Pre-filled vape cartridges have enjoyed a boom in recent years that shows no signs of stopping. This means cartridge makers have had an incentive to branch out, appealing to specific demands and niches of the market. Some cartridges focus on terpene content, or - the increasingly in-demand - CBD content, while yet others take innovative approaches like using aromatherapy oils like lavender to create a custom taste and terpene profile.

Bumblebee cartridges in particular satisfy a timeless, and recurring demand in the cannabis market: raw THC content.

Today i tried Bumblebee’s Blueberry cartridge, which clocked in at a whopping 70.1 percent THC. I couldn’t find any information about the terpene content, but this isn’t really a cartridge you choose for terpenes – although it does rate pretty high in the taste department. Other strains of Bumblebee cartridges boasted even higher figures for THC content, into the high 70s. Blueberry was more than enough for me, though.

Photo by: Bumblebee Vape

Photo by: Bumblebee Vape

This cartridge provides the kind of cannabis experience where absent mindedly taking a couple of extra puffs may result in unexpected consequences and perhaps a need to modify the rest of the day’s plans. This is strictly a 2 to 3 hit cartridge for me, and I don’t personally love having such a thin margin of error. However, the qualitative nature of the Blueberry experience was enjoyable. Even at higher doses, it seemed to live up to the strain’s indica nature – sometimes overwhelming, but more in the body, without the frantic cerebral buzz and spiraling thoughts that can come with overindulging in a sativa. In other words, even though the Blueberry easily got me more medicated than I may have intended, it was still tolerable and for the most part, pleasant.

The cartridge itself is sleek looking, and constructed with a metal casing rather than plastic, which inevitably results in a better taste in my experience. Instead of clear glass all around, Bumblebee cartridges are metal with a small glass viewing window on two sides. This was slightly frustrating in terms of figuring out how much was left, but this issue is far from being a deal breaker.

There is something about the taste of the Bumblebee cartridge that captures the dank, slightly sour taste and smell of high quality cannabis flowers in a way that other cartridges do not. It tastes the way it smells when you walk into a dispensary. I would be curious what this says about the terpene content, but I was unable to find this information. Besides the almost overpowering cannabis taste, the aroma did suggest sour berries.

The oil used in the cartridge comes from one of the most renowned indica strains known to the cannabis world – Blueberry is a Cannabis Cup winner and a patient favorite for treating pain and stress. The origins of the strain can be traced back to breeder DJ Short in the 70s. In this cartridge, and otherwise, the effects of Blueberry are relaxing, easy-going, somewhat sleepy, and good for both depression and insomnia.


A note about CO2 oil cartridges and terpenes -

We live in a time of expanding knowledge about cannabis, and every cannabis fan, especially those of us who are not experts in the science behind it, should be ready to modify what we think we know about our favorite plant medicine.

Several times now, the budtenders at my dispensary of choice have told me that the process used to extract the C02 oil in pre-filled cartridges eliminates the terpene content responsible for the varying effects of different strains. This would mean that any perceived difference in pre-filled cartridges of different strains, or between indica and sativa varieties, was just in patient’s heads – a result of the placebo effect.

One budtender went so far as to say this outright, claiming any differences were just a result of varying cannabinoid content and the power of the placebo effect. She also said this rule applied across the board, even to Absolute Xtracts cartridges, a favorite brand of mine that claims to use an extraction process that preserves more terpenes. I was skeptical at that point, but she said the dispensary’s lab tests had proved this to be the case.

At a later dispensary visit, another budtender left room for more of a middle ground, saying the CO2 process simply tends to “flatten” the variations from terpene content. His version seemed to allow for some variation remaining in terpene content, which I imagine is especially true of brands that use a gentler extraction process to preserve the terpene content. I suspect from experience the truth is somewhere in the middle here, with variation minimized, not eradicated, and with some processes preserving more terpene content than others.

Photo by: Leafly

Photo by: Leafly

I had trouble finding Internet resources to support their claim, with some sources specifically saying supercritical CO2 extraction processes do not deactivate terpenes. However, this may just be due to the evolving nature of this field of knowledge, and I’m more inclined to trust my dispensary and their lab tests than random internet sources on this issue. Perhaps the online community just needs to catch up?

The budtenders told me there are certain brands, such as ‘The Lemon Tree,’ that actually reintroduce terpenes after the CO2 process. The budtenders seemed to suggest this was the most reliable way to ensure terpene content.

It will probably be years - or perhaps even a full decade or longer- before a scientific consensus is reached and widely accepted, allowing questions like these to be truly straightened out. Just a few years ago, no one really understood how terpenes even functioned. In the meantime, my recommendation to other patients is to trust your experience and your gut. After my budtenders explained all the complexities of the situation, I stubbornly insisted on an indica cartridge anyway - perhaps to their slight frustration.