4/20 is about as mainstream as it gets for cannabis holidays, but the industry has been celebrating another date the past few years: 7/10. Read that number upside down and it spells “OIL.”
What’s being celebrated on July 10 isn’t fossil fuel oil. It’s an umbrella term for weed concentrates, which are much stronger than cannabis flower, the more common state of the weed that makes up your joint. Processing weed concentrates requires extract companies to locate growers who don’t use additives to ensure safety for users, says Logan Thirkill of Eugene’s White Label Extracts.
Although the holiday isn’t meant to attract occasional users, it is a day to introduce new customers to the product, and this year the weed community is celebrating the holiday after 16 months of social distancing.
The origin of the retail holiday stems from around 2018 when recreational weed became legal, Thirkill says, who’s in charge of source acquisition for White Label Extracts, which processes plants into oil products.
Compared to 4/20, 7/10’s calendar placement also makes the holiday a summertime holiday, says Billy Scholten, general manager of Firehorse Trading Co. “We see a lot more students, young people that may not be able to participate in 4/20 because of where it falls on the calendar,” Scholten says.
Scholten says flower isn’t expensive in Oregon, but it’s more expensive as an oil. Similar to Black Friday, dispensaries sell cannabis oil products at a low price, and customers stock up, buying enough to last a few months, he says.
People turn to weed oil products when their tolerance has grown beyond flower, Scholten says, adding that it is a way to “have fun and melt into the couch.” It has a medical use, too, he adds. The high THC potency found in oil products, he says, is useful for people who have trouble sleeping or with migraines. About 30 to 40 percent of Firehorse’s customers use oil for medical purposes, he adds.
Potency aside, how is oil different from weed?
Scholten makes the comparison of liquor and beer, with oil being comparable to hard alcohol. Firehorse has flower with THC levels (the chemical that gets you high) at the highest of 35 percent. THC levels in oil can be as high as 95 percent, he adds.
But you can’t just put oil products in a joint or a pipe to smoke it. You need special equipment. “There’s special rigs, special pens,” Scholten says. Concentrate can also be combined with butter, he says, to make stronger edibles.
Some options for using oil products include using something similar to a nicotine vape pen. Or you could use a glass bong-like object, called a rig, where you place a “dab” of concentrated weed on a glass nail and use a torch to inhale the vapor through the mouthpiece.
Firehorse store manager Valerie Jones says the effect of smoking oil products gives users more of a “behind the eyes, tingly forehead, might make you sweat” type of high, and the 7/10 holiday, she adds, is a good way to introduce beginners to oil products.
Smoking oil products has more of a focus on flavor, Thirkill says. When smoking flower, you inhale plant matter — such as cellulose — that can make you cough, he says. Smoking oil products are smoother and have more flavor from the cannabis plant’s terpenes, the aromatic characteristic. But newbies shouldn’t barge into the oil, Thirkill says. “If your tolerance isn’t used to it, an oil hit will be harder.”
Although wine, beer and liquor retain a sort of flavor profile from where the grain or fruit was grown, cannabis doesn’t have that quality. What makes up the flavors comes from what the grower used on the plant, Thirkill says.
White Label Extracts uses plants with no history of pesticide or sulphur use. Turning away plants with pesticide is for both flavor and safety, Thirkill says, but avoiding plants that are fed sulphur as a nutrient is about the flavor, he adds. “Even if used at the beginning stages,” he says, “that tiny amount, when it gets concentrated down, becomes quite noticeable.”
This year’s 7/10 holiday marks another milestone for the weed community, Scholten says. It’s the first time the community can come together to celebrate cannabis after nearly a year and a half of social distancing. Firehorse is one of many dispensaries around town that will have giveaways — including rigs, T-shirts and food — and allow customers to meet vendors.
“We’re turning it up a little higher this year. We feel like the community is ready to come back out. They’re ready to be together.” Scholten says. “We’re still at the end of a day a little counter culture. We really enjoy being together and gathering, and that’s something that got taken away from us last year.”
Firehorse Trading Co. is at 233B W. 7th Avenue. Hours are 10 am to 9 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday, and 10 am 8 pm Sunday.