Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Olfactory Triggers Stimulate Intense Memories

Have you ever caught a scent in the air that flooded you with vivid memories? We all experience them; specific, usually strong, chemical signals that conjure intense memories. Here’s one of mine.

I opened a package of cannabis a little while ago and I started singing a Waylon Jennings tune to myself, "ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold,..." and smiled as I thought of the rolling hills surrounding my Uncle Tim's house in the Sierras. I remembered one summer in the early eighties when my brother and I went on little drives with him around the mountains of Northern California in his old Chevy pickup.



The transporting smell was Blueberry. But it wasn't Blueberry in its best form. My cannabis was a full year old. I’d been saving it in my humidor for an occasion when I needed a CBN- rich strain to help me sleep. This flower being over a year old would be quite rich in CBN and is indeed great for sleep.

As I opened the package and took a big whiff, the aroma must have matched what I remembered from back then because it took me to the coffee table. Instantly, I was a skinny twelve-year-old boy with bushy brown hair sitting beside my Uncle Tim on the couch, watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom as he loaded his bong.

I would describe the smell of my 7 gram zip as definitely headed toward hay. Most of the monoterpenes were gone and the remaining terpenes that I could detect for sure were beta-caryophyllene and humulene. Both are sedative sesquiterpenes.

[IMAGE: Beta-Caryophyllene molecular drawing.]

He was a firefighter and well known in the area. Everywhere we went, everybody seemed to know my uncle Tim. We stopped by the firehouse and he came back with a brown paper bag.

"I got the stuff for my fountain," he said with a devilish grin and stuffed the bag under the seat.

He had told us earlier that the big green glass thing with a 12- inch neck and a bowl he held a flame to was a fountain. Later he would try to tell us that it was a musical instrument and we were supposed to hear a melody in all of the bubbling going through it. I know now that to a true lover of cannabis, there is music in that percolating sound. 

[VIDEO is just the 12-second intro with the Bong Rip audio]

One evening while staying with my Uncle Tim I was introduced to snipe hunting. The whole place was built on the slope of the mountain with flat areas landscaped into the hillside for the house, barn and yard. My brother and I were taken to a place a couple hundred meters ‘up the hill’ at twilight. Down the hill, my aunt and uncle were circling around us to set up Fourth of July fireworks in the large driveway.

We peered into the void, ready with a gunny sack and stick, ‘hunting’ in the dark for what seemed hours, though it must have only been thirty minutes.  In a little while my brother and I stood trembling - both from fear and excitement - back-to-back, ready to defend ourselves from whatever might jump out of the dark at us. Every little sound – a moth, a bird, something scratching at the dry forest floor – was our potential prey. We had no idea what we were going to do with it, but we stood ready to capture the elusive snipe.

When my brother whisper-shouted that he thought he saw one, I got pretty excited. But as we all know it was just his imagination and mine.  Both of us crouched – sacks open, ready to spring, scanning the darkness for the slightest movement – but it was nothing.  We both gasped as we hadn’t realized we had been holding our breath.

“I think it got away,” Dan whispered.

“Just be quiet!” I replied.  Something was definitely coming our way.

Something had been very noisy in its approach, but as it got closer, the faint steps became almost silent. I couldn’t tell if I had heard four feet or two.  My heart felt like it would burst right out of my chest as I struggled to remain still.  Another rustling came closer to me. I struggled to see the creature and caught a barely visible grayness that definitely moved, then stopped right in front of me. I summoned every ounce of courage I could muster to pounce and capture something I couldn’t even see.

I dove onto the creature with my sack to cover and capture it.  I’m certain I’ve never had a greater surge of adrenaline in my life as I discovered the creature was much larger than my sack.  I crashed into its legs with my head and shoulders and was crumpling to the ground thinking I was about to be trampled to death by something huge, when I heard the strangest thing.

“You guys ready?” Uncle Tim’s voice made no sense as it came through the darkness. But in a few seconds I put it all together. “Your Aunt Debbie’s about to light our way.”

Just then, before I could answer, just when my brother and I were giving up all hope that we’d ever catch a snipe, I rolled over and looked up at him as a starburst of red lit up the sky behind him and the fireworks began.  We forgot all about the snipe hunt.

My brother and I only stayed with my Uncle Tim and Aunt Debbie for a week or so, but it was a great week. They showed us around and told us about the nearby plateau they called Tabletop Mountain. Their favorite of the local Legends, Black Bart, was the subject of numerous stories and songs.  Tim would recite and sing, trying to emulate the bourbon-mellowed voice of the legendary Waylon Jennings.  He was pretty good, too! I recall he and Aunt Debbie would put on an 8-track tape and sing along with the music anywhere. “Ladies love outlaws,” they sang on the way to show us the dilapidating ruins of a genuine ‘old west’ hotel where Black Bart was said to have spent his most notorious years.  The two of them, my aunt and uncle both, contributed immeasurably to my love of history and the natural world that summer.

My aunt and uncle gave me one of my first ‘observer’ experiences with cannabis. On the fourth of July they would have been smoking the previous year’s outdoor harvest, poorly stored in plastic bags and heavily laden with seeds. Scent is the most powerful stimulator of memories.  The distinctive aromas of hops and black pepper within the burning herb, both now and then, transported me like a time machine and I was there.

I love this plant.

Thanks for going on the journey with me.

*****

References:
Herz, R. S., Eliassen, J., Beland, S., & Souza, T. (2004). Neuroimaging evidence for the emotional potency of odor-evoked memory. Neuropsychologia, 42(3), 371-378. Toffolo, M. B., Smeets, M. A., & Van Den Hout, M. A. (2012). Proust revisited: odours as triggers of aversive memories. Cognition & emotion, 26(1), 83-92. Herz, R. S. (2004). A naturalistic analysis of autobiographical memories triggered by olfactory visual and auditory stimuli. Chemical Senses, 29(3), 217-224. Ward, P., Davies, B. J., & Kooijman, D. (2007). Olfaction and the retail environment: examining the influence of ambient scent. Service Business, 1(4), 295-316. Haberly, L. B., & Bower, J. M. (1989). Olfactory cortex: model circuit for study of associative memory?. Trends in neurosciences, 12(7), 258-264. Daniels, J. K., & Vermetten, E. (2016). Odor-induced recall of emotional memories in PTSD–review and new paradigm for research. Experimental neurology, 284, 168-180.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day remembrance and pride


This Veterans Day I wanted to share a bit of insight about what it is to be a warrior. I'm proud of the fact that I have served my country and became Brothers in Arms with so many.

It may not be the first coining of the phrase, but this passage from over 400 years ago, the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V, by William Shakespeare, brings me to tears nearly every time I read it. On one hand, it is a sales pitch from a king trying to arouse patriotism and courage in his few and fearful men. On the other hand, it is a very motivating speech that reaches into the core of a warrior's soul and emphasizes the pride of having been there. I hope you enjoy it.

(From William Shakespeare's Henry V, ca.1600, 4:3:18-64)

WESTMORLAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember├Ęd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

******
Here, Kenneth Branagh delivers perfection in his 1989 production, while Laurence Olivier is shown below as he stunned his audience in 1944.

Laurence Olivier

More worthwhile links:
Henry V: The Fictionalized King (essay by Sarah Kay Bierle).  https://gazette665.com/2014/11/14/henry-v-the-fictionalized-king/
This, a more formal, yet non-credited article, cites how vastly outnumbered the English were as it examines leadership lessons in the speech.
https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/what-shakespeares-henry-v-tells-us-about-leadership-motivation-wooing-and-hanging/

Friday, November 1, 2019

Vaporize Ground Cannabis for Maximum Efficiency

Pipe and joint smokers enjoy twice the efficiency of water pipes, but vapes are even better.
In the midst of the black market Vape Crisis that has killed and injured numerous Americans, a large number of adults with normal fears - even in a regulated, legal marketplace - are returning to smoking or vaporizing cannabis flowers. Smoking may ease one’s mind, but that joint or bowl of state-regulated cannabis isn't as toxin-free as you might think. Dr. John McPartland believes toxins created by the combustion of cannabis can be considered contaminants. (1)

The Good News
Don't get upset. The good news is that the toxins aren't actually in your cannabis. Regulated cannabis markets protect consumers by requiring inspections and product quality testing of every crop, so you're safe there. It's when you burn and smoke it that the trouble begins.

McPartland believes that smoking potent cannabis is paramount for those who do smoke. In a 2001 journal article he stated, “marijuana smokers have implemented several strategies to decrease exposure to smoke contaminants. The most important strategy is to smoke high-THC cannabis.” (1)

Of the more than 200 thermal degradation products in cannabis smoke (not found in cannabis), several gas phase toxins are removed by smoking through a water pipe. (2) This is welcome news for water pipe lovers as some of those toxins are nasty carcinogens just waiting to cause trouble in your body.

The Bad News
A 1996 Water Pipe Study found that consumers smoking joints and pure pipes inhaled an average thirteen parts tar to inhale one part THC (13:1; 92.8% tar), while water pipes removed so much THC that the ratio averaged twenty-seven to one (27:1; 96.4% tar), tar to THC, with the worst water pipe coming in at a ratio of forty to one (40:1). (3)  Essentially, those choosing to consume with a water pipe ingest an average of twice the flower (and tar) to ingest the same dosage of THC.

The Solution
Dr. Dale Gieringer, Ph.D., the architect of the tar study above, suggests that cannabis consumers should use a vaporizer and get a ratio of only ten units of tar to every one unit of cannabinoid (10:1; 90.9% tar), a clear advantage over combustion. (3) In summary, a consumer ingesting cannabis via vaporization will consume 5.5% less tar and less than half as much flower as they would with a water pipe to achieve a given high. In contrast, the same consumer could ingest the same amount as consumed with the water pipe and propose to get twice as high.  It’s all relative. 

References:
1)  McPartland, J.M., (2001). Contaminants and Adulterants in Herbal Cannabis. In Grotenhermen, F., Russo, E.B. (eds). Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Haworth Press, Binghamton, NY. pp 337-343.

2)  Huber, G.J., First, M.W., Grubner, O. (1991). Marijuana and tobacco gas-phase cytotoxins. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 40(3):629-636.

3)  Gieringer, D., (1996). Marijuana Research: Water Pipe Study. Bulletin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. 6(3):59-66.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Flavored Vapor Products Banned in Washington State

The Washington State Board of Health met in early October and took action on America’s vapor crisis as it pertains to Washington consumers and banned the sale of all flavored vapor products. Governor Jay Inslee, days before, issued Executive Order 19-03; Addressing the Vaping Use Public Health Crisis in response to numerous cases of lung injury and deaths across the country, including several cases in the state of Washington.

The Order defines a characterizing flavor as a “distinguishable taste or aroma, or both, other than the taste or aroma of tobacco or marijuana or a taste or aroma derived from compounds or derivatives such as terpenes or terpenoids derived directly and solely from marijuana, as defined in RCW 69.50.101(y), or hemp plants that have been grown and tested as required by state law, imparted by a vapor product.” The key part in that first sentence is “other than the taste or aroma of … marijuana or a taste or aroma derived from compounds or derivatives such as terpenes or terpenoids derived directly and solely from marijuana.

Consumers can be happy to know that Washington vapor products won’t contain any additives other than genuine cannabis terpenes and terpenoids. This DOES NOT mean those added terpenes have to be the exact profile of any single strain. Not at all.  Genuine cannabis terpenes are added in precise amounts to extracted oils in order to produce a desired aroma or taste - the sky really is the limit.

Evident in the terpene profile below, whole cannabis flowers are tested to evaluate a crop, but can also be used to identify a strain (shown is Laughing Buddha, as grown by Raven; 2019). Those with the most pleasant and fragrant terpene profiles sell very well, and, it is suspected, are often given branded names that further obscure strain identities.

Shown is the terpene profile of Laughing Buddha, as grown by Raven, 2019. 

On the very basic positive side, this means a talented extractor with a high-quality set of terpenes can take a mixed batch of low-grade flower containing very little oil, perhaps testing around ten percent Total THC (perhaps devoid of scent and therefore rejected from most retailers), and turn it into a golden treasure as recognizably delicious as Dutch Treat, Strawberry Cough or any number of combinations.

Before declaring a negative side, one should ask if this artificial creation from natural sources is any different than the selective breeding that created the strain and its distinctive terpene profile? Is a breeder selecting a chosen scent any more noble than a terpene scientist adding microliters of selected terpenes to a volume of oil to duplicate that scent?

The commercial realm of perfume has no stigma against the artificial or natural. The terpenes in your cannabis vapor product will be only those derived from wholesome cannabis plants.  Ambergris however, one of the world’s rarest components of perfumes, is extremely rare because it is found only in the bowels of whales.

We like things that smell pleasant, right?  If one thinks a certain way, ambergris can be considered something other than whale uh… excrement, but is it? All we seem to care about is that it is safe, and that it does what we want it to do - impart an attractive scent.

Whether natural cannabis terpenes are already present in whole flower or re-introduced post-extraction to an oil, they have been evaluated as safe by the Food and Drug Administration to enhance the flavor and aroma of cannabis products. Terpenes create the taste and aroma of cannabis - and they simply belong.

In coming reports Seattle Bliss editor, Jeff Cole will attempt to demonstrate how flavors are preserved, enhanced or re-created in cannabis oils available to Washington consumers. Be sure to subscribe at SeattleBliss.com.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Herb Grinder Modified to retain more kief

I read cannabis labels.  I like knowing the relative potency of my cannabis, whether that's in the realm of twenty percent or fifteen percent, and I hate losing anything.  I'd rather keep the kief IN my flower than let it fall through a screen to be saved for later.  With a 4-piece grinder, I just eliminated the section with the screen and got a slimmer grinder that keeps kief and flower together for no loss of potency.

The Seattle Bliss grinder is a free gift for generous subscribers and program guests. Supporting subscriptions are available at SeattleBliss.com on the membership page.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Strawberry Diesel by Lazy Bee Gardens 2019 marijuana strain review


Today's 4-gram sample of Strawberry Diesel was grown by The Lazy Bee Gardens, trade name Lazy Bee Gardens, an outdoor grower nestled just off the Methow River southeast of Winthrop, Washington. Their neighbors include a rhythm & blues festival and a salmon hatchery, as well as the mountains that beckon to snowboarders. Click to view in Google My Maps.


Environmental Stewardship points are awarded for sun-grown operations (those who photosynthesize for free), as well as possible points for soil and water conservation. (5/5)



Freshness rated (5/5) as everything about the flower said this won't be around long. The harvest was October 18, 2018 and this order was packaged April 1, 2019 (see label above; 5.5 months dry/cure time). Purchase and review took place in June (3 months in zip). Grower discloses approved pest control substances and holds a certification recognized by Higher Ground (5/5); welcomes our visit (5/5).



More than five terpenes were individually quantified on the package label (5/5; see label, 2 images up).  Even better, Lazy Bee Gardens has had this crop tested for terpenes more than fifteen times, which allowed creation of a standard profile for their Strawberry Diesel (image above). Of note for breeders are several terpenes bearing alcohol moieties and almost no linalool, indicating the presence of enzymes that synthesize linalyl pyrophosphate and possibly one or several that consume it as a substrate. Pinene(s), myrcene, and caryophyllene only comprise 2 of the 3.5 percent these terpenes occupy. The minor terpenes represent 1.5 to the majors' 2; not a huge imbalance. Wood, earth, floral and sweetness were all present in the 2nd sniff, below.

Cannabinoids Labeling under WSLCB rules is very confusing. I feel this label (2 images up) sufficiently discloses every important cannabinoid quantity, while avoiding the stumble through THC/THCA/Total THC explanation. Total THC, Total CBD, Total CBG, CBC and Total Cannabinoids disclose much of what consumers want to see. Harvest date was the only missing piece of required label data (4/5).



The first sniff from the just-opened bag bore a fairly strong terpene presence (4/5), fruity and sweet, but with some real depth.

Product Purity is assessed under microscopy and with the nose.  No impurities were detected via either method (5/5).


Product Color is indicative of flowering techniques, handling, storage and can sometimes be the first indicator when issues arise (5/5).

Overall Product Quality surveys for problems, such as male bud sites, animal hair, insect or other animal evidence, rough handling and more. None were detected (5/5).

Product Moisture was estimated between 7.5 and 10.0%, based on proper snapping of the stems in floral clusters without breaking the bud (5/5).

Trim Quality was rated 5/5 as buds have been manicured of all sugar leaves, most pistils, and stems are less than 3 mm long (indicative of being trimmed instead of snapped from the stem in a rapid, raking fashion).


Trichome Density is a matter of genetics, but within those genetics plants with more trichomes per surface area produce more cannabinoids and terpenes. As it has become clear that low-potency strains can be very appealing, this criterion has been eliminated from the Higher Ground evaluation. Were it still included, these flowers would rate 5/5.


Harvest Timing is carefully matched to the taste of the grower or the average consumer. Some strains, often sedative when grown by most individuals, can be clear and energizing in the hands of a grower with that target in mind. Most growers agree that the best flowers will have mostly white trichome heads with up to a third turning amber, or a general tinge of amber in the overall white forest (5/5).

Grinding a gram and giving it a Second Sniff revealed a very strong Terpene Presence (5/5).  The Smoke Terpene Presence rated 5/5 as a broad spectrum of woody, sweet and floral terpenes were present throughout the smoke. Smoke Smoothness rated 5/5 as moisture and curing made it easy to control the burn. Smoke Pleasantness rated 5/5 as flavor appears to be attenuated by the cure. Piney sharpness is completely absent here.

Effectiveness rated 5/5 as my first hits at 4:20 p.m. were mostly sweet and tart. One could call that strawberry. In later hits I tasted fresh, hot, cinnamon-raisin bread (heavy on the cinnamon). I needed the uplifting energy I got from this one. Creativity was properly stimulated, too; so I went back to work.


Price-Value Rating is based on the market average price per gram. This 4g package was $36, or $9 per gram, which rates 5/5 on the Higher Ground PVR scale.

Overall, this harvest of Strawberry Diesel earned 98 of a possible 100 points; an amazing flower by an amazing grower.  I wouldn't be surprised to see a perfect 100-point review later this year when I try other strains by them.

***
Acknowledgements:  Lazy Bee Gardens supports Seattle Bliss and Higher Ground by providing data for this and other studies. Contact us if you have data to share. Visit the Lazy Bee Gardens website to learn where to purchase their products. Financial support for Seattle Bliss and Higher Ground comes from subscribers like you.  Thank you.

 See the video on my YouTube channel
Click image or this link to see video at https://youtu.be/vlyUuVuoxmE

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Look by Raven Marijuana Strain Review 2019

Today’s sample of The Look as grown by Raven, an INDOOR cannabis farm in Olympia, WA, was harvested August 14, 2018 as indicated on the label. Here’s how it rated with HigherGround420.com and Seattle Bliss.  Video below.

1. Environmental Stewardship (1 / 5). Raven exercises “True Earth” techniques to feed their soil, which in turn feeds the plant. They don’t throw away their root balls because they’re perfectly ready for the next plant – and they replant them immediately.  Sun grown cannabis would earn five points, but could lose some for poor soil care.  It’s all part of caring for the environment.  Building better soil is a great place to start.
2. Freshness (4 / 5).  The freshest buds are the best, so since the soonest a producer can get high-quality buds to the retailer is 1 month, a sample being evaluated at 1 month is at its best.  Most of our field ratings will take place at exactly 1 month after harvest as producers are packaging the product.  This harvest took place August 14th of last year.  Ten months cure and storage made for a very nice smoke.
3. Terpenes quantified on the Label (4 / 5).  The top four terpenes, limonene, nerolidol, caryophyllene and myrcene were quantified on the label. Total terpenes reached over 1.5%. Washington producers are not required to test their harvests for terpene content. It may also be noted that the next terpenes in the dominance line are the summed pinenes (both alpha and beta, when summed, fit exactly behind myrcene).
4. Producer uses approved natural pest control agents and discloses them on the label (5 / 5) and has passed our inspection.
5. Grower has hosted or welcomes a future SeattleBliss/HigherGround420 tour and inspection (5 / 5). All producers are given benefit of doubt until decided otherwise.  This means every grower gets these 5-points until we decide at our sole discretion that the points are not deserved.  A brief tour demonstrates compliance with laws and improves consumer confidence. Raven was visited in April of 2019 (see video https://youtu.be/dO8E3BUi6Yo).
6. Cannabinoids Labeling (3 / 5).  The cannabinoids were properly documented, but I couldn't find a Washington State Unified Business Identifier (UBI) on any of the labels. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board states in WAC 314-55-105; Packaging and labeling requirements, section 2, paragraphs a, iv, A and B state that “Labels… must include: (A) The business or trade name and the UBI of the licensees that produced and processed the marijuana or marijuana products;” and (B) The unique identifier number generated by the WSLCB's traceability system. This must be the same number that appears on the transport manifest;” These numbers are both required as they identify licensees through two different systems. It also helps consumers positively identify source as UBI is accessible online as public record (https://lcb.wa.gov/records/frequently-requested-lists).
7. Terpene Presence (2 / 5) is evaluated with the First Sniff and is indicative of Concentration as an undetectable sample would rate at 0 and a very strong one at 5.  Standard sniff evaluation includes the combined sniffing of the newly opened container AND subsequent grinding of 1 gram and sniffing the freshly-ground product. This step is for evaluating the whole buds in the newly opened container (3.5g jar).
8. Product Purity is evaluated with the First Sniff and Microscopy (5 / 5).  Any impurities may cause an unexpected odor, but should be detectable under the microscope.  None were detected via either detection method.
9. Product Color (5 / 5).  The intensity of green color in the epidermis of cannabis flowers is an indicator of plant vigor, which could be due to nitrogen availability during late flower, and translates to elevated chlorophyll concentration (R.C. Clarke, 1981). The more white flowers have matured and cured slowly, and thus have allowed chlorophyll harshness to dissipate. Flowers white with trichomes can achieve top ratings here, too. Product is evaluated again for smoothness in the final smoking steps.  As stated earlier, Raven maintains some degree of plant vigor right to the end. Living soil can’t just stop feeding the roots, so this translates to improved plant vigor in the ripening stage. Their plants continue producing cannabinoids and terpenes right up until harvest.
10. Product Quality is evaluated during bud inspection (5 / 5).  Points can be lost for male flower sites (more common recently due to the feminized seed market), insect or animal evidence, abusive handling, etc.  None of these were detected.
11. Product Moisture is also evaluated during bud inspection (5 / 5).  The most ideal buds are sponge-like, mostly dry, but a little bit sticky.  The consumer will be able to open a bud, spreading the seedless bracts to reveal and snap the central stem without breaking the bud. Observational estimates would suggest about 12% moisture, which is in the 10 to 15% range (where buds are at their best).
12. Trim Quality (5 / 5).  Sample has had all sugar leaves and stems, as well as all leaf matter removed; bud stems < 3 mm.  Buds are beautifully manicured.
13. Trichome Density (5 / 5).  Flower is densely covered with mostly capitate trichomes.
14. Harvest Timing (5 / 5).  Over 66% (two thirds) of glandular heads are milky-white or turning amber, Less than 33% (one third) are dark amber in color; few clear.
15. Terpene Presence, 2nd Sniff (5 / 5).  This step is for evaluating the freshly-ground buds and should garner a higher rating than the first sniff of the buds (unless both rate 5).  Whereas the first sniff of the jar was unremarkable, the ground flower was very fragrant.
16. Smoke Terpene Presence, 1st, 2nd taste (5 / 5).  Sample was rated only upon how fragrant the smoke was; not how well it was liked. The top four dominant terpenes include nerolidol and caryophyllene, whose molecules are much larger than monoterpenes like limonene and myrcene, which create the top notes of citrus, fruity and sweet. Nerolidol and caryophyllene convey this into woody and peppery nuances, creating something similar to a floral nutmeg.
17. Smoke Smoothness was rated (5 / 5) with no undesired pops, crackles, or unavoidably fast/hot smoke to affect this score.
18. Smoke Pleasantness, 1st, 2nd taste (5 / 5).  This evaluation criterion exists because some buds taste/ smell like feces, hay or vomit, perhaps a pesticide or soil amenity influences the taste; the pleasantness of the whole smoke requires rating.
19. Effectiveness (5 / 5).  Quite effective.  Florals tend to guide one into introspection. It’s no wonder existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre provided inspiration for the name of this strain. The soaring cerebral high was stimulating and enjoyable.
20. Price-Value Rating (PVR), (5 / 5).  PVR is calculated based on the price per gram versus the calculated average price regardless of potency.  Those equal or above the average price earn 0 points here.  Those under the average are scored according to the richness of the value.  The $32 package equates to $9.14/g, which casually eases under the $11/g average.

After ten months of curing and storage, this sample earned an overall rating of 89 out of 100 possible points. Only eleven points were lost on environment, freshness (which affected the first sniff) and a couple of labeling items.



Labeling is difficult for everyone, and it’s good to know what is required. Other states have their own requirements, but Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) rules state ALL FOUR of the following are required:  “THC concentration (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) listed as total THC and activated THC-A and CBD concentration (cannabidiol) listed as total CBD and activated CBD-A” (WSLCB rules, https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=314-55-105 WAC Section 2, a, iv, E).

NOTE: The rules have errors.  Activated THC-A is THC, and activated CBD-A is CBD.  When transcribing these values from the lab report onto your label it is best to transcribe each exactly as the lab has it listed.  THC is activated THC, THC-A is the non-activated, acid form of THC, and so on with CBD. For chemotype I (THC-dominant) strains, the best policy is to copy five values; THC-A, THC, Total THC, Total Cannabinoids, and Total CBD values directly from the lab report.  This makes everything clear for the consumer, while including everything required by law.

Disclosure:  Raven supports Seattle Bliss and Higher Ground by providing hundreds of terpene profiles for their tested product.