Words of Wisdom from a Bloom Budtender

Rebecca the Budtender Talks of Concentrates at Women Grow

Ken Wachsberger

Rebecca Trotman has been called the best budtender in the State of Michigan. She graciously brushes aside the compliment with an observation and a suggestion:

It’s always really flattering when someone says that, but it honestly just brings to light that a lot of budtenders aren’t properly trained in their craft. Bud tending is more than weighing out cannabis and taking donations. In order to provide excellent care, you have got to know the intricacies of cannabis and how it metabolizes in your body. Knowing about all 85 cannabinoids with documented medical value, the entourage effect, and being familiar with many types of chronic illness will allow you to really make a difference for people who you help.

She also prizes the value of asking questions:

Medication interactions with cannabis do exist and, unless your budtender knows what else you are taking, any suggestions may fall short of your expectations. A good budtender will ask you questions you never thought to answer: How prone are you to anxiety? Are you on any prescription medications? Do you have any redheads in your immediate family? If you don’t know how these questions can impact your cannabis use and your work in the industry – please inquire about classes.

Rebecca Introduces Cannabis Concentrates

Rebecca, who is a budtender and concentrate specialist at Bloom City Club in Ann Arbor, spoke at the May 5 meeting of Women Grow-Southeast Michigan chapter on the topic of cannabis concentrates. Concentrates are what’s left of the cannabis plant when the flowers and buds are removed through a process called extraction.

Imagine if someone processed cannabis flower through a vanilla extract machine. The material that would come out would be heavily concentrated and would vaporize without any carbon monoxide, ash, or resin. This means that it’s great to use for someone who is worried about impeding lung functionality, and who has a high tolerance, or a severe level of pain, anxiety, or digestive issues. They are more effective than cannabis flower. Flower tops out at about 30% THC for potency, while concentrates top out at about 99% potency.

In their purest form, all that remains after extraction are the plant’s resin-bearing trichomes, where the cannabinoids and terpenes that give the plant its healing properties can be found. Concentrates come in many forms including

  • Shatter: “for the high THC person. If it’s goopy or sappy, walk out. Use utensils when serving so oil from your hands doesn’t get on it”
  • Bubble hash: “made with water, not solvent; 50-80% THC”
  • Crumble wax: “like powder when you touch it but it has a good taste”
  • Budder: “creamy and silky, gives your throat a greasy coating”
  • Sugar wax: “incredibly flavorful, rich in terpenes”
  • CO2: “non-flammable, with no chemical solvents”
  • Butane hash oil: “the most prevalently available concentrate in Michigan”

Quality, Caution, and Pet Peeves

How can patients recognize good-quality concentrates when purchasing them? According to Rebecca:

Each type of concentrate will look different. For shatter and C02 oils, clear is king, and color is just as important. Pale gold and amber concentrates will be the most sought after. Consistency also plays a huge part. Making concentrates is incredibly difficult to do well, as it is half science and half art. That is why we call processors “extraction artists.”  If you are familiar with the smell of butane, it can be helpful to determine how clean your concentrate is. Rub your hands together, hold your concentrate (in parchment) between your now-warm hands, and open the paper. If you can smell butane being released from the heat of your hands, your concentrate was not purged properly and will likely give you a massive headache.

Another word of caution: Make sure the flower is organic or the resulting concentrates will contain chemicals.

One of Rebecca’s pet peeves is the shaming of people whose high tolerance requires them to consume greater quantities to achieve their desired effects:

There is no blanket “quantity” that is acceptable or unacceptable. I have known people using Xanax to sleep who can consume inhuman amounts of cannabis in order to fight insomnia. One of my greatest hopes for this industry is that we stop shaming people for tolerance. If cannabis were TUMS no one would care how much a sick person used. Everybody is different; each metabolism is like a fingerprint—entirely unique. A 95-pound person can smoke more than a 300-pound person, and that is fine, and normal.

Consuming, Creating, and Searching

Vaporization, she says, is the most popular way to consume concentrates, via either pen or glass piece. “You can also consume concentrates in edible form as it’s sometimes easier to use cannabis oils in lieu of budder in certain recipes.”

Extracts are created through two types of machines, open loops and closed loops. At Bloom City Club, only closed-loop concentrates are offered:

Open loop allows more undesirable chemicals to remain in the finished concentrate, which can, for instance, cause headaches. Closed loop provides a better clarity and cleanliness. Bloom keeps the standard of only providing closed-loop concentrates under 250 parts per million of residual solvent left in smokable concentrate. In fact, 80% of our concentrates are under 43 ppm. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a ppm of 5,000 for concentrates like hemp oil and neem oil. In Colorado and California, concentrates must be under 800 ppm. We hold a very conservative stance on solvents, because we believe it is what the industry standard should be.

In searching for a budtender, Rebecca urges patients to be skeptical: “You wouldn’t see a doctor who couldn’t answer questions about medications you are being given. Do not go to provisioning centers that can’t answer all of your questions. Look up what you’re being told. Ask for lab results. Your serious illness should be taken seriously. It is only when we are all united in demanding transparency in information that we can together raise the standard.”

In addition to being a budtender, Rebecca is a recognized expert on cannabis trivia who spends her free time “reading very expensive books and medical articles from around the world in order to stay current on new research being published about cannabis. Everyone has hobbies; mine are just incredibly tedious and time consuming.”

For More Information

For more information on cannabis concentrates including the different kinds, ways to consume them, and how to clean your consumption devices, visit here or call (925) 997-4999 and sign up for one of Rebecca’s training sessions for industry employees.

“Please reach out,” she says. “Your success is success for all of us.”

Ken Wachsberger, editor of Bloom Blog, is an author and founder of Azenphony Press Writing and Editing.

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