A deep dive into distillate
Distillate is a cannabis oil that has been refined and split into a cannabinoid-dominant fraction, usually THC. One of the major deficiencies with this product is that most of the time consumers will not experience the Entourage Effect because so many of the cannabinoids and terpenes have been stripped out. Let’s talk a little bit more about how distillate is created.
Other concentrates like live resin contain a lot of plant compounds because they are created via methods that protect the terpenes found in cannabis.
Here are just a few different methods for creating distillate.
The first is supercritical CO2 extraction, with this method the plant material must be ground and placed into an extraction vessel. The CO2 gas undergoes high temperature and pressure. A pump then forces the CO2 into the extraction chamber where it meets the plant material and breaks down the trichomes allowing it to dissolve part of the plant material. One of the major benefits to this method is that CO2 is a non-toxic substance and is also safe for the environment.
Next, we have ethanol-based extraction. With this method, the raw cannabis is soaked in ethanol to dissolve the cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as water-soluble molecules. Then the plant material is filtered and finally, the ethanol is purged from the material.
Lastly, and most commonly used commercially is BHO (Butane Hash Oil). Cannabinoids are extricated under tension with Butane utilizing unique materials when in contact with cannabis the butane gas causes the extraction of the THC. During the BHO process, the gas passes through the cannabis in a sealed cylinder separating cannabinoids and terpenes from the raw material.
Manufacturers lean to this method due to cost and yield efficiency. However, from a patient/consumer standpoint, it is important to know that not all of the residuals from this method are removed before end product use.
We fight the good fight every day to help educate people on the cannabis plant as medicine so we need to remember to obtain true medicinal benefits we must be educating on whole plant medicine. Almost every training material in the market currently tells us when recommending to the golden age patient for their medicinal needs, that if they don’t want to inhale they should “start low and go slow” with an edible. Why?
So often you stand in a dispensary and near staff recommending edibles to patients who do not want to inhale cannabis. A lot of these patients come in looking to not only manage but improve their conditions. That is difficult to achieve with a distillate product.
While most edibles are created using distillate there are some manufacturers who will re-introduce some of the extracted cannabinoids and terpenes, most of this reintroduction is executed using synthetic terpenes. It is the same with most of the distillate vape cartridges you see in the market currently.
My mother is a golden-age patient and breast cancer survivor 3 times over. How I explained to her why a live resin/full spectrum oil is so much more beneficial was simple. I told her a distillate infused edible works similar to a Tylenol or pain pill. It will mask the pain to make it manageable. Whereas a live resin/full spectrum product works more like a vitamin, it has the ability to restore and improve along with help manage the condition and/or side effects. We sat and went through terpenes with anti-cancer cell growth properties like limonene, humulene, terpineol, myrcene, eucalyptol, guaiol, and cymene all of which she would lose with a distillate.
The best analogy I have heard in the industry came from a very passionate trainer I worked with and she said, think of your body like a car. THC is like the gas, it helps accelerate and intensify the effects but the terpenes are the steering wheel! They guide your body to the experience you are looking for or need.
So in closing, I challenge the Missouri Manufacturing facilities to create more full-spectrum edibles for our patients that do not want to smoke their medicine. If we are who we say we are as advocates, then this should be a no-brainer!
Suzanne Morrison is a Committee Chair at JAINE, a cannabis industry training expert, and the founder of STL Cannabis Services. With over 20 years experience in the hospitality industry, and a track record of success and innovative training, Morrison brings a unique perspective and skillset to the cannabis industry. Morrison’s work is a result of her passion and commitment to educate on the medicinal benefits of cannabis and destigmatizing the plant.