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7 questions and answers about cannabis concentrates

Cannabis concentrates 101

Cannabis concentrates are upon us as a new category of legal weed products begins to grow.

Here’s a Q&A on what’s in store…

What are concentrates?

Concentrates are a more intense way to use cannabis than hitting a joint or taking an edible. The high is unique, more of a rush.

How do I use concentrates?

A dab rig is commonly used to smoke concentrates, including rosin, shatter, diamonds and resin. Often a butane torch—similar to one a chef would blaze to make crème brûlée—is used to heat up the bowl before adding the concentrate. There are e-rigs available that eliminate the need for fire, but they are often pricier (and experienced dabbers would say less fun). There are lots of video tutorials online, like this one.

Where can I buy concentrates and accessories?

They are starting to appear in greater volume and variety at your local legal cannabis store. Many licensed cannabis shops also carry dab rigs and other tools needed for the process. Your neighbourhood head shop is also a great place to hunt for your perfect designer piece.

How much does it cost?

Partaking in this way does require an investment. The right tools include a torch, a rig, and a banger. Expect to shell out a couple hundred bucks. On top of that, concentrates themselves will set your back about $50 a pop (and up) from what’s currently available.

Should I be scared to try?

There is reason to approach dabs with reverence. A few people have taken hits too big and come back with their own war stories. This is worth a read

What are some types of concentrates available?

A few available are: THCA Diamonds, a potent creation made from fresh frozen, single-strain, whole-buds and cured to produce crystalline diamonds; Hash Rosin, which uses a solventless extraction process with only heat and pressure; and, Live Resin Badder extracted via hydrocarbons from fresh frozen whole-buds making a cake-batter-like consistency.

Any final advice?

As the PSA goes, “What works for others may not work for you. Educating yourself and cautious experimentation will help you find your way.”

Email me at [email protected] with your dab story. Check out okanaganz.com.


Legal cannabis beats illegal

We are at a significant milestone in Canadian cannabis history.

Legal cannabis surpassed the black market for the first time. Statistics Canada data shows spending on legal weed (medical and recreational combined) was $803 million, while spending on illicit pot was $785 million in the second quarter of 2020.

The scales are tipping.

The black market has been losing turf on multiple fronts – fewer customers, brain drain, crackdown on unlicensed brick-and-mortar. Meanwhile, legal cannabis has been gaining ground – Cannabis 2.0, innovation, legitimacy.

While there have been growing pains, the quality is up and cost is down; that’s what counts for customers.

Kelowna Spiritleaf franchise owner Tarek Shbib said the shift is a huge deal.

He said the massive amount of products now available on the market is incomparable to before, and the level of innovation on the legal side is tough to compete with.

“From nano-emulsion being used in drinks for much faster THC delivery into the body, to state of the art facilities using large scale C02 extraction to create potent and safe products that consumers can feel confident in using,” Shbib said.

It’s especially true as more concentrates come out into the market, including shatter, live rosin, caviar, as well as badder/budder.

“Products like these are not easy to produce safely, and so our customers appreciate that when they come to our stores, they know the product they go home with is safe and has been tested and made in a facility approved by Health Canada,” he said.

“I think it shows that the legal market has matured to a point where consumers now consider it the norm when looking to purchase cannabis products.”

Here’s another interesting sign of our changing times.

Some of the most stubborn black market growers are being wooed to legitimacy with lower-cost micro-licences and a one-time opportunity to bring their own cannabis genetics to legality, no questions asked.

B.C.-based legacy grower Travis Lane is in the process of going legal.

He told virtual attendees of The Growing Summit that the future of cannabis is in the legal space.

Still, regulatory requirements are a barrier.

“The fact of the matter is, it has been onerous to transfer from something where we didn’t have a lot of rules and regulations,” he said.

“We didn’t have to do paperwork. I say this a lot, but back in the day, we didn’t do reporting because that was called evidence. If someone found, ‘hey, here’s your feeding schedule for your illegal drugs,’ then that could come back to bite you in court.”

Lane doesn’t shy away from his past, yet he still received his security clearance after six to eight weeks.

“One of the messages I often put out there for fellow growers is that I support anybody who wants to stay in the illicit market, and I support anyone who wants to convert over. It’s been a long fight just to get to legalization and no one should be condemned for continuing to break the law in my opinion; no one should go to jail for a plant. They shouldn’t have their life ruined for it.”

What do you say?

a) the black market
b) the legacy market
c) the illicit market
d) other

Email [email protected] Follow @okanaganz on social media. Subscribe at okanaganz.com. Photo is from my review of Moonbeam. (It smelled like grandpa's coat.)

How to handle a bad buzz

It’s long been established that cannabis affects people differently.

Longer than you might think, in fact.

Take the experience of a group of British sailors in the 1670s.

During their travels in Eastern India, they tried tea laced with cannabis (called bangha tea). Thomas Bowrey, an English merchant and mariner in the East Indies trade, recounted the tale in his report, A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal.

The group of sailors paid a local man who had experience getting intoxicated off the drink to come along and watch over them (which is always a smart move for a rookie). The group told him to shut the doors and windows from the outside so nobody inside could run out into the streets, and nobody from the outside could come in to laugh at them after they drank by the pint.

Here’s their experience, starting with Bowrey himself:

  • “Myself and one more sat sweating for the space of three hours in exceeding measure,” wrote Bowrey.
  • Two people experienced no effects – something that’s fairly common when people try cannabis for the first time.
  • One “wept bitterly all the afternoon.”
  • One was “terrified with fear” and stuck his head into a giant pot, staying that way for four hours.
  • Four or five lay upon the carpets spread around the room and complimented each other highly – “each man fancying himself no less than an emperor.”
  • One was quarrelsome and fought with the pillars until there was little skin left on his fingers.

The point being it can affect us all differently.

Cannabis beverages have, of course, changed here in this century.

Health Canada, which regulates weed, says the happy effects of cannabis on the brain include euphoria, well-being, relaxation, and heightened senses.

There are also negative experiences, particularly intense for those who are inexperienced. They include unwanted and unpleasant thoughts, confusion, anxiety, fear, panic, paranoia and delusions.

I’ve had my own bad highs to contend with where I’ve felt very uncomfortable. One memorable episode happened after taking way too much cannabis oil. I woke up suddenly at 2 a.m., vibrating.

There are a few things you can do if you find yourself in the midst of a bad high.

In my case, I got out of bed and gulped down a big glass of cold water. Then I turned on the news and watched for hours as I reminded myself that everything was going to be OK.

The main thing to do is try your best to relax and distract yourself; lay down and listen to music, put on a TV show, cuddle a pet, take a bath or shower.

Using a CBD-only tincture can ease the THC effects, according to many different sources.

In her book Ganja Yoga, Dee Dussault advises dim lighting, colouring and kitty videos.

“Keep breathing and float downstream, knowing it won’t last forever and that many, many of us (myself included) have been there!” she says.

If you’re looking for cute videos to watch, I recommend r/aww.

Have you ever been too high? Email the author at [email protected]


Street talk on cannabis

Dozens of young people who lived on the streets of Vancouver were canvassed about their cannabis use in a new study.

The consensus among them is that in many ways weed is beneficial to their challenging lives.

Researchers interviewed 56 youth between 2017 and 2019 about their cannabis use. While most participants said they derived euphoric pleasure from weed, researchers noted no one in the study was using it solely for recreational purposes.

Many said cannabis relieved their longstanding mental and physical health issues–particularly, depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic pain.

“Weed is very medicinal—it’s the best medication there is,” said Blake, 21. “It cures my hyperactivity. I also have scoliosis, and my back pain stops, too, when I use it.”

Blake isn’t alone. Many other participants had similar responses, including using cannabis to ditch alcohol and heroin.

Using for good, not evil

The study, titled “‘Something that actually works’: Cannabis use among young people in the context of street entrenchment,” was published this week on the science journal, PLoS ONE.
It was released amidst news that overdose deaths in Kelowna are running far ahead of last year’s pace.

Researchers say their work demonstrates that young people may use cannabis to reduce the harms caused by other forms of substance use and in order to transition away from more harmful forms of substance use.

There are between 35,000 and 45,000 young people who are living without a stable or safe residence in Canada. In Vancouver, a recent homeless count revealed that there are nearly 700 youth aged 13 to 24 living on the streets of Greater Vancouver.

Here are some of the other responses:

“There was a period of time there when I was sober for about—almost five months. I still had cravings (for alcohol) but it wasn’t so bad because I was using pot to wean myself off of it.… Eventually I was able to maintain a job, I was able to move back with my dad. It’s much better, smoking pot, eating food, going to bed.”

— Carla

“I’ve been sleeping on the beach for three months. I smoke a lot of weed. And then I don’t have the sadness. My environment is still sad, but smoking weed helps me a lot. That’s very, like, therapeutic for me. And it just lets me, like, keep going.”

— Jeremiah

“I haven’t considered going to residential treatment because I can’t use weed there, you know? Because, like, that’s a medicine for me. It’s not a drug. So, like, that’s been a huge barrier in my getting clean and sober. It’s a challenge for those of us who use [weed] medically.”

— Devon

The group of researchers include M-J Milloy, the Canopy Growth professor of cannabis science at the University of British Columbia.

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About the Author

David Wylie is publisher of the oz. — a cannabis newsletter that covers the growing legal weed industry from the Okanagan Valley.

He has been a journalist for nearly two decades, working in newsrooms all over Canada.  

David is active as okanaganz on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Subscribe to the email newsletter at okanaganz.com.

An ounce of info goes a long way.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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