Now that cannabis is legal for adult use, it’s more important than ever to become an educated consumer. The cannabis industry has evolved tremendously in the last few years, and will continue to change now that adult use laws have ushered in a brand new era of cannabis consumption. Millions of tourists and residents alike will be visiting dispensaries for the first time ever in the next year. There are a few keywords to understand before your first visit to a dispensary and we created a handy guide to help make this a smooth process.
Here are 5 essential terms you should know before visiting your first dispensary:
Though “budtender” has a boozy connotation, these fine, friendly people behind the dispensary counter are more like pot pharmacists than anything. Their assistance is crucial in getting the right product for your needs. They are usually very knowledgeable on what’s available and can make recommendations based on your preferences. They see hundreds of people a day and receive all kinds of feedback on products and strains. They have also most likely had the opportunity to sample what they are selling and their firsthand experience of the product is highly valuable information. You should heed their advice, especially when it comes to proper dosing.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is the most widely known chemical compound in cannabis. There are 100+ of these chemical compounds (aka cannabinoids), but this one specifically pertains to the psychoactive effects that cannabis has become known for. The effects of THC are usually short-lived and reacts with every person’s body chemistry differently. For some, it can produce waves of calm and euphoria and in others, discomfort and anxiety. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimentation to find the right dose and concentration for you. Starting low and going slow is best practiced when using cannabis for the first time.
Like THC, CBD is another chemical compound in cannabis known for its highly therapeutic effects. It has been known as a potential treatment for inflammation, seizures, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, arthritis and a host of other conditions. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce the same “high” and actually mitigates the psychoactive effects of THC. Most CBD products usually contain some THC, though some are available without THC altogether. The higher the ratio of CBD to THC, the less of a “high” it will produce. However, research shows that the presence of both, which is commonly referred to as “The Entourage Effect,” allows for a more dynamic range of therapeutic effects.
SATIVA, HYBRID, INDICA
Three relative distinctions that classify the psychoactive effects of a strain. If it energizes, inspires or elevates, then it’s probably a sativa. If it relaxes, sedates or relieves pain or stress, then it’s probably an indica. Hybrids are a mixture of two strains that have both sativa and indica properties to varying degrees. Budtenders will have the most relevant information for you, so be sure to let them know what your desired effects are so they can recommend strains accordingly.
Terpenes are naturally produced, highly aromatic and fragrant oils derived from the cannabis plant that give strains their distinctive natural flavor and smell. Some may be earthy or sweet, others pungent or fruity. Though most plants contain terpenes, cannabis can express a wide variety of them, creating complex and unique flavor profiles. They can also generate different psychoactive effects and are mostly responsible for determining the classification of sativa/hybrid/indica. What makes an Indica relaxing are the terpenes present in that specific strain.
Terpenes also play an important factor in “The Entourage Effect,” working in tandem with the cannabinoids utilizing what’s commonly referred to as “whole plant medicine.” The more abundant the terpenes and cannabinoids in the product, the wider the spectrum of therapeutic properties available. Lab results can determine which terpenes are the most present, giving the consumer a well-rounded understanding of the chemical compounds in each plant.
Vape oil refers to the cannabis concentrate used in vaporizers. Currently, there is a wide variety of strains and blends with varying quality and potency available on the market. Some are infused with solvents in the refining process to achieve a specific consistency and others are just pure cannabis oil with no other ingredients, extracted using the same methods as essential oils. Some brands re-infuse with naturally-occurring terpenes, which can add a more robust flavor profile and is completely non-toxic. One important distinction is that cannabis vape oils are nothing like tobacco vape oils and contain an entirely different product altogether. But it’s always good to know what’s in your vape oil, so ask your budtender about the purity of the concentrate and research the brand online.
Application of the vape oil involves heating concentrated cannabis oil without combustion, which is a less harmful way of ingesting cannabis than smoking. The heating element (battery) warms up the oil, creating a vapor mist that is inhaled from a mouthpiece. Vape oil can come pre-loaded into a disposable cartridge or you can buy a reusable vaporizer in which you pack the oil yourself. It’s a healthy, discreet, easy, portable method of consuming cannabis. If you are a new consumer, it is not advisable to use the one with the highest potency right off the bat — find oils that have a low to mid-range potency to start.
Knowledge is power
It may seem like it’s all too much information, but that’s only because decades of prohibition blocked vital information on how to consume one of the best plant medicines out there. Gone are the days of accepting whatever your neighborhood dealer had available. There is power in educating yourself, as that was the very thing prohibition attempted to hinder. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, try new things out and explore a whole new spectrum of what’s now available.
Already visit a dispensary? Comment your favorite dispensary below, we’d love to know!
Feature Dispensary Photo: Berkeley Patients Group, https://www.mybpg.com/