Cannabis 101

There is enough cannabis terminology to fill an A-Z glossary… and maybe we will create one! In the meantime, here are just a few key terms about the plant that will help you be a more informed consumer.

Genetic Categories

There are two main types of cannabis – sativa and indica – and a combination of them is called a hybrid. Think of these products as being on a single spectrum, some strains closer to 100% sativa, others closer to 100% indica. All strains fall somewhere on that spectrum and depending on where it lands (and what terpenes the strain contains) is how you can better determine how it might affect you.

Sativas are known for a cerebral “head high” with an invigorating, energizing effect that can increase creativity and focus. Sativa-dominant strains tend to possess higher THC levels. With the ability to spark creativity and conversation, this is a great option for parties and get togethers. Sativa plants are tall and thin with finger-like leaves.

Indicas are typically associated with a “body high” that is relaxing and calming. Indicas can help decrease pain, ease nausea, increase appetite, and promote restful sleep. Indica tends to have higher CBD levels than THC. The plants are shorter than Sativa, with darker, broader leaves.

Hybrids offer the best of both worlds by striking a balance between the two. If you want to soothe body aches without dozing off immediately, a hybrid just might be the perfect strain for you.

types of cannabis infographic

Terpines

offer the best of both worlds by striking a balance between the two. If you want to soothe body aches without dozing off immediately, a hybrid just might be the perfect strain for you.

Examples of common terpenes and effects:
  • Limonene produces a citrus aroma, and has been reported to relieve stress, reduce inflammation and elevate mood
  • Myrcene produces an earthy or herbal aroma. It has been reported to produce sedating or relaxing feelings and has antibiotic effects.
  • Pinene produces a pine aroma and has been reported to increase energy.
  • Linalool produces floral, and sometimes spicy, undertones. Found in plants like lavender and basil, this terpene has been reported to provide sedative and anti-inflammatory effects.
terpene wheel infographic
Image courtesy of leafly.com

Cannabinoids: THC and CBD

Cannabis is made up of hundreds of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids bind to receptors in the body and cause different effects. Researchers have identified 113 different cannabinoids so far, and more are likely to be discovered. Two of the most studied cannabinoids are THC and CBD.

THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol

This type of cannabinoid produces the euphoric high associated with consuming marijuana. It can also relieve pain, nausea and induce hunger.

CBD – Cannabidiol

This non-intoxicating compound provides relief for anxiety, inflammation and body pain. In flower, it can help to block some of the more intense effects caused by THC. If you’re new to consumption or tend to get anxious and paranoid, you’ll want to choose a strain with more balanced THC and CBD percentages. And if you just want a body soothing effect while remaining clear-headed, your ratio shouldheavily favor CBD with minimal THC. CBD-heavy strains of cannabis, such as Charlotte’s Web and Harlequin, are hard to find. Edibles offer a better selection of CBD-dominate strains. Gummies come in ratios as high as 50:1 (CBD to THC).

terpene potency wheel infographic
Image courtesy of kynd.com

Methods of Consumption

Flower

Smoking flower is one of the most popular methods of cannabis consumption. Not only is smoking the traditional way to enjoy cannabis, the effects are almost immediate. Whether you prefer to roll a joint, smoke a bowl, or even vape flower, you’ll typically feel initial effect within minutes, and maximum impact after 30 minutes, and see the effects dissipate in 1-3 hours.

Edibles (Not your dad’s pot brownies!)

Another popular way to consume cannabis is through eating or drinking infused foods, also known as Edibles. Cannabis-infused edibles are a discreet, smokeless and convenient way to feel the psychoactive and therapeutic effects of cannabis. Edibles have been known to produce a stronger and longer-lasting effect than inhaled cannabis. For maximum effect, consume edibles with some food – preferably a fat. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble so the edible will break down and take effect faster/more efficiently.

Today’s edibles are available in a wide variety, from brownies, cookies, chocolates, gummies, hard candies, and powders, to beverages, ice cream, and even vitamin-like pills.

First time-consuming edibles? Start low and go slow. A recommended starting size for a first-time consumer is anywhere from 2.5-5mg THC. It is suggested to begin with a lower dose for your first time and experiment with different dosages until you find the experience that works effectively for you and your body. You should always wait at least two hours before increasing your dose.

Vaping

Cannabis vaporization – vaping – is considered a healthier alternative to smoking flower, as vapor doesn’t release the tar and carcinogens created during combustion (the process of burning flower). Instead, vaporization entails a slightly more complex process that creates a phase transition from liquid to vapor.

Additionally, portable vaporizers allow for easy and discreet use as the cannabis vapor creates a less potent aroma. Learning how to vape weed is generally easier than learning how to smoke it. Portable vaporizers are easy to use and fit in your pocket. Vaporizers come in the form of cartridges and pods.

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