THC may have been the focus in the lead up to recreational marijuana legalization, while CBD products are currently a rising star touted for anxiety and depression, but terpene-focused products are on a path to eclipse them both.

So, what exactly are terpenes, and why do they matter to the marijuana industry?

Terpenes are organic compounds produced by a variety of insects and plants. One of those plants happens to be cannabis.

Frequently referred to as the “essential oils of cannabis,” marijuana-derived terpenes have a clear role to play as natural health and wellness businesses continue to collide with cannabis companies.

The two industries are increasingly becoming intertwined, with companies like Global Health Clinics Ltd. (CSE: MJRX) signing deals to provide marijuana for holistic health organizations.

While companies have dealt with a lack of reliable data for describing the promised effect of vaping terpene or CBD products, nationwide legalization is drastically changing the scientific landscape.

The quantifiable effects of THC, CBD, and terpenes can now be freely studied since the passage of the Cannabis Act, opening the doorway for actual clinical research rather than relying on anecdotal secondhand evidence from users without a control group.

Since the summer of 2018, no less than 14 large scale marijuana studies have been launched by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Serious efforts are now being implemented in greenhouses across the nation to influence the terpene levels in cannabis. The end goal in that research is to create specific aromas and flavours, from basics like citrus to outlandish options such as chicken and waffles.

Non-cannabis derived terpenes are already available for sale across North America with flavours such as biscotti, mimosa, cucumber, and grape to be found in online shopping carts.

The rise of cannabis grown with specific terpene levels is resulting in another untapped industry waiting to be explored by an enterprising marijuana company: pairing cannabis with food and wine.

Marijuana and smoking accessory subscription box services – such as AuBox andDailyHighClub — already exist in American states where cannabis has been legalized, so it isn’t hard to imagine a home meal delivery service paired with cannabis products in the near future.

Independent of food pairings, the ability for recreational or medical consumers to choose the scent and flavour of dried flower, vaping, or edible products could be a clear path for any company to lure in potential customers.

That potential hasn’t been lost on the industry, with Sunniva Inc. (CSE: SNN; OTCQX: SNNVF) signing an extraction contract with California-based terpene company Farmacy Phactory in June of 2018.

Simply providing terpene data on each strain could potentially be a huge selling factor for producers and retailers, which could lead to a corresponding jump in stocks for companies that get on the trend early.