Advantages and disadvantages of medical cannabis concentrates
Concentrates are powerful but often expensive, so it’s important – but not always easy – to find a top-of-the-range product. Because it’s so costly to extract high quantities of the most useful cannabinoids, patients can find it a struggle to settle on a concentrate that suits their needs and works consistently.
There are different kinds of cannabis concentrates available, but all can be split into two groups: isolate concentrates and full-extract concentrates. CBD-isolate and THC-isolate concentrates are manufactured by separating out the necessary cannabinoid from the rest of the extract. As expected, full-extract concentrates feature all the compounds in a strain.
It’s no coincidence that CBD shatter have that name – these products condense the extracts into CBD wax, shatter or crystals and are much more potent than any cannabis flower. For example, the strongest high-THC strains contain around 20 to 25 percent THC; some THC-isolate crystal products are 99% pure THC.
But there are problems with concentrates. The manufacturing of them is critical – it’s essential that the plants used are grown pesticide-free, and that a high-quality extraction method is used so that heavy metals and toxins do not accumulate into the extract. As a lot of plant matter is used to make a concentrate, sketchy production techniques can pose health risks. Therefore, only purchase concentrates from reputable brands and vendors.
The toxins that may be found in relatively high quantities in concentrates affect patients with damaged immune systems more than most, as they cannot clear them out so easily. To avoid this problem, buy concentrates made with organically-grown cannabis and that have been tested (with the results made available) by a third-party laboratory.
With the range of concentrates on the market, selecting the perfect product is sometimes tricky. Both THC and CBD are therapeutic, as are the hundreds of other cannabinoids, hence why full-extract concentrates tend to be preferred over isolates – they bring out the ‘entourage effect’. However, a pure THC-isolate concentrate could be too psychoactive for many users.
For users who may have to take a drugs test at work, CBD-isolate concentrates are the only viable choice, as a full-extract product will saturate the body with too much THC. Interestingly, some companies are making isolated concentrates (both CBD and THC), and then adding specific terpenes and essential oils back in, amplifying the effects through the back door.
Let’s evaluate the pros and cons of cannabis concentrates.
Pros of cannabis concentrates
- Extra potency is brilliant for patients who require intense treatment
- Can administer large doses quickly
- Strong, near-instantaneous relief
- Some concentrates (i.e. wax) can be consumed orally
- Cleaner and purer to inhale than flower
- No need to purchase vaporizing equipment (however, some vapes are compatible with concentrates)
Cons of cannabis concentrates
- Much more expensive
- Intense processing method can exclude some therapeutic compounds from the extract
- If not lab-tested, products may contain traces of solvents
- Some concentrates are more effective than others
- Often contain pesticides
Do you have experience with cannabis flower or concentrates, or do you know somebody who has? If so, consider offering your thoughts in the comments below!