Let’s say Marijuana was just legalized in your state so you’re ready to check it out. Maybe you had some joints in college but didn’t stick with it. Maybe you had kids and you went on the straight and narrow. Or maybe it was illegal, and now it’s legal. With your long stressful hours at work, increasing waistline from highly caloric alcohol, or need for a new healthy outlook in general: it’s time.
There are many choices to make for consuming cannabis. It’s not as simple as choosing a lager or IPA, white wine or red. Further, it’s not as easy as pouring it into a glass and drinking it. So we are here to help you.
Let’s start with the major types of plant. There are many “strains” of cannabis. When you hear Sour Diesel, Chem Dawg, White Widow or Blueberry Kush – those are references to cannabis strains.
Think of a strain as a cannabis child of cannabis parents on a cannabis family tree. Each family has genetic traits and they are mixed and mingled by horticulturalists based on the favored traits. For example, much like the dog breed labradoodle, which is a mix between a labrador retriever and a poodle, these two breeds are combined because we like the disposition of labs, but look of poodles.
Cannabis connoisseurs are engineering strains in the same ways for the same reasons. In the case of cannabis they are perfecting favored effects such as uplifting, pain-killing, relaxing, mind-bending, etc. They also experiment with flavors, smells and potency.
Categories of Cannabis Effects
A strain is then classified into three major categories based on its characteristic effects.
- Sativa: uplifting, creative, activity-friendly, and ideal for social situations.
- Indica: relaxing, pain-killing, stress-relieving, sleep aid.
- Hybrid: any varying combination of sativa and indica.
If you are going to go out to party, but don’t want to spend gobs of money on alcohol at trendy bars or feel hungover the next day, you’d enjoy the Sativa family of cannabis.
If you helped your brother move all day and have muscle pains and a back ache, a good Indica will help you loosen up and get to sleep.
Now let’s break down the forms in which to consume cannabis:
Flower refers to the green stuff… the dried planty leaves with which you’re probably most familiar. Flower is rolled into joints (cigarettes) or packed into pipes (often referred to as bowls).
Sometimes flower gets a bad rep. You have to burn it to consume it because it is cellulose material which causes smoke. For some patients and even a lot of health-conscience recreational consumers, inhaling smoke is not ideal so vaporizers were invented.
A vaporizer heats up the herb to a lower temperature, also known as decarboxylation, which creates all the cannabis effects you need in a “cleaner” way.
Some consumers think that the water in a bong is a good enough buffer. However, another solution for concerns about smoke consumption is making cannabis concentrates. With legalization has come more education and research so dispensaries have developed a way to extract the part of the cannabis plant that actually causes the cannabis effect. Think of it as a boiled down, purified process resulting in product that does not include the fibrous planty part.
“Concentrate” is a term that covers the products from an extraction process: oils, wax or shatter. These are brown, yellow or green looking sticky substances. Oil is a viscous liquid consumed via vaporizer pens. Wax can also be consumed in vaporizers or along with shatter, consumed with various types of glassware known as “dab rigs.”
Then there are edibles. Cannabis bonds with oil, so when people speak of “edibles,” they are talking about foods that have cannabis butter (or another oil-base) that is cooked into the food. You can make your own canna-butter and cook it into anything that calls for oil, or buy pre-made edibles at a dispensary.
Huge note: be sure to keep any cannabis products in a well-marked, child-proof container that is separate from other food.
Finally, there are new cannabis-therapy products coming onto the market every day. For example, lotions, or one of my favorites, pain-patches. These methods of medicine provides pain relief through a cannabis product absorbed through the skin.
Now that you have a baseline of understanding for cannabis, it’s up to you how to consume it. If it is your very first time, it’s probably a good idea to stick to good old fashioned flower or a low-dose edible. We highly recommend you start slow! Some strains hit immediately, others come on more subtly.
Please be careful and pace yourself, especially with edibles! Edibles take time for your system to process, it is easy to eat too much too quickly which results in a negative or overwhelming experience.
The Curious Cannabist is an informational cannabis blog for total and complete n00bs.