By Mitchell Colbert
Thanks to a June 11th decision by the Canadian Supreme Court, medical cannabis patients in Canada can now use all cannabis based products, rather than just dried herb for the first time. The court's decision spells it out clearly, “We conclude that the prohibition of non-dried forms of medical marihuana limits liberty and security of the person in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice.” This is huge news for all patients and manufacturers of cannabis products in Canada, because now they can use and make topicals, hashes, hemp oil, edibles, teas, and all other forms of processed cannabis.
So what is legal now that technically was not legal before? One thing is dabbing, which is a method of vaporizing cannabis, which is usually done with only super melt hashes but in actuality you can dab anything over 55% THC. Dabbing involves super heating a titanium “nail” with a small blow torch and dropping a hash of sufficient purity onto it, which causes the hash to vaporize.
You can potentially dab any of the following substances, depending on purity; usually anything with over 45% THC is considered dabbable. All percents given are for THC percentage since most concentrates are THC based, but not all. Thankfully, patients are beginning to see more options on the market that are CBD rich and even some rich in THCa, CBG, and other minor cannabinoids. Some products, such as live resins, have elevated levels of terpenes. All of these varieties of concentrates can be made in CBD-rich varieties and the dabbing of CBD concentrates is a valuable method of medicating. If you are interested in using edibles as a form of medicine check out my last post about the effects of using edibles versus smoking.
Kief is the term for dry-seized hash without any water processing, the concentrated trichomes that have been removed from the cannabis plant. Usually kief is obtained during trimming when it falls off the dried bud and can be gathered with a mesh screen. Kief can also be made with a machine resulting in exponentially more potent kief, more accurately labeled a kief-melt (a play on full-melt hash). Kief generally is between 10-25% THC but rarely, potent batches of kief have been seen to test upwards of 55% THC, which makes it potent enough to be dabbed.
Hash can be made through many different methods, the simplest being pressing kief and resin together with ones fingers to make so-called “finger hash,” perhaps the oldest form of concentrated cannabis known. Hash tests a little more potent than most kiefs but not quite as strong as bubble hash, usually between 15-35% THC. Aside from the method of creation, hash is distinguished from bubble hash by the fact that it burns rather than bubbling up.
Bubble hash is a water-based hash that is made using a series of bubble bags filled with freezing cold water and ice cubes. Bubble bags are a series of increasingly finer mesh bags that trichomes pass through creating various qualities of bubble hash in each bag level. The trichomes are dislodged from the plant by being frozen then smashed off by the ice. This type of hash gets its name because it bubbles rather than burning, but it doesn’t melt like a full melt hash. These hashes range in the 20-45% THC range.
Full Melt Hash
Full melt hash is the highest quality of bubble hash, it is what you find in the bottom bag that has passed through every purity grade. These hashes while still being cold water derived more resemble the oily super melt concentrates I will discuss below. These hashes get their name because unlike bubble hash they do more than just bubble, they melt fully into a liquid form. These hashes range in purity from around 45-70% THC. Here is one method to make full melt hashes that can test nearly 70% THC, without any sort of a chemical solvent used.
Super Melt Hash
Super melt hashes are not made with bubble bags and usually use some sort of a chemical solvent, though so-called solvent free varieties exist. They are called super melts because they melt super-fast from a solid form into a vapor form, sublimating without ever fully being a liquid. This is a result of the purity of the product and method of use, not a result of the chemical solvents. Commonly used solvents are butane, isopropyl alcohol, and CO2. Common slang names are ISO hash, Butane Honey Oil (BHO), glass, shatter, wax, oil, dabs, and numerous more; the name used depends on the consistency of the end product and somewhats indicates what chemicals were used in the extraction (such as with BHO's). Dabbing kiefs, hashes, bubble hashes, and full melts tends to leave more of a residue on your nail after dabbing, but this can easily be cleaned off with your dab tool or rubbing alcohol.
These hashes contain between 45% THC on the low end and over 90% THC on the high end, most are between 55-80% THC. While these hashes can be made by anyone in their garage, the best ones are coming out of laboratories; you won’t find someone making 90% pure hash in their bathroom. The most common method of use is dabbing, which is effectively freebasing cannabis. Many in the medical community have expressed concerns over people getting over-medicated. There also has been an anecdotal case of one person having a collapsed lung after taking a large dab, which may or may not have been a result of his smoking habits.
Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO)
A FECO extract is so named because it is a full extraction of all the cannabinoids and terpenes in a cannabis plant, it isn't just THC or CBD. This method of extraction was made popular by Rick Simpson and these oils will often be referred to as Rick Simpson Oils, but that is a misnomer unless the oil actually came from Rick Simpson himself; otherwise FECO is the preferred term in the industry. These concentrates are the ideal method of treatment for numerous types of cancer, epilepsy, pain, and dozens of other serious medical conditions that need the benefit of the full entourage of cannabinoids, rather than isolated THC or CBD.