will have unique signatures and features to look for in order to judge it’s quality. Here’s The Real Dirt’s Top 5 things to look for when judging your weed.

Know Your Strain

One of the easiest ways to know what to look for with your cannabis is by knowing the strain itself. Cannabis strains are vast and diverse, with every strain producing slightly different effects, with different smells and tastes associated with them. For example, Sour Diesel got its name directly because of its smell. If you get Sour Diesel from your local dispensary, and it doesn’t smell sour or gassy, it probably isn’t really Sour Diesel.

While every strain can have unique features, to the untrained eye a lot of it can look the same. For this reason, some dispensaries will label strains with the wrong name to sell more, simply because the average person wouldn’t be able to distinguish the difference. That’s where knowing more than just the strain details comes in.

Look at your cannabis

Light green, dark green, brown and purple are just some of the colors you might see when looking closely at your cannabis, but what do they signify?

what does weed look like?

Cannabis with a darker-green color can signify that it was grown in a greenhouse or outdoor setting, but not always. Purple cannabis is nothing more than a cosmetic feature that can be caused by a couple different factors, from being exposed to cold temperatures to strain genetics. But don’t be fooled; just because the bud is purple, doesn’t mean it’s any stronger or fruitier tasting, it just looks cool.

Light green bud usually ends up being the best quality, but not always. Key signifiers are also the trichome content on the bud. Does it look like it’s covered in frost to the point it’s almost white? It’s probably good weed. The main thing to remember is that as long as the cannabis isn’t brown, it’s most likely decent quality. However, other factors can change this.

Smell your cannabis

Different strains can have various smells that come with their terpene profiles. These terpenes are what give certain strains a fruity, gassy, earthy smells, among others. If you smell any of these scents in your bud, it means it has a solid terpene profile and probably had time to develop properly.

The smell you want to avoid to ensure you have good weed is a hay smell. This hints at a poor cure, and poorly grown cannabis in general. Also, while a dank smell can be a good sign, an overly dank smell may mean mold within the bud which should be avoided. If you get a bud that smells particularly dank, break it open and look for mold.

How does it feel?

Is your cannabis dry and flaky? Is it so sticky you can’t even grind it up? These are both things you want to avoid, but good weed will fall somewhere in-between these two. You want properly cured cannabis that has had time to dry out after harvest, but not too long. In Colorado, a lot of cannabis is more dry because of the climate, and growers have difficulty countering the environmental effects.

Overall, you want cannabis that breaks apart easily without crumbling in your fingers, but still has some moisture so it doesn’t burn too quickly. Experimenting with different strains and different cures if you’re the grower can help build a key for judging your cannabis.

The best test

what does weed taste like?

So you’ve gone through the checklist, and you have two completely different looking buds. Both are perfectly sticky, one’s gassy and the other is fruity, and all the things you should be looking for in your bud are there. Is it possible that one of them may still not be good weed? Taste it.

If the bud passes the eye, smell and feel tests, it is most likely safe to consume. Pay attention to how the cannabis tastes compared to how it smelled. Does it match up?

How does it make you feel? If you start to get a headache or a lot of coughing, the bud may still have trace chemicals from pesticides or other chemicals used during the growing process, which wouldn’t be noticed right away just by looking at it. If this doesn’t happen, it tastes good, and makes you feel good, then you have good weed.

Remember that there will always be outliers! You can get a bud that’s dark and dry, but still tastes and makes you feel great. You can also get cannabis that was grown specifically because of how it looks, with less focus put into ensuring it’s a quality product. Some of the strains you see in the dispensary will look great, but once you open the jar there may be no smell at all.

So don’t be duped, and know what to look for in your cannabis! Get the full guide to judging cannabis on the new episode of The Real Dirt. Chip and his guests go through dozens of strains, analyzing their qualities to determine what make cannabis good or bad quality.

Listen to the full episode HERE or listen to it on iTunes or Apple Podcasts!

iTunes

 

 

60 Nuggets Explained: how to know your cannabis

60 Nuggets Explained: how to know your cannabis

In this episode of The Real Dirt Chip talks about the Cultivate Showdown, a secret cannabis competition hosted by The Real Dirt. The best of the best growers from all over came to showcase their cannabis, with only one winner being chosen.

Check out the entries below as Chip and his guests analyze them on this episode!

You walk into the dispensary. There are a dozen different strains on the shelf, some are labeled as the “bottom shelf” strain choices, others are the supposed “top shelf” strain options.

You ask to see one of the bottom shelf strains — because let’s be real, if you can get solid cannabis at a cheap price, why not? — and they bring the jar closer for inspection. The bud might not look super frosty or appealing, but when they open the jar, you’re hit with a wave of smells that linger in your nose. Fruitiness, gassiness, dankness. All the smells you want.

Then you ask to see one of the top shelf strain options. It looks great; the bud structure is what you look for, it has a nice crystal to hair ratio. It’s everything you would look for in a top shelf bud. The keyword being “look”.

The budtender brings the top shelf jar over and cracks it open. You aren’t smacked in the face with the same smell explosion as before. In fact, this strain seems to be very mild in smell compared to the bottom shelf option. It might even smell a little bit like hay. This is where the average cannabis consumer gets lost.

The top shelf bud should be better. It looks way better, but most importantly, there has to be a reason it is priced higher than the bottom shelf stuff, right? Not always. One of the most important things to remember about cannabis, especially when it comes to dispensary cannabis, is that looks are not all that matters.

Dispensaries do not allow customers to touch the cannabis. Obviously this is due to contamination concerns, but an added benefit of this rule is just that; you aren’t allowed to touch the cannabis. An essential way of being able to judge the quality of cannabis is through touch.

A bud could look super dense and sticky in the jar, but once you get home you find out it was just a fluffy bud that looked dense, and it’s dry to the point you don’t even need a grinder. Since it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to touch the cannabis at a dispensary, you must utilize your other senses, sight and smell, for the majority of your judgement. So you better make sure they are fine tuned!

In this episode of The Real Dirt, Chip sits down with Jess Baker, Jacob Sarabia and Travis Crane to go through a dozen different strains to analyze them all. Learn what to look for, what to smell for, and what to avoid before you decide to light up that next strain you see at the dispensary or in your smoke circle.

What Are Dabs? Concentrates Explained

What Are Dabs? Concentrates Explained

Concentrates are almost as popular as flower cannabis now. But what is a concentrate?

It’s simple at first glance. A dab or concentrate is just that; the concentrated form of the main chemical in cannabis that produces psychotropic effects, THC. Due to it’s potency, all that is needed to get the full effect of concentrates is just a dab. But how those inevitable dabs are made can vary from the methods to the solvents used in the extraction process.

Extracting concentrates

When extracts — which would eventually be more commonly referred to as concentrates or dabs at dispensaries — first started their rise to popularity, the main solvent used was butane. Because butane is so cold, the gas iss able to stick to the THC crystals of cannabis flower and pull them off the plant, without taking any other chemicals or plant matter.

Through this process of butane extraction, we got the first concentrates that would push them into the spotlight for their clean, pure taste, with effects that pack a punch.

Wax

what are dabs like wax and crumble

Two types of wax. Photo by @sens.media

The simplest and earliest form of concentrate, wax is most commonly made with Butane, although CO2 and even propane extraction has become more prevalent. The way wax is made is very similar to shatter or crumble (another form of wax), but the results vary significantly.

The difference in wax compared to other concentrates, is that it is purged of solvents at a higher temperature and then whipped like a batter toward the middle or end of the purging process. Avoiding the whipping results in another concentrate still very popular; shatter.

 

Shatter concentrate

what is shatter dabs

A slab of shatter. Photo by @bigcat_concentrates.

Shatter is most popular for how it looks. It’s name comes in part from those looks. Shatter typically looks like a piece of golden-brown glass. This happens when extractors let the concentrate sit during the purging process without any agitation (as opposed to wax which is highly agitated), allowing the concentrate to harden into a thin sheet of glass that eventually becomes shatter.

Due to its structure, shatter can be very brittle and break at the touch like glass, but it can also be made more malleable, which makes it easier to manage. Shatter with a more sappy consistency can also have more terpenes and other beneficials that might be carried over if made more brittle.

Live resin

what are dabs? Like live resin

A jar of live resin from Green Dot Labs

One of the newest extraction methods on the market, live resin is different from any concentrate that came before it, and because of this, is taking over the concentrate shelves at local dispensaries. Live resin is made in the same way as wax or shatter, but the plant matter used is what makes the difference.

To make a live resin concentrate, extractors will try to keep the plant as close to alive as possible after cutting it down in order to preserve its living terpene profile. This is usually done by cryogenically freezing the plants as soon as they are chopped, preserving all the oils, cannabinoids and terpenes that are normally purged out during the curing and aging process.

Rosin

what is rosin

Live rosin being pressed. Photo by Green Dot Labs.

Rosin rose to popularity very quickly, simply due to how easy it is to make. What started as a small basement trend of people sharing videos of them pressing their cannabis with a hot hair straightener in order to press out the natural oils from the plant, has evolved into an entirely new subset of the concentrate industry.

Rosin is one of the first solvent-less extracts, meaning there is zero risk of encountering any leftover butane, propane, or CO2, because it was never used in the first place. Making rosin is as simple as getting a hair straightener and some parchment paper, leading to one of the largest home-extraction movements of the booming industry.

While rosin may not be as potent as other concentrates, and its consistency can be difficult to deal with, many flock to dispensaries for this clean concentrate for the peace of mind in knowing there were no potentially harmful solvents used in the making of the product. The flower itself that is actually pressed to make rosin, is a different story.

Distillate

what are dabs like distillate

A glob of distillate from @TheClearConcentrate

Distillates are made through a process called molecular distillation. Distilling hash requires taking winterized concentrates — butane or CO2 hash oil refined with alcohol or ethanol and then chilled at extreme temperatures — and then distilling them to concentrate the THC further. Commercial extractors use a machine called a “wiped film evaporator,” which takes advantage of the different boiling points in cannabinoids to thermally separate them.

Extractors will then repeat this process to remove more and more impurities like leftover solvents. The result of this process is a clear, clean concentrate with no smell and virtually zero solvents. By taking a butane hash oil with a THC content between 70 and 85% and distilling it, the result can reach potencies of up to 95%. However, for the big punch this concentrate packs, it lacks the flavor and diversity of the other concentrates in this list.

No matter what type of dabs or concentrates you decide to enjoy on 7/10, the national holiday of concentrates, remember to start small and pace yourself with dabs. A little too much and you’re holiday will be ending early with a nap.
The Science of Smoke

The Science of Smoke

All forms of smoke are not created equal.

Smoking tobacco is widely recognized as the leading preventable cause of death in the world.  Meanwhile, endless analyses by medical professionals and research facilities throughout the world provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers. The science of smoke proves this further.

Difference of Smoke

Importantly, methods for consuming cannabis that merely heat the plant material  – not hot enough to burn it via vaping or dabbing – releases a volatile organic compound but to a much less extent and with less potency than the bad actors introduced by tobacco smoke.

Burning plant matter does produce harmful chemicals, regardless of which plant it is, but cannabis’s myriad consumption options make it less dangerous. For instance, cooking marijuana into edibles is a safe way to consume it that removes risks to your lungs. Alternatively, vaporizers for marijuana limit the formation of combustion products and are therefore likely to be safer than smoking.

 

Using an e-cigarette leaf vaporizer also could be a safer alternative. Observational studies show that vaporization allows consumers to experience the rapid onset of effect while avoiding some of the respiratory hazards associated with smoking.

Science of Smoke

While cannabis smoke has been implicated in respiratory dysfunction, it has not been causally linked with tobacco related cancers such as lung, colon or rectal cancers. Furthermore, compounds found in cannabis have been shown to kill numerous cancer types including: lung cancer, breast and prostate, leukemia and lymphoma, glioma, skin cancer, and pheochromocytoma, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

When it comes to the science of smoke, there are three kinds. Mainstream smoke is the smoke that enters the consumer from a direct draw on the cigarette.  It is then exhaled, which creates environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS. The smoke that comes off the cigarette as it sits in the ashtray is side stream smoke.  All of the smoke that enters the atmosphere begins to decay and has a defined half life.

If we gave mainstream smoke a number associated with its potency, let’s say that number is 1, then side stream smoke would have a potency of .1, and ETS would be .01.  Stated another way, the potency of ETS once inhaled would be 1/100th of mainstream smoke.  At that concentration, most of the purported illnesses are out of reach and cigarette smoke is primarily just a lung or sinus irritant, which goes away after you get to fresh air.

Ted Corless

Recognized as one of the leading insurance litigation lawyers in Florida, attorney Ted A. Corless spent nearly a decade fighting for some of the largest companies in America. He trained at Shook Hardy, an international law firm infamous for its vigorous representation of Big Tobacco. Shook Hardy triggered his passion for scientific and medical-related litigation.

Corless routinely shares his scientific experience gained from representing the largest tobacco companies in the U.S. He regularly authors articles, gives television interviews and presents lectures on a range of legal topics, including insurance coverage, complex expert testimony and insurance bad faith.

Corless has a broad range of litigation experience including first-chair jury trial experience in matters relating to commercial litigation, environmental law, construction law, bodily injury, advertising injury, products liability and insurance coverage litigation. Ted Corless founded the Corless Barfield Trial Group and is Founder and Editor of newsmunchies.com.

The History of Hemp

The History of Hemp

The history of hemp isn’t pleasant. When we look back at its story, we see one of greed and poor intent.

You have probably heard before that hemp has been around for a long time. You might have even learned about it in history class and its various uses. What you don’t learn in class, however, is the dark history of hemp and where the ancient cash crop sits today.

The oldest known traces of hemp go back to 8,000 B.C. in Mesopotamia (now Iran and Iraq). The plant had a vast history in eastern Europe and Asia, where the majority of hemp was produced. China is known to have the longest relationship with hemp, dating back over 6,000 years. In fact, the Chinese were known as the original inventors of paper, made with hemp.

The history of hemp

Around 1,200 B.C. hemp would make its way to Europe. Here, it became an essential crop grown throughout the continent. It became a common fabric used in ship canvases and rope for its durability. In 1535 King Henry VIII passed an act that “encouraged” farmers to sow at least 1/4 acre of their land for growing hemp, or get fined.

From this time all the way up until the 1920s, over 80% of clothing was made from hemp. There is a history of hemp in the Americas dating back to the 16th century, and it is known that by the time the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, hemp had already been there. During the early days of the country’s development, almost every state in the US at the time grew hemp.

The end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th would result in the history of hemp taking a dark turn.

The downfall of hemp

Hemp was essential in the building of the United States as it stands today, but would eventually be pushed out by the rise of cotton. While hemp was more durable and cheaper to produce, cotton was much easier to produce and process. With the introduction of the cotton gin, the end of the potential billion-dollar hemp industry had all but arrived.

With the rise in cotton production and new, petroleum based synthetic textiles along with growing newspaper and lumber conglomerates, the propaganda against hemp began to grow. In a last ditch effort to save the industry, a man named George Schlichten created a machine similar to the cotton gin for hemp.

However by this point the larger companies already had their hands in the pockets of lawmakers, leading the eventual forced taxation and banning of hemp production in the 1930s.

The future of hemp

The history of hemp all but faded after this point. It had a brief rise back to popularity during WWII, when the government gave out seeds to farmers and even released a propaganda film called “Hemp for Victory”. Unfortunately, after the war the ban continued, and the hemp industry in America was dead.

As for Europe however, hemp production continued throughout the continent in numerous countries, mainly Russia, China and France who is currently the largest hemp producer in the world. In Europe, the production of hemp with less than .02% THC is permitted by the EU. This allows large-scale commercial production of hemp. Similar bills have been introduced in the US in recent months, with no success.

It is hard to look at hemp and cannabis and not see the difference between the two. With the already known vast economic benefits of a legal hemp industry, it is baffling that the US has not lifted its ban on the cash crop.

Hear more about the history of hemp in Europe and what the future holds for this incredible plant on The Real Dirt Podcast!

Listen to the episode HERE

Elite Strains

Elite Strains

Elite strains; elusive, secretive, top quality, and the subject of multiple songs. These exclusive strains are passed between the hands of few growers, but you’ve probably heard of most of them.

With the explosion of the legal cannabis market now spreading to nine states, suffice to say there has been an influx of marijuana products. While this can be good for several reasons, the main one being the lowering of prices due to supply, it also brings the risk of lower quality product, usually in the form of commercial cannabis.

Elite Strains Difference

Compared to the private market, these commercial strains have strong appeal for their price and what’s known as “bag appeal”, which means it looks good when its sitting on the dispensary shelf. That isn’t saying much though.

There are still those dedicated to the craft of growing top quality cannabis, with a distinct effort put into quality without the sole focus of growing as much as possible that commercial grows have. These “elite” strains are highly sought after by those who want to grow the best of the best, and don’t care about pumping out the pounds.

However, these strains are not easy to come by unless one looks in the right circles, or knows the right people. The difference between an elite strain and those of commercial grows is mainly that of exclusivity and genetic superiority.

Elusive and unique

As cannabis spread from California to Holland, to Colorado and other regions, strains have been cross-bred, manipulated, and repeatedly changed to find the best combination of flavor and effect. However, you can still hear whispers about the elite strains like cookies, skittlez, glue and others that you might also hear about in rap songs, but haven’t been able to get your hands on.

Elite strains can come and go, as hearing about a strain in a song or seeing it spread across Instagram will pump up its popularity until something else comes along. The eliteness of a strain can also have nothing to do with the strain itself, but the grower’s technique that makes it superior.

There’s a reason every dispensary tries to have an elite strain. The name alone boosts credit and sales, but actually having an elite strain on hand sets a grower or distributor apart from the competition that just uses the name. But be prepared to pay top dollar if an elite strain is on your to-smoke list.

Learn how some of the most elite strains in the world are cloned and cultivated from Kevin Jodrey of Wonderland Nursery. Kevin sits down with Chip on The Real Dirt Podcast to talk about his work, passion, and the future of the cannabis industry in California.

Listen Here and Subscribe on iTunes!

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