The legal cannabis market has made it much easier for companies to change the ways that we can enjoy weed. In addition to traditional forms of consuming cannabis like smoking, pot brownies, or taking a rip from a bong, the experience has now evolved into a massive marketplace of products where you can choose to inhale, eat, drink, or apply cannabis depending on the effects you’re looking for.
Having that much choice can feel overwhelming—especially if you’re new to the scene. To help make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of product types and what you should consider when choosing how you want to consume cannabis.
First things first: Understanding cannabis types
Cannabis is made up of hundreds of different chemical compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes. The two most frequently referenced are THC and CBD. And since legalization, science has been able to dive deeper into how cannabinoids and terpenes interact to produce the effects you feel from a given strain. But without getting into organic chemistry or biometrics, there are three widely accepted categories for cannabis strains and the products that are made from them: sativa, indica, or a hybrid.
Sativas tend to have a more cerebral effect than indica or hybrid. In terms of flavour and taste, sativa cannabis tends to have a brighter and fruitier nose than their counterparts. They are better for daytime use, like when you want to do something creative, go on a hike, or be social with friends.
Indica cannabis produces more sedating effects, which is ideal if you’re looking to chill. Because indicas have more of a full-body effect and higher CBD content, these strains are helpful in promoting relaxation and managing the effects of pain and nausea. Because of this, it is predominantly used in the evening.
Producers are constantly breeding new hybrid strains that combine desirable traits from both parent plants to produce a wide range of effects and flavour profiles. By manipulating the composition of the strain, cultivators choose to amplify specific properties from the plants that are being combined (e.g. stress reduction properties from an indica plant and creativity-inducing properties from a sativa plant). Because of the broad spectrum of effects and flavours, hybrids can be useful for an infinite number of reasons or occasions.
It is important to note that each person’s body chemistry can react differently to the same strain or product, and that some strains are classified by their taxonomy, and may act more like another altogether. So as you choose your cannabis products, you should be aware of their typical effects, but be sure to test them out and see how they impact you individually.
When it comes to cannabis products, CBD has also carved out its own lane. Its beneficial properties for pain and stress relief are making the compound a staple in the health and wellness market—particularly as it has little to no psychoactive effects. CBD can also be extracted from hemp plants, which only have a maximum 0.3% THC content.
Now that you have an understanding of some of the basic classifications of cannabis, you’re going to want to know the different ways you can use it. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to use cannabis—just the way that works best for you. Before you make a purchase, discuss your options with your cannabis consultant to find the right product for your needs.
Take a deep breath
When we talk about consuming cannabis, many people will immediately think of a joint. The most typical form of cannabis use, joints are made of dried cannabis bud or flower that is ground up and rolled in paper so that it can be smoked.
Want to puff on a joint but don’t fancy yourself an expert roller? No problem—you can buy pre-rolls. Available as singles or in packs, these ready-made joints are made up of either sativa, indica, or hybrid strains and typically include a filter too.
Vaping has become one of the most popular forms of cannabis consumption—it’s easy to do on the go, and a typical cartridge can last as long as you stretch it, making it convenient for those who don’t use it too often. You can purchase a disposable all-in-one pen, which includes its own battery, or you can buy an individual battery and switch out cartridges. Once the market opens up in Canada, a typical cannabis store will be able to stock multiple cartridges from different brands and market popular strains (such as Pineapple Express and Blue Dream) or their effects (relaxing, energetic, etc.).
There are also other ways to vaporize marijuana, such as through a table top unit like a volcano vaporizer or a hand-held model like a PAX, which vaporize flower instead of concentrates. With these, you grind up the bud, put it into the vaporizer, and when inhaled turns into vapour that can be easier on the lungs.
Take a bite—or two
Food or drink products that have been infused with cannabis are known as edibles. These forms of cannabis can provide a steady high that lasts for hours. However, because of their delayed onset, if you overindulge, you may experience the unpleasant side effects of consuming too much THC. To stay safe, here are some simple rules to keep in mind as you enjoy edibles:
- Start low, go slow. Purchase products that are properly portioned so that you know how much THC you’re consuming. Canada’s regulations will restrict edibles to a maximum 10mg of THC per package.
- Novices should start out with a microdose of 2.5 milligrams and see how they feel. Regular users can explore a 10-milligram or higher dose.
- It can typically take anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes for edibles to kick in, so don’t reach for a second portion until enough time has passed.
- The effects of edibles are dependant on many factors, for example, how much you’ve had to eat that day, whether you’re hydrated, how tired you are, or what your current emotional state is.
Jurisdictions that have legalized edibles—like California and Colorado—have placed limits on how much THC content can exist within a package of edibles or cannabis-infused beverages. Canada has followed suit for its launch of legalization 2.0 in October 2019, which will see cannabis edibles and concentrates hit the shelves.
With the growth of recreational marijuana use, it’s often hard to remember that the movement has medicinal roots, but tinctures, capsules, and patches help fill that gap.
Tinctures are a form of cannabis concentrate that work through sublingual administration: just place a few drops underneath your tongue, wait a few seconds for it to absorb, swallow, and the cannabis will soon take effect.
Capsules, meanwhile, are cannabis in pill form—they can either be dry or like gel capsules. Manufacturers are developing technologies to encourage rapid onset that lasts for as long as possible.
Even someone who has no desire of ever getting high can benefit greatly from cannabis topicals. Available in balms, creams, and oils that are applied directly to the skin, topicals can help ease pain, decrease inflammation, and can also be added to your beauty routine, especially if CBD is involved.
Beyond making products safer and more accessible, the legalization of adult-use cannabis has allowed producers, manufacturers, and retailers to innovate on cannabis products and better address the needs of their customers. Consumers now have the opportunity to find the products that fit their level of comfort and provide the benefits they are looking for. We can’t wait to see what else the industry produces—can you?
Curious to try out cannabis products, but not sure where to go? Eden Empire is opening a number of stores around BC with professional staff that can answer all your questions.
Photos: CAPJAH / Shutterstock, content_creator / Shutterstock