Cannabis Concentrates: 5 Things You May Not Know

If you’re new to the world of medical cannabis, you might be wondering what cannabis concentrates are. And if you’ve been using concentrates for a while now, they’re probably familiar to you. Medical  concentrates are obtained through an extraction process which removes unnecessary plant matter, like the stems and leaves, while maintaining the cannabinoids and terpenes from the original cannabis plant.  Concentrates are available in a wide array of forms such as oils, wax, glass, shatter, and oral forms. Keep reading to learn 5 things you may not know about cannabis concentrates. 

Cannabis Concentrates Are Made from Trichromes
Concentrates are made from the part of the medical cannabis plant called trichomes, which are the tiny crystals that you commonly see covering your dry leaf. These tiny, sticky, amazing smelling crystals resemble frost-covered strings. Inside of these trichomes are the cannabinoids (CBD, THC, etc.) and terpenes. Terpenes create different aromas and effects in all the medical cannabis strains. Trichomes hold all the active ingredients that allow you to benefit from the effects of medical cannabis.

Not All Concentrates Are Extracts
While all extracts are concentrates, not all concentrates can be considered extracts. What’s the difference? The way trichomes, the frosty strings mentioned above, are obtained. Extracts are created using alcohol, carbon dioxide, and other solvents to extract the trichomes. Cannabis concentrates that are not extracts include rosin, dry sift, and kief. Straight concentrates are created by physically removing the trichomes from the plant.

There are a Variety of Concentrate Textures
Cannabis concentrates come in many different textures. One texture is called shatter, which can be a brittle texture, much like glass, and can be “shattered” into several pieces. Wax is similar to shatter, but it is much softer and very sticky to the touch. Concentrates can also come in a batter or budder texture. These are easy to manipulate and will remind you of cake batter. Crumble is a texture that is just what it sounds like – a texture that falls apart or “crumbles” when handled. Concentrates can also come in sugar, a texture that resembles wet table sugar and another type called sauce which has a sticky, liquid texture. The final texture is crystalline, which are crystals made from the trichomes and sometimes called “diamonds”.

Cannabis Concentrates Have a High Potency 
Did you know there are benefits to using concentrates? One of the benefits of cannabis concentrates is the potency. Dry leaf contains a potency of about 10-25% THCa. Concentrates can have a potency percentage of anywhere between 50 and 90% THCa.  This post will explain the difference between THCa and THC. It is important to educate yourself on the available types of medical cannabis so that you can have informed conversations with your registered WV medical cannabis doctor or at your local medical cannabis dispensaries.

There are Multiple Ways to Ingest Concentrates
If you’re reading this, you probably want to know how to inhale concentrates.  Cartridges, pods, and disposable pens are pre-filled mouthpieces that are heated up by a battery in order to vaporize the medicine.  Vape pens are often described as a more discreet option and easier to use for beginners.  We offer other tips for vaping for beginners. All other concentrates, like the shatter and budder discussed above, will require a vaporization device.  Cannabis concentrates are just one of the ways that medical cannabis is available to you. If you like the idea of concentrates, but would rather use an edible form, check out this link for the concentrates that can be ingested instead.

It’s important to educate yourself on the available types of medical cannabis so that you can have informed conversations with your pharmacist or PCC at your local medical cannabis dispensaries.



Dr. Andrew Bucciarelli, BS, PharmD, RPh is a licensed pharmacist and certified medical cannabis practitioner through the Pennsylvania Department of Health.