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Sungrown vs. Indoor: A Scientific Comparison of Cannabis Terpene and Cannabinoid Profiles

Sungrown vs. Indoor: A Scientific Comparison of Cannabis Terpene and Cannabinoid Profiles

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The debate about whether outdoor or indoor cultivation produces better cannabis has been a long-standing topic among growers and enthusiasts alike. However, a recent study conducted by scientists at Columbia University has shed some light on the issue, providing data to support the argument that sungrown cannabis may have a more diverse terpene profile and higher levels of certain terpenes.

The study was conducted by growing six genetically identical commercial plants from two different cultivars, Red Velvet and Cheetah Piss, with three of each grown outdoors and three indoors. The outdoor samples were grown in raised beds using all-natural, “living” soil and composts in full sunlight, while the indoor samples were grown under artificial light in a proprietary growth medium.

The researchers then evaluated terpene composition using gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and measured cannabinoids using ultra-performance liquid chromatography plus mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS). The results showed significant differences between the indoor and outdoor samples, with outdoor samples containing higher levels of certain terpenes such as limonene, β-myrcene, β-caryophyllene, α-humulene, α-bergamotene, α-guaiene, and germacrene B in both cultivars.

Interestingly, the outdoor samples also had a greater diversity of terpenes compared to indoor samples from the same genetic stock, indicating that outdoor cultivation may result in a more complex and nuanced flavor and aroma profile. The authors of the study concluded that “the outdoor cannabis samples had a greater diversity of terpenes and greater amounts of the ones that are present when compared to indoor cannabis from the same genetic stock.”

Additionally, the outdoor samples had a greater preponderance of sesquiterpenes relative to the indoor samples. In Red Velvet, a sesquiterpene called selina-diene was predominant in the outdoor samples, which is not among the terpenes required to be reported on by certified testing labs in California.

These findings are significant as terpenes play an essential role in the overall effects and flavor profile of cannabis. Different terpenes have different properties and can work in synergy with cannabinoids to produce a specific effect, such as relaxation or alertness. The more diverse the terpene profile, the more complex and nuanced the flavor and aroma of the cannabis, which can lead to a more enjoyable experience for consumers.

It is important to note that the study is preliminary, and further research is necessary to confirm these findings. However, the study provides a starting point for understanding the potential differences between sungrown and indoor cannabis and highlights the importance of terpenes in cannabis cultivation.

Sungrown cannabis has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its sustainability and environmental benefits. Outdoor cultivation does not require the energy-intensive equipment and resources needed for indoor cultivation, such as artificial lighting and climate control systems. Furthermore, sungrown cannabis can benefit from natural sunlight, which can result in a more potent and flavorful product.

Cosmic View, a cannabis product line formulated with science and traditional herbal wisdom, was involved in the study. Co-founder and resident scientist Christine Skibola, Ph.D., uses her scientific background to create cannabis products that help individuals with specific health conditions. The company’s commitment to science-backed formulations and the potential benefits of sungrown cannabis highlights the importance of understanding the science behind cannabis cultivation.

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Tina Gordon is a well-known figure in the cannabis industry as the founder and owner of Moon Made Farms, a small but thriving cannabis farm located in Southern Humboldt County, within California’s Emerald Triangle. With a passion for cultivating high-quality sungrown cannabis, Gordon is dedicated to producing cannabis products that are not only potent but also sustainable and eco-friendly. Her expertise in the field has also been recognized by Columbia University, where she was listed as a co-author in the recent study on sungrown cannabis.

Johnny Casali is another co-author of the Columbia University study on sungrown cannabis, and the founder of Huckleberry Hill Farms, also located in Southern Humboldt County. His farm is deeply rooted in the principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility, which he learned growing up on the same property that his farm now occupies. Casali was raised in the traditions of the Back to the Land Movement of the 60s and 70s, which emphasized the importance of caring for the land and environment. Today, Huckleberry Hill Farms is known for producing some of the highest quality sungrown cannabis in California.

In conclusion, the recent study from Columbia University provides some evidence to suggest that sungrown cannabis may have a more diverse terpene profile and higher levels of certain terpenes than indoor-grown cannabis. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings fully. Understanding the science behind cannabis cultivation can help growers and consumers make more informed decisions about the products they use and contribute to the development of more sustainable and environmentally friendly cultivation practices.

You can read the study at

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