How To Get Started With Cannabis
Over the last few years, there have been quite a few changes to cannabis laws all over the country and major breakthroughs in cannabis research. Thankfully, this has opened a much-needed discussion of this amazing plant and has generated new and revived interest from all walks of life.
People are now much more open to using cannabis for anxiety, chronic pain, cancer and many other ailments. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma and there is not a lot of information readily available on how cannabis affects individuals or resources on how to get started with cannabis. What should you look for at your first visit to a dispensary? What do you need to know before you go? What are some possible effects of different varieties of cannabis? This is what we aim to answer.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a flowering plant that has been used for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual reasons for more than 5,000 years. Beyond the purposes of human consumption, cannabis is an incredibly efficient bioremediator (meaning it pulls heavy metals and toxins out of soil), and a sustainable source of animal feed, fiber, and biofuel. Despite the campaigns of fear that have been launched against this plant over the last 100 years, it is incredibly safe to consume.
The cannabis plant produces unique chemical compounds, called cannabinoids. The evolutionary role of these compounds is to protect the plant from insects and promote reproduction, however they are also the components of the plant that interact with the human body to relieve the symptoms of various health ailments. The most abundantly expressed cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but according to the University of Mississippi, there are at least 111 distinct cannabinoids.
THC produces the “high” feeling that cannabis is famous for, whereas CBD is not intoxicating at all. Scientists have rigorously studied these compounds for decades, and they both have important, and not entirely distinct medicinal value.
Cannabis plants also contain terpenes. These aromatic (smelly) molecules also have activity in the brain, and the expression and synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes is what really gives us the full, nuanced experience.
It’s important to note here, that cannabis is not marijuana. “Marijuana” did not even exist until the 1930’s when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics began a smear campaign against cannabis.
What Is The Best Variety For You?
Each cannabis variety includes scores of cannabinoids and terpenes, each of which produce different reactions in the mind and body. Even genetically identical clones of the same variety can produce wildly different levels of these molecules, depending on growing and harvesting conditions. It’s important to notice how these different nuances make you feel so you can get consistent, reliable results and experiences when using cannabis.
Contrary to popular belief, picking a variety based solely on Indica and Sativa labels is not the way to achieve a predictable effect. Many people are led to believe that an Indica variety will inevitably result in Netflix binge watching, whereas if they choose a Sativa variety they have a better chance of completing their to-do list. These stereotypes are false. Because there has been so much hybridization of cannabis varieties over the last century, these labels provide very, very little predictive value, in terms of the effects the plants produce.
The best way to decide on the best variety for you is to document your experiences. Seriously.
It may take some time to really nail down what you like, don’t like and what works best with your individual needs. If you’d like to keep your answers in one spot, record them here.
Full disclosure- you’ll also be helping us gather critical data that will provide powerful insights, which will soon transform the cannabis industry. All sessions are 100% confidential.
What’s the Best Ingestion Method for You?
There are dozens of ways to ingest cannabis, but all of these methods generally fall into three broad categories: inhaling, swallowing, or applying the compounds to the skin or mucous membranes (like under the tongue). Your unique situation will help define how you engage with cannabis therapy.
Two important considerations are onset (how quickly it kicks in) and duration (how long it lasts). For instance, if you need immediate relief from severe symptoms, you might choose to inhale the vapor from either whole flowers or oils that have been purified from cannabis. Although inhalation produces an immediate effect, the effect typically lasts for just a few hours (immediate onset, short duration). It’s worth noting that although it is still common practice for people to smoke cannabis, inhaling burning plant matter has obvious carcinogenic potential. Modern cannabis consumers are rapidly trading in their bongs for healthier vaporizers like the Pax.
For some health conditions, a medicinal effect that only lasts for 2 hours is not going to cut it. For instance, many people with chronic pain report severe difficulty falling and staying asleep. For this situation, consuming an edible product or swallowing an oil-based tincture could achieve a long-lasting sedative effect. Ingesting cannabis orally means that the liver processes the medicine before it is delivered to the bloodstream and the brain. This method creates a powerful and long-lasting effect (6+ hours), but it can take up to 2 hours to feel it (delayed onset, long duration).
The last consideration is intoxication level. Many consumers are intrigued by the idea of cannabis medicine, but do not want to feel “high.” THC is the compound that drives the intoxicating effect of cannabis, so starting with a low dose of THC is a good rule of thumb. The body develops tolerance to this effect very quickly, so even if you are sensitive to it initially, this “high” gets less intense with repeated use. Although some people might be opposed to THC entirely, it’s important to remember that THC has very powerful medicinal effects, particularly for pain relief.
Where to Get Started
Not exactly sure where to get started? Check out this great map from our friends at Weedmaps, and of course our partners at Farma.