In this episode, Head Change host Levi Strom talks terpenes with Dr. Raber, that is Jeff Raber, PHD chemist about the aromatic compounds called terpenes that give cannabis cultivars their unique smell, taste and even effect.
Dr. Raber received his BS in biochemistry from Lebanon Valley College in ’97 and his PhD in Organic Chemistry from USC in ’02. He is a self described innovative entrepreneur and founder of The Werc Shop that advising cannabis laboratories, manufactures and brands on best practices, product formulations and research and development strategies.
Jeff Raber, PHD
What Are Terpenes? [00:01:19]
The Entourage Effect – [00:05:38]
Cannabis Lab Testing [00:14:07]
Federal Legalization [00:28:27]
Cannabis Terpenes vs Synthetic vs Natural – [00:34:04]
The Vitamin E Acetate Problem – [00:42:49]
THC Acetate – [00:46:43]
Nano Technology – [00:48:18]
Levi: . . . I’m hoping you can at least kind of give a basic overview of what terpenes are why they’re important to cannabis and then we can kind of dive into share and that deeper dialogue around.
Jeff: [00:01:19] They’re common in almost all plants, fruits, vegetables and things of that type. So the word terpene to a chemist means isoprene units and building blocks of carbons certain types of building blocks that are used to create these molecules and they can be relatively simple and exceptionally complex. So a more famous terpene might be known as taxol. It was found on the Pacific yew tree. It’s a strong anti-cancer agent and it is amazingly complex and its chemical structure the ones we find in cannabis are nowhere near that type of complexity. Some of them are simple hydrocarbons some of them then get oxygenated. There’s also some you know other pieces that get added that then affect their properties from an olfactory standpoint and from a physiological impact standpoint. So and I think these molecules are made by the plants more so to have the plants communicate with their environment and talk to the rest of their world. You have a poor little defenseless, you know being basically that sits there it can’t run away from anyone trying to attack it. It doesn’t know how to call for help vocally like we do. Do so it sends out molecules to you know, either ward off folks or attract the right ones to take care of the current problem that’s on them. One of my favorite documentaries is [00:02:34] What Plants Talk About and it really kind of talks a little bit about this, you know communication if you will and we’re probably trying to be like chemical translators like understand the language of the plants and understand how that impacts our bodies chemical language biochemical language and our physiology and how might we understand which ones are and how that would relate to our, you know enjoying liking or need for what’s there as long as we’re getting it in a certain form. So in a general sense, these are the molecules that smell, we call that volatile the ones that are able to leave the plant a lot easier. Cannabinoids you cannot smell from the plant whenever you put your face to the cannabis plant and try and notice what you’re recognizing. It is terpenes that you’re smelling and other volatile like compounds like that. So, you know, I think colloquially we use the term very very broadly in cannabis to say all the things that generate smell chemically technically, they’re not all technical terpenes. There are other molecules that would not be designated as terpenes. But I think we’ll just proceed with like all these things that impact with smell and then taste and then also our knowing now to cause impacts for physiological effect and feel we call generally speaking terpenes. Terpenes, terpenoids, you know aldehydes, ketones, esters. There’s all sorts of other funky chemical names we can give them but for the sake of conversation and to keep it easy on everybody because not everybody liked chemistry like I did [laugh] we’ll go ahead and just call them terpenes. But each of the Cannabis cultivars, you know, there are about a hundred and twenty or so different terpenes known to cannabis, you know, there are tens and tens of thousands of these molecules known on on the planet in the botanical world. So, you know, there’s a very small subset of them that are present in cannabis. And a lot of these things are not only found in cannabis. There are very very few that are specific to cannabis as we know today. We haven’t looked at every plant on the planet. So you can’t rule out the possibility that you find some of these other ones elsewhere, but there are ones that are very common like limonene is found in you know citrus. So the orange juice industry, you know limes, lemons, they have tons of those things. Linalool is another popular one that you find that’s present in lavender. So we might understand hey, lavender that’s been standardized . . .