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Guide to Concentrates

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Sespe is committed to offering only the safest and cleanest concentrates. We do not carry anything extracted with butane or naphthalene, which means that our concentrates are often more expensive than these alternatives due to the higher cost (in terms of equipment, supplies, or labor) of producing and testing them. Medical cannabis in California is largely unregulated, and you will find many dispensaries offering untested product of questionable origins and purity. This, quite frankly, scares us. Our response has been to self-regulate to the best of our ability, imposing strict requirements on our vendors and being diligent with testing and quality control.

What is Dabbing?

Dabbing is a method of medicating with cannabis concentrates. A dab is a small amount of concentrate, such as CO2 oil or rosin, which is heated indirectly via a hot surface and inhaled. Dabbing requires specific tools including either a dab rig or an electric nail. Dab nails that fit your bong are also available.

Oils for dabbing are made through numerous extraction methods and go by many different names, including budder, BHO (butane hash oil), CO2 oil, rosin, shatter, and wax. All of these products provide potent relief quickly when dabbed. It is a highly beneficial method for patients experiencing chronic pain and/or nausea, providing immediate and effective relief.

You may have heard some level of concern surrounding dabbing. While dabbing is not necessarily dangerous, certain extraction methods carry the potential for harm. Chemical contaminants such as butane may present some health hazards. This is why Sespe is committed to offering only the safest and cleanest concentrates. We avoid extracts with butane or naphthalene in favor of cleaner, safer alternatives, which does come at a higher cost. We impose strict requirements on our vendors, including diligent testing and quality control.

Hash / Full Melt / Ice Wax

All the hash we carry is prepared using nothing but ice, water, and effort. By keeping the cannabis at freezing temperatures during processing, the cannabinoids are more easily separated from the plant matter, which is filtered through bags made of increasingly finer-gauge mesh. Bubble hash, which gets its name from the bubble bags it’s processed through, usually ranges between 30% and 50% THC, and is generally a deep, golden brown. Our house favorite SFV OG bubble hash is an excellent example, and is usually the most THC per dollar available on our menu. If you need bhang for your buck, hash is an economical solution.

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Full Melt and Ice Wax are essentially different names for the same thing — hash that is so pure that it melts when heated. This means it was processed through the finest-gauge mesh bag possible, filtering out all but the tiniest particles of plant matter.  Sometimes, full melt hash is heat-pressed after processing to give it a smooth consistency and compactness, but any hash good enough to liquefy and bubble gently when heated is considered full melt.

Hash still needs to be heated to be activated, though decarboxylation (the process that converts non-psychoactive THCA into THC) happens naturally as the material ages, so processed hash is usually  at least partially decarbed. It can be smoked or vaped using the same equipment one uses for the flowers,  either crumbled up by itself or mixed with flowers. There are also several quite innovative methods involving ordinary household items such as a drinking glass and a hot knife (which sounds scarier than it is). YouTube is your friend for more information on this.

Hash is also ideal for cooking, usually starting by decarboxylating the material in a fatty substance such as coconut oil or clarified butter, then mixing it with any recipe that calls for butter, margarine, or shortening.  If you’re looking for a versatile form of medicine, hashish is an excellent choice that has stood the test of time over many millennia. To quote Dutch explorer Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, who wrote three pages on “Bhang” in the chronicles of his journeys: “The first by the Egyptians is called Assis (Hashish (Arab.), which is the poulder of Hemp, or of Hemp leaves, which is water made in paste or dough, they would eat five peeces, (each) as big as a Chestnut (or larger); This is used by the common people, because it is of a small price, and it is no wonder, that such vertue proceedeth from the Hempe, for that according to Galens opinion, Hempe execssively filleth the head.”

Kief / THC Crystals

Like bubble hash, this method has been around for thousands of years, passed down from generation to generation.  Kief is produced by gently rubbing dried, frozen cannabis flowers over a fine mesh to separate the cannabinoid-containing trichomes from the plant matter. Kief ranges in potency anywhere from 15% up to 60%, with the products at the high end of that range often called “THC Crystals.”  Lower potency kief is made with a heavier-gauge screen and is generally greener than what you see pictured here; in the above image, the kief (or “flavor crystals”) contains almost 54% total cannabinoids by weight.  Despite its powdery appearance it is actually quite sticky and melts readily. Kief can be pressed into hash, but we like it nice and fluffy like this, perfect for sprinkling over a bowl of flowers or in a joint.

Rick Simpson Oil

The official recipe for RSO involves the use of naphthalene, but our version of this medicine uses medical-grade 99% isopropyl alcohol to extract the cannabinoids. RSO is prepared with the intent of delivering high doses of fully bioavailable THC in order to fight cancer and other serious illnesses. Rick Simpson is a great cannabis advocate and has had excellent results himself, but he is not a doctor or a scientist, and his claims are based on highly optimistic interpretations of anecdotal evidence. To be fair, most of the things we currently know about cannabis are based on anecdotal evidence; but when physicians recommend cannabis it is generally with the “it might help, but if it doesn’t, at least it won’t hurt you” mentality. Very little harm can come to a patient from trying cannabis to treat pain and finding it ineffective; the same cannot be said of cancer.  To quote Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a prominent pro-cannabis activist and Harvard professor:

There are patients who have a medically sound diagnosis of pre-symptomatic cancer (such as early prostate cancer) but who, for one reason or another, eschew allopathic treatment and desperately seek out other approaches.  Such patients are all too eager to believe that a new treatment, such as hemp-oil medicine, has cured their cancer.  Unfortunately, this cancer which was asymptomatic at the time of its discovery, will eventually become symptomatic and at that time the possibility of a cure is significantly diminished, if not no longer a conceivable goal.

This lesson was brought home to me when I was asked by the American Cancer Society during a period early in my medical career when I was doing cancer research to participate in an investigation of a man in Texas who claimed that a particular herb that his grandfather discovered would cure cancer.  I was able to locate two women who had well documented diagnoses of early (asymptomatic) cervical cancer who had decided not to have surgery but instead went to Texas and took the “medicine.”  When I first met them some months after each had taken the “cure” they were certain that they were now cancer free.  With much effort, I was able to persuade them to have our surgical unit perform new biopsies, both of which revealed advancement in the pathological process over their initial biopsies.  Both were then persuaded to have the surgery they had previously feared, and there is no doubt that this resulted in saving their lives.

There is little doubt that cannabis now may play some non-curative roles in the treatment of this disease (or diseases) because it is often useful to cancer patients who suffer from nausea, anorexia depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia.  However, while there is growing evidence from animal studies that it may shrink tumor cells and cause other promising salutary effects in some cancers, there is no present evidence that it cures any of the many different types of cancer.  I think the day will come when it or some cannabinoid derivatives will be demonstrated to have cancer curative powers, but in the meantime, we must be very cautious about what we promise these patients.  [source]

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There is nothing about the recipe for making RSO that suggests it is the preferred form of cannabis medicine for any of the ailments it is intended to treat — the process recommended in the recipe is intended to produce a fully decarboxylated, bioavailable product cheaply, from commonly available materials. There is no known advantage to this technique over a water or CO2 extraction, and many known drawbacks including the contamination of the medicine with harmful and often carcinogenic chemicals, and the dangers of untrained individuals handling these substances.

Anyone seeking to use high-dose cannabinoid therapies would be wise to consider CO2-extracted oils and waxes which have been laboratory tested, to achieve a consistent dosage without the fear of contaminants. It should be noted that traditional RSO is a high-THC product, and patients adjusting to a large dose of THC can experience some unpleasant side effects, many of which could be alleviated or mitigated by balancing the THC with cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol also brings its own set of compelling benefits; so if given the choice between RSO and CO2-extracted oils which feature a balanced cannabinoid profile shown in lab test results, the CO2 extract is by far the best choice.

CO2-extracted Wax and Oil

Supercritical CO2-extraction uses carbon dioxide under extreme pressure to separate the cannabinoids from the plant matter. This process also fully decarboxylates the cannabis, so anything you get that is CO2-extracted is fully bioavailable and can be eaten, vaped, smoked, made into a tincture — basically any way you consume this concentrate, it will be effective.

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CO2 extracts cost more because of the highly specialized, very expensive equipment needed to produce them, and the expertise necessary to use the equipment safely. Over the last five years or so, butane-extracted concentrates have dominated the market with potent, affordable (but risky) product, because anyone with a metal tube, a screen, some lighter fluid and a bag of trim could make it. To get started doing CO2 extraction requires an investment of anywhere from twenty to a hundred thousand dollars, in contrast to the tens of dollars required for butane extraction, so the higher price point is understandable. As with any new technology, early adopters pay a premium, but we expect the prices to fall as producers are able to recoup their initial investment costs. But even at these premium prices, when you look at the differences in terms of strength and purity, CO2 extracts start to make a lot of economic sense.

It’s important to keep in mind that with these high-tech, high-potency extracts, the amount of product you need is tiny — each gram contains two hundred 5mg doses (about the size of a pinhead) of almost pure cannabinoids (along with natural terpenes), so one gram will go a very, very long way. One of our favorite things to do is to ‘paint’ a few droplets of wax or oil over some flowers in our vaporizer. We find that this produces many more bags of vapor than the flowers alone, while increasing the potency of the vapor and adding extra deliciousness.

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Terpene-infused CO2 Oil

As we learn more and more about the important role that terpenes and flavonoids play in the healing properties of cannabis, we’re seeing more extracts infused with terpenes designed to mimic and/or enhance the compounds found in a particular strain. This results in a product that has a different scent and taste than you experience with flowers or hash, and a clear, golden appearance which emphasizes just how pure this product is. The material is as sheer as glass and entirely liquid, albeit a very, very slow-moving liquid. In this form, it can be used in specially designed vaporizers, or drizzled over flowers and smoked — but it can also be blended into anything from a cup of hot chocolate to a yogurt smoothie (note that you will always have best results with foods that contain lipids, since THC is fat-soluble). As an alternative, alcohol can be used to emulsify the oil for a do-it-yourself tincture. Like any CO2-extracted  concentrate, this oil does *not* need heating to be activated and effective, so the main thing to be cognizant of when using is to make sure you don’t use too much.

These oils (infused and plain) have become a popular ingredient in edibles, which have gone far beyond the venerable ‘pot brownie’ and now include everything from gourmet popcorn to fruit jellies to breath strips and sprays. Among the many advantages of using highly purified extracts is the precise dosing, making these modern-day edibles as consistent and predictable as any medicine you take.

Oil Cartridges

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CO2 extracted oils can also be used in e-cigarette style vaporizers.  For those who don’t want to deal with sticky concentrates or complicated vaporizer setups, these pre-filled cartridges are a neat and effortless alternative. When mixed with glycerin or PG, the result is mild enough that it may be tolerated by patients with mild breathing difficulties. Cartridges that have only the CO2 extracted cannabis in them produce a much stronger vapor.  They are discreet, have little to no odor, and as e-cigarettes gain popularity it’s fairly common to see people having a puff in public.

Concentrates are a clean and healthy way to medicate, excellent for those with severe pain or high tolerances. Less (or no) plant matter means these products burn and/or vape much more cleanly than regular dried flowers. They are extremely potent, so we advise anyone who hasn’t tried them before to use caution and err on the side of under-dosing until you know how you will react. A gram of CO2-extracted oil contains roughly the same amount of medicine as a quarter ounce of decent buds, or close to 5 of our strongest candy bars, so dab accordingly — and CAREFULLY.

Rosin

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Rosin, also called rosin tech, is a relatively new extraction method that utilizes heat pressing to create pure, solvent-free hash oil. Rosin can be made from cannabis flowers, kief, or hash. Rosin retains all of its original terpenes, maintaining fantastic flavor and medicinal efficacy. With a consistency similar to shatter, this is an excellent product for dabbing. This method is so safe and simple that it can be done at home using an ordinary hair straightener as a heat press.

The process to create rosin is simple. It requires only a heat press and parchment paper. Heat and pressure are applied to melt the trichomes from the cannabis. This produces potent resin oil, which reconstitutes on the parchment paper. The waxy residue left behind is pure, solvent-free cannabis oil. This is currently the easiest and safest hash oil extraction method by far. Affordable, clean, and potent, it’s no wonder why rosin has quickly earned high regard in the dabbing community.

Learn how to make rosin at home, instructions are available on our blog.