Full vs Broad Spectrum
We use the term cannabis to refer to a plant, but that plant has many parts such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids amongst others. Added up, the whole is more than a sum of its parts thanks to the entourage effect we get from smoking, ingesting, or vaping.
Unfortunately, like smoking, the heating and chemical processes licensed producers use to extract for oils and concentrates change the nature of the cannabis plants being used.
Plants such as cannabis live in a small range of temperatures and environmental conditions. When the natural state of cannabis is tampered with, terpenes can break down or be lost completely. The same with flavonoids and other aspects of the plant happens.
Once the plant has undergone heating or chemical baths, the original makeup of the cannabis strain being extracted can lose the full spectrum of essential parts like terpenes that create a better aroma, flavor, and cannabis experience. These lost qualities mean the plant product is no longer full-spectrum. It could be a THC or CBD isolate or a broad-spectrum product that maintains some terpenes.
To confuse terpene matters even more there, there are two clear issues. One, is that marketers and producers are not required to reach a certain level of terpene or flavonoid content to label a product full-spectrum. Only a lab can prove whether an item on the market really is full-spectrum.
The second hurdle to making a smart suggestion or purchase is that full-spectrum is not an off-on switch. The terpene and flavonoid profile of a plant at different ages of growth, time of harvesting, after being cured or thawed from a frozen state, and at the point of processing changes wildly due to the nature of time/aging that cannabis cannot run from.
For example, live resin which uses fresh plants or frozen ones, will have a very different full-spectrum analysis from a lab over a plant harvested late, cured, and then stored for a period. If the previous two issues weren’t enough, some producers don’t even try to salvage the terpenes but instead reintroduce them later from other botanical sources.
With so many hurdles to deal with, how do we proceed: Information from producers. Finding out what techniques are used to make oils and other concentrates is the only solution. Techniques vary in how difficult or time consuming they are to maintain enough of the plant for a full experience.
Hydrocarbon Extraction Technique (Butane or Propane) along with any winterization not only uses toxic chemicals that must be purged, but the small range of gas heating and cooling temperatures that are terpene safe makes it easy to lose terpenes through burning off.
Supercritical CO2 is another technique. It doesn’t use a toxin in the process and can be manipulated to target specific parts of the plant. The drawback is the initial equipment is an expensive outlay.
Finally pressure can be used such as in a rosin press. Pressure isn’t an issue, but if heat is also used we are right back at losing terpenes through burning.
To sum up, cleary obtaining information from representatives is essential for finding out what we are selling to customers.