There are two primary forms of Cannabis – Flower, and Concentrates. Both have therapeutic properties, and both can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments.
Cannabis flower, for instance, contains approximately 480 natural components, making it very rich in natural medicine and nutrients. It is typically unprocessed, thus enabling medical cannabis patients to derive the utmost benefits from each one of these components.
Concentrates, on the other hand, come from the processed cannabis flower. They are condensed extracts of the essential oils in the cannabis plant. Being considerably more potent than the flower, concentrates are highly sought after by people in need of more intensive therapy.
In this article, we will be analyzing the pros and cons of each of these forms of cannabis. As a consequence, you should have a better understanding of the differences between the two. You will also be able to make a more informed decision on which one of them is better for medical cannabis.
Pros of Cannabis Concentrates
The science of cannabis concentrates has dramatically evolved since the early days of landrace cannabis strains and dry-sift hashish. Several types of concentrates are currently in existence today – each with its unique appearance and varying degree of potency. Below are the pros and the accompanying cons of cannabis concentrates to give you some insight into what to expect from them.
1. Potency and Efficiency
Cannabis concentrates are widely recognized for their high potency and efficiency in comparison to flowers. They can be consumed much faster than you can smoke cannabis flowers, and they generally enable a more efficient high depending on the individual. Cannabis concentrates are purer to inhale, they don’t require expensive equipment, and you can easily add them to drinks or food, as well.
2. Better Flavor
Concentrates retain more terpenes during extraction, which makes them more flavorful. Though concentrates suffered extensive flavor loss due to substandard extraction methods used in the past, newer extraction methods have enabled makers to recapture the flavor and provide patients with a fuller and even more refined experience.
3. Acts of Discretion
One major pro of cannabis concentrates is its ability to be consumed discreetly. Unlike flowers that produce smoke with a lingering odor that can last anywhere from 2-5 days depending on potency and ventilations, concentrates do not produce resin nor smoke, so the smell doesn’t cling to your clothes, hair, or skin.
Cons of Cannabis Concentrates
One major drawback of concentrates is the rarity of quality standards. Where retail sales are allowed, vendors understand the value of branding products. They consolidate with trustworthy producers and appreciate the feedback. However, when the concentrate is homemade, the quality is discordant. For instance, if Butane was utilized in the making of the concentrate, the product could be damaged if it burns too hot or the concentrate vapors could be altered, infusing toxins to the mix.
2. It Could Be Explosive
Another con of cannabis concentrates is in its production process. Some amateur users have experienced explosions when combining the flame and Butane (used while dabbing). Sadly, this has led to injuries and, in rare cases, fatalities. There is also the risk of ingesting concentrates that have been corrupted by the butane hash or other contaminants during the extraction process. The production of cannabis concentrates should, therefore, be left only to professionals and lab technicians who know exactly what they’re doing.
3. Potentially Hazardous Side Effects
Concentrates are known to possess high amounts of THC, some as much as 95 percent. Most concentrates are even three to four times stronger than a single joint. This poses a severe health risk to users who become psychologically addicted to high potency. It could trigger side effects such as panic attacks, anxiety, hypertension, hallucinations, accelerated heartbeat, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, paranoia, slurred speech, and more. Some users have even been involved in assaults and suicide attempts.
4. Higher Cost
Another downside of concentrates is the fact that they’re more expensive than traditional cannabis. This often makes it difficult to find affordable, high-quality products. Also, the initial startup cost of the right equipment, such as vapes, pure Butane, and lighters, etc. can be exorbitantly high.
Pros of Cannabis Flowers
Flowers refers to the leafy forms of cannabis. They are sometimes referred to as buds or nugs. Below are the pros and the accompanying cons of cannabis flowers to give you some insight into what to expect from them.
1. Better Titration of Dosages
One advantage of flowers is that they can be easily vaporized, giving medical marijuana patients the ability to control their dose better. You only need to ingest a modest quantity and wait for mere moments to know if you need more. This is because the cannabinoids quickly go from the lungs to the bloodstream. With pills, however, they must first be metabolized by the liver while the patient may have to wait several hours before the effects kick in, leaving an already vulnerable individual speculating how to ingest. Even though oils can be vaporized as well, there is no compelling reason to constrain patients to utilize extracts that have different concentrations of cannabinoids. They simply do not work for some patients.
The flower form of medical cannabis is significantly less expensive than processed products, and this makes it readily accessible to patients who are financially constrained. Government-issued and private medical insurance won’t cover the cost of medical cannabis, so seriously ill patients with no income are forced to pay the full fee for their treatment. With easy access to cannabis flowers, they get to ease their financial burden while still getting the best possible treatment.
3. Cannabis Flower is More Effective
Cannabis flower contains roughly 480 natural components, making it fundamentally rich in natural medicine and nutrients. Due to the extraction process that concentrates pass through, a lot of therapeutically important terpenoids are often left out. The concentrate may also be too potent for the patient to tolerate. This deprives medical cannabis patients the full benefits/ “entourage” effect produced by whole plant botanical material. Medical cannabis expert Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, Ph.D., claims that because cannabis flower is unprocessed, that makes it more effective. When all of the flower components work together, the therapeutic effect becomes significantly higher than if one was to be isolated.
Cons of Cannabis Flowers
1. Increased Health Risk
Smoking cannabis flowers pose a higher health risk to patients than ingesting concentrates. Cannabis smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco smoke, including ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde. When inhaled, the smoke goes straight to the lungs, causing some patients to suffer from bronchitis and respiratory infections.
2. Shorter Shelf Life
Cannabis flower does not have as long of a shelf life as concentrates do. Being a consumable, as per the standard of such goods, the quality of flower degrades over time. The rate at which this degradation occurs is largely dependent on several variables including, light, humidity, temperature, oxygen, and storage method. An expired cannabis flower often loses its scent, flavor, potency, and in some cases, it may even become too dangerous to consume.
3. Low CBD content
Probably the biggest con to the flower form of medical cannabis is that it is difficult to get high doses of Cannabidiol (CBD). Most flowers have high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content – the chemical compound that is mainly known for its intoxicating effects and causing disordered thinking. Medical cannabis patients with specific symptoms may require consuming more flowers or may need something more substantial to be able to enjoy the benefits of the flower’s CBD content fully.
Although the cannabis flower has been a more common method of consuming cannabis over the years, the use of concentrates has also recently grown in popularity. When it comes to medical cannabis, it may take some trial and error before you finally find a treatment method that suits your individual needs.
Both products can provide the medical relief you seek, but it is also essential to consult with your healthcare practitioner before commencing treatment. After that, you can proceed to find a reliable cannabis dispensary to give you the best quality products.