Consider the first time you enjoyed a cup of coffee. At first you probably thought it was straightforward, then realized there were thousands of different varieties. Things probably felt overwhelming. The same thing can happen with cannabis. Oh, you want a pre-roll? What strain? What percentage? Indica or sativa? Having some tips on buying cannabis can be helpful for anyone, whether it’s your first trip or 101st. Even if you’re an experienced user, it’s always good to brush up on the basics.
Tip #1: Know the difference between THC and CBD
THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids found in cannabis, and they’re the active compounds that provide the effects of cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main intoxicating compound that delivers the high or stone associated with cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) on the other hand is non-intoxicating and won’t get you high, but it will still have an affect on your brain. Knowing these differences can help you identify the right product for you. According to the Ontario Cannabis Store, “small amounts of THC can produce effects such as relaxation, heightened happiness, arousal and creativity, more sociability and energy, and an increased appetite.” On the other hand, they state that “CBD may alter the effects of other natural chemicals in our bodies, including serotonin, which modulates mood and stress; adenosine, which impacts our sleep-wake cycle; and vanilloid, which contributes to pain modulation.”
Tip #2: Understand the THC to CBD ratio
Once you know the difference between THC and CBD, it’s important to know how they work with each other. Studies have shown that when consumed together, CBD can help lessen the effects of THC. This could be why first-time users are recommended to start with a balanced 1:1 strain, or a strain with a higher CBD than THC content. If you know that THC and CBD can balance each other out (again, when consumed together), you can make a more educated decision when purchasing cannabis.
Tip #3: Learn about indica vs. sativa vs. hybrid
Cannabis on the legal market is classified as one of three things: indica, sativa, or hybrid. Now, a more experienced user may tell you there’s no truth behind these terms, and in some ways that might be true. But since all cannabis is classified this way, you should know what they’re referring to.
Indica is used to describe strains that provide more sedating or physical effects. People often use the phrase “in da couch” to refer to indica strains, because they’re known to make people feel more sluggish or tired.
Sativa, on the other hand, is the term used to describe strains that are more energizing. Anecdotally, these strains affect a user’s mind more than their body.
If a product is labelled as a hybrid, it’s a cross between an indica strain and a sativa strain. The effects will lie somewhere in the middle.
Even if there’s no hard evidence to back these classifications up, it’s important to know what they’re referring to. A product’s potential effects can be a big determining factor when it comes time to purchase.
Tip #4: Know what type of product you’re looking for
Now that you know about THC, CBD, and the different classifications of cannabis, you can narrow things down a bit. When you go to purchase cannabis, have a general idea of what you’re looking for. Shopping for cannabis can be easier if you can at least eliminate some of the products you don’t want. For example, if you know you want something that is a little more discreet, you’ll probably avoid dried flower or pre-rolls. Or, if you want something with a quick onset of effects, you’ll steer clear of edibles. There’s no right or wrong answer. Cannabis is not a one-size-fits-all experience.
Tip #5: Know the onset times of different consumption methods
This falls in to knowing the product you want, but it’s a little more specific. Depending on whether you ingest or inhale cannabis, the effects can take anywhere from seconds to hours to kick in. Here are the onset times for different forms of cannabis.
Inhaling (smoking or vaping): onset within seconds to minutes, could last up to 6 hours (or longer depending on the person)
Ingesting (edibles, oils, or capsules): onset within 30 minutes to 2 hours, could last up to 12 hours (or longer depending on the person)
Topicals: both onset and duration are currently unknown
Tip #6 Don’t be a hero
Just because there’s a new high THC product or new format doesn’t mean you have to try it. If you don’t think you can handle a certain type of product, then don’t purchase it. Know your limitations and stick to those. It’s not worth a bad experience to try and seem cool or trendy (we know, we sound like your parents).
Tip #7 Know Where to buy cannabis in your area
Every province and territory has a different set of regulations about where you can buy cannabis. Some provinces allow for private retailers, some require all purchases to be made through government-owned retailers. You can find a full list of provincial and territorial regulations here.
So there you have it. Tips on buying cannabis. It’s strange to think practice makes perfect, but the more you get familiar with cannabis and the products that work for you, the more you can streamline your shopping process.