Cannabis Terpenes: What They Are & The Different Types

Cannabis Terpenes: What They Are & The Different Types

The Joint CannabisDec 8, '21

The smell of cannabis isn’t exactly subtle. What gives this flower its pungent aroma? 

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds in cannabis. The cannabis plant may have evolved terpenes to deter predators with their strong scents and attract pollinators with their sweet aromas. Different terpenes produce unique flavours and scents.

There’s a lot of buzz about terpenes. You might have questions about how they affect your cannabis experience. In this post, we’re going to clarify how terpenes work, and list a few that are commonly found in cannabis:

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are found within the trichomes of cannabis plants. They do more than create their signature smells—they also affect the way that cannabinoids work. 

Terpenes modulate the effects of cannabinoids (like CBD and THC). Here’s an example:

Cannabinoids are like the car, and terpenes are the driver. If you have a big, powerful car, it won’t be much use without a driver. A cannabis strain with 28% THC isn't very useful if this driver isn't there (or, if there are very few terpenes). 

That's why many consumers will find that fresher, “terpier” products will actually hit harder, even if the THC is lower than they’re used to. A 15% THC product with a high terpene content will almost always beat a 25% THC product that’s dry and has no terpenes.

In Canada, more brands are starting to put the terpene content on product labels. You can also look at the packaging date to see how fresh a product is. 

Keep in mind that this isn't a perfect method—the packaging date is not the same as the harvest date. Still, it works more often than not.

What is the entourage effect?

Terpenes also create what is known as the entourage effect. Cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create effects that are greater than the sum of their parts. 

A recent study examined this effect in greater detail. Researchers found that the compounds in cannabis (including terpenes and cannabinoids) have synergistic qualities. When they work together, they have stronger effects than they would alone. Many consumers look for specific terpene profiles when choosing cannabis products.

Different Types Of Terpenes

Did you know that terpenes are found in plants other than cannabis? Here are a few of the most common terpenes:

  • Limonene. This terpene emits a strong citrus scent. Its refreshing aroma may have an uplifting and energizing effect on some consumers.
  • Pinene. There’s something deeply relaxing about the rich scent of a forest. That’s exactly what you’ll smell with pinene, which is also found in parsley, basil, and pine needles. Even if you enjoy the smell of pine, many insects don’t, which makes this terpene great at repelling bugs.
  • Myrcene. Myrcene has an earthy, spicy scent with notes of sweetness. This terpene tends to be dominant in indica strains. You can also find myrcene in lemongrass, hops, and even mangoes. 
  • These are just a few examples of cannabis terpenes, but over 100 have been identified. As research continues, we’re excited to learn more about how these compounds interact with cannabinoids.

    At The Joint, we feature a wide selection of cannabis strains, so you’re sure to find the terpene profile that you’re looking for. To browse our selection of cannabis products and accessories, click here.