Common Myths: True or False

What’s I-502 again?

It stands for Initiative 502, the voter-initiated referendum that legalized adult-use cannabis by winning a majority vote in the 2012 Washington State elections. After passing, the state went to work and created a marijuana division in what’s now called the Liquor and Cannabis Board, or LCB.

Test your legal cannabis knowledge with the following TRUE or FALSE questions:

1.) Retailers are only allowed to take returns on defective vape cartridges.

The state law does not prohibit the return of any product provided that the original packaging is retained. Most retailers will tell you they only accept defective vape cartridges because of state regulation and that’s simply no longer true. Still, most stores have their own “only vape cartridge” return policy so don’t expect sympathy for pretending the Agent Orange prerolls gave you ‘Nam flashbacks in the parking lot.


Note: if you come across insects, mold, or foreign debris, give me a break! A retailer that doesn’t want you to return that is ignoring their duty to notify the processor so that they can initiate a recall if necessary. I would seriously hope somebody offers you an exchange, too.

2.) The desired consistency for hydrocarbon extracts is glass-like ‘shatter’ or sappy ‘pull n’ snap’ because it’s generally the most “purged”, or free of residual solvents. It’s also more stable than the alternative, “wax”.

Back when making BHO was typically a backyard DIY project, shatter provided a buyer with some reassurance that the starting material was fresh or properly stored and therefore abundant in acid-form cannabinoids and maybe even that the hashmaker was thorough enough to properly use a vacuum chamber (to offgas residual butane) or an effective filtration method- two things that $100 DIY BHO kits didn’t offer. At that time, homemade oil came in all kinds of nasty greenish and brownish colors and could be accompanied by a variety of pungent chemical smells and burnt tastes, not to mention potency lower than the material it came from!

Presenting it in thin slabs also made it easier to claim extract purity through optical “clarity” with only a brief glance (often all that was offered on the blackmarket). If that sounds like a way of hustling a misrepresented product, it often was. All sorts of amateur extractors commonly fooled themselves, and thereby their buyers, into coveting traits that are meaningless indicators of quality. With the enforcement of reasonable minimums for quality standards and the emergence of distilled and isolated products, shatter all but disappeared from I-502 shelves until this year, when the LCB raised the maximum limit for residual butane in concentrates from 400 ppm to 4,000 ppm.

The thing is, shatter doesn’t stay shatter, even stored in dark, cool conditions, and that very fact makes it unstable by definition. Now listen up, okay? Inevitably shatter will begin to budder/wax or otherwise become cloudy and less translucent as crystalline structures begin to nucleate out of the crude mixture as it tries to homogenize, or stabilize itself. If the lipid/wax content of the shatter is high, it will quickly “budder up” and lose its translucency. If the wax content is low, then it will naturally separate into crystalline cannabinoids and oily terpenes, or what’s generally referred to as terp sugar.

Once an extract is properly dewaxed and purged of solvents, it’s not going to stay shatter or pull n’ snap for long UNLESS it’s full of residual impurities. If you want crystalline structures, there are fully isolated THCA options as well as crude crystalline mixtures with high THCA and a small amount of leftover terpenes which appear as translucent, brownish or yellowish “tinted” crystals. Cloudiness is often the result of wax-initiated nucleation, and wax is usually only desirable in extracts for medicinal use, such as RSO.


3.) Crystalline THCA isolate is the most potent form of THC available.

THCA, or THC Acid, is not bioactive until it’s decarboxylated, at which point it becomes neutral THC or just THC; that’s essentially what distillate is. THCA loses weight when it offgasses a molecule of carbon dioxide (decarboxylation) to become THC, meaning one gram of THCA is less potent than one gram of THC. Therefore, pure distillate is the strongest form of isolated THC available.


4.) There’s no legal way for the customer to know what a product smells like before purchase.

As long as sniff samples are labeled as display units, meet the regular child-proof requirements for retail packaging, and are entered into the traceability system as unsellable, there aren’t explicit instructions or restrictions on presentation of the smell jars. Designating non-sellable display weed has some complicating factors, sure, but the low adoption rate of such a crucial marketing factor might have more to do with the scarcity of properly cured herbs than anything else.


5.) Retailers are required by state law to have a copy of every product’s laboratory Certificate of Authenticity available at the point of sale, upon request.

Still paying attention? This one is true and it matters now more than ever. One of the biggest let downs in the legal cannabis industry has been unchecked fraud coming from state “certified” testing laboratories. Seriously. Peak Analytics finally had their certification suspended after two years of straight up bullshitting, but the products they tested haven’t been pulled from retail shelves. DON’T FALL FOR THE WHINEY BUDTENDER THAT COMPLAINS HOW REGULATED EVERYTHING IS. It’s more like a flag football league with a referee that occasionally shows up drunk. Definitely NOT the highest order of regulation. If something seems sketchy or comes at a surprisingly low price, trust your instincts.