Most of the cannabis flowers brought to Harborside every day are dried well —but drying is only one aspect of proper curing. From the time a stem is cut from the plant, depending on the density of the buds, it takes seven to 12 days to dry. This is under optimal conditions —70 degrees and 50-55% humidity, with constantly circulating air. Now it’s ready to smoke, right?Well, that depends on what you want from your medicine. Yes, plant material will combust and burn at this point. However, there’s still a substantial amount of chlorophyll present in the leaves. This is easily observed by the electric green color of the flowers at this stage. If dried too quickly, let’s say under higher heat for three-to-four days, the chlorophyll gets locked in. The process of curing begins at the point where the stem snaps, or almost snaps, but before the entire bud is too dry. This is where the mastery begins. Make no mistake: finishing cannabis correctly takes great artistic skill! Many experienced growers are mediocre at curing. Harborside’s in-house expert on this subject is Jeremy Ramsay, our clones department manager. In his opinion it takes an additional three-to-six weeks for proper curing.There are many different methods of curing, all with their proponents: glass jars, five-gallon buckets, plastic-lined cardboard boxes. Most connoisseurs tend to view glass-jar curing as the best method. This is obviously problematic for larger indoor or almost any sun-grown cultivators. Large aquariums have been utilized by some, but most will use five-gallon, food-grade buckets. This method can certainly produce well-cured cannabis. It’s an art, no matter what method is employed.

The basic procedures are roughly the same, no matter what vessel is utilized. Dried or almost dried flowers are placed in a container, filling it, but not packed too tightly. It’s opened at least a couple of times a day and lightly turned or rolled, allowing any gases that have built up to be released. The goal is the slow conversion of chlorophyll to sugars, which happens under optimal conditions. An almost magical transformation occurs, turning electric green to a rainbow of hues —reds, purples, yellows, pinks and blues. The heightened sugar profile also makes for a much smoother and more complex taste.

Almost anyone familiar with cannabis has experienced harsh smoke. Quite often this is the result of chlorophyll. One can grow the finest herb in the world and ruin it in a few days with a quick dry. Well-cured cannabis has been one of my goals from the day HHC opened. For years, I begged, cajoled, and incentivized cultivators to take the extra step of finishing their world-class medicine. Most people were far more concerned with drying and selling their flowers as fast as possible.

Access to a QuantaCann enables growers to test the same flowers at different cure times. We’ve seen samples from some of our contractors that tested at 18% THC days after harvest and rose to over 20% by January. Not only do the flowers taste better, they’re more potent.

Just as cut, color, clarity and carats are the benchmarks by which diamonds are measured, caring and curing are powerful “c” words when we evaluate cannabis. Ask anyone who has tried to vend to Harborside: we are a picky lot. The member-cultivators we favor have put time and effort into providing patients with the absolute best herbal medicine possible.

—Rich Pfrommer is Harborside Health Center’s Education Director