[Canniseur: A marvelous review of a terrific writer – Etgar Keret. Read this review, then go out and read the book!]
Dotted with wry humor and touched with tender, often heartbreaking revelations about human relationships, Etgar Keret’s short stories use cannabis as a bridge to expose intimacy. In his newest work of short fiction, “Fly Already,” the award-winning Israeli novelist and filmmaker includes two stories where a joint drives the narrative and the search for authentic human connection. Keret’s concise writing style flows like poetry, like the aromatic steam lifting from a coffee cup or the smoke drifting off a joint during the first hit of the day.
“The first hit is the one that colors your world,” Keret writes in the story Pineapple Crush.
“Save it for the evening — and any piece of trash flickering across your TV screen will be riveting. Puff it at midday, before you get on your bike, and the world around you will feel like one big adventure. Smoke it as soon as you wake up in the morning, before your coffee, and it’ll give you the energy to crawl out of bed or dive back in for another few hours of sleep. The first hit of the day is like a childhood friend, a first love, a commercial for life. But it’s different from life itself, which is something that, if I could have, I would have returned to the store ages ago. In the commercial it’s made-to-order, all-inclusive, finger-licking, carefree living. After that first one, more hits will come along to help you soften reality and make the day more tolerable, but they won’t feel the same.”
[Canniseur: These rigs are pretty cool, but way too much work and not worth my time. I guess I’m old fashioned, but a bud, a bowl, and a lighter make me happy. Still…these rigs are cool. With wine all I need is a bottle, a glass and a corkscrew, unless it’s a screw top and then all I need is the bottle and a glass. Not fond of drinking out of a bottle, although I did do that one time with Mouton. All this said, I WILL go to Moe Greens the next time I’m in San Francisco. Anyone want to do a meet up there?]
When it comes to consuming cannabis, there is seemingly no limit to the ways we can get that endocannabinoid rush. There are hundreds of contraptions to improve and enhance the cannabis experience and more are always in development. To get a sense of the rapidly evolving marijuana consumer product space, it’s important to note that within a matter of years, cannabis concentrate enthusiasts went from titanium nails to PuffCo Peaks and Dipsticks. For those who really want to make sure they’ve got the most clout when it comes to smoking, dabbing or vaping pot, spend some time in a cannabis consumption lounge.
Editor’s Note: Is the new thing designer concentrates? It appears so, and now you can take a course on extracts (and more) – either in Oakland, CA or online!
Ever since I watched the iconic cannabis comedy “Half Baked” and heard the line “What, did you go to weed college?,” I have actually wanted to go to weed college. This Saturday, I got my wish when I attended a lecture at Oaksterdam University and the experience was every bit as educational and fun as I expected. Founded in 2007, the world’s first cannabis college survived a federal raid in 2012 and a shift in the entire California cannabis climate with Proposition 64 in 2016 and continues to pump out cannabis information to students from around the world.
My 10 a.m. seminar was “Extracts 102,” led by Cannabis Now’s own Greg Zeman. Working alongside master horticulturalist Ed Rosenthal, Zeman recently released a book all about cannabis concentrates, “Beyond Buds Next Generation: Marijuana Concentrates and Cannabis Infusions.” I showed up stony to the Oakland, California classrooms (after a proper wake and bake), but very much on time and grabbed a seat in the back of a room of about 30 other students. While Oaksterdam looks like a typical classroom set up, with long desks and a whiteboard up front, you can’t miss the grow tent in the front of the room with live cannabis plants growing inside. The two-hour lecture — with a massive street-side smoke sesh break — went by quickly, as Zeman took students through an examination of the rise in popularity of marijuana concentrates as well as specifics on different types of extracts and their processes.
To crack things off, Zeman explained why any of this information even really matters by talking about a paradigm shift in cannabis culture that has brought concentrates to the forefront of consumer attention. This shift came, he explained, when people stopped relying solely on examining cannabis based on its THC content and started exploring cannabis based on other elements such as terpene profiles. Creating concentrates, he said, can be best understood in a basic way as the act of getting rid inert plant material and isolating active compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes). From there, Zeman went through an introduction to various types of concentrates, including his personal favorite form of extraction, BHO.
BHO: Just Like Candy
When it comes to creating different kinds of BHO concentrates, Zeman explained that candy science is a great way to understand how to approach how solvents are purged from various extract styles and end up affecting how they look in the end. Sugar science, he said, has a hard crack stage (sugar syrup boiled at 295 to 309 degrees Fahrenheit that produces hard candy and lollipops), a soft crack (sugar syrup boiled at 270 to 389 degrees Fahrenheit that results in toffee and butterscotch) and a hard ball stage (sugar syrup boiled at 250 to 265 degrees Fahrenheit to create sweets like rock candy and nougat). In comparison to these candy temperatures, one can begin to understand the different styles and consistencies of BHO: shatter (heated to 68 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit with a high-pressure vacuum purge), wax and budder (heated to a 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit with a low-pressure vacuum purge) and sugar and diamonds (heated to 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a no-vacuum purge).
If you have ever experienced a shatter that changed consistencies and “buddered up,” this can also be understood in terms of candy, Zeman said. He explained that it’s the process of crystal nucleation, whether it involves sugar or cannabinoids, terpenes and solvents. With a candy bar left too long that goes white, a phenomenon known as “bloom,” where the milk fats separate from the other ingredients, the same nucleation occurs like when a hard shatter transforms into a honeycomb-like wafer known as budder.
“It’s basic organic chemistry,” he said. “Science doesn’t care if its candy or terp sugar.”
Greg Zeman / Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now
Diamond Mining: AKA Jar Tech
This recrystallization process helps to understand one of the biggest trends in BHO concentrates: diamond mining, also known as jar tech. This concentrate involves crystals made of the cannabinoid THCA, THC’s acidic pre-cursor, once it separates from terpenes. The process starts with butane extraction and works by putting BHO in a jar to allow the THCA to form into crystals and the volatile terpenes to settle into liquid. It’s a process thoroughly explained and detailed in a step-by-step fashion in the book.
“Diamond mining is all about encouraging the separation of cannabinoids from terpenes,” the book reads. “Shatter made from live resin has a higher terpene concentration than cured resin, which tends to be more susceptible to nucleation, creating terp sugar or budder after its been packaged. This was once seen as a liability, as it undermines the stability that consumers look for in a good shatter. Now that many cannabis consumers prefer the sugar consistency, extractors pre-crystalize their BHO.”
Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now
Cannabis in the Classroom
James Hoover, who owns his own extraction company, was sitting next to me in class and was also attending his first lecture at Oaksterdam. Hoover said the experience of attending the lecture left him with the understanding that “the new thing is designer concentrates.”
Hoover added that he felt the course provided a nice run-down of how cannabis concentrates got started, but also said that he was excited to also learn more about the future of where the cannabis concentrate industry is going. For more on the future of cannabis concentrates, as well as information on other subjects such as horticulture and canna-business, I whole-heartedly recommend taking your own course in cannabis at Oaksterdam.
TELL US, have you ever wanted to attend a cannabis college?
The best time of the year is upon us. October, otherwise known as Croptober to those already in the know, is the month when the annual outdoor cannabis crop is harvested. Soon the marijuana marketplace will be flooded with choice outdoor herb, but knowing just when to harvest is not a straightforward proposition. To answer a question like “When’s the best time to harvest?” growers must take into account a plethora of factors and, ultimately, let mother nature take the wheel.
Master cultivator Harry Resin explains that cannabis can be compared to tomatoes in the sense that both crops are “vine-ripened,” meaning they ripen on the plant until they are able to reach the juiciest, most flavorful taste profiles.
“If something is vine-ripened, that would be like you walking up to your mango tree in your backyard in Hawaii and picking the ripest mango,” Resin says. “That thing is going to be so sweet and full of sugar and that wonderful taste. Cannabis is the same thing.”
Resin says fruits that are not vine-ripened, such as avocados, are harvested before they are ready in order to account for things such the time involved with transportation to sale.
Of course, cannabis — because consuming it involves things like the complex chemical reactions between cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes within our individual endocannabinoid systems — isn’t quite as easy as other crops when it comes to judging the time it’s ready to harvest. Ultimately, cannabis growers are looking for optimal development within a microscopic element of the cannabis flowers: the resin within the trichome heads (the plant’s external glands) that contains psychoactive compounds such as THC, and yes, CBD.
Resin explains that the average cannabis cultivar spends about 8.5 to 9.5 weeks in flower and choosing when to harvest is a matter of deciding the optimal elements that a grower is looking for.
“Depending on the type of high that you want, you could harvest at the beginning of the cycle or at the end of the cycle,” he says. “At the beginning of the cycle, the bud tends to be a little racier — even the indicas — because you’re basically harvesting very fresh, just-ripened trichomes. If you let it ripen more, [the resin] goes into a more amber color, which we know is a degradation of THC into CBN. So you’re getting a more sedative type of heavier buzz.”
Most how-to grow marijuana literature surrounding the optimal harvest time will point towards watching the trichome heads turn from clear to amber or milky white. That’s the technique Resin learned from master cultivator Soma of Soma’s Sacred Seeds in Amsterdam.
“Soma would teach us about this ripening period,” Resin says over dabs at his San Francisco cannabis manufacturing and distribution site. “He would always go 10 to 15 percent amber trichome coverage. He would look with a loupe [magnifier] and he would wait and wait until the plant told him it was ripe.”
Leading cannabis horticulture authority Ed Rosenthal also told me that the best way to know when a plant is ready to harvest is by using a magnifying glass or optical magnifier and looking at the plant’s glands. If they are clear, it’s a sign the plant might need more time, but if they are amber or cloudy, “that’s a sign that they are beginning to deteriorate and you should take the plant down.”
Rosenthal, who co-wrote the book “Marijuana Harvest” with David Downs, said the harvest should ideally take place once these amber or cloudy trichome heads appear, but added if a grower is looking for more sedative effects with less THC and more CBN, cultivators can wait for more cloudiness to appear before harvesting. He said smell is also a great indicator of ripeness.
“As the plant ripens, the intensity of the odor increases dramatically,” he said, adding that if outdoor growers are dealing with bad weather or potential robbers, it’s best to just harvest early.
Judging the Formation of the Flower
Despite the widespread belief in judging when the harvest time is ready based on the color of the trichome heads, when I called master hashishin Frenchy Cannoli to ask about his thoughts on the right time to harvest, he told me something controversial that I was not expecting. In his opinion, getting the best trichomes with which to craft things like his premium hash, doesn’t really depend on the color of the trichomes. Cannoli even went as far as to say judging when to harvest by the plant’s resin is not the right approach.
“Judging the majority of the resin is the wrong approach,” he said. “You have to judge by the formation of your flower.”
Cannoli said that the coloring of the resin heads can be affected by many different factors, the most obvious of which is whether the plant is grown outdoors or under UV lights indoors. Instead, he says growers are looking for a 3-day window when the cannabinoids within the resin heads are at peak fullness. And given that there are so many things to take into account, such as the type of strain and how long it spends in the flowering period, how do you know when to pinpoint that magical window?
“The plant’s got that look when she’s ready,” Cannoli said, while also clarifying the fact that he is not a grower himself and noting that perfect resin is a “gift” from the farmers he works with. “Every cultivar is different, but at the end of the day a fully-formed bud is a fully-formed bud.”
A Future With Widespread Cannabinoid Testing
Luckily, discovering this optimal time to harvest based on peak cannabinoids (compounds so tiny they are unintelligible by the human eye) is getting easier as precise cannabinoid testing continues to become increasingly available. Resin is known for trying his hand at growing unique cannabis cultivars and believes testing will one day be the measure for knowing when it’s time to harvest.
“Take this one genetic anomaly that I had, this mutant A5C, it was a three percent CBGA plant,” he says. The plant, he discovered, was a long-flowering sativa from his Dutch Haze genetics and could go 19-20 weeks in flower.
“So it would not be ripe after 19 or 20 weeks and what we did is, we tested it with Steep Hill [a laboratory in Berkeley, California], week nine, week 10, 11, 12. We went all the way up to week 16. And we got to actually see each week how the cannabinoids changed,” he says. “The CBGA dipped, the THCA went up then started to go down a little bit. So, with a lab, you can chart out the optimal ripening period if you were going to spend that amount of money on R & D or if you had your own testing machine you could do it fairly inexpensively.”