A Guide to Cannabis Products for New Users: Find the Right Product for You
Exploring the effects of cannabis is an individual journey, even for users exploring it with friends. New cannabis users often need some time to determine which method of consumption and dosage of THC is just right for them. It takes time to learn about the different products and how you personally respond to them. Consuming infused edibles can be very different from smoking blunts, vaping carts, or a tincture drop.
Which is the best cannabis product for you? Here’s a quick, complete guide to your options and tips on how to get started with each one.
Understanding Cannabis: History and the Endocannabinoid System
Where Cannabis Comes From
The cannabis plant is made up of tall stalks and known for its signature five-point leaves. The plant, in many different strains, has been with the human race for four thousand years. Ancient migrating populations carried the cannabis plant with them, establishing distinct different strains by planting it across the world. Originally from Central Asia, the most long-cultivated strains of cannabis come from the Hindu Kush mountains.
The Endocannabinoid System
Used in ceremonies and as an ancient anesthetic, cannabis has been such a consistent part of our evolving history that the human body actually contains an endocannabinoid system with receptors designed to interact with cannabinoids (the molecules inside cannabis plants) and we even produce a small amount internally. Lesser endocannabinoids include terpenes and flavonoids, which create an ‘entourage’ effect of additional benefits and experience variations.
The Benefits Cannabis Can Provide
The endocannabinoid system in the human body interacts with digestion, inflammation, mood, and neural transmission – which creates the many effects people experience. Cannabis has been used to help with digestive problems, anxiety, sleeping disorders, chronic and temporary pain, muscle recovery, and it has even been found in some cases to aid with epilepsy management.
Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrid Strains
Indica and Sativa are the two primary categories that cannabis strains fall into, based on their plant parents.
Indica is known for its body-high and deeply relaxing mental effects. Indicas are best for sleep, appetite enhancement, and relaxing at the end of the day.
Sativa is known for focus, creativity, and energy. Sativas are often considered ‘daytime strains’ and are more often used by creatives for work and inspiration.
Hybrids are combination strains from indica and sativa parents that offer mixed desirable effects. You will often find hybrids to be indica or sativa dominant.
Everyone Experiences Cannabis Differently
Your personal experience with cannabis will be unique from anyone else’s. Your metabolism and body chemistry will influence your sensitivity and your natural tolerance. Some people need very little to feel the effects they desire, while others have a higher natural tolerance and require a larger dose. This is not directly related to body mass, but rather, how your body metabolizes cannabis. This is also why different cannabis products may affect you differently. For example, your body absorbs cannabis through the lungs differently than digesting an edible.
You may also feel the effects of cannabis differently than someone else, even with the same strain and activity, for example: you may get sleepy while your friend raids the fridge. Both responses are common, so you should make your choices based on your own personal responses. That said, each strain has a ‘personality’ and a mix of effects that you may feel at varying strengths.
Start Slow and Consult Your Budtender
When getting started with cannabis, like anything new, start slow. Begin with a small dose and give yourself time to feel the effects. If need be, add in more after a decent amount of time has passed to find your level. Do this for each type of cannabis you try as every method metabolizes a little differently.
Cannabis Flower, Leaf, and Buds
Cannabis flower is the green, leafy flower of the cannabis plant. It is harvested once the buds grow to a large enough scale and crystallize with trichomes on the outside. The flowers are then dried, broken down and sold as buds. This is the green leaf that everyone is familiar with that you may smoke in a pipe, bong, or joint.
The Experience of Bud Smoking
Smoking is known to provide a more full-body high than the more refined methods of trying cannabis. It is a consumption method known to provide more immediate effects.
Different Ways to Smoke Cannabis
- Pipes and Bongs
- Rolled Joints, blunts, and spliffs
Common means of consumption to enjoy cannabis flower are by placing crushed flower in a pipe or bong, by rolling it into a joint, or by vaporizing it in a leaf vaporizer.
Joint vs Blunts vs Spliffs
What is a joint?
Joints may be the most common way to consume cannabis flower.
A joint is cannabis rolled inside a thin paper called rolling papers. There are a variety of rolling papers, varying in color, flavors, and size. Some are made of rice paper or made out of hemp.
Joints usually have a filter, or a crutch, which allows you to smoke your cannabis without burning your fingers.
What is a blunt?
If your cannabis is rolled inside a blunt or cigar wrap, that is a blunt. The wraps contain tobacco, adding some energy to your high. These last a lot longer than joints and are typically bigger.
What is a spliff?
A spliff is very much like a joint but with tobacco mixed together. They usually consist of more tobacco than a blunt, and also have crutches.
The ratio of tobacco and cannabis can be adjusted to different preferences.
Buds by Weight
Buds are sold by fractions of an ounce. 1/4 is called a “quarter” and is a fourth of an ounce. 1/8 is called an “eighth” and so on. You can also buy smaller amounts to try by the gram.
Edibles are cannabis oil mixed and cooked into treats. They are always labeled very clearly so you can judge your dose carefully per treat you consume. Edibles are a great way to try cannabis and adjust your dose precisely as you stage up to find your level. The most common types of cannabis edibles are gummies and baked goods like brownies, chocolates, mints, drinks, candies, and other infused food items are also in high demand.
Types of Cannabis Edibles
- Baked Treats
Why Edibles are So Popular
Edibles are popular because they are easy, delicious, and subtle to consume. Edibles are the most discreet form of consumption for daily dosing, as opposed to smoking, dabbing, or vaping.
What to Expect from Edibles
Since edibles metabolize through digestion, the response is a little slower than respitorily consuming cannabis or dropping tinctures. Expect a slower, more body-encompassing high. If you are trying edibles for the first time, go slow and avoid accidently over-snacking. It is also important to watch out for your digestive tolerance, which is different from an inhaling tolerance. Some people feel less intense effects from edibles, some feel them much more intensely.
Concentrates are made from cannabis that has been rendered down to an oil substance. All the plant matter is removed so only the cannabinoids remain. Concentrates are usually “dabbed” or “vaped” depending on the consistency of the concentrate and the rig you are using.
Solid concentrates are labeled by their consistency, ranging from candy-like “shatter” to soft pliable “budder”. Liquid concentrates are more often vaped in vape pens, box mods or evaporative dab rigs.
Types of Concentrates
- RSO (Rick Simpson Oil)
- Live Resin
Dab Cannabis Concentrates
Dabbing concentrates requires a dab rig and a super-heated “nail” (which is usually really a glass cup). Dab rigs often look like strange bongs with a right-angle elbow instead of a stem. A concentrate pen has coils inside that heat a ball of dab when you hit the button and fire the element.
Vaping concentrates is done with cartridges or tanks. Cannabis concentrates usually come in pre-filled carts – normally loaded onto a 510 pen or box mod. Vaping is easy, but users must be cautious as these carts can be strong.
Tinctures are flavored cannabis oils that you can drop under your tongue. This is called a sublingual (below tongue) application. The mucous membranes below your tongue will quickly absorb the cannabis oil and the taste is often refreshing and pleasant. For elderly users, tinctures are among the most popular consumption methods along with edibles as there no effort from the respiratory system is required. You may feel the effects quickly, but some find the delay to be more like an edible.
Tinctures are also a popular cross-over with CBD products, as many tinctures are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum with no THC, and range into CBD concentrate.
Topical Creams and Gels
Topical cannabis creams and gels are often used to help with joint pain and easing skin conditions. Cannabis oil – natural oil pressed from the cannabis plant – is a popular cosmetic ingredient and can be beneficial to skin health and moisturization. Combined with the commonly felt effects of pain and inflammation reduction from full-spectrum cannabinoids, topical cream is a popular choice for many.
Athletes use topical cannabis to help with muscle recovery and for the same reason, it is a common home remedy for treating joint pain from arthritis. It has been used to help soothe eczema and reduce symptoms of psoriasis.
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