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terpene results from Terpestival
Terpene results from Terpestival solventless extract 2015.

The First Original Terpestival™ and Terpene Crown™ was held in Seattle on July 23 to a sell-out crowd that came to celebrate the aroma and properties of the terpenes. Dr. Ethan Russo was the keynote speaker — he is an internationally recognized cannabis historian, board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher and medical director for Phytecs from Vashon Island.

Dr. Russo detailed the terpenoid class of compounds in cannabis and reported some of what is known about biological activity of these compounds. The Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy (CASP) reached a milestone in this successful fundraising event. CASP collects and produces information about cannabis policy and markets in the context of state-level experiments in democracy directly affected by Legal Cannabis laws, rules, and regulations.

How Terpesitval Chose The Winners

The Terpene Crown was publicized to offer 6 awards in each category for flower and solventless concentrates (CO2 extraction was accepted). Terepene analysis was performed by The Werc Shop, (using GC/FID) as an in-kind donation to CASP for the event. The Werc Shop quantified 15 terpenoids and results were reported as a percent of total weight of the sample. Winners were selected by a Judging Panel, which was blinded to the entrants, as were the laboratory and individual Judges that provided the “subjective” information on the entries. The winners were selected based on a weighted average of the subjective results and the quantitative data. The aggregate results along, with the winners in each category, are in the graphs below for Flower, Extracts and Total Terpenes for Flower and Extracts. The graphs contain the name of the entrant as well as the varietal name of the winner.

The Awards and the Terpenoid Profiles

Judge’s Award for the “Most stimulating” was for Cascadia Kush flower, grown by Hesperides’ Kevin Kelly, and Canna Tsu raw CO2 extract by Mike West of Green Lion Farms. Cascadia Kush ranked second out of the 19 flower entries for total pinene content (α + β Pinene). Pinene has been reported to act as an inhibitor for the break-down of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which may explain the cognitive and physically stimulating effects that some users report with strains high in pinene. Canna Tsu extract had a relatively low level of pinene and pinene: myrcene ratio compared to other extracts.

The Judge’s award for “Most Sedating” was a sweep by Shawn DeNae of Washington Bud Company for Harlequin flower and “Entourage” oil, using an apparently a novel CO2 extraction protocol by Eden Labs.

Terpenes — Not Simple to Understand But Worth It

These results support the idea that the “entourage” effect, attributed to terpenoids, on the cannabinoid experience is not amenable to simplistic or reductionist science (Surprised? We are not!). It is possible that our “sample size” of judges was not large enough to lead to significant conclusions. Nevertheless, it seems clear that while analytical results may say: “this one is really high in pinene” (for instance), the judges’ ability to perceive this was variable, as expected. In agreement with most published scientific data, the terpene content (based on the 15 compounds analyzed) was as expected in flower, < typically 3% from indoor-grown flower, and with an average of 1.4%.

The contribution of the terpenoids to the whole plant experience may be “unquantifiable” from the user perspective, and yet this class of compounds is an critical element to both the medicinal and experiential effects. While we at CASP were celebrating the aroma/terpenes of cannabis, on the same day, medical cannabis in Washington State became confined to “closed containers” in retail outlets. In these outlets, medical and adult users alike will no longer be able to select their desired products by following their noses! This is such a strange and unreasonable policy, and we hope to be able to continue influence such public policy at CASP by providing the science and research on which such policies can be refined.

Read the full analysis of the results and how two entries were mistakenly disqualified here (one was a promising outlier!).

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Dr. Sexton began her informal study of phytochemicals as an herbalist and midwife, and continued on to the formal study of medicinal plants by earning a degree in horticulture. Her diverse undergraduate research on quercetin content in onions, Echinacea spp. led to biomedical research on brain tumors. She eventually enrolled in Bastyr University where she earned her doctorate in naturopathic medicine. There she continued her interest in phytochemical analysis work. She completed two pre-doctoral fellowships in collaboration with the University of Washington, studying the endogenous cannabinoid system and proteins up-regulated in neuro-inflammation. She went on to an individual post-doctoral fellowship at UW in the Department of Pharmacology, where she completed a clinical study in patients with Multiple Sclerosis, measuring immune parameters and Cannabis use. Her 6-year immersion in cannabinoid pharmacology, experience across analytical platforms, and specialty in botanical medicines led her to apply the knowledge gained to the analysis of Cannabis and thus founded the first Cannabis analysis lab in Washington State : Phytalytics in May of 2011. She is technical advisor and editor on the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Cannabis Monograph, adopted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board for regulatory guidance of quality control of Cannabis and related products.

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