The resin of a cannabis plant, which contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active compounds, can be extracted into a concentrated form, called an “extract.” There are many different types of cannabis extracts, depending on the extraction method used and the texture, consistency, and appearance of the resulting extract. Broadly, extracts can fall into two categories: full-spectrum, which contain all compounds of the plant, and isolates, which are a concentrated form of one compound. 

“My favorite extract to dab is live resin because it has lots of terps.”

“I prefer full-spectrum extracts to isolates.”

What are marijuana extracts?

All the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, alkaloids, and other active chemicals in the cannabis plant can be extracted into a more concentrated form, allowing a consumer to smoke or vape less product to get the same effects. Cannabis extracts are typically vaporized or dabbed, commonly in a vape pen or in a dab rig. 

There are many different types of extraction, which use different chemicals, such as butane, propane, and CO2. These extraction methods rely on closed-loop systems that use one of these chemicals to strip cannabinoids and terpenes from plant material, after which the chemical is purged from the final product. There are many types of these extracts depending on the texture, consistency, and appearance of the final product, but they broadly fall under shatter, wax, and oil. 

Other extraction methods utilize ice cold water to break resinous trichomes off plant material (ice water hash or bubble hash), or heat and pressure to melt resin off cannabis buds (rosin). 

Full-spectrum extracts vs. isolates

There are two main categories of extracts: full-spectrum extracts and isolates. Full-spectrum extracts include all active compounds of the cannabis plant, and isolates concentrate one specific compound, such as THC or CBD only.

Full-spectrum extracts allow consumers to benefit from the entourage effect, the phenomenon that all compounds in the cannabis plant combined lead to greater health benefits than an isolated compound on its own.