Edibles Effect: Single Cannabinoid vs Whole Plant Extracts

Author – Noah Persin
Editor – Jon Russell & Noah Persin

As the CEO of several start up companies in the cannabis and hemp industries, I invariably end up wearing many hats including the collection and/or generation of vast amounts of data. This direct access to industry specific data allows me a unique view of our young industry. From (but not limited by any means to) trend, price point, market share, and sales analysis and projections, to consumer demographics survey analysis, and focus group design. What I’m trying to impress is that I look at, study, generate, analyse, and reference data points from every corner of the cannabis and hemp industries on a global scale.  

Due to the types of businesses that I work with, my reports more often than not tailored to demonstrate cost to benefit analysis of a product, product line, and/or company, coupled with corresponding projections for specific market demographics.

I am often witness to trends that only make sense if you don’t take the time to look beyond the surface. For instance, large caches of purchasing data dating back to early recreational sales I’ve been reviewing strongly indicates a not surprising trend that would suggest the vast majority (not all) consumers assume that, THC content alone is the most, or only effective way to determine the “actual potency” of a product, and making product purchases based on price to THC level is the most cost effective way to attain the most value in a cost to benefit ratio. That is until you take the time to look at whether the THC you are consuming is “SCE (single cannabinoid extract) THC”, or “THC with whole plant extract”.

So what exactly is a “Whole Plant Extract”, or a “Single Cannabinoid Extract” and how do we identify them?

  • Whole Plant Extract (WPE) –  Cannabis extracts that have been made from the resinous flowers and smaller leaves of the cannabis plant. Unlike single cannabinoid extracts whole plant contains all the cannabinoids, and terpenes that can be extracted out of any particular plant. Some plants having more or less of any given compound extracted from that plant in comparison to any other. There are a number of different types of Whole Plant Extracts. Some common names for these extracts you may be familiar with are; RSO (Also known as Rick Simpson Oil), and Phoenix Tears. Cannabis cooked in fats like butter, coconut oil and olive oil are other common ingredients and methods for extracting whole plant extracts
  • Single Cannabinoid Extract (SCE)- Cannabis extracts that have been made from the resinous flowers and smaller leaves of the cannabis plant. The main difference being that in a single cannabinoid extract there is only (as the title would suggest) one cannabinoid. Most often single cannabinoid extract will be either THC, or CBD. Some common names for these extracts you may be familiar with are; The Clear, Distillate, and Isolate

This THC only cost to benefit ratio value equation is only true until you put SCE THC up against THC with whole plant extract, at which point my best advice is that you adjust your cost to benefit formula to differentiate between single cannabinoid and whole plant extracts. In fact 10 mg of SCE THC is likely to get you high, whereas 10 mg of THC in combination with a variety of other cannabinoids, terpenes and plant extracts contained in a whole plant extract is likely to get you nearly twice as high, provides a better high, and for a longer period of time.

Edibles Effect: Single Cannabinoid vs Whole Plant Extracts

From a cost to benefit ratio, if you purchase an edible with 10 mg of SCE THC for $10 you pay $1 per mg of THC. But if you purchase an edible with 10 mg of THC with whole plant extract THC for $12, which I would say is equivalent to about 18 mg of SCE THC you are paying $0.66 per mg of THC, respectively. If we apply that same equivalency to 50 mg’s of SCE THC we are talking about a $16 savings by purchasing an edible that uses whole plant extract. If you purchase one of these edibles a week for an entire year your savings will be roughly $850 for the year (or two round trip tickets to Hawaii).

From a medical benefit standpoint, THC with whole plant extract is thought to be more therapeutic as opposed to SCE THC.

From a flavor point of view, many enjoy the flavour of whole plant extracts, as the cannabis flavour profile works very well with chocolates, caramels, coffee, banana, vanilla, honey, BBQ, and more!

As far as some great edibles in Oregon that use full plant extract, I am really enjoying the following brands:

In conclusion; If the purpose is to get high on a budget, and/or to gain the maximum medical benefits, and/or have a great experience, edibles with whole plant extracts are easily the way to go. It’s my opinion that edibles that contain whole plant extracts are the best deal for consumer whether the metric you are measuring by is based on cost to benefit, medical effect, or both.