Does curing affect potency2?
Curing can seemingly affect potency because often the first time the buds feel "dry", they really aren't. Once they start to cure and sweat, you will see how much moisture is left.
Curing is mostly for aroma and taste, but the first week after "drying" will still have some effect on the potency as the bud fully dries.
If the above is not reason enough, here is a more scientific explanation:
Drying bud converts crude acidic THC from its nonactive form into a neutral pH psychoactive substance. Each THC molecule has to lose it's moisture content in order to become fully psychoactive.
[Editor's note: Starkes suggests up to 95% of the cannabinoids will remain carboxylized in dried and cured plant matter]
When the water exits the bud, the THC becomes slightly different in molecular structure. As Fatima mentioned , heating can make THC readily active by immedietly vaporizing the bud's moisture content away. However, as Fatima also mentioned, aging is important too.
First the bud is "dried", but can still contain some moisture within. By using the "cure", the THC slowly becomes psychoactive. Curing builds a more uniformily dried bud with a better burn and taste. Almost all the THC converts to the usable psychoactive cannabinoid over the alotted time, without the degradation from drying the bud rapidly with heat.
It's true we all know bud can appear dry, but still have moisture locked in the stems, it doesn't really affect carboxylization.
According to Starkes and Clarke, cured buds undergo a:
Reduction in Chlorophyll content,
Reduction in plant starch content,
Reduction in nitrate levels,
Loss of moisture,
Loss of volitile terpenoids,
and the polycyclic aromatization of other terpenoids.
All of these phenomena reperesent a loss in weight, and gain in net potency (except for the polycyclic aromatization of terpenoids which affects flavor). Note: over time THC will start converting to useless cannabinol (CBN), which it can do in its carboxylized form no problem.
The bud that has an homogeneous moisture content throughout will give the bud a nice firey glow when burned. Cured buds pack in bowls easier and break down into blunts and joints without difficulty.
Hash that has been cured forms a beautiful rhine around the outside with a rich creamy inside. Cured bud and hash is great and worth the trouble. The taste is awesome as all the excess chlorophyll has been broken down. A smoother smoke is created. In my mind, curing bud is like tenderizing meats... it makes it more palatable and more enjoyable to use.