Full-Spectrum vs. Distillate Extract: What’s the Difference?

Jun 6, 2024

When it comes to cannabis products, the sheer variety can be overwhelming, especially for dispensaries looking to stock the best options for their customers. Among the many choices, cannabis extracts are a key category that every dispensary should understand.

Whether you’re a seasoned cannabis connoisseur or new to the scene, you’ve likely come across terms like “full-spectrum” and “distillate” extracts. But what exactly do these terms mean, and how do they impact the products you offer? In this blog, we’ll break down the differences between full spectrum vs. distillate cannabis extracts to help you make informed decisions for your dispensary.

What is Cannabis Extract?

Cannabis extracts are concentrated forms of cannabis that contain high levels of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in the plant. They come in various forms and are used in multiple products. For instance, you might have heard of an extract called diamonds, shatter, or wax in its solid form. In its liquid form, it’s the cannabis oil used in vape cartridges. Tinctures are these same extracts formulated in an easy-to-consume way, using a dropper under the tongue or in a drink. In general, cannabis extracts are smoked, vaporized, or ingested.

What is Full-Spectrum Cannabis Extract?

Full-spectrum cannabis extract is created with minimal refinement after the initial extraction process. Think of it as capturing the essence of the entire cannabis plant, akin to taking a photograph that reflects the scene as accurately as possible.

In full-spectrum extracts, as much of the natural plant is retained. This includes not only cannabinoids like THC and CBD but also terpenes, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds. These processes allow us to activate the cannabinoids, such as converting THCa into Delta-9 THC, thereby maximizing the therapeutic benefits you might get from using these oils.

As a user, you benefit from the synergy of cannabinoids and terpenes working together, known as the entourage effect. This means you’ll experience the highest therapeutic effect and potency from your hit. A darker amber oil color characterizes full-spectrum extracts due to the presence of plant matter like terpenes and pigmentation.

In practice, full-spectrum vape cartridges, or carts, offer a similar experience to smoking the flower. You’ll get the full taste, smell, and sensory experience because the oil retains most of the original plant compounds.

Full-Spectrum Extract and the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect refers to the unique effects and benefits that arise when various compounds found naturally in the cannabis plant work together. Theoretical effects include improving sleep, reducing inflammation, relieving pain, easing anxiety, and more. While there is limited peer-reviewed research on these effects, anecdotal evidence suggests there could be some truth to it.

Most people refer to THC and CBD when speaking of the entourage effect, but other cannabinoids (such as THCV, CBG, CBN), terpenes, and flavonoids also play significant roles. Full-spectrum cannabis extracts can put the entourage effect into play, offering a richer and potentially more therapeutic experience than distillates, which are much more refined.

What is Distillate Cannabis Extract?

Distillate is a cannabis extract created by boiling off the cannabinoids from the crude oil and then collecting them. While full-spectrum extracts aim to retain as much of the original plant as possible, distillates use the most refinement to achieve a pure, concentrated form of cannabinoids.

Think of distillate as meticulously hand-drawing or painting an image. You focus on distinct elements, refining each to perfection before reassembling them to create the final picture. Distillate acts as a blank canvas for adding specific flavors and effects.

The distillation process focuses on extracting cannabinoids and then perfecting these compounds before reintroducing any desired elements, such as terpenes and flavonoids. As a result, distillate cannabis oil is much lighter in color and almost pure in cannabinoid content. After the initial extraction, distillates undergo additional refinement, allowing manufacturers to create unique flavor profiles and tailor the product to specific tastes and effects.

However, because distillates have a limited profile of compounds interacting with the endocannabinoid system, they are less rich in therapeutic properties than full-spectrum extracts.

Full-Spectrum vs. Distillate Extract: Which Is Right for Your Dispensary?

Choosing between full spectrum vs. distillate extracts depends on the needs and preferences of your customers. Full-spectrum extracts offer a holistic experience with a broader range of therapeutic effects, thanks to the entourage effect. They are ideal for customers seeking a more natural and potent product that closely mimics the experience of smoking cannabis flowers.

On the other hand, distillates provide a highly refined and customizable option. They are perfect for customers who want a pure and potent product with specific flavors and effects. Distillates also tend to be more versatile, as they can be used in various products and allow for precise control over the final product’s cannabinoid profile.

Both types of extracts have their place in the market, and offering a range of options can cater to a wider audience. For more information or to partner with Southern Crop, contact us at 601-228-8255. Let us help you elevate your cannabis business with our top-tier products and services.