Cannabis extracts or concentrates — solid or liquid products produced by processing cannabis flower into a concentrated form, to be either ingested or inhaled — are now legally available for sale in Ontario. We look at how they work, the pros and cons of consumption, and consider when shopping for these products.
- Cannabis extracts cover a variety of products where cannabis flower has been processed to create a concentrate.
- Depending on their form, extracts can be a smoke-free alternative to consuming dried cannabis.
- Extracts can contain a very high concentration of THC, so there is the potential for overconsumption.
What Are Extracts?
Extracts (also known as concentrates) is an umbrella term for the variety of products produced when cannabis flower is processed into a concentrated form. These products can come in liquid or solid form, such as cannabis oil, hash, vape cartridge liquid, shatter, wax, kief, tinctures, and are either ingested or inhaled.
Creating extracts varies depending on the intended finished product, but the basic goal is to isolate and remove the cannabinoids and terpenes. During the concentration process, dried or fresh cannabis plants can be sifted, exposed to heat or extreme cold, gas (such as carbon dioxide), a solvent, another oil or a combination of these, or further refined using ethanol.
How Do They Work?
The cannabinoids in extracts are the same as those found in any other cannabis product; they are present in higher concentrations. The way the cannabinoids in the cannabis extract enter your body depends on the form of extract and method of consumption. When cannabis extract is ingested, it can produce effects similar to those experienced when cannabis flower is smoked or vaped; however, the effects may be delayed due to digestion, which can take from 30 minutes up to four hours or more. When cannabis extracts are inhaled (such as by dabbing or vaping), the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is absorbed by the blood in the lungs and moves quickly to the brain, producing an almost immediate effect, possibly within minutes.
The duration of potential effects also depends on how the cannabis extract is consumed. If it’s inhaled, the effects can last one to three hours or longer. When the extract is ingested, effects can be felt for up to 12 hours. The timing of the onset and duration of effects vary from person to person. Individual factors such as sex, mental and physical health, age, personality, genetics and even the amount of food ingested before consumption all play a part.
How Are Extracts Different from Other Types of Cannabis?
The main difference between extracts and other forms of cannabis is their potential to contain much higher concentrations of cannabinoids than the raw plant. For example, extracts can have up to 90% THC, while dried flower typically contains 1% to 30% THC. Also, unlike the flower, the extraction process can use additional solvents or oils such as butane, ethanol, or olive oil. Extracts available through AshArio that are meant to be inhaled can contain 1,000 mg of THC per package; ingestible extracts contain no more than 10 mg of THC per unit.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Consuming Extracts?
Depending on their form, extracts can be a smoke-free alternative to inhaling cannabis, which may bring risks to lung health. The main draw of inhaled (smoked, vaped, or dabbed) concentrates the higher potency potential of such products. On the other hand, a higher concentration of THC may increase the risk of overconsumption.
What to Consider When Shopping for Extracts
Before you purchase a cannabis extract, please read the product label or the information available on the shop page at AshArio.ca, so you know how much THC and CBD it contains. If you are trying extracts for the first time, choose a product with a low level of THC or a high amount of CBD, which can counter the unpleasant effects of THC.