Terpene Dreams

The team at Maine’s first recreational cannabis dispensary, SeaWeed Co., is on a mission to change the way people talk about cannabis.

No doubt if you’re a cannabis user, you prefer either indica or sativa, or a hybrid of the two. Kaspar Heinrici, director of business development at SeaWeed Co., which opened Maine’s first recreational cannabis dispensary in 2020, wants you to know that there is a more accurate way of talking about your preferred cannabis strains.

SeaWeed is at the forefront of the industry in Maine, thanks to their adherence to science-based practices, their development of gourmet live resin products, and their commitment to educating the public. “At SeaWeed we have started to focus on our products’ terpene profiles to help customers make more informed product selections,” says Heinrici. “Because our products are all strain-specific live resin, they exhibit very nuanced terpene profiles, which gives someone the ability to narrow in on exactly what they are looking for.”

Jayson Whitmore is the bud tender trainer and educator at SeaWeed, as well as assistant manager of the company’s Portland location. He and Heinrici have developed a user-friendly system for talking about terpenes. “Now that cannabis is becoming legal in more places around the U.S. and in all of Canada, scientists have more access to it, and they’re doing more research,” says Whitmore. “We incorporate the new science into how we present cannabis to the public.”

We asked Heinrici and Whitmore what terpenes are, why they’re SeaWeed’s preferred way of identifying cannabis strains, and how SeaWeed goes above and beyond for their customers.

What are some common misconceptions about cannabis?

As a company, we’re pivoting away from the indica and sativa nomenclature, because those terms describe lineage and physical characteristics of the plant, but not the effects you might expect. Here at SeaWeed, we’re more interested in terpenes, the flavor and aroma compounds that show up in many plants including citrus, hops, and mangoes, and also in cannabis. Terpenes deliver flavor as well as an aspect of the high. They’re becoming the preferred way to shop for cannabis, and our products are all made with strain-specific live resin—not distillate—which gives them very specific terpene profiles. They’re something you can test for and they’re more targeted, so we’re introducing them on our menu. We chose six and have ranked them from energetic to relaxing, using color-coding and graphics to differentiate them. This helps us match you with a strain that delivers the specific effects you want. The important part of ensuring cannabis improves your life is to identify the right strain, in the right product type, at the correct dosage, for the experience you are looking to have.

Where does your cannabis come from?

Our growers are all over Maine, and we tend to work with small farms. Some of them have been growing for 15 or 20 years, since medical cannabis was legalized. Maine’s growing season is short, and can get very cold and humid, so most plants are grown indoors or in greenhouses. We usually get a lot of outdoor in the fall to produce many of our concentrates from. All of our products, from each local source, are lab tested and clean, so you know the THC percentages are always accurate. Every month we highlight a grower and feature their products offering the customer special pricing to introduce them to a new cultivator. We will often make a live resin vape cartridge from their material so the customer can experience their cannabis in different forms. We’re building up smaller companies to make the adult use recreational scene more robust, so we offer products from many local vendors alongside our own, and we sell our products into other stores around the state. Maine’s cannabis network is very collaborative.

What kind of magic happens in SeaWeed’s facility?

At SeaWeed, we have a strong focus on live resin, because we have developed a highly specialized lab to produce it. We use fresh frozen flower, which helps to to maintain terpenes—increasing the aromas and flavors, and providing a well rounded high. In this facility, we make a range of extracts like shatter, which is cannabis extract that looks and feels like glass, which you smoke by vaporizing it through a process called, “dabbing.” Then we also have a kitchen, where we make full spectrum live resin edibles. Full spectrum means we’re trying to keep everything from the plant. We have gummies and chocolate bars that are strain-specific. Someone might come in and ask for a gummy that won’t put them to sleep, and we can recommend a live resin that’s more energizing. We pride ourselves on the quality of our concentrates, from the cannabinoid content to the clarity of the oil, which is reflected in our edibles as well. Our gummies are actually pâte de fruits, a confection developed in France made with real Maine fruit, and are vegan. Our chocolate is organic, and we will often add inclusions like nuts or dried fruit for an added touch. We value the aesthetic experience of smelling and tasting food and cannabis.

How do you want people to feel inside your store?

We want people to know that we’re a local company where all are welcome. Our store is clean, with bright, open windows letting in sunlight, and with natural wood and tile finishes. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable here. We put a lot of thought into our packaging. Staying within state guidelines, we want to make sure everything is recycled that can be. We reuse or recycle packaging by taking back jars, plastic pre-roll tubes, and child-resistant zipper bags, and giving people money off their purchases in exchange. The cannabis industry can be very wasteful, and we don’t want to be part of the problem. We want to be positive contributors to our community and our planet.

Why do you hold community events?

To us Maine is an intimate place built on connections so supporting the community is core to our mission, whether that is simply displaying a local artist’s work or inviting craftspeople to sell their products in our store. This can extend to charitable raffles we hold to support local efforts. For example, for the month of June we accepted donations for a pride month sticker raising over $1,000 for EqualityMaine.All our events are oriented toward this mission, whether it is hosting cultivators, food trucks, educators, crafters, or cannabis enthusiasts, it is all in the service of making connections. Our South Portland store opened on October 9th 2020, the day that adult-use cannabis was legalized in Maine.,You can expect us to throw a big party—something fun, with bands, t-shirts, and our cannabis community—on our second anniversary, October 9th 2022.

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