The flowers of a fresh cannabis plant are beautiful and have a very strong scent; however, they are not that great to smoke or vape. The high water content makes combustion difficult and dry herb vaporization becomes “wet” herb vaporization limiting the cannabinoids and terpenes released from the plant. The cannabis flower you get from a dispensary went through a drying and aging process to maximize the quality before it is presented for sale.Drying and CuringCannabinoids and terpenes degrade over time and with exposure to air, ultraviolet light and high temperatures. The drying and curing process seeks to stop or slow down this process preserving cannabinoids, terpenes, potency and overall quality of the flower. The shelf life of properly cured cannabis is also extended over poorly cured specimens.After cannabis is harvested, processes called drying and curing are applied. This involves drying the plant to reduce moisture content, decreasing the development of mold and fungus that will make cannabis unusable. The time involved in the entire process, usually three to four weeks, also allows time for the decay of sugars and chlorophyll which can degrade the flavor and give a ‘harsh’ character to the smoke.Drying the cannabis is the first step. Newly cut plants are referred to as ‘wet’ or at full moisture content. They are typically hung upside down in temperature and humidity controlled rooms. This drying process can take several days to a week or more to accomplish.The curing process in next. The flowers are removed from the rest of the plant and these are placed in specially designed containers that control airflow, important in maintaining the normal airborne bacteria which help to degrade starches and sugar stored in the plant. Environmental control is critical. The cannabis must be protected from light sources, temperature tightly controlled (approx. 70 F), and humidity maintained at 45% – 65%. The curing process can take from several weeks to six months to produce the highest quality, depending on environment, curing technique and equipment as well as the cannabis being processed.The drying and curing process is a critically important component in producing quality cannabis. Poorly cured cannabis will be less potent in cannabinoid and terpene content, will have a less satisfying flavor and be a bit harsher to smoke. The several weeks to months it takes to properly dry and cure cannabis translates into more expense for the cultivator and ultimately the patient.New Technology for an Ancient PlantFreeze drying is a process in which the material to be dehydrated is quickly frozen so water contained is turned to ice. Atmospheric pressure in the freeze dry vessel is reduced and the water sublimates, that is changes from solid to gas without going through the liquid phase of matter, and is removed from the chamber leaving dried cannabis.Sunnyvale, California’s Cryo Cure brings a new freeze drying technique to the complicated world of cannabis cultivation and processing. The company is manufacturing freeze dry machines designed specifically for cannabis. Extensive testing has resulted in temperature and pressure algorithms for the equipment to be developed which results in cannabis flower far superior in quality to previous attempts at freeze drying weed. The technique preserves cannabinoids, terpenes and other ‘good humors’ like flavonoids contained in the plant from degradation. Cannabis flower treated with Cryo Cure routinely shows higher cannabinoid and terpene levels than cannabis cured using traditional methods. Cryo Cured flower has about the same size and appearance of the original flower, but at a much lower weight as the water has been removed. Cryo Cure flower has a different appearance and “feel” compared to the usually cured cannabis. The colors, tare and textures lost during traditional curing are preserved. The buds appear very light, fluffy and show vibrant coloration. The preservation of terpenes and cannabinoids makes the flower more potent. You don’t have to use a grinder with the Cryo Cure. The plant easily breaks apart with your fingers.The Cryo Cure technology offers the possibility of providing cannabis flower of superior quality rapidly from harvest to packaging reducing a weeks to months long process to that of days. This can certainly keep the supply chain of cannabis flowing faster to consumers and over time perhaps lead to lower retail prices. These advantages may make Cryo Cure the preferred method for drying and curing in commercial cannabis production.Cryo Cure machines are currently in use by cultivators in Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, Michigan, Massachusetts and by Natural State Medicinals in Arkansas. If you have an opportunity to buy Cryo Cure cannabis, give it a try. It is said to give a less sedating, more alert, “sparkly” high compared to cannabis produced by traditional cure methods, perhaps due to less THC being converted to CBN and terpenes not being degraded. If you have tried Cryo Cure please leave a comment on your experience.