Whether you’re a prospective medical marijuana patient or a recent recreational consumer, there are a few things you should know about cannabis. To save you from frustration and confusion, we’ve taken the time to answer some of the most common questions from new cannabis converts.
1. What does being high feel like?
Cannabis affects every person differently. Some people might become more talkative, others might laugh at everything, and some may even feel more anxious. Ultimately, cannabis causes a shift in perspective. It’s not uncommon for people to feel that they can connect ideas and concepts better than before.
You may also find problems which once bothered you or were stressful no longer seem important. In general, you can expect to feel some of the following sensations:
- Altered perception of time
- Increased silliness and laughter
- Feelings of happiness, contentment, and euphoria
- Light-headed feeling
- Increased creativity
- Vivid colors and patterns
- Heavy-bodied sensation
- Increased appetite
- Relaxation and stress reduction
- Cold sensation
- Anxiety, nervousness, or paranoia
- Sleepiness or sedation
Consuming smaller amounts will help you avoid any uncomfortable anxiety sensations. If you’d like some further reading on the subject, take a look at these articles:
- 5 Reasons Why Cannabis Affects Everyone Differently
- 10 Surprising Ways Weed Affects Men and Women Differently
- THC: Everything You Need To Know About delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
2. Why do people heat cannabis?
If you want to feel the psychoactive effects of cannabis, you have to heat it. No, you won’t really get high from just eating dried bud. Heating cannabis means that you’re converting your herb into its active form. This happens through a process called decarboxylation.
Decarboxylation transforms chemical compounds in the herb into molecules that your body can easily put to use. Without decarboxylating, you won’t feel the full effects of your cannabis.
There is some benefit to consuming raw cannabis fan leaves and bud. Here, raw does not mean dried and cured. Rather, you can make green juices and smoothies from clippings taken directly off of the plant.
Cannabis has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When you consume it raw, you’ll get a hefty dose of these compounds without getting high.
3. Is smoking my only option?
Luckily, smoking cannabis has not been linked to the same risks as cigarette smoking. But, it’s understandable if you’d rather consume cannabis in a different way. Using a vaporizer will still give you the experience of smoking without breathing in any lung-irritating plant ash. But, there are a few other options as well:
- Cannabis Pills
- Cannabis Oil
- Dabbing (not recommended for newbies)
- Cannabis topicals (infused skin creams and balms for relief to a specific area)
4. How long do edibles take to kick in?
Edibles kick in at different rates in different people. Typically, you can expect to feel the effects 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming. Edibles take longer than other consumption methods because your body needs to metabolize the treat.
While the effects of edibles take longer to show themselves, they also produce a more potent, longer-lasting high. You can expect a 3-hour-long experience from smoked or vaporized cannabis. But, a dose of edibles can easily last up to 6. Expect a peak at about 4 hours. If you accidentally over-consume, you may still feel lingering effects the next day.
In general, 10mg of THC is considered a proper dose for an edible. However, some people need more to produce the same effects. Men, for example, generally need more cannabis to feel pain relief than do women.
For more information on what to expect from an edible, read our article here.
5. Do cannabis strains really matter?
There are a wide variety of cannabis strains for you to choose from. And yes, they actually matter. Different strains have different effects. A strain is a unique type of cannabis that has been bred to present certain features. Basically, each strain is a genetic version of cannabis.
For example, the strain Granddaddy Purple tends to be purple in color, makes you sleepy, and has a musky-berry aroma. It also tends to be high in THC, the primary psychoactive in cannabis.
Other strains, like Harlequin, won’t make you feel very high at all. Harlequin is a high-CBD strain, meaning that it has fewer psychoactive effects. Short for cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-psychoactive compound that is often used in medical cannabis for epilepsy.
While Harlequin may have slight psychoactive effects, some high-CBD strains don’t have any psychoactive effects at all. This strain will also make you feel more energized and alert, mellow, and has a spicy, herbal aroma.
To get a better picture of how a strain will affect you, it’s good to know how much psychoactive THC it contains. You can easily find this information online by typing in the strain name, or you can look at testing results from a local lab.
To learn more about cannabis testing and understanding dispensary labels, click here to read more.
6. What are indicas and sativas?
To make things a little more complicated, there are a couple of different species of cannabis. The two most popular are Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. Both varieties produce profoundly different effects.
Indicas, for example, are sedative strains that are great for insomnia. You will feel most of the effects of anindica in the body. Your muscles will be heavy and relaxed. A good little expression to remember is indica = in-da-couch.
Sativas have the opposite effect. They can be as energizing as a cup of coffee. Sativas tend to be more cerebral and very psychoactive. You’re likely to feel uplifted and euphoric, but you’re also more likely to feel anxious and paranoid with a sativa than you would with an indica.
Cannabis ruderalis is another variety, but you won’t find this one in a local dispensary. It’s smaller and won’t give you the psychoactive experience of the other varieties. However, it is used by breeders to cultivate plants that are easy to grow indoors, as well as grow more quickly.
7. Where can I legally find cannabis?
Unfortunately, if you want legal cannabis, you’re going to have to travel to a legal state. 25 states have legalized medical cannabis. Four states have fully legalized recreational cannabis. These states are Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. Tourists can purchase recreational cannabis at dispensaries in these states if you are over 21.
Cannabis is also legal for use in your own home in Washington D.C. Other states require a medical marijuana authorization for you to obtain the herb.
Fortunately, for those interested in non-psychoactive CBD, you can now buy tinctures and oils legally online. The Stanley Brothers of Colorado have a line of products called Charlotte’s Web. These products are classified as hemp oil due to their low THC content, so they are legal for anyone to buy without a medical card.
More states are expected to legalize soon as well, including California, Nevada, Maine, Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts Maryland, Minnesota, and New York. Other states have decriminalized cannabis, meaning you can possess the herb without harsh charges, but distribution is still illegal.
Legalization is also around the corner in Canada. It’s legal for citizens only in Uruguay. Folks traveling to Amsterdam can still enjoy the herb in the city’s famous coffee shops.
8. How do I get a medical marijuana card?
The cannabis laws in each state are different. But, no matter what, to get a medical cannabis authorization, you’ll need a doctor’s recommendation. Cannabis doctors can be difficult to find, but a local dispensary should be able to help.
To find a local dispensary, you can use an online finder like this one here.
Giving a dispensary a quick call can help you find a good doctor and give you some information about qualifying conditions in your state. Some states are quite strict and only offer medical cannabis for severe, debilitating, or life-threatening conditions like cancer or intractable epilepsy.
Others, like California, determine your eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Typically, naturopathic doctors are good places to start when considering a medical cannabis recommendation.
In general, some of the qualifying conditions include:
- HIV/ AIDS
- Chronic pain
- Spinal cord damage
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Other severe, life-limiting conditions
9. Is recreational cannabis different from medical?
You may not think that there is much of a difference between recreational and medical cannabis, but there is. Recreational cannabis tends to be high in THC and is often purchased as dried bud, cannabis concentrates, or in edible form. However, many recreational strains also have medical value and are also used by medical cannabis patients.
Medical cannabis dispensaries tend to have a wider variety of products and strains. High-CBD strains, for example, are more abundant in medical cannabis dispensaries. You can also find a wealth of topicals, cannabis pills, extracted cannabis oils, and a huge selection of edibles, concentrates, and new products.
Medical cannabis is used to treat a wide variety of ailments, from epilepsy to arthritis. Because of this, breeders have developed different strains in response to the needs of different patient groups.
Both recreational and medical cannabis are also regulated differently. You need a doctor’s recommendation to access medical cannabis dispensaries. If you’re lucky enough to travel to a legal state, anyone can purchase at a recreational dispensary.
If you’d like more information on different kinds of medical strains, check out this article here.
10. How do I properly store cannabis?
The best way to store dried cannabis bud is in a glass mason jar. Keeping it in a plastic bag of any kind will cause it to become stale more quickly, dry out, and lose potency over time. In general, there are a few key rules for properly storing your cannabis. No matter if it’s a concentrate, a joint, or some dried flower, keep your herb in:
- A dark place
- A cool environment
- An air-tight container
- Away from moisture
- A size-appropriate container
If stored in perfect conditions, dried bud can last 2 to 3 years. This is a similar time frame to most culinary spices. Though, typically it will be gone in a couple of months max. For edibles, follow proper storage requirements for food.
Well, there you have it! The answers to 10 most basic things a newbie cannabis consumer should know. For the best cannabis experiences, make sure you’re experimenting in a safe and comfortable environment. It’s always good to start in your own home or a place where you feel like you can really sit back and relax. With that, enjoy your herb!