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6 terpene profiles replace Indica and Sativa in new Emerald Cup classes

It’s high time to smoke out the old Indica and Sativa descriptions to cannabis cups. Consumers deserve to know more about the plant than about the structure it has taken on in life. Research now showing how terpenes Boosting cannabis sales and quality, the Emerald Cup attempted to replace Indica and Sativa.

Terpenes to save cannabis heritage

The Emerald Cup is an annual cannabis competition held in California. Currently, the focus is still on THC percentage, ignoring the depth of quality in a full spectrum. Indica and Sativa still fail to properly describe the complexity of a plant, and so the old classification has been updated with 6 new terpene profiles.

The THC percentage boosts sales of THC from Delta-8 gas stations, D9 distillates from dubious sources, and cannabis with poor genetic makeup. Emerald Cup dispute over their website that a strict focus on THC threatens to drive the craft cannabis market towards extinction. For this reason, the cup must change to save exotic cannabis profiles, Jack Herer heritage, landraces, and many other qualities that are lost in the full spectrum of cannabis. (1)

Photo courtesy of Canva.

The new Emerald Cup profiles

Jack + Haze

  • Terpinolene, caryophyllene and/or myrcene
  • Fruity, pinesol, haze
  • Energizing, cerebral, artistically inspiring

An obvious addition to this group is Jack Herer, an uplifting varietal named after the infamous cannabis activist. (2) While Haze originated from two Californian surfers in 1969. Original Haze was a pure Colombian strain eventually brought from California to the Netherlands by David Watson in the mid-1980s. (3) Other common interpretations of Haze are modifications popularized by Nevil Schoenmaker. (3, 4) Durban Poison, a strain created by Mel Frank in the late 1970s, is also in this class of terpenes. (4)

High levels of terpinolene in this group provide an uplifting effect compared to moderate levels of myrcene. (1)

Tropical + Floral

  • Ocimene and Myrcene
  • Sweet, floral, tropical fruit
  • Soothing, soothing, relaxing

Hawaiian is a classic tropical variety and a striking example in this class. And despite its name, In The Pines is also considered a Tropical + Floral strain.

OG + Gas

  • Dominant in limonene, myrcene and/or caryophyllene
  • Gas, fuel, sweet and/or citrus and pepper
  • Uplifting, stimulating, analgesic and/or relaxing

Of course, this terpene profile will include the classic OG Kush as well as carbonated strains. Chemdawg and Sour Diesel are given as examples of gas profiles. Going down the gene pool, Gorilla Glue should also fall into this classification.

Sweets + Dreams

  • Myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene
  • Fruity, sweet, woody, hoppy, herbaceous
  • Relaxing, couchlock, pain reliever

Sweets + dreams is a profile you can call In the couch (indica) according to the classifications now used by The Emerald Cup. And while pinene is known to induce focus. However, related to caryophyllene and myrcene, pinene has less explored effects on sedation. (5)


  • Limonene and caryophyllene
  • Desserts, Pasta, Citrus and Spices
  • Uplifting, stimulating, racy, comforting

Dessert profiles can easily remind you of the local bakery in the morning. GSCs (Girl Scout Cookies), ice cream and cakes generally express a dessert profile. For anyone tired of Wedding Cake, the classic Bubba Kush strain falls into this category.


One might notice a lack of linalool, nerodiol and other terpenes of the classes now used by the Emerald Cup. Linalool exists in two forms, for example, a carbonated and a more candy/floral one. Despite the commonalities of about five other terpenes, the dominant strains in these are considered to be exotic.

Exotic cannabis profiles can be dominant in a wide variety of common terpenes, but rare profiles consisting of delta-carene can exist in this classification. Despite all the limitations, is a terpene-based system enough to replace the old Indica versus Sativa descriptions?

The terpene classification system was originally built by Phytofacts and powered by SC Labs. To support the system, the Emerald Cup announced an alliance with SC Labs and NAPRO research. (1)

Let us know in the comments if you agree with the new rating system. And look at this narrative to learn how Indica and Sativa are secretly separated by terpene genetics on the market, rather than plant structure.


  1. The Emerald Cut. 2022. Classes of Terpenes.
  2. SS. 2020. Focus on cannabis strains: Jack Herer®.
  3. Personal communication with Todd McCormick.
  4. Email response from Mel Frank.
  5. Yang, H., Woo, J., Pae, AN, Um, MY, Cho, NC, Park, KD, Yoon, M., Kim, J., Lee, CJ and Cho, S. (2016). α-pinene, a major constituent of pine oils, improves non-rapid eye movement sleep in mice through GABAA-benzodiazepine receptors. Molecular pharmacology, 90(5), 530–539.

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