New to cannabis? No worries. When it comes to the magnificently expanding world of cannabis, it’s easy to get swept away in a whirlwind of slang, terms, and products. This Cannabis 101 guide is designed to show you the cannabis ropes so you can make informed decisions about cannabis consumption.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is the scientific term for weed or marijuana. This term as a whole refers to the cannabis plant, typically the part people consume, also known as the flower. Cannabis flower is typically bunched tightly together in “buds” that range in color from green to deep purple, and can sometimes have bright orange hairs depending on the strain. The flowers are then dried or processed before they are ready to be consumed.
Different plants have different cannabinoid profiles, i.e., chemical compounds naturally found in the plant. When consumed, these cannabinoids interact with the Endocannabinoid System in the human body, creating the groovy effects on the body and mind that cannabis is known for. The most prevalent types of cannabinoids that cannabis producers and consumers care about are THC (delta-9tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis or the feeling of being “high” (we’ll get to that in a second), while CBD supports whole-body health without producing a “high” feeling.
All cannabis plants naturally have a unique balance of CBD and THC. Some lean towards more CBD while others have more THC content.
Expert tip: All recreational and medical cannabis strains must be tested in a lab for the amount of THC and CBD before they are sold to the public, and those amounts are then printed on the product label.
Recreational dispensaries strive to make cannabis accessible to as many people as possible. One of the ways they accomplish this is by providing a user-friendly way for customers to choose cannabis products that will produce their desired results. The cannabis industry has adopted the terms “indica” and “sativa” (which, in fact, refer to species of cannabis plant) to group products according to the effects they produce when consumed.
There are three primary categories of recreational cannabis: Indica strains, Sativa strains, and hybrids.
Typically, Indica strains make the user feel relaxed, calm, and perhaps even sleepy. It’s known as the more chilled-out strain of cannabis. Think: a quiet night with a delicious meal and your favorite TV show.
Sativa strains are known to be more upbeat. They can make you feel more energized, active, and curious when consumed. These strains are often tied to a sense of euphoria. Think: uncontrollably giggling with your friends or crushing your morning workout.
Hybrid strains, plants that have been cross-bred to contain a balance of qualities from both Indica and Sativa, have been gaining popularity over the years. They can be true hybrids, Indica dominant, or Sativa dominant.
How Will Cannabis Affect Me?
While it’s true that cannabis’ effect is unique to each individual, it’s been around long enough to be able to predict some commonly felt outcomes.
Positive effects of cannabis can include:
- A feeling of euphoria or happiness. Think: getting the giggles and being silly.
- A relaxed and calm, almost Zen-like feeling.
- Increase in appetite and enhanced flavor in foods - colloquially known as “the munchies”
- Increase in creativity
- Increase in concentration
- Pain relief
Expert Tip: Ask your local budtender (person who sells you recreational or medical cannabis) for recommendations if you’re new to cannabis. They’re experts on the products that will help you find the right strain to begin your journey. Remember, they are a resource for you!
What’s the Difference Between Recreational and Medical Cannabis?
Both recreational and medical cannabis have been legalized in states throughout the US. The major differences between these two types of cannabis are how it's regulated and how people access it.
Recreational or adult-use cannabis is available for anyone over the age of 21. Purchase limits vary from state to state as do regulations within the industry.
On the other hand, medical cannabis requires a doctor’s recommendation and a qualifying ailment to access, grow, or consume.
Some states allow medical cannabis only, while others allow both. Massachusetts, for example, is a state that has opened up access to both medical and recreational cannabis. In many states, cannabis is not legal for either medical or recreational consumption. Be sure to know if cannabis is legal where you live, or visit.
Where Can I Find Legal Recreational Cannabis?
Legal recreational cannabis is sold at licensed dispensaries. Dispensaries are the storefront retail arms of cannabis companies. Budtenders, the retail associates who will help you with your purchase, staff the dispensaries and are experts in the products they sell. Spend as much time as you need with them during your visit, they’re there to help!
Cannabis 101: How to Consume Cannabis
After deciding if cannabis is right for you, the next important step is to choose how to consume it. There are many different ways, and every person has their own preferences. Each method affects how you gain the mental and physical benefits of cannabis, so it’s important to get the lay of the land before you dive in.
Expert Tip: There are three primary methods to consume: inhalation, edible, and topical. Each method has different techniques and styles that produce different results.
Smoking Dried Flower
Smoking cannabis requires grinding, burning, and then inhaling the cannabis smoke through either a specialized device, like a pipe, bong, or a rolled object like a joint or pre-roll.
Expert Tip: Heat is required to activate both CBD and THC into a form that the body can metabolize and use. This is why smoking, or combustion, is the most basic method of consuming cannabis.
Cannabis Vaping vs Oil Vaping
Vaping is another popular way to consume cannabis. Many people opt to vape cannabis instead of smoking it because there is less odor and it’s easier on the lungs. Vaporizing involves gently heating the flower or extract until the terpenes and cannabinoids turn into vapor. The vapor is then inhaled.
New tech has opened up the option to vape the actual dried cannabis flower. Known as plant-based vaping, this is a simpler, more consistent way to vape flower while ensuring you’re consuming cannabis in its most natural form, at the right temperature, and without overdoing it.
Edibles, or cannabis products you can eat, are another popular way to consume cannabis. Edibles range in type from sodas to cookies and more. Typically, edibles are packaged in pre-determined doses of THC or CBD. The effects of edibles last longer than smoke-based methods, and many users believe they feel more intense as a result.
Other Consumption Methods
There are a few other ways to consume cannabis products. These include:
- Dabbing, wax, or dabs: A highly concentrated wax product that’s designed to be smoked for high levels of consumption.
- Topicals, like creams: These are more popular with primarily CBD products and do not produce the same psychoactive effects found in other methods of consumption.
When it comes to cannabis 101, you’re now a pro! Make informed decisions about your cannabis journey with the help of your local budtender. Familiarize yourself with various cannabis products and consumption methods to choose the balance that’s right for your lifestyle.
Learn more about HUUE™ and discover the healthiest and most reliable way to experience the full benefits of cannabis while you do life.