Remember when “getting high” meant smoking some crappy weed out of a 2-inch glass bowl in your friend’s bedroom while his mom was away at work? Yeah, those were the good old days. Unfortunately though, boys and girls, it appears that the good old days are gone.
Nowadays, we’re stuck trying to keep up with the differences between hash oil, shatter, dabs, wax, crumble, and any other assortment of high-strength marijuana distillates or concentrates that are about 50x more potent than anything we ever smoked — not to mention trying to figure out how to “properly” inhale them all.
Indeed, the world of cannabis consumption is certainly changing. But in adhering to the old Bob Dylan song ‘The Times They Are-a Changin,’ we’d rather start “swimming” and keep up to date with current trends, than “sink like a stone” in a sea of outdated tradition and antiquated habits.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to talk about marijuana distillates and how they are changing the very meaning of getting high. While THC is still THC, we have never before seen the potency of cannabis products like we are seeing today – it’s true that the very meaning of “getting stoned” is changing radically, but as you’ll hopefully see here in not too long, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
What Are “Marijuana Distillates” Anyway?
You may have heard of cannabis concentrates before – these include anything from simple hash oil to crudely made BHO wax, high-strength crumble, shatter, and dabbing butter, just to name a few. These products are no joke – super high in THC, and more than capable of knocking even the most “experienced” potheads on their butts in a matter of minutes.
Distillates, however, are like the Major League version of concentrates – they involve an extra step of refinement and active compound extraction (called short path distillation), which can produce a final product with literally over 99% THC concentration. (For reference, even the “purest” cannabis concentrates have never really been known to produce much higher than a 90% potency).
How is this achieved, you might be wondering? Well that’s a good question, and it’s one that those “in the know” are keeping tight tabs on. The truth is there are no real exposed methods for manufacturing marijuana distillates – even in super popular weed dispensaries in recreationally legalized states, they can be hard to come by.
That being said, though, it’s known that weed distillates use similar techniques that fragrant oil manufacturers have been using for decades. So while the technology is nothing new or out of this world, the mode in which it’s employed is certainly revolutionary.
Basically, the process of “fractionation,” as it’s called, or “short path distillation,” involves a series of purification steps that go beyond the simple active compound extraction from the raw marijuana plant.
To extract the raw material from weed (that is, the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids), any number of methods might be used. For distillate production, however, it’s generally regarded that CO2 extraction is the only “real” method available – it is by far the purest, safest, and most efficient.
Once the active ingredients are extracted from the raw material, though, several additional steps must be taken until the product is pure enough to be deemed a “distillate.” Even with super high-quality CO2 extraction, many other chemical compounds (including unwanted fats and lipids) still remain in the concentrate material.
The first step of advanced refinement takes place during the process of winterization, which essentially uses an alcohol-based solvent to dissolve and eliminate any aforementioned fats and lipid compounds, which are unwanted in the end product.
After that, the purified cannabinoid extracts (which can include THC, CBD, and/or any other variety of present marijuana cannabinoids) undergo decarboxylation, which is essentially a heating process that allows the compounds to switch from “inactive” to “active.”
Now, decarboxylation can be as simple or as complex a term as you want it to be – at its very core, it simply means that the THC (or whatever other cannabinoid) must be heated in order to take effect in the human body (hence why we have to “smoke” weed rather than simply eat the raw flower buds). However, not many people know that THC, CBD, and every other cannabinoids have their own very specific boiling points, or decarboxylation points, in which they become most pure from a chemical sense. The process of distillation ensures that each cannabinoid decarboxylizes at a precise temperature – thereby ensuring maximum purity and potency.
Finally, once the active cannabinoids have been decarboxylated, they are then purified one last time through the utilization of remarkably high heat and pressure systems called short path steam distillation, or rational distillation chambers. This actually “distills” the extracts, and converts them into their completely pure, isolated molecular states – a beautiful, transparent gold resin that kind of looks like a golden-tinted clear honey.
What Happens After Distillation?
The beautiful thing about distillates, or at least ones that are done properly, is that there is really no shortage of ways in which they can be utilized. Depending on their temperature and consistency, they can be smoked/vaporized (inhaled), administered as sublingual oils, infused in topicals and edibles, or even absorbed through the skin as transdermal patches, as some high-tech brands have experimented with.
The high, though, is nothing to be messed with – most people say that it is almost a completely different experience than smoking normal weed. In fact, it is rumored that hallucinations are somewhat common, and it is known that cannabis-induced hospitalizations have increased since the introduction of super high-potency distillates and other concentrates, as people simply aren’t prepared for – or used to – the effects.
The only people who seem to take them quite normally are folks who have already developed a super high tolerance to THC – if you are a marijuana rookie or rarely smoke weed, it is NOT recommended that you jump straight into distillates, or even concentrates like BHO or dab wax for that matter.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana Distillates
Perhaps the most promising and exciting aspect of all when it comes to cannabis distillates is their potential use as super-potent medicines and therapies. It’s certainly no secret that weed has an endless array of medicinal properties, and the prospect of being able to use it at near 100% purity is no less than phenomenal in terms of health benefits.
Particularly for CBD, which produces no high whatsoever, the prospects of the development of an all-natural “super cannabis medicine” is seemingly closer than ever before – even if a massive amount of additional research and development still needs to be undertaken.
So while we sometimes miss the good old days of smoking a crummy bowl amongst a circle of friends, there’s no denying that the advancements of marijuana production (and consumption) are evolving for the better of society as a whole.