The typical senior in the US uses 4-5 prescription medications. Many have embraced medical cannabis and replaced and/or reduced their prescription medications. Some had never used cannabis in their lives prior to joining the program. Others smoked it decades ago and then stopped when they reached their 30s. This post is for those who are new to medical cannabis usage or are thinking about becoming a patient.
Cannabis is an amazingly complicated plant and there is much to understand about its anatomy. This will help you to recognize the best cannabis buds for your individual needs and to make the best choices at your dispensary. Here are several things to keep in mind…
Crystals and Hairs
High-quality buds will be covered in crystals, also referred to as resin. In anatomical terms, they are called trichomes. Here is the link to an article I wrote about trichomes. The denser the quantity of trichomes, the better the quality of the strain. They are an indicator of the number of cannabinoids contained in your bud. The thicker the coat of resin, the more cannabinoids are present.
Pistillate hairs are another indicator of quality. They should be golden red-orange. The deeper the color the better the bud.
In my day, cannabis contained a lot of leaves and stems and seeds. Not anymore, as medical cannabis is trimmed down to the calyxes. I was not familiar with this term and had to look it up. Calyx is made up of a spiral of small leaves and is the first part of the flower to form; where the flower meets the stem. Made up of sepals, tiny leaves that protect the flower at the base, the calyx provides stability while protecting the plant’s reproductive organs via a cocoon.
Generally speaking, the sugar leaves should be trimmed off unless they are small and dense with resin. The common practice is to trim the cannabis cola, the flowering site of a female cannabis plant, down to the dense, conical shaped, sticky buds.
Cannabis buds come in many different colors, depending on the terpenes that they contain. Common colors are yellows, purples, oranges, reds, blues, and violets as well as greens. Color is not necessarily an indicator of potency. Certain strains produce more color than others. Growing temperatures also have an effect on color. Darker colors of purple, blue and black are thought to provide protection from frost for cannabis plants. Others believe that it acts as a sunblock, protecting the plant from sun damage. The darker the color, the more nutrients it contains.
The ideal aroma should be strong and range from woody and musk to sweet and fruity. If it doesn’t have much of an aroma, it is not high-quality. A few strains do smell like a freshly mowed lawn. However, for most strains, if it smells like fresh grass, this indicates that it is still a bit damp and was not completely dried. Damp buds are not good for your health, as they may contain mold and mildew.
That was a nice segue into discussing its moisture content. Drying and curing cannabis is a crucial part of the process in guaranteeing a high-quality flower. A bud should not be difficult to break up, yet not crumble when you touch it. It should be sticky and dry without being too crisp. The moisture content of a bud should be under 5%. Unfortunately, Illinois cultivators are not required to post the moisture content on the label.
In the case of medical cannabis, bigger is not necessarily better. If you are on a tight budget, popcorn buds, which are smaller than whole buds, give you more bang for your buck. Do be aware that they may not have the same potency as whole buds.
I spoke to a friend who ran 2 different Illinois medical cannabis dispensaries. She told me that Illinois cannabis cultivators want to know if the buds contain seeds so that they can take appropriate action. Your bud should not contain seeds and if it does, do not smoke them as they could explode. Let your dispensary staff know if your bud contains seeds.
A final note for new cannabis users: Some patients are misinformed in thinking that the higher the THC content of a strain, the more effective it is. It is not about the THC content but how the THC combines with the different cannabinoids in a strain to create the best effects for you.
Source: Herb.com, 7 Ways To Guarantee You’re Buying The Best Buds, Anna Wilcox, December 20, 2016