Cannabis 101


Cannabis Product Recommendations for First-Time Consumers

(Adrienne Allen/Leafly)
With cannabis legalization moving full-speed ahead, you might find yourself becoming curious about trying it for the first time (or for the first time in a long time). Or maybe you have a friend or family member asking about cannabis as they flirt with the idea of partaking. As a first-timer, you likely have lots of questions you want answered before you pick up a product to try, such as:
  • What’s an indica and sativa?
  • What’s CBD?
  • How do you use a vape pen?
  • What’s cannabis oil?
  • How do edibles feel?
To help you better understand what you should buy if you’re using cannabis for the first time, allow us be your virtual budtender before you even step foot in a dispensary. Each product delivers a unique experience, so let’s review a few different product types based on common concerns of cannabis beginners.

‘I want to try cannabis, but I’m afraid of getting too high’

(mauro_grigollo/iStock)
(mauro_grigollo/iStock)
Product Recommendation: Vape pens The first thing I typically recommend to first-time cannabis consumers are portable pen vapes with a cannabis oil cartridge. These pens require no setup beyond attaching the cartridge, and activating one can be as easy as pressing a button and inhaling. The vapor is easy on the lungs, and it’s easy to dose conservatively (simply take small puffs). In addition to being inconspicuous in design, these pens don’t leave much in the way of lingering aroma.
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Pro-tip: I always ask for cartridges without PG (or propylene glycol). This is an additive used to make the oil more viscous, but I’ve found that it carries a harsh chemical flavor and may cause stomachaches and headaches. Many stores have pivoted away from PG products for health and safety reasons, but you may want to ask to be sure.

‘I don’t like to smoke and edibles are scary’

Tinctures
(temmuzcan/iStock)
Product Recommendation: Tinctures Many people are drawn to edibles for their smoke-free delivery of THC, but their effects can sometimes feel too intense for the cannabis initiate. Instead, try a sublingual tincture. Tinctures are a cannabis extract that uses alcohol to pull THC and other compounds from the plant, resulting in a liquid that can be dropped under the tongue. The effects kick in quicker than an edible, making them easier to dose. Simply put a drop on your tongue and wait for the slight buzz to kick in. Add another drop if you’d like a more noticeable effect.
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Looking for purely medicinal effects without the high? Find a non-intoxicating tincture high in CBD to help with pain, anxiety, inflammation, and other conditions. Or try a low-potency THC tincture for a subtle and functional buzz.

‘I like the idea of edibles, but I don’t want to be that high for that long’

Cannabis edibles
(Courtesy of Goodship)
Product Recommendation: Low-dose edibles (5mg or less) Not all edibles will send you to the cosmos. A “standard dose” is considered 10 mg, but even that can be a bit too much for novices and first-timers. Try instead an edible with a minimal amount of THC–as few as a couple milligrams. I’ve managed to find edibles with as little as 2.5 mg of THC, and while the euphoric effects are undetectable for heavier, long-time consumers, it can be the perfect amount for the cannabis-timid.
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This practice of using small doses is called “microdosing,” and more consumers every day are learning that this is the most enjoyable way to consume cannabis. While many enjoy the dizzying euphoria that comes with high-potency cannabis, others may prefer subdued effects that promote calm relaxation over anxiety, functionality over couchlock, and focus over brain-haze. For novices and new users, look for edibles with a small amount of THC–we’re talking 5 mg or less–and see if that’s the preferred experience for you.

‘I want to harness the medical effects of cannabis without the smoke or high’

 
CBD-infused cannabis soft gels
(Courtesy of Care by Design)
Product Recommendation: CBD topicals or capsules. Here’s a game-changer for many people treating symptoms and medical conditions: you don’t have to smoke it, and you don’t have to get highThis is how so many cannabis consumers have convinced their parents and grandparents to give it a try, especially if they’re suffering from aches, pains, arthritis, or other aging-related discomforts.
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CBD is a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis that can be isolated to treat a myriad of conditions without any noticeable high. It can be rendered into a variety of forms, like tinctures, ingestible capsules, or topical creams. Cannabis-infused balms, lotions, and gels are particularly useful for treating pain and inflammation, and they provide an easy route of introduction to cannabis skeptics; they can be incredibly effective and completely non-intoxicating in effect.

‘I like smoking, but I hear the cannabis is much stronger these days’

Cannabis rolling papers and cones
(Courtesy of Care by Design)
Product Recommendation: Low-THC/High-CBD flower or pre-rolls It’s true that cannabis today can be quite potent, sometimes pushing the 30% watermark in THC. However, as legalization rolls in with a new demographic of consumers, so does the demand for lower potency flower. If you’re nostalgic for the low-torque cannabis of yesteryear, it’s a good idea to look for cannabis with a balanced THC-to-CBD ratio. It can be hard to find cannabis that’s just low in THC; for instance, you don’t see many folks advertising a 7% THC strain, but what you will find is products with, let’s say, 7% THC and 7% CBD. These THC/CBD mixed strains are mellow in effect, and perfect for individuals looking to jump back into cannabis after a decades-long hiatus. Some popular mixed strains to look for include Harlequin, ACDC, Sour Tsunami, and Pennywise. Note that CBD:THC ratios may vary between producers, so always check the product’s tested cannabinoid contents before purchasing. Which specific strains, products, and brands would you recommend to a first-timer? Let’s hear your suggestions in the comments section below.

CBD vs. THC: Why Is CBD Non-Intoxicating?

This article is sponsored by PureCBDvapors.com, your trusted CBD experts dealing in effective pain relief through the use of legal hemp derived cannabidiol products.
Why is THC intoxicating and CBD is not? How can one cannabinoid alter the mind so profoundly, and the other seemingly not at all? When we’re talking about cannabis and euphoria, we’re dealing exclusively with CB1 receptors, which are concentrated in the brain and the central nervous system. The difference between CBD vs. THC comes down to a basic difference in how each one interacts with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor. THC binds well with CB1 cannabinoid receptors. CBD has low binding affinity for CB1 receptors. That’s where the two diverge. Think of it like an electrical plug connecting to a wall socket. A THC molecule is perfectly shaped to connect with CB1 receptors. When that connection happens, THC activates, or stimulates, those CB1 receptors. Researchers call THC a CB1 receptor agonist, which means THC works to activate those CB1 receptors. THC partially mimics a naturally produced neurotransmitter known as anandamide, aka “the bliss molecule.” Anandamide is an endocannabinoid which activates CB1 receptors. Animal studies have taught us that anandamide can increase appetite and enhance pleasure associated with food consumption, and it’s likely responsible for some of the rewarding effects of exercise (e.g. the “runner’s high”). Anandamide also plays a role in memory, motivation, and pain. THC is a “key” that so closely resembles anandamide that it activates CB1 receptors, allowing it to produce some of those same blissful feelings. CBD, by contrast, is not a good fit with CB1 receptors. It’s categorized as an antagonist of CB1 agonists. This means that it doesn’t act directly to activate or suppress CB1 receptors—rather, it acts to suppress the CB1-activating qualities of a cannabinoid like THC. In other words, when you ingest THC and CBD, the THC directly stimulates those CB1 receptors, while the CBD acts as a kind of modulating influence on the THC. As Project CBD co-founder Martin Lee once wrote: “CBD opposes the action of THC at the CB1 receptor, thereby muting the psychoactive effects of THC.”
Left: THC directly stimulates the CB1 receptor. This interaction underlies the major psychoactive effects of Cannabis consumption. Right: CBD reduces, or
Left: THC directly stimulates the CB1 receptor. This interaction underlies the major psychoactive effects of Cannabis consumption. Right: CBD reduces, or “antagonizes,” THC’s ability to stimulate CB1 receptors. This can decrease some of THC’s effects, especially negative effects like anxiety and short-term memory impairment.
How does that work in real life? Let’s say you vaporize cannabis flower with 24 percent THC. If that flower has 0.2 percent CBD, the THC is going to excite your CB1 receptors with almost no interference from CBD. You may feel extremely high, and you might also experience some of the less desirable effects of THC, such as a heightened feeling of paranoia. If you consume cannabis with 24 percent THC and 6 percent CBD, though, the CBD should have a dampening effect on the THC. You’ll still feel high, but perhaps not stupefyingly so—and the CBD should help keep the paranoia in check. This difference has had profound political implications. As the founders of Project CBD have noted,  some have mistakenly labeled THC the “bad cannabinoid” and CBD the “good cannabinoid.” Legislators have passed many “CBD-only” laws in Southern states in an effort to allow patients access to this potent cannabinoid while prohibiting its euphoric sibling. But the pioneering cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam has often spoken of the “entourage effect,” the idea that cannabinoids and terpenes may work better together than in isolation. The GW Pharma product Sativex, for example, is a drug approved outside the U.S. for treatment of MS-related muscle spasticity. Sativex contains with a nearly 1:1 CBD-to-THC ratio. As researchers learn more about CBD and the role of other cannabinoids and compounds in the treatment of conditions like MS, we may be able to more accurately dose CBD in combination with other cannabis-derived compounds.  
References
Fuss J, Steinle J, Bindila L, et al. A runner’s high depends on cannabinoid receptors in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015;112(42):13105-8. PDF
Mahler SV, Smith KS, Berridge KC. Endocannabinoid hedonic hotspot for sensory pleasure: anandamide in nucleus accumbens shell enhances ‘liking’ of a sweet reward. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007;32(11):2267-78. PDF
Englund A, Morrison PD, Nottage J, et al. Cannabidiol inhibits THC-elicited paranoid symptoms and hippocampal-dependent memory impairment. J Psychopharmacol (Oxford). 2013;27(1):19-27. PDF

Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrid: What’s the Difference Between Cannabis Types?

(Amy Phung/Leafly)
Updated: 1/26/18 When browsing Leafly or purchasing cannabis at a shop, you may notice strains are commonly broken up into three distinct groups: indica, sativa, and hybrid. Most consumers have used these three cannabis types as a touchstone for predicting effects:
  • Indica strains are believed to be physically sedating, perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed.
  • Sativas tend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects.
  • Hybrids are thought to fall somewhere in between the indica-sativa spectrum, depending on the traits they inherit from their parent strains.
This belief that indicas, sativas, and hybrids deliver distinct effects is so deeply rooted in mainstream cannabis culture that budtenders typically begin their strain recommendations by asking you which of these three types you prefer.
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However, data collected by cannabis researchers suggests these categories aren’t as prescriptive as one might hope—in other words, there’s little evidence to suggest that indicas and sativas exhibit a consistent pattern of chemical profiles that would make one inherently sedating and the other uplifting. We do know that indica and sativa cannabis strains look different and grow differently, but this distinction is primarily useful only to cannabis cultivators. So how exactly did the words “indica” and “sativa” make it into the vernacular of cannabis consumers worldwide, and to what extent are they meaningful when choosing a strain?

The Origin and Evolution of Indica/Sativa Terminology

(Amy Phung/Leafly)
The words “indica” and “sativa” were introduced in the 18th century to describe different species of cannabis: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.The term sativa, named by Carl Linneaus, described hemp plants found in Europe and western Eurasia, where it was cultivated for its fiber and seeds. Cannabis indica, named by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, describes the psychoactive varieties discovered in India, where it was harvested for its seeds, fiber, and hashish production.
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Although the cannabis varieties we consume largely stem from Cannabis indica, both terms are used–even if erroneously–to organize the thousands of strains circulating the market today. Here’s how terms have shifted since their earliest botanical definitions:
  • Today, “sativa” refers to tall, narrow-leaf varieties of cannabis, thought to induce energizing effects. However, these narrow-leaf drug (NLD) varieties were originally Cannabis indica ssp. indica.
  • “Indica” has come to describe stout, broad-leaf plants, thought to deliver sedating effects. These broad-leaf drug (BLD) varieties are technically Cannabis indica ssp. afghanica.
  • What we call “hemp” refers to the industrial, non-intoxicating varieties harvested primarily for fiber, seeds, and CBD. However, this was originally named Cannabis sativa.
Confused? Understandably so. As you can see, with the mass commercialization of cannabis, the taxonomical distinctions between cannabis species and subspecies got turned on its head and calcified. It seems the contemporary use of indica and sativa descriptors is here to stay, but as an informed consumer, it’s important to understand the practical value of these categories—which brings us to the research.

Indica vs. Sativa Effects: What Does the Research Say?

This three-type system we use to predict cannabis effects is no doubt convenient, especially when first entering the vast, overwhelming world of cannabis. With so many strains and products to choose from, where else are we to begin?
“The clinical effects of the cannabis chemovar have nothing to do with whether the plant is tall and sparse vs. short and bushy, or whether the leaflets are narrow or broad.”
Ethan Russo, neurologist and cannabis researcher
The answer is cannabinoids and terpenes, two words you should put in your back pocket if you haven’t already. We’ll get to know these terms shortly. But first, we asked two prominent cannabis researchers if sativa/indica classification should have any bearing on a consumer’s strain selection. Ethan Russois a neurologist whose research in cannabis psychopharmacology is respected worldwide, and Jeffrey Raber, Ph.D., is a chemist who founded the first independent testing lab to analyze cannabis terpenes in a commercial capacity, The Werc Shop. “The way that the sativa and indica labels are utilized in commerce is nonsense,” Russo told Leafly. “The clinical effects of the cannabis chemovar have nothing to do with whether the plant is tall and sparse vs. short and bushy, or whether the leaflets are narrow or broad.”
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Raber agreed, and when asked if budtenders should be guiding consumers with terms like “indica” and “sativa,” he replied, “There is no factual or scientific basis to making these broad sweeping recommendations, and it needs to stop today. What we need to seek to understand better is which standardized cannabis composition is causing which effects, when delivered in which fashions, at which specific dosages, to which types of [consumers].” What this means is not all sativas will energize you, and not all indicas will sedate you. You may notice a tendency for these so-called sativas to be uplifting or for these indicas to be relaxing, especially when we expect to feel one way or the other. Just note that there’s no hard-and-fast rule and no determinant chemical data­ that supports a perfect predictive pattern.

If Indica vs. Sativa Isn’t Predictive of Effects, What Is?

The effects of any given cannabis strain depend on a number of different factors, including the product’s chemical profile, your unique biology and tolerance, dose, and consumption method. Understand how these factors change the experience and you’ll have the best chance of finding that perfect strain for you. Cannabinoids The cannabis plant is comprised of hundreds of chemical compounds that create a unique harmony of effects, which is primarily led by cannabinoids and terpenes. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD (the two most common) are the main drivers of cannabis’ therapeutic and recreational effects:
  • THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) makes us feel hungry and high, and relieves symptoms like pain and nausea. For a full list of THC’s potential effects, read more here.
  • CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating compound known to alleviate anxiety, pain, inflammation, and many other medical ailments. For more information on CBD, read more here.
Cannabis contains over a hundred different types of these cannabinoids, but start by familiarizing yourself with these two first. Instead of choosing a strain based on its indica/sativa/hybrid classification, consider basing your selection on these three buckets instead:
  • THC-dominant strains are primarily chosen by consumers seeking a potent euphoric experience. These strains are also selected by patients treating pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and more. If you tend to feel anxious with THC-dominant strains or dislike other side effects associated with THC, try a strain with higher levels of CBD.
  • CBD-dominant strains contain only small amounts of THC, and are widely used by those highly sensitive to THC or patients needing clear-headed symptom relief.
  • Balanced THC/CBD strains contain balanced levels of THC, offering mild euphoria alongside symptom relief. These tend to be a good choice for novice consumers seeking an introduction to cannabis’ signature high.
It’s worth noting that both indica and sativa strains exhibit these different cannabinoid profiles. “Initially most people thought higher CBD levels caused sedation, and that CBD was more prevalent in indica cultivars, which we now know is most definitely not the case,” Raber told Leafly. “We are more prone to see some CBD in sativa-like cultivars, but there isn’t a systematic rule or relationship in that regard.”
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Terpenes If you’ve ever used aromatherapy to relax or invigorate your mind and body, you understand the basics of terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds commonly produced by plants and fruit. They can be found in lavender flowers, oranges, hops, pepper, and of course, cannabis. Secreted by the same glands that ooze THC and CBD, terpenes are what make cannabis smell like berries, citrus, pine, fuel, etc.
“Terpenes seem to be major players in driving the sedating or energizing effects.”
Jeffrey Raber, Founder of The Werc Shop
Like essential oils vaporized in a diffuser, cannabis terpenes can make us feel stimulated or sedated, depending on which ones are produced. Pinene, for example, is an alerting terpene while linalool has relaxing properties. There are many types of terpenes in cannabis, and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with at least the most common. “Terpenes seem to be major players in driving the sedating or energizing effects,” Raber said. “Which terpenes cause which effects is apparently much more complicated than all of us would like, as it seems to [vary based on specific] ones and their relative ratios to each other and the cannabinoids.” According to Raber, a strain’s indica or sativa morphology does not specifically determine these aromas and effects. However, you may find consistency among individual strains. The strain Tangie, for example, delivers a distinctive citrus aroma, while DJ Short’s Blueberry should never fail to offer the hallmark scent of ripe berry. If you can, smell the strains you’re considering for purchase. Find the aromas that stand out to you and give them a try. In time, your intuition and knowledge of cannabinoids and terpenes will guide you to your favorite strains and products.
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Biology, Dosing, and Consumption Method Lastly, consider the following questions when choosing the right strain or product for you.
  • How much experience do you have with cannabis? If your tolerance is low, consider a low-THC strain in low doses.
  • Are you susceptible to anxiety or other side effects of THC? If so, try a strain high in CBD.
  • Do you want the effects to last a long time? If you do, consider edibles (starting with a low dose). Conversely, if you seek a short-term experience, use inhalation methods or a tincture.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a strain, but if you truly find that indica strains consistently deliver a positive experience, then by all means, keep ‘em coming. However, if you’re still searching for that ideal strain, these are important details to keep in mind.
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What Cannabis Strain Is Right for You?

This may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a budtender whose job it is to guide consumers to the right product. Ironically, the more you know about cannabis, the more questions seem to arise. But understanding the basic properties of cannabinoids, terpenes, and consumption methods will often answer the most fundamental question of cannabis: What product is right for me? Here are some helpful beginner resources to get you started: For budtenders, be cognizant of the basis of your recommendation, especially for customers treating medical ailments. Educate yourself on the benefits of different cannabinoids and terpenes, and use that knowledge to make a recommendation beyond the oversimplifications and marketing tactics embedded in the sativa/indica distinction. “In the future, I’d like to see the terms ‘sativa’ and ‘indica’ be abandoned in favor of a system in which the consumer tells the budtender what s/he would like to have in terms of effects from their cannabis selection, and then study the offerings together,” Russo said. “If a buzz is all that is wanted, then high THC with limonene or terpinolene would be desirable. If someone, in contrast, has to work or study and treat their pain, then high CBD with low THC plus some alpha-pinene to reduce short-term memory impairment would be the ticket.” Cannabis may not be as simple as we’d like, but its diversity and complexity is what makes it such a remarkable plant and tool for consumers of all types.

Best Cannabis Strains for Beginners

Updated 2/15/18 In many instances, a bad first experience may be enough for someone to tragically banish cannabis from his or her life forever. Typically the reason for doing so has to do with the anxious, paranoid side effects associated with THC, but what first-timers might not realize is there are a few ways to minimize those unpleasant feelings. For those beginners and low-tolerance consumers, we’ve compiled three basic tips, tricks, and recommendations for finding that perfect first-time experience. Note: You can filter “beginner strains” on dispensary menus to see if any of these recommendations are available near you.
graph of average thc & cbd levels in marijuana strains for beginners
Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

Find a Low-THC, High-CBD Cannabis Strain

Unlike THC, CBD is a non-intoxicating compound with relaxing and medicinal properties. CBD can help counteract the anxiety associated with THC, so it’s a perfect starting point for new users. You’ll often find strains with equal parts THC and CBD, but some contain almost no THC at all. We have plenty of high-CBD strains to browse in the database, but here are some of the most commonly found and widely embraced varieties:

Find Harlequin Nearby

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Start Slow With THC-Dominant Cannabis Strains

Let’s start with the first and most obvious piece of advice: slowly ease into a THC-dominant cannabis strain, as they’re more likely to cause anxiety and paranoia. Settle yourself into a comfortable place and start with a low dose, maybe even just a single small hit if it’s your first time.
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While many strains today tend to stretch toward a THC ceiling of 20 to 25 percent, those with less than 15 percent THC typically provide a less overwhelming experience. Keep in mind you’ll need lab-tested cannabis to know how much THC a flower contains, as amounts can vary between strains and even individual harvests. For example, one batch of Jack Herermay exhibit dramatically lower levels of THC than another, depending on how it was grown or phenotypic variances. Not only that, there’s additional variability that comes with each person’s unique brain chemistry and subjective experience. What works for one beginner may not be the best for the next, but the below recommendations are meant to be starting points for those looking for a more balanced and mellow experience. These strains tend to deliver a more gentle euphoric experience, but once again, check the testing information specific to the item you’re interested in buying. If it has a THC content that exceeds 20%, chances are that strain may be too potent for your purposes.

Blue Dream beginner strain

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Cannabis Delivery Methods Vary in Their Effects

Our parting advice to you aspiring cannabis champions: be mindful of the delivery method. The strain is only half of the story; smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting can all affect your overall experience. There’s no right or wrong choice here for beginners, but there are nuances between them that should be considered. Smoking Cannabis for Beginners Most people begin cannabis with smoking, which has its benefits and drawbacks. One advantage smoking offers is dose-control – it’s easy to take a small amount and the acute effects usually subside after 20 to 30 minutes. But if you can recall the burning sensation in your throat the first time you took a hit, you can imagine that smoking may also turn some folks off entirely. Vaporizing Cannabis for Beginners Vaporizing may in fact be the most ideal delivery method for newbies. It’s easy on the throat and lungs, dosing is easy, and the flower’s flavors are usually better preserved. Portable oil-filled vaporizer pens are a great place to begin since you can take a hit as needed, while table-top vaporizers give you a larger portion at once (which you might feel obligated to finish).
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Ingesting Cannabis for Beginners Edibles are a fantastic way to get around smoking cannabis. However, if you’re new to the game, start slow and dose low; the effects can take up to an hour or two to kick in, and they tend to be a lot more intense and long-lasting than inhaled cannabis. Novice consumers should start with a small dose–maybe just 5mg–and work their way up to the standard 10-20mg doses. Cannabis Topicals for Beginners Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions and balms that absorb transdermally for relief of pain, inflammation, and other localized symptoms. Most of them won’t get you high at all, so topicals are highly recommended to patients who want medical marijuana without all the cerebral hassle.

Ingest or Inhale? 5 Differences Between Cannabis Edibles and Flowers

Muffinscandieshummusbaconteapizzaguacamolevegetable medley…the virtually endless list of cannabis-infused foods opens up fascinating possibilities for the adventurous consumer. As you venture deeper into the exciting world of marijuana, you may find yourself wondering what to expect from these edibles. Maybe you’ve already given them a go and are wondering why they induce that intense, almost psychedelic high that lasts so long. Speculate no longer, curious ones: we’re going to break down the differences between psychoactive snacks and the more familiar inhaled forms of cannabis.
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1. THC Is Absorbed Differently

Why are marijuana-infused edibles typically so much stronger than smoked or vaporized cannabis? When you consume cannabis in an ingestible form, its THC is metabolized by the liver, which converts it to 11-hydroxy-THC. This active metabolite is particularly effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier, resulting in a more intense high. Inhaled THC undergoes a different metabolic process because rather than passing through the stomach and then the liver, the THC travels directly to the brain. This is why the effects of smoked or vaporized cannabis come on faster and diminish quickly.

2. Effects and Duration

The Golden Rule of edibles: start small and be patient. Because of the way edibles are metabolized, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to kick in, and the effects can last several hours. These effects vary between edibles, but generally, consumers report stronger body effects coupled with an almost psychedelic head high in large doses. Smaller amounts yield milder and arguably more comfortable effects, which is why we reiterate: start small and be patient, or you’re gonna have a bad time.
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Edibles may be strong, but compared to inhaled cannabis, they actually deliver a smaller concentration of cannabinoids to the bloodstream. Ingesting edibles introduces only 10 to 20 percent of THC and other cannabinoids to the blood plasma, whereas inhaled cannabis falls closer to 50 or 60 percent. The effects of smoked cannabis tend to peak within the first 10 minutes and rapidly dissipate over the next 30 to 60 minutes.

3. Edibles Are More Difficult to Dose

Determining the THC content of a homemade batch of edibles is no easy feat, and even professional distributors sometimes have difficulty capturing the advertised dose in their products. Because of the delay between ingestion and onset of effects, consumers may sometimes overestimate the dose. Inhaled cannabis, with its instantaneous effects, allows the consumer to gradually dose as needed.
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In legal markets, 10 milligrams of THC is considered a “standard” dose that normally delivers mild effects. A 100mg edible is considered much (much, much) more potent and should be split into several doses over time. Colossal amounts of THC won’t kill you, but trust us: you will enjoy the next several hours of your life more if you dose responsibly and patiently.

4. Disparities in Advertised Potency

In unregulated markets without meticulous testing, it’s possible that an edible’s potency does not match the label. Keep in mind that your go-to distributor may have a batch that varies from the last one you tried, so if you think, “The last time I tried this, it was fairly weak, so this time I’ll eat twice as much,” you may find out the hard way that this latest batch is a lot stronger than what you expect. Legal cannabis systems are moving toward stricter regulations for edible testing and THC content maximums, but if you’re living in a state without these guidelines in place, be sure to ease into your edible expedition slowly and cautiously until regulations and testing pave the way for consistency and accurate labeling.
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5. Edibles as a Healthier Alternative to Smoking

Many people become interested in edibles because they don’t enjoy the harsh experience of smoking or are worried about the long-term health concerns associated with it. Vaporization is another health-conscious alternative commonly recommended, but edibles can oftentimes provide longer lasting relief to chronic symptoms like pain, often making them a preferred choice for medical patients. Edible recipes don’t always have to consist of the the stereotypical pot brownie or a sugary sweet treat; nowadays, you can transform most dishes into a cannabis-infused concoction. Try some cannabis cannabis-infused granola or quinoa salad, or make your own cannabis butter and douse your kale chips with it if that’s what you’re into. We don’t care, as long as you stay cautious and remember our parent-y voice in your head when it comes time for feasting.

What Are Cannabis Oil, Shatter, and Wax Extracts?

Shatter, wax, honeycomb, oil, crumble, sap, budder, pull-and-snap…these are some of the nicknames cannabis extracts have earned through their popularity, prevalence, and diversification. If you’ve heard any of those words before, they were likely used to describe BHO (butane hash oil), CO2 oil, or similar hydrocarbon extracts. This list of descriptive subcategories might lead you to believe that there are stark differences between each one, but the division between glass-like shatter and crumbly wax is more superficial than you’d expect. For those of you who are new to the concentrates game, a cannabis extract is any oil that concentrates the plant’s chemical compounds like THC and CBD. This is achieved through a variety of extraction processes and solvents, the most common being butane. Advancements in extraction technology have enabled the use of other solvents like carbon dioxide and pure hydrocarbons in a process that utilizes pressure in a safe closed-loop system. The end product is a highly potent oil of varying consistencies most popularly used for vaporization and dabbing.

Compare Cannabis Concentrates

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So what’s with the different consistencies, and are they telling of an extract’s quality?

What is Marijuana Shatter?

Cannabis shatter oil Shatter, with its flawless amber glass transparency, has a reputation for being the purest and cleanest type of extract. But translucence isn’t necessarily the tell-tale sign of quality – the consistency and texture of oil comes down to different factors entirely.
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The reason shatter comes out perfectly clear has to do with the molecules which, if left undisturbed, form a glass-like appearance. Heat, moisture, and high terpene contents can also affect the texture, turning oils into a runnier substance that resembles sap (hence the commonly used nickname “sap”). Oils with a consistency that falls somewhere between glassy shatter and viscous sap is often referred to as “pull-and-snap.”

What is Marijuana Wax?

Cannabis wax oil Cannabis wax refers to the softer, opaque oils that have lost their transparency after extraction. Unlike those of transparent oils, the molecules of cannabis wax crystallize as a result of agitation. Light can’t travel through irregular molecular densities, and that refraction leaves us with a solid, non-transparent oil. Just as transparent oils span the spectrum between shatter and sap, wax can also take on different consistencies based on heat, moisture, and the texture of the oil before it is purged (the process in which residual solvents are removed from the product). Runny oils with more moisture tend to form gooey waxes often called “budder,” while the harder ones are likely to take on a soft, brittle texture known as “crumble” or “honeycomb.” The term “wax” can be used to describe all of these softer, solid textures.

The Complex Art of Cannabis Extraction

Cannabis oil extraction There’s a reason cannabis extraction is now as big a part of competitive Cannabis Cups as flowers; the knowledge and care that goes into extracting oils is as complicated as the art of growing the plants they are derived from. Every step of the extraction process demands a balance of art and science, beginning with the selection of starting material and ending with the purging and storage process. This simplified explanation of oil consistencies is only a scratch on the surface of this emerging craft, and it’s exciting to imagine how much further science and technology will carry its potential. All photos were taken at X-Tracted Labs in Seattle, Washington.

What Are Cannabis Topicals and How Do They Work?

New methods of cannabis consumption are bringing us further away from the notion that marijuana belongs solely in a bong or joint – or that it has to get you high, for that matter. Cannabis-infused topicals are an example of how new modes of consumption are revolutionizing perceptions of marijuana as their accessibility, safety, and efficacy invite even the most unlikely patrons into the world of medical cannabis.

What are Topicals?

Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Because they’re non-intoxicating, topicals are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the cerebral euphoria associated with other delivery methods. Other transdermal innovations are fast arriving in the cannabis market, including long-lasting patches and tingly lubricants for patients and recreational consumers alike. Strain-specific topicals attempt to harness certain terpenes and cannabinoidsin a chemical profile similar to that of Blackberry KushPermafrostBlueberry, or whatever other strains the processor wishes to imitate. Along with THC, CBDTHCA, and other cannabinoids, topical producers may also select ingredients and essential oils for additional relief, like cayenne, wintergreen, and clove.

How Do Marijuana-Infused Topicals Work?

Cannabis-infused lotions, salves, oils, sprays, and other transdermal methods of relief work by binding to a network of receptors called CB2. These CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and are activated either by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as “phytocannabinoids” (e.g., THC, CBD). Even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce that intense “high” you’d get from smoking or ingesting cannabis. With most topicals, cannabinoids can’t breach the bloodstream; they only penetrate to the system of CB2 receptors. Transdermal patches, however, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have psychoactive effects with a high enough THC content.

What Symptoms Do Marijuana-Infused Topicals Treat?

Topicals are most popularly chosen for localized pain relief, muscle soreness, tension, and inflammation, but anecdotal evidence is beginning to show a widening spectrum of potential benefits, from psoriasis, dermatitis, and itching to headaches and cramping. A THC-rich rub infused with cooling menthol and peppermint is a perfect way to wind down from a brutal workout or hike. For intense localized pain, you may try a warming balm that combines the deep painkilling properties of cannabinoids with a tingling, soothing sensation. Inflammation symptoms may require a different chemical profile, as Cannabis Basics’ CEO Ah Warnerexplains:
“Arthritic pain is caused by inflammation. My products have [THCA] and CBD, both of which are anti-inflammatory. Active THC is not for inflammation, but when left in its acid form and combined with CBD, the two work to get rid of inflammation and the pain that comes with it.”
Different topicals have different benefits to offer depending on the way they are processed and the ingredients that are used, so experiment with various transdermal products to see what works for you. Medical marijuana states are seeing more and more options for topical remedies as time goes on, and for sufferers of pain and inflammation, it’s worth exploring. You’d be surprised the difference that one special ingredient makes.

Cannabis Tinctures 101: What Are They, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them

What is a Cannabis Tincture?

Cannabis tinctures, also known as green or golden dragon, are alcohol-based cannabis extracts – essentially, infused alcohol. In fact, tinctures were the main form of cannabis medicine until the United States enacted cannabis prohibition. With a name like “green dragon,” you might think cannabis tinctures are not for the faint of heart, but they’re actually a great entry point for both recreational and medical users looking to ease into smokeless consumption methods.

How to Dose and Use Cannabis Tinctures

Cannabis tincture bottles
Tincture dosages are easy to self-titrate, or measure. Start with 1mL of your finished tincture and put it under your tongue. If you’re happy with the effects, you’re done. Otherwise, try 2mL the next day and so on until you find the volume you’re happy with (ramp up slowly while testing your desired dosage so you can avoid getting uncomfortably high). According to The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, tinctures will last for many years when stored in a cool, dark location. When combined with easy self-titration, the long shelf life means you can make larger quantities of tinctures at once and have a convenient, accurate way to ingest cannabis. Compared to the traditional cannabis-infused brownie, tinctures are a low calorie alternative. If you make your tincture with 190-proof alcohol, you’re looking at about 7 calories per mL. Unless you have an extremely weak tincture, you’ll easily stay under your typical brownie’s 112 calorie count(and let’s face it, your brownies are probably far more caloric than that).
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Tinctures can be incorporated after cooking into all sorts of meals and drinks:
  • Juices
  • Ice creams and sherbets
  • Soups
  • Gelatin
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Salad dressing
I recently added some cannabis tincture to my homemade chicken tikka masala for a delicious infused dinner.
Chicken tikka masala infused with cannabis tincture

How to Make Cannabis Tinctures

Homemade cannabis tincture in a mason jar
If you don’t have a full-featured kitchen or just prefer simple, mess-free preparation techniques, cannabis tinctures are a great DIY project. At a minimum, you can make a tincture with a jar, alcohol, a strainer, and cannabis products. That’s all you need! Depending on your available time, equipment, and risk tolerance, you’ll prefer some recipes over others. All of the below recipes have been tried by yours truly and have been confirmed to work. Pick whichever one seems most convenient to you!

Traditional Green Dragon Tincture Recipe

Green dragon cannabis tincture
If you’ve heard about green dragon before reading this article, this is probably the recipe you’re most familiar with.
  1. Decarboxylate your flower or extract (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency)
  2. Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear)
  3. Close the jar and let it sit for a few weeks, shaking it once a day
  4. After a few weeks, filter it with a coffee filter and start with a small dose of 1mL to assess potency
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Master Wu’s Green Dragon Tincture Recipe

Making cannabis tincture in a water bath
This guide was first published in 2006 on cannabis.com and is one of the most comprehensive tincture recipes available online, with detailed instructions and excellent tips and tricks. Master Wu’s recipe differs from the traditional method in that it uses heat to speed up the extraction and concentration process. Unlike the traditional method, you’ll be finished with this recipe in an evening. Below you’ll find an abridged summary of the technique.
  1. Decarboxylate your flower or extract (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency)
  2. Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear)
  3. Simmer the jar in a water bath for 20 minutes at 170 degrees F
  4. Strain the mixture and store
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Modern Green Dragon Tincture Recipe

Homemade cannabis tincture mixture
If you’re following some of the latest developments in online tincture recipes, you may have heard of the following recipe which sounds too good to be true, but many people (including myself) are having great results with it.
  1. Decarboxylate your flower or extract (if you’re using flower, grind it to a fine consistency)
  2. Mix your flower or extract in a mason jar with high-proof alcohol (preferably Everclear)
  3. Shake for 3 minutes
  4. Strain the mixture and store

Cannabis Tincture FAQs

Find ground cannabis used to make tinctures
How do I take my tincture? Tinctures are usually taken by putting a few drops under your tongue (sublingually). When taken this way, the arterial blood supply under your tongue rapidly absorbs the THC. That being said, you can always swallow the tincture in a drink or food, but it will be absorbed slower by your liver. How fast is the onset? When dosing a tincture sublingually, expect to feel the effects in 15-45 minutes and reach your peak high at about 90 minutes. If you simply drink the dose, expect a slower onset that more closely resembles traditional edibles. How long will I feel the effects of a cannabis tincture? Expect to be high longer than when you smoke or vaporize, but shorter than when you eat a butter or oil-based edible. Have more questions? Ask them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to get them answered for you!

6 Ways to Enjoy Cannabis Without Having to Smoke It

Think back to the first time you smoked cannabis. You probably recall the burning throat, the uncoordinated attempts to use a carb, the inability to gauge how long to pull the smoke… Ah yes, those were the days. But the memories of yesteryear for you veterans are very alive and real for those just now jumping on the cannabis bandwagon. Not everyone likes to smoke, and those with compromised lung health may not even have the option. The stigmatized image of smoking might be the only thing stopping some people from trying cannabis, even if they live in a state with legal marijuana (maybe you can see your mom taking a bong rip, but I sure can’t). Even though there are a number of different ways you can consume cannabis that have evolved over the years, you may be looking for a more health-conscious option. Here are some suggestions for a smoke-free cannabis experience.

1. Vaporizing

How to You don’t need to torch your cannabis with a lighter to reap its benefits; actually, its chemical compounds vaporize at a much lower, less harmful temperature. The taste of vaporized cannabis is often preferred to that of combusted flower, and the vapor is much easier on the lungs. Larger table-top vaporizers can offer high-quality vapor with advanced temperature settings, while small hand-held devices let you enjoy cannabis flower or oils wherever you go. These days there are many affordable vaporizers to choose from if you’re interested in trying out this smokeless form of cannabis consumption.
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2. Edibles

How to One of the more obvious alternatives to smoking is cannabis-infused food and drink. The diversity of marijuana edibles is quickly and vastly expanding, so much so that you can infuse virtually anything that calls for butter or oil. You can make your own at home (it’s surprisingly easy, but be cautious with dosing), but dispensaries and retail shops often have a staggering number of options, from infused lemonade to roasted garlic crackers. You’ve probably heard it already, but it must be said: start with a low dose and be patient. Because of the digestive process, edibles take much longer to kick in and can have intensely psychoactive effects.
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3. Ingestible Oils

How to Ingestible oils are basically any cannabis concentrate that is taken orally. These most commonly come in capsules or plastic applicators, either of which can be consumed directly or added to food or drink. Like edibles, ingestible oils can induce powerful effects that take a while to kick in, so be mindful of your dose!
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4. Tinctures

How to Tinctures are infused liquids that extract cannabis compounds using an alcohol soak and are applied directly under the tongue. Unlike ingestible oils and infused foods, tinctures enter the bloodstream immediately, allowing for fast-acting effects and better dose control. A variety of flavors, potencies, and cannabinoid profiles are often available, catering to your specific preferences or medical needs.
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5. Topicals

How to Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions and balms that are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. One unique property of cannabis topicals is their ability to treat symptoms without psychoactive effects, so if you need to be clear-headed and bypass that euphoric high altogether, topicals are the way to go.
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6. Dabbing

How to Dabbing is a method of flash-vaporization in which cannabis concentrates are dropped on a heated water-pipe attachment and inhaled for intensely potent effects. The attachment is a glass or metallic nail that’s heated up using a butane torch – and if that sounds sketchy to you, the public eye wouldn’t disagree. But dabbing enthusiasts typically elect this method because (a) properly refined concentrates offer a clean experience free of plant material, and (b) dabbing produces a vapor as opposed to smoke. It may not be the option you suggest to a first-time cannabis consumer, but it’s certainly an option for graduates.
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Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with all the options out there, use our location finder to pick up the materials you need to try the smoke-free consumption method of your choice!

Less Is More: Why Low-Dose Cannabis Is Important

According to Jake Browne, America’s budtender and head strain reviewer at Denver Post’s The Cannabist, most consumers are not looking for strains to get them higher than Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson trolling KFC at 3:00 a.m.on a weekend bender in Amsterdam.

“If I had cataloged the most common request at dispensaries where I’ve worked,” writes Browne, “it wouldn’t be, ‘What’s going to get me the highest?’ but rather, ‘What can I smoke that won’t knock me out?’”

Nonetheless, since the 1980s growers keep crossbreeding high-octane thoroughbred cannabis strains to steadily drive up THC content while breeding out an essential cannabinoid: CBD. According the National Institute on Drug Abuse, potency has increased from around 4 percent in the 1980s to 15 percent (as of 2012). Peruse a few menus in Denver or San Francisco and you’ll find plenty of strains topping 20, even 30 percent THC. (Notably, after the Netherlands saw THC increase dramatically from 2000 to 2005, THC content has trended downward for the last 10 years.)

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For most consumers, “high-octane” THC is ill-suited for them on many levels. High THC is therapeutically less effective. It’s not as enjoyable. And, it’s far more likely to produce adverse — short and long-term — effects. So why do growers keep breeding stronger strains? Good question!

As long as cannabis has been used — nearly 5,000 years — medical practitioners have recognized the importance of moderate dosing. The earliest published volume on Chinese pharmacopoeia (circa 2700 B.C.E.), the Pen Ts’ao (The Herbal), warned consuming too many Ma (marijuana) seeds could cause a person to see demons, while moderate doses would enable users to communicate with the spirits. Of course, too much cannabis is unlikely to cause you to see demons, nor will just the right amount grant you mystical powers to “cross over.” But, the point is that for thousands of years, we’ve known moderate doses are better than high doses.

The Biphasic Effect: Why Less is More

Marijuana bud close up

As humans, we’re conditioned to think, “if a little bit is good, then more is better.” Right? Rarely is this the case. Cannabis, like many substances, produces biphasic effects.

What is the “biphasic effect?” Think of alcohol. What happens when you drink a glass (or two) of wine? You feel relaxed, more sociable, the effects are pleasurable. Drink too much, and you can get overly emotional, aggressive, even physically ill. That’s the biphasic effect at work. Low to moderate doses elicit desired effects; high doses do just the opposite.

The biphasic effects of cannabis are subtler than alcohol, but no less consequential. Low doses can make you feel relaxed and happy. Too much THC can impair cognitive function, and even induce intense anxiety or a panic attack.

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When it comes to therapeutic use, too much THC can provide diminishing returns, or worse, exacerbate symptoms.

U.C. San Diego researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial and like many studies, confirmed cannabis is effective for pain relief — but within a narrow therapeutic window (the range in which a drug is effective).

Participants found no relief in either the placebo or low dose THC. The medium dose produced the most significant relief, while participants consuming the high THC dose cannabis experienced more pain. One shortcoming was that the study only considered THC (cannabis has numerous other cannabinoids and terpenoids that can influence outcomes). The authors acknowledged “there might be another compound within the cannabis leaf that we did not measure that may be leading to the increased pain at the high dose.”

GW Pharma came to similar conclusions when conducting clinical trials for Sativex, a 1:1 THC/CBD oromucosal spray. Participants were given three daily dose ranges: low-dose (1-4 sprays), mid-dose (6-10 sprays), and high-dose (11-16 sprays). Predictably, low and mid dose groups achieved superior results over the placebo, while high-dose patients experienced more adverse effects (22% dropped out).

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The biphasic effect has been documented in numerous studies of various conditions, from depression to multiple sclerosis.

Consumers Prefer Moderate THC Over High THC

Above Marijuana Cannabis Plant Growing Indoor Growing Facility

Research has validated widespread anecdotal reports that consumers prefer mildly euphoric effects and therapeutic efficacy over getting as “high” as possible.

In a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) of 18 active cannabis users comparing the effects of vaping to smoking, San Francisco oncologist Dr. Donald Abrams and his team measured subjective outcomes like ‘self-reported high’ and how ‘enjoyable’ the experience was.

Participants were given low, medium, and high THC dose cannabis randomly on different days. Of those who expressed a preference, no one preferred the lowest dose, but twice as many people preferred the medium dose over the high dose.

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“This is not your parents’ pot,” is a favorite punchline used by prohibitionists to suggest the reputation of cannabis as a relatively benign substance is no longer deserved. No doubt, they fail to consider that higher concentrations aren’t always a bad thing. Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggest — including the Abrams study — that patients self-titrate and inhale more deeply when THC is lower. If a consumer has to inhale less smoke to achieve the desired effect, clearly that is healthier. However, there’s a point of not only diminishing returns, but where THC levels are simply too high to be therapeutically useful or enjoyable for the vast majority of consumers.

As cannabis becomes more mainstream and savvier consumers start to favor strains (like wines) for properties beyond potency —  bouquet, diverse terpenes and aromas, craftsmanship — growers may take note. Instead of growers trying to outdo each other with their obsession to drive up psychoactive potency, they’ll focus their efforts on creating a wider array of complex strains rich in a variety of terpenoids and cannabinoids beyond THC.

8 Ways to Counteract a Too-Intense Cannabis High

Updated: 2/8/18 Any cannabis consumer can tell you that if there’s one feeling no one enjoys, it’s the moment when you realize, “I’m too high.” Maybe the edible kicked in three hours late. Perhaps you tried to impress a group of friends by breathing in a little bit too deeply. You might have just tried concentrates for the first time and were caught off-guard by their potency. Or maybe you are just a low tolerance consumer. There are a thousand ways it can happen, but once it does, the resulting experience can be uncomfortable and enough to turn off even the most seasoned cannabis lover. Fear not! Most of us have experienced the unpleasantness that can come with overwhelming cannabis effects. Thankfully, there are ways to help come back down when you feel too high, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable from excessive cannabis consumption.
Click to enlarge. (Amy Phung/Leafly)

Tips on How to Stop Being So High

1. Don’t Panic

Lotus Pose. Let us start with the infinite wisdom of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC. YOU ARE FINE AND EVERYTHING IS OKAY. Most symptoms of “greening out” (imbibing too much cannabis) will dissipate within minutes to hours, with no lasting effects beyond a little grogginess. Give it some time and these feelings will eventually pass, trust us. Also, contrary to what you may have heard, there have been zero reported cannabis overdose deaths in the history of ever, so despite how freaked out you may feel or how sweaty you get, you won’t expire from excess consumption. (Don’t take that on as a challenge, just keep in mind that if you accidentally overdo it, you’ll be okay in a while.)
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2. Know Your Limits Before Consuming

Marijuana Pipe, grinder and nug. If you can, try to prepare for your cannabis session according to your tolerance level. Okay, this tip won’t help you once you’re already over the edge, but it can help you avoid an uncomfortable situation next time. Consume with friends you know and are comfortable with, and don’t feel pressured to consume more than you can handle. It’s all well and good to make new friends, but being surrounded by strangers when you can’t feel your face is unpleasant at best and anxiety-ridden at worst. Take it slow, especially when consuming edibles. We recommend trying a standard dose of 10 mg (or even 5 mg if you really want to ease into the experience) and waiting at least an hour, if not two, before increasing your edibles dosage. The same goes for inhalation methods – if you’re used to occasionally taking one hit off your personal vaporizer, we don’t advise sitting in a smoking circle puffing and passing for an hour.

3. Try Water and Light Snacks

Pitcher of water
Water, water, water–don’t forget to hydrate! Whether you prefer water or juice, make sure you have a nice, cold beverage on hand (preferably non-caffeinated). This will help you combat dry mouth and allow you to focus on a simple and familiar act – sipping and swallowing. Keep in mind that by “hydrate,” we don’t mean “knock back a few alcoholic beverages.” If you’re feeling the effects of your strain a little too aggressively, stay away from alcohol as it can increase THC blood concentrations. Some people find that a light snack helps them feel a little more grounded. Consider grazing on some fruits, nuts, or cheese, and see if it’s a little easier to connect mind and body.
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4. Keep Some Black Pepper on Hand

Black peppercorns
If you find yourself combating paranoia and anxiety, a simple household ingredient found in kitchens and restaurants everywhere can come to your rescue: black pepper. Many swear by the black pepper trick, even Neil Young! Just sniff or chew on a few black peppercorns and it should provide almost instantaneous relief.

5. Keep Calm and Rest

Tired woman taking a nap in a bed. Find a calm, quiet place where you can rest and breathe deeply. Remember, the intense discomfort you’re feeling will pass. Take deep full breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breath and just rest a while. Sometimes sleeping it off can be the best alternative to stopping a strong high, but it’s not always easy to turn your brain off. Once you’ve found a quiet area, lay down and let yourself relax. If drowsiness and sleep are quick to onset, take a little nap to rejuvenate yourself. Should you be unable to fall asleep, just get comfortable until you feel strong enough to spring back up.
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6. Try Going for a Walk

Running feet If you can’t turn your brain off, sometimes a change of scenery and some fresh air to get your blood pumping will help invigorate you. Just remember to stay close to your immediate surroundings–we don’t want you wandering off and getting lost while you’re feeling anxious and paranoid! And refrain from taking a walk if you’re feeling too woozy or light-headed to stand; instead, we recommend going back to Option #5 and laying down for a while.

7. Take a Shower or Bath

Stack of folded white spa towels over blurred bathroom background While it’s not always feasible if you’re out and about or at a friend’s house, if you’re at home, try taking a nice shower or bath as a really pleasant option to help you relax.

8. Distract Yourself!

Record playing
All of the activities that seem so entertaining and fun while high are also a great way to distract yourself while you try to come back down to Earth. Some suggestions include:
  • Watch a funny cartoon
  • Listen to your favorite album
  • Play a fun video game
  • Talk to your friends (who are hopefully right by your side, reassuring you)
  • Snuggle with your significant other
  • Try coloring as a calming activity (seriously, adult coloring books are becoming all the rage lately)
  • Eat something delicious
Whatever distractions you prefer, make sure it’s a familiar activity that gives you warm fuzzy emotions. Your brain will hopefully zone in on the positive feelings and give you a gentle reminder that you are safe and just fine.

Bonus Tip: Try Some CBD

CBD oil/extracts CBD is an excellent anxiety-fighting compound, and for many people it can be used to counteract too much THC. Check out our article about how CBD’s anti-anxiety mechanisms work by modulating the receptor signaling associated with THC. If all of these suggestions fail and you find that you are still feeling alarmingly uncomfortable, you can always seek medical attention and tell a doctor or nurse that you are having a cannabis-induced anxiety attack. This option is always available, even in states where cannabis is illegal. From a medical perspective, physicians have your best interest in mind and want to do all they can to make sure you’re okay, even if it’s helping you come down when you’re too stoned. Hopefully, however, the above suggestions were just what you needed to counteract and hopefully stop that too-intense cannabis high. (Or, if none of these work, you could always follow Snoop Dogg’s advice and “put ur face in mayonnaise.”) How do you stop being high and come down from overwhelming cannabis effects? Share your tips in the comments section!

What Are Cannabis Topicals and How Do They Work?

New methods of cannabis consumption are bringing us further away from the notion that marijuana belongs solely in a bong or joint – or that it has to get you high, for that matter. Cannabis-infused topicals are an example of how new modes of consumption are revolutionizing perceptions of marijuana as their accessibility, safety, and efficacy invite even the most unlikely patrons into the world of medical cannabis.

What are Topicals?

Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Because they’re non-intoxicating, topicals are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the cerebral euphoria associated with other delivery methods. Other transdermal innovations are fast arriving in the cannabis market, including long-lasting patches and tingly lubricants for patients and recreational consumers alike. Strain-specific topicals attempt to harness certain terpenes and cannabinoidsin a chemical profile similar to that of Blackberry KushPermafrostBlueberry, or whatever other strains the processor wishes to imitate. Along with THC, CBDTHCA, and other cannabinoids, topical producers may also select ingredients and essential oils for additional relief, like cayenne, wintergreen, and clove.

How Do Marijuana-Infused Topicals Work?

Cannabis-infused lotions, salves, oils, sprays, and other transdermal methods of relief work by binding to a network of receptors called CB2. These CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and are activated either by the body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids or by cannabis compounds known as “phytocannabinoids” (e.g., THC, CBD). Even if a topical contains active THC, it still won’t induce that intense “high” you’d get from smoking or ingesting cannabis. With most topicals, cannabinoids can’t breach the bloodstream; they only penetrate to the system of CB2 receptors. Transdermal patches, however, do deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream and could have psychoactive effects with a high enough THC content.

What Symptoms Do Marijuana-Infused Topicals Treat?

Topicals are most popularly chosen for localized pain relief, muscle soreness, tension, and inflammation, but anecdotal evidence is beginning to show a widening spectrum of potential benefits, from psoriasis, dermatitis, and itching to headaches and cramping. A THC-rich rub infused with cooling menthol and peppermint is a perfect way to wind down from a brutal workout or hike. For intense localized pain, you may try a warming balm that combines the deep painkilling properties of cannabinoids with a tingling, soothing sensation. Inflammation symptoms may require a different chemical profile, as Cannabis Basics’ CEO Ah Warnerexplains:
“Arthritic pain is caused by inflammation. My products have [THCA] and CBD, both of which are anti-inflammatory. Active THC is not for inflammation, but when left in its acid form and combined with CBD, the two work to get rid of inflammation and the pain that comes with it.”
Different topicals have different benefits to offer depending on the way they are processed and the ingredients that are used, so experiment with various transdermal products to see what works for you. Medical marijuana states are seeing more and more options for topical remedies as time goes on, and for sufferers of pain and inflammation, it’s worth exploring. You’d be surprised the difference that one special ingredient makes.

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