By DEANNA DEBARA
Photo by Dimitri Newman
You know your way around a dispensary. Flower, edibles, topicals have all found their way into your bag at one point or two. But there’s one section of the dispensary that you stay far away from — and that’s concentrates.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Concentrates are known for scaring even seasoned cannabis consumers, and that fear can push people to skip the category altogether in favor of more comfortable, “safe” products.
But you don’t have to be afraid! It all comes down to education. Let’s take a deep dive into all things concentrates — what they are, why they have a reputation for freaking people out, and how to have an enjoyable (and safe!) experience:
What are concentrates?
Fear is often driven by misconceptions or misinformation—so before we dig too deep into why concentrates tend to give people the heebie-jeebies, let’s first get clear on what they actually are.
“Concentrates are manufactured products that are processed using solvents, temperature and or pressure,” says Aaron Riley, CEO of CannaSafe. To create a concentrate product, any excess plant materials or impurities are removed from the cannabis, leaving just the must-have compounds (namely cannabinoids and terpenes). These products are more concentrated than traditional cannabis flower—hence the name.
The term “concentrates” is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of product types; if they’re a cannabis product that’s been processed into a concentrated form, consider them a concentrate.
“Vape cartridges would be the most common form of product under the umbrella,” says Riley. “Other products are shatter, butter, rosin, hash, distillate, and live resin.”
Why are some people scared of concentrates?
Now that you understand what concentrates are, let’s dig into why, exactly, they have a reputation for scaring people.
The first reason they can be so scary? They’re significantly more potent than other cannabis products.
“They’re concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes,” says Riley. For example, “the percent is typically 15-30% THC for flower products but 50-90% for concentrates.”
The difference in potency is comparable to alcohol; think of it as a shot of vodka (which would be comparable to a concentrate) versus a can of beer or a glass of wine (which would be more akin to cannabis flower). Both have similar effects—but one is a lot stronger than the other. And while some people relish in that intensity, for others, it can be a little scary.
Another reason concentrates scare some people? They can be a little intimidating to consume. Most cannabis products are pretty easy to get started with; for example, if you want to consume flower, all you need to do is pack a bowl or roll a joint and you’re good to go. Concentrates, on the other hand, require a variety of extras in order to consume (as anyone who has seen a dab rig can attest to). All those extras can make the process feel overwhelming for someone unaccustomed to using concentrates—and that can easily translate into fear.
The last reason some people are fearful of concentrates—especially in recent months—has to do with the vape crisis. In 2019 and early 2020, there was an outbreak of lung and pulmonary illnesses in the US that were eventually traced to off-label cannabis vape products—which certainly didn’t do much to ease people’s fears around concentrates. But if you go to a licensed, legitimate dispensary, you can be assured you’re getting a safe product.
How to consume concentrates safely
Clearly, there are a variety of reasons that some people are afraid of concentrates. But once you understand how to consume concentrates safely, you’re armed with the information you need to make the right choices for yourself and your consumption—which can help put those fears to rest.
Ready to conquer your fear? Here are a few tips on how to consume safely:
Buy your concentrates from a legit and legal dispensary
As mentioned, all the products that were linked to vaping-related illnesses were illegal and off-market. So the very first step to making sure your concentrates are safe—whether they’re vapes or any other concentrate product? Buying from a legit, legal dispensary.
Start low and slow
If you’re worried that concentrates are too potent — and are going to get you far higher than you’d like to be — the key is to start low and slow. By consuming in small quantities and waiting to feel the concentrate’s full impact before consuming more, you can take control of your experience.
“Start with a small amount and go from there,” says Riley. Remember, “you can always smoke more, you can’t smoke less after the fact.
Start with a strain you’re familiar with
People often have a fear of the unknown so if you want to minimize the unknown factors of your concentrate experience, try starting with a familiar strain.
Lower the barrier to entry
Look for ways to enjoy them that don’t require unfamiliar gear. For example, instead of setting up an entire dab rig (which can feel overwhelming), start with a vape pen.
And if you’re going to try a dab rig, look to solventless cannabis extracts. These are an easier entry point for concentrate newbies. “Butter, live resin, and rosin are typically lower potency and not as hard to consume for first timers,” says Riley.
Concentrates to help you conquer your fear
Want to get over your fear and give concentrates a try? Here are a few to get you started, and don't forget, we deliver!
If you’re looking for a concentrate that delivers a burst of energy, this Lemon Skunk Crumble from CaliGreenGold—which delivers a euphoric, energized, and uplifting high—is a must-try.
As mentioned, live resin is a great concentrate for newbies—and thanks to its euphoric properties (courtesy of terpenes limonene and myrcene) the Hazed & Confused Live Resin from Raw Garden is a great (and happy!) place to start.
Want to stick with a familiar strain for your concentrate experience? Then try this live resin from Humboldt Farms and enjoy one of the cannabis world’s most popular strains—Sour Diesel—in cannabis form.
If you’re looking for a more chill experience with concentrates, this Rosewater Live Resin from F/ELD delivers a calm, relaxed, and sleepy high—perfect for before bed.
Thanks to the terpenes caryophyllene (which has anti-anxiety properties) and limonene (which is both anti-anxiety and euphoric), the Lemon Tart Pucker Badder from 710 Lab Xtracts is a great choice to get over your concentrate fears—and have fun doing it.