When you order delivery or go to the dispensary you’ll see strains like Purple Kush, White Widow, and Girl Scout Cookies. The names are fun, but they don’t tell you anything about how you’ll feel when you ingest it. That can be stressful, and make choosing a product really difficult...which sucks. So we put together some high-level info to help guide you - we hope it helps, but if you’re still confused, give us a call and we’ll see if we can clear things up.
When you’re new to cannabis there are only two questions that matter, and when you can answer these you’ll be able to pick the right product every time.
How do you want to feel?
How do you want to get the cannabis into your system?
How do you want to feel
When it comes to how a cannabis product will make you feel, it’s actually pretty simple. Again, you only need to worry about two things:
Percentage of THC & CBD
The type of cannabis (Indica vs. Sativa)
Percentage of THC & CBD
Do you want to feel high, and are you looking for relief?
THC is what gets you high. It activates different areas of our bodies, and affects a person's pleasure and pain sensations, thinking patterns, appetite, mood, and coordination. Best of all, it’s been shown to reduce chronic pain. That said, be aware that more THC means stronger cannabis and a more intense high - cannabis with THC levels higher than 18% is typically a potent (strong) strain. Although cannabis is federally illegal, since 1986 a synthetic THC medication called Marinol has been approved for treatment of nausea caused by chemotherapy and wasting syndrome (anorexia typically brought on by AIDS).
CBD doesn’t get you high, but it does have a variety of reported medicinal benefits and psychological effects. Early research shows that CBD can be used to decrease stress and anxiety, reduce inflammation, and also relieve pain. Recently, in a historic first, the FDA approved a CBD based medication to treat seizures that is derived from cannabis, called Epidiolex.
Type of Cannabis strain
Do you want to feel energetic, or relaxed?
Disclaimer: It may not be true that Indica and Sativa strains produce different effects. There hasn’t been enough research on the subject, but in our experience, we believe you can use these names to guide your choices…that said, this isn’t gospel.
Indica strains tend to relax the user - bringing on a feeling referred to as a body-high, because you may be more at ease and your movements could become a bit slower.
Ingesting a Sativa strain typically offers an energetic high - known as a head-high, because you may find yourself drawn to your thoughts in an intense way.
Cannabis classified as a Hybrid will offer effects somewhere in between those of the Sativa and Indica, depending on the specific strain. We have found that many people choose Hybrid products to take advantage of a balanced experience.
When you’re able to answer how you want to feel, you will know if you’re looking for a product high in THC or CBD, and also if you need a Sativa or Indica strain. It can be that simple for now.
How do you want to get the Cannabis into your system?
This is a VERY important question, because there are a ton of options for how to ingest your cannabis and you can easily become overwhelmed.
You can vape it, you can eat it, you can rub it on your skin, and you can smoke it a hundred different ways. There’s no right or wrong way, but we should explore each just a little so you’re able to decide on the best method for your lifestyle.
When you smoke flower you’re going to feel a near immediate effect, and typically the intensity will be moderate. BUT, that intensity will really depend on the method used to smoke it (as well as the previously mentioned THC percentage). Here’s a quick rundown, sorted by the most to least intense method of smoking flower:
Bong (gravity bongs are one of the most intense variety here)
Pipe (a bubbler, or small water piece, is a cleaner option of equal intensity)
Joint (caution: spliffs and blunts look similar but contain tobacco - combined effect is very intense if you’re unfamiliar)
It should be noted that smoking is possibly the least “healthy” method of ingesting cannabis (certainly the strongest odor), whereas vaping flower, on the other hand, is an excellent substitution. Vaping flower has a slightly less immediate effect than a joint, but will still produce a flavorful and moderately intense high.
Vaping is a very clean method of inhaling cannabis, and similar to smoking, you will feel the effects almost immediately. However, the intensity of the high is much stronger with vape cartridges since you're consuming a concentrated cannabis oil (more on that in the next section: Seeing one’s true nature). We recommend inhaling for only 1 or 2 seconds your first time - the effects come on fairly quickly (30-60 seconds), so it will be easy to tell if you need a little more.
Edibles are an area where we advise some caution. The effects come on quite slowly, sometimes taking up to an hour to feel the full effect, but the intensity can be rather strong compared to vaping and smoking.
When the effects come on slowly, it’s easy to think that you didn’t eat enough, so you may be tempted to eat a little more. But consuming more cannabis than you intended, no matter how many years you’ve been doing it, can be a bad experience. Don’t let this happen to you - start with a small amount and work your way up. Since all edibles have different onset times (when you’ll start feelings the effects), we recommend starting with a 5-10mg dose the first time you try a new product.
Applying cannabis to your skin (typically high in CBD) has been shown to reduce inflammation and relieve sore muscles. The effects can usually be felt within 30 minutes, and the intensity is typically quite low due to the way in which our bodies absorb THC and CBD. However, this is not always the case, please be aware that Transdermal Patches will in fact produce a moderately intense high that comes on slowly, more similar to eating an edible.
The most intense, fastest on-set, and longest lasting highs can be found by consuming cannabis concentrates. These are refined cannabis products that have extracted the cannabinoids to produce products that are extremely potent. Products like, shatter, kief, and sauce are concentrates - often consumed by a method called ‘dabbing.’ If you're new, or returning to cannabis after a long break, proceed cautiously. If you’re interested in learning more about concentrates, you can visit our Intermediate section, here.
Putting it All Together
We now understand that a cannabis product with a lot of THC will produce strong highs, and that a product high in CBD will provide anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects. We also know that a Sativa strain is likely to provide a more energetic and thoughtful experience, whereas an Indica strain will typically bring on relaxing and calming effects. Using these simple reference points you can navigate this complex new world of legal cannabis.
Mu say you're ready.