If you’re a newbie to cannabis then rejoice! You are about to enter a vast and diverse world unlike any other. Consider the first time you enjoyed a cup of coffee and then realized there are as many varieties and methods of consumption as there are coffee shops.
But if you are about to click on your order at the OCS.ca checkout, or you’re headed to the local retail cannabis shop, you may want to read this article first. For here, we have 7 things you should know before buying cannabis.
What is the difference between THC and CBD?
Ask most people about cannabis and they’ll rave about either THC or CBD and all the great highs and effects they get from them.
THC and CDB are the primary naturally occurring cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that interact with our biological cannabinoid receptors. While both compounds molecules are almost identical, they actually differ in a few distinct ways.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound that delivers the high or stone associated with cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and won’t get you high, while still delivering many of the reported medicinal benefits of cannabis.
We could go into a lot of detail about these two amazing compounds but for now, it’s enough to know that THC gets you high while CBD doesn’t.
What does THC percentage mean?
When inhaled or ingested, THC stimulates the cannabinoid receptors in your brain causing a release of dopamine that helps create a euphoric feeling or high. The effects range from minimal or fairly intense depending on the amount of THC consumed and the person consuming it (their physiology and tolerance level).
When you’re looking at cannabis strains for sale, you’ll have a bunch of information available to you. This will typically include the type of strain (indica, sativa or hybrid), the CBD:THC percentage and what terpenes are featured most prominently. This is all valuable information that can give you an insight into what level of effects, flavours and taste you might expect.
For many, THC percentage is at the top of the list but it’s by no means the only criteria you should pay attention to. While a higher THC percentage doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get more stoned, it is an indicator of the potency of a strain.
What does the THC to CBD ratio mean?
As you browse, you’ll also come across high CBD strains or non-flower cannabis products like oils, tinctures, capsules, and oral sprays that are rich in CBD. These often have a CBD to THC ratio listed (CBD:THC) in addition to the exact percentages. It should look something like this; 1:1, 2:1, 4:1, 18:1, etc., but sometimes the ratio won’t be listed and you’ll need to figure out the ratio yourself based on the percentages shown.
In the past, cannabis strains were mainly bred towards a higher THC percentage, but recently CBD heavy strains have become extremely popular. CBD rich products are perfect for beginners, medical patients, or anyone who’s mostly interested in the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
Generally, the higher the ratio of CBD in a strain, the less of a psychoactive effect you can expect. You’ll need to experiment with different ratios until you find the one that’s right for you.
Indica vs. Sativa vs. Hybrid
As you look through the availability of strains and products, you’ll notice three distinct types of cannabis strains – indicas, sativas, and hybrids. Indicas and sativas are the two major types and hybrids are a blend of both genetics.
There’s lots of talk about the differing effects of each, like ‘indicas are sedative, and sativas give you energy’, but not much to that effect has been scientifically proven yet. What’s clearer though, is that different strains deliver a variety of effects based on their THC or CBD content and their unique terpene profiles. You can listen to advice, but we recommend you try out a variety of each and see what you like the best.
Does increased THC percentage translate to stronger effects?
Cannabis flower strains and other products come in a whole range of THC percentages. There are low THC strains with percentages under 10%, medium strains that come in around 15%, and high THC strains that exceed 20%.
While a high THC percentage generally indicates a strong strain, that’s not all there is to it. The CBD percentage and terpenes of a strain play a role in dictating the aromas, flavours, and effects a strain will provide. This has been unofficially dubbed the ‘entourage effect’ and continued research into the effects of terpenes is a big deal.
Buying cannabis, based solely on THC percentage, is like heading to the liquor store and buying your booze based only on alcohol percentage. You might get drunk quicker, but you won’t enjoy the process. Again, it’s important to do your own experimentation to figure out what delivers the best effects for you.
What indicates a high-quality product?
Now that legal weed is available for sale, you as a buyer have a lot more options to high-quality products. Licensed producers grow some pretty amazing cannabis, and you get lab test results to prove it.
If you buy your cannabis through the Ontario Cannabis Store website, you won’t be able to see and smell before purchase, in which case you’ll need to order some to find out how good it really is. If you’re able to inspect a strain though, you should pay attention to its smell, structure, trichomes, how well it’s trimmed and cured, as well as its lab test results.
You’ll want flower that smells strongly (not like hay), is firm to the touch, has lots of trichomes (crystals) all over it and whose lab test shows a rich terpene profile with a THC percentage that falls into the range you’re after.
What type of cannabis products should I try?
This is kind of a redundant question when you’re talking to avid cannabis consumers because, in our opinion, you should try them all. For beginners, we recommend starting with dried flower cannabis in a simple joint or a few hits out of a pipe because these methods let you experiment slowly. You could also try a cannabis tincture or oral spray and place a few drops or spritzes under your tongue if smoking cannabis isn’t your thing.
Once you become more accustomed to how cannabis affects you, broadening your horizons isn’t a bad idea. Look to sample dried flower out of a bong or take some cannabis oil capsules. Then when edibles and cannabis concentrates become legalized, try them too. Of course, when trying different cannabis products you should start slow with minimal doses and work your way up to the level of high you’re comfortable with.