I’ve been tracking terpenes for a while now, mostly on Whistler’s site because they give the most amount of information and they list it so neatly.
Primarily, I’m comparing cannabinoid and terpene content for listings of the same variety produced by the same producer to see how terpene and cannabinoid content change within identical cultivars and identical growing conditions. I am still logging the data and looking to address sources of error in the methodology.
I’m very interested in the value of cannabis, but it has been difficult to include terpene content in the value equation. First of all, because there are a lot of them; it is easy to track 2 cannabinoids. Whistler lists up to 17 different types of terpenes in their listings, which is a bit more difficult to log and even more difficult to analyze. Secondly, not all Licensed Producers list terpenes publicly, but this is changing.
The listing summaries I write ignores terpenes. It is often misconceived that only cannabinoid content matters for potency and the methodology for the listing summaries seems to perpetuate this. So I’ve begun thinking about how I would present terpenes, along with cannabinoids, when attempting to quantify the value of each cannabis listing. We’ve chosen to start practicing this attempt using the Broken Coast varieties. First, because they list 6 main terpenes and second, because I am familiar with most of their offerings.
Below is a stacked bar graph showing percent terpene content of the Broken Coast varieties, organized from left to right in order of decreasing terpene content. Shown on the secondary blue line is the percent THC (CBD% was omitted, all are THC varieties). No correlation between cannabinoid content and terpene content is overtly observable. Caryophylene is the most prominent terpene in every variety, except for the NL Haze which has high amounts of Limonene.
Terpene and THC Content of Broken Coast Varieties – June 22 2017
Terpenes represent a small amount of the total mass of the cannabis flower. Below, we’re looking at all varieties with respect to their total terpene and THC content. On average, terpene content is just under 5% of cannabinoid content but this value varies widely (min 1.5%, max 8.4%).
Cumulative Terpene and THC Content of Broken Coast Varieties – June 22 2017
Now let’s focus on the amount of THC (in milligrams) available in one gram of dried cannabis. This is the way we usually look at the price of cannabis, according to cannabinoid content. Shown in blue are the prices for 100mg of THC from each of the Broken Coast varieties.
Now, we’re removing THC content from the equation and substituting terpene content in milligrams, along with the price for 10mg of a mixture of terpenes from each strain (shown via the blue line). On average, there are 9.5mg of terpenes from each gram of dried cannabis, at a cost $1.10 per mg (average).
Looking at price from a mass perspective does not quantify the value of the terpene content from each variety. This is shown in the example below where we look at price with respect to terpene and cannabinoid content together. Shown by the blue line is the price for 100mg of the varieties’ mixture of terpenes or cannabinoids. The green bars show combined terpene and cannabinoid content for each variety. The White Walker Kush ($4.18) with very little terpene content looks a similar value to the Star Killer ($4.18) which has three times the terpene content and less than 2% difference in THC%. Similarly, the God Kush ($6.22) looks relatively expensive but it despite having 5 times the terpene content than the White Walker Kush and 50% more than the Star Killer.
On average, there are 25 times more cannabinoids than terpenes present across the Broken Coast varieties, so grouping the two values together tends to negate emphasis on terpene content. Instead of comparing the contents relative to each other and then back to price, we can look at cannabinoid and terpene content in terms of ratios, like we do the cannabinoids CBD and THC. In the graph below, we’ve shown the ratio of cannabinoids to terpenes for each variety.
Cannabinoid:Terpene Ratios of Broken Coast Varieties – June 22 2017
Three of the Broken Coast varieties have above 1.5% total terpene content, we see those varieties represented by ratios under 15, Pink Kush (~20%THC), Skywalker (~20%THC) and God Kush (~17%THC). The Star Killer (~20%THC), NL Haze (~22%THC) and Sour OG (~21%THC) have terpene contents slightly above 1.0% and we see their ratios around the 20 mark. Decreasing the amount of terpenes further, the Strawberry Diesel and Master Kush both have around 19% THC and 0.8% terpene content and show ratios around the 25 mark. Broken Coast’s Super Lemon Haze (~13%THC) has less THC this time around and also less terpenes (0.45%), about 50% of the Master Kush and 25% of the Pink Kush, it has a ratio of 30. The trim product, Indica Tips has a ratio higher than 30. The White Walker Kush has a high THC content (~21%THC) but is terpene deficient (0.31% terpenes) and has more than 60 times more cannabinoids than terpenes.
Let’s compare these ratios back to the average of 25. Having seen both varieties at the 25 ratio, I’ll suggest it is a good rough measure of what the average person might consider it to have a moderate level of terpenes. Moving down to the 21-19 range, my experience suggests that the average person would consider these varieties as having a high level of terpenes. I have experience with the God Kush from the varieties in the under 15 range, it is powerful, despite having a lower cannabinoid content. The average person might say it has a very high level of terpenes. These rough measures negate all personal differences in olfactory sensation and perception. In actuality, I find I have a sensitivity to limonene and would likely interpret the NL Haze as being the most terpene rich in a blind test.
The value of the terpene profile and the overall variety of cannabis must be decided by the person using it. But back to my original point about cannabinoids telling only half the story, we are going to keep working at using cannabinoid:terpene content ratios to quantify the terpene content and compare it with what is average in the market or data set we are looking at. I’m interested to see if this rough measure is applicable as we move to another producer or when comparing similar varieties across multiple producers.
For now, we’ll leave with a visualization of both terpene and cannabinoid content (cannabinoid content with respect to price). The percentage of THC is plotted on the y-axis of the bar graph with cannabinoid:terpene ratios posted below in yellow and graphically, in light blue. Shown in blue are the costs per 100mg of THC from each of the varieties. Along the bottom, the terpenes for each variety are shown relative to each other.
Thanks for reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or suggestions.