Whether you’ve recently tried marijana a few times and are learning, or haven’t tried it since your erstwhile misspent youth, cannabis is becoming the new favored way to relax and take the stress out of the everyday.
Being smart about your consumption of cannabis is sensible. It isn’t rocket science but there are caveats you need to be aware of, as you experiment with different strains and consumption methods.
First and most important: start slow
If you’re new to cannabis, or haven’t enjoyed its effects for some years, it’s best to start with a low dose strain and take it slow. Testing your own limits and tolerance levels systematically is a good way to ensure that you don’t get to a point that you’re not comfortable with.
Obviously, every person’s preferences and body chemistry will create a different effect. Two different people smoking the same strain might have two different experiences, as a result. That said, your first and best option if you’re unsure as to where to start is to consult a professional and visit a dispensary.
Deciding on a consumption method
In days gone by, smoking cannabis was the only method available but now, there are a variety of different ways to consume marijuana that have an array of results for the consumer. For many people, the idea of smoking is not pleasant or even desired but ultimately, the method of consumption you will want to choose will come down to effects you want to experience.
While smoking creates a direct and almost immediate experience, the delayed qualities of edibles provide a more relaxation based, pain relief effect that a lot of consumers are looking for. For many new to cannabis, edibles are a safer, cleaner way to consume it.
In more recent years, new technology has been developed that can isolate the active ingredients of the plant and deliver it in a nano formulation, through your skin and bypassing your digestive system—which is what causes the delay and altered experience of edibles—creating the ability for the consumer to benefit from an experience that is like smoking, without actually inhaling anything.
Cannabis can be vaped, smoked, eaten and now, applied transdermally. How the cannabinoids enter into your bloodstream alter their effects but again, it’s a very personal choice. Different people like different levels of experience, which require different consumption methods. Finding out what works for you is part of the process.
Ask more questions at the dispensary
Budtenders, as the staff at a dispensary are known, are experienced and knowledgeable and can walk you through several points as you make your choices. Share with them what your current experience level is with cannabis, whether you’ve had any negative or even null experiences, so they can better assess and make suggestions.
- Whether an edible or smokable version is best suited to you, your lifestyle and your desired results from consuming cannabis;
- Potency levels and expected reactions;
- State and local regulations regarding compliance in terms of strains, dosages, and how much product you can keep at home.
A good budtender can help you choose where to start and at what level of strength so that the experience best reflects what you are hoping to get out of consuming cannabis. From that point, experimenting with strains and strengths will come down to testing yourself out. Over time, you will develop a sense of your own tolerance levels and what you enjoy in the cannabis experience.
One important aspect to remember is that your body will react differently if you are combining THC with other elements, like alcohol for example. A true test of what results a strain or dosage of THC will provide is best conducted on its own merits!
If you’re concerned about visiting a dispensary during these times, remember that the same social distancing and cleaning protocols that exist in your local supermarket are being implemented in regulated cannabis shops as well. Consider it the new normal that everyone is living with and arrive with a mask and all the questions you need answered.
When it comes to quality and safety, packaging matters
As you shop for your first smokables or edibles, consider the way it is packaged and presented. Dry buds are still perishable and must retain a level of moisture from cultivation through consumption, in order to be viable.
Like a weak cork turning a fine wine into vinegar, poor packaging of cannabis results in too much oxygen affecting the buds. Look for packaging that treats the buds as one would any other perishable item.
A wonderful innovation in packaging in the use of nitrogen flashing. This helps to conserve the plant in its natural environment, without oxygen and light. This suspends the effects of these elements on the plant, resulting in the best possible outcome for the plant so that it can remain stable in the time between cultivation and final consumption.
Are you ready for a more potent strain of cannabis?
If you’ve been testing out different strains for a little while, you might want to branch out at some point to try something new and have a different experience. That’s okay, as long as you follow the same cardinal rule of going slow at first.
A budtender, like a wine sommelier, can describe the properties of a new strain but whether or not you will personally enjoy it comes down to your own preferences and your body chemistry. Like with a fine wine, your nose has a role to play here: if you are attracted to the smell of the dry buds, you are more likely to have a positive experience consuming it.
So while there are strains, which are considered by many as the cream of the crop, if you don’t like the smell of it, you probably won’t enjoy it. Aroma is very important as your olfactory senses are critical in enjoying cannabis.
It also comes down to a little bit of trial and error, which is why it’s important to start low and go slow. Look for potency on the physical bud: the active ingredients appear as crystals on the surface. The more crystals you see, the more potent the strain. While again some trial and error is in order, talking to the dispensary’s staff to see if they themselves have first hand knowledge of the strain you’re interested in will give you some insight into what you can expect.
Whether you want pain relief or a relaxation effect, or more euphoric qualities, a high quality plant is the place to start.
Quality and growth methods matter
As you decide on strains to try, one thing you must absolutely look for is high quality marijuana. How you can distinguish that still comes down to personal tastes but there is a difference, for example, between organically grown and hydroponically grown marijuana.
The organically grown varieties draw much of their nutrients and even some of the taste elements from the soil they are planted in: the plant decides what to eat and how to grow. Hydroponically grown cannabis has a distinctive flavor as it does not draw from anything in the environment but is rather force fed chemicals to encourage growth, almost as if it was tied to an IV.
Both systems work well to produce quality cannabis, so it will come down to personal preference for many, but there is something to be said for a plant that is grown conventionally, in tune with its environment. By allowing the plant to grow naturally, rather than put it through a process of accelerated, forced growth, a cleaner, more natural, properly defined and ultimately, tastier product is the result.
For the producer, organic cultivation can be a tougher road, with the risk of blight and other issues that come with this method. The resulting heightened standards of quality of the plant however are worth the effort; and for the consumer, a full flavored product is always the end goal.
With all of this information in mind, becoming a smarter cannabis consumer is really about taking your time, asking questions, and a little trial and error. Finding what works for you and what you enjoy will take some testing but it will be a worthwhile effort in the end.
Serge Chistov is a cannabis industry expert and Chief Financial Partner with Honest Marijuana Co. Honest Marijuana has been a leader in cannabis innovation since it’s inception with an organic approach to the growth, production and packaging of cannabis, the launch of the first-ever organic hemp wrapped machine rolled blunts, the invention of the patented Nanobidiol Technology, and the first company to bring THC-O-Acetate technology and products to market.