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Many consumers considering what they want from a cannabis experience, often only look to whether a particular strain is sativa or indica. New research on components other than cannabinoids are opening the door to additional things a consumer may want to consider.

Terpenes are aromatic and flavorful compounds that are found not only in cannabis, but in nearly all plants. Terpenes give citrus its zing and lavender its uplifting freshness. Similar to components of aromatherapy, terpenes have recently been linked to actual and potential medicinal benefits, including, but not limited to anti-inflammation, anti-anxiety, sedation and pain relief.

For example, studies on the terpene myrcene, which is prominent in mangoes and other citrus, has demonstrated sedative, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. The terpene limonene has been reported to show anti-anxiety, anti-depression and mood-boosting effects. They have also been included in an ever-growing new body of research involving the beneficial combination of the myriad components of the cannabis plant, called the “entourage effect.” The added value that research is revealing focuses on the whole plant compound’s synergistic effects that occur with consumption of a combination of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. 

Corey Mangold (Courtesy of Orchid)

A recent new entrant from Oregon has entered the California cannabis market and is including the science of terpenes as a material component in its new line of vape pens.  Orchid Essentials launched in 2017, partnering with local pesticide-free farms and became one of the top-selling brands in Oregon (according to BDS analytics). “It comes from a symphony of elements: all cannabinoids and flavonoids, working together with all terpenes,” Corey Mangold, co-founder and CEO of Orchid Essentials says. “The effect of all those compounds together provides the best experience and flavor.”  

While only anecdotal data is presently available, it makes empirical sense as to why a higher terpene level should enhance a consumer’s consumption experience. All one has to do is close their eyes and imagine the unctuous, rich and fragrant smell of a ripe mango. 

(Courtesy of Orchid)

Comparable to any cooking process, the cannabis oil extraction process causes terpenes to be lost and diluted. Orchid developed a terpene-mapping technology to create a terpene profile fingerprint. Upon completion of the extraction process, terpenes are reintroduced into the oil to maximize the full flower effect and to deliver superior taste and efficacy. “Some customers choose cannabis like a teenager would shop for liquor: They look for the highest proof of alcohol,” Mangold says. “While buying a vape with the highest THC level of THC will produce an intoxicating effect, it likely won’t necessarily  translate to a high-quality experience or product.” 

In a typical terpene reintroduction process, most companies add back an average of 1 to 4 percent per extract. Orchid however, rises to the front of the pack in this area with a whopping 15 percent terpene profile, nearly three times greater than most manufacturers.  Theoretically, this should enhance both the flavor and aroma profile. 

There are many reasons to be skeptical about the introduction of yet another vape pen. Most cannabis vape pens in the legal market were designed for nicotine e-juice, which is less viscous than cannabis oil.  Using an e-cig device for a thicker oil results in a poor experience due to unfavorable airflow and uneven heating. Consumers’ most typical vape experience complaint relates to taste. Unfortunately, there are an abundance of manufacturers focused on profit margins over customer experience, which results in the use of low-grade oils. Combined with inferior heating elements, this can result in a taste of burnt leaves, no matter what is actually in the finished product. Previous articles have discussed both environmental and health concerns associated with low quality parts, lead and other contaminants from a broad range of producers. Even so-called luxury cannabis brands have been hit hard recently with product recalls and quality deficiencies. 

Mangold started Orchid after suffering from major panic attacks. After not using cannabis for 15 years, he became a medical patient and began to experience improvements in my daily life. While his anxiety diminished, Mangold felt that vape pen quality could be improved. As a seasoned entrepreneur (he started GigaSavvy, a marketing firm that works with Fortune 500 companies) Mangold felt up to the challenge and got involved in nearly every aspect, from design to packaging. 

The Orchid cartridge is made with quality materials which are non-reactive and don’t impart impurities as compared to ceramics and plastics which have differing levels of quality and materials which can interfere with the taste of the oils. Unlike others, Orchid’s mouthpiece is oversized and the pen itself has a wide body meant to enhance airflow. Its oversized cartridges can hold nearly five times the half-gram amount of a typical cart. The Orchid pen’s battery is heavy-duty and designed to last between 1-2 grams of use.

Due to the multitude of vape issues coming to the attention of consumers, I am not a fan and don’t look forward to vape product reviews. Having tested hundreds, most with a very quick puff, my experience had generally not been one to note. As with the “fashion sacrifice” of wearing spectacular high-heel shoes for the “look.” only to suffer foot pain for days after, or the “design sacrifice” of using beautiful Calcutta marble on a kitchen island for the “look” knowing that the beautiful white color will stain, vaping for me as always been a “flower sacrifice.” If I vape, it’s for convenience and discretion, a Plan B choice, born of necessity.  

I’m pleased to say that Orchid’s products have caused a paradigm shift in my cannabis experience. I enjoyed many things about the Orchid vape pen: its Porsche sleek stainless design and its heavier weight and wider diameter provides a bigger-fingered journalist with a comfortable cigar-like holding experience.

I opted to test my go-to mango flavor profile, being a myrcene groupie. My experience was comparable to a blind wine tasting: having sensory bias other than taste and smell removed. What a pleasure tasting and being surprisingly awakened to a new sensory experience. My first Orchid inhale was  similar. Full and dynamic flavors of mango, berries and lemon lingered on the finish. Zero presence of acidity or burnt aftertaste seeped through. In completely atypical fashion, I actually wanted to inhale again; not to consume or experience more, but simply to taste. Orchids’ use of natural oils and high terpene content provided a cannabis experience to remember. Orchid Essentials…welcome to California.

LA Weekly