Cannabis connoisseurs may argue over their favorite strain or how to roll the perfect joint, but one thing that unites us is limiting waste.
In a lot of places, weed is expensive. So, it makes sense to maximize every gram you’ve got.
Protecting and retaining as much potency as possible is another often-debated topic in the cannabis community. But when you understand the basics of plant anatomy, degradation, and how grinding weed affects the potency, you can come up with the best plan to cherish every piece of plant matter.
Cannabis Potency 101
In short, yes. Depending on how you store and grind your weed, it can lose some potency. But there are ways to protect it.
First, let’s go over some basics of cannabis potency.
Important Parts of Dried Cannabis Flower
- Trichomes, the tiny crystalline glands on the surface of the flower. Trichomes are the most important part of cannabis because they contain cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Stigmata/Pistils, the orange “hairs.” They don’t get you high but are essential for cannabis reproduction.
- Bract/Calyx, the leafy matter that protects reproductive parts and is covered in trichomes.
- Resinous Leaves, the leaves covered in resin glands around the Calyx, not to be confused with the iconic fan marijuana leaf.
What is Cannabis Potency?
For the consumer like you, trichomes are the most essential part of the cannabis plant. Every aspect of dried cannabis is covered in trichomes. Producers trim away parts that lack many trichomes because these parts are less valuable to the consumer.
Cannabis potency, which is related to the psychoactive effects that you may experience, is the amount of cannabis compound relative to the entire product. For example, if an ounce of flower is 25% THC, this means that of the 28 grams, seven grams is pure THC.
What Makes Cannabis Potent?
Botanists have been developing highly-potent strains through selective breeding. Cannabis genetics had historically favored high THC strains, even thousands of years ago when hash was the primary way to consume.
Today, cannabis genetics have shifted to include other components like CBD and terpenes, but potency and taking care of your precious trichomes have always been important for people who truly care about the quality of the plant.
Preserving the Potency of Your Weed
The way in which you handle and store your weed has an impact on preserving the compounds. Trichomes encapsulate nearly the entire surface area of a dried nug of weed, even if you can’t really see them.
The interaction between trichomes, consumers, and natural elements (sunlight, temperature, and air) can dramatically affect how potent it’ll be by the time you’re ready to use it.
How Grinding Weed Affects Potency
When you grind weed, you’re tearing the flower apart, which separates those precious trichomes from the plant matter. Managing how much of the microscopic cannabinoids end up in your joint or bowl is the key to maintaining the highest level of potency possible.
If you’re careless with how you handle your weed and how it goes through a weed grinder, be prepared to suffer a drop in potency. However, if you’re conscious about storage, handling, and the efficacy of how you grind weed, you can preserve some of that potency.
A Few Ways to Grind Weed
How you grind weed and how much you care about consuming cannabis plays a part in getting the most out of the cannabinoids. Flower can be broken down in various ways, some of which are ineffective and susceptible to waste, while others are quite efficient in preserving potency. Here are just a few (of many) ways to grind.
Breaking weed up by hand is a sticky situation, but many people enjoy the organic experience. However, if you want to maximize potency, we highly advise using a better method of preparing like a weed grinder or a mill.
2-Piece Cannabis Grinder
A simple grinder is one of the most traditional ways to break down your flower. A 2-piece grinder is a simple approach but does the job. The downside is you’ll lose trichomes in the process as bits of bud will stick between the teeth.
Multiple Chamber Cannabis Grinder
A grinder with multiple chambers can help prevent cannabinoids from being left behind. Instead of your trichomes getting lost in the grinding mechanism, they can fall into a kief catcher. Multi-chambered grinders reduce the potency of your immediate smoke session, but you’ll get to enjoy your cannabinoids once your kief catcher starts collecting and you can tap into it.
Rather than using a traditional grinder that shreds your weed and decimates the trichomes, a Flower Mill doesn’t do that at all. Milling crumbles (not grinds) your flower where it naturally wants to break apart. It works similar to a grinder but preserves the potency much better, all while giving you the fluffy consistency you need.
Storing Ground Up Weed
Handling weed is an essential part of retaining as much potency as possible. The other part is how you store your buds. According to Healthline, cannabis loses 16% of its THC potency after one year and 26% after two. The clock starts ticking when the plant is harvested – not when you get your hands on it from a friend or dispensary.
Exposure to air will degrade the concentration of THC, CBD, terpenes, and other compounds. If you need to store flower for a long period of time, keep it in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
Storing the weed that you’ve ground up will increase the degradation process because more trichomes have been exposed to air. Keeping buds in their natural state (as buds) if you aren’t ready to spark up, which naturally preserves potency because you’re not doing anything to it.