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What to think about before consuming cannabis for the first time

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Too many times we hear horror stories about people getting an edible from a friend, consuming the whole thing and having a really bad trip; or trying a vape, not feeling that it was effective or not really enjoying it.

Since cannabis has been illegal for so long, most people never really think about cannabis as anything more than something you buy from a “guy you know”, ingested in a dark spot away from prying eyes.

But in fact, it is so much more, and like wine or craft beer, you need to educate yourself in order to refine your tastes and optimize the experience. Additionally, if you plan on consuming edibles, you need to understand doses for your body weight or you may regret it.

Now maybe we’re over-complicating a simple thing.  Maybe…but ask a wine expert or vodka connoisseur which brand they prefer and they will quickly share their opinion and speak lovingly of that brand.  The same can be said for cannabis.  Once you expand your palette and explore the many strains and ways to enjoy it, you’ll find your go-to.

Okay, let’s get this party started:

Strain choices:

This one is a common misconception. When I ask people about their favourite strain, some people say, “It’s all the same isn’t it?”  It most definitely is not.

There are primarily three major classes of strains: Indica, Sativa and Hybrid. Commit them to memory.

Indica: This type of strain is your best option for relaxation as it produces a “couch lock” or body stone coveted by those who wish to physically relax.  For me, this is a great option for nights when I’ve had a long day at work and I want to relax on the couch with a good book or movie.  I also tend to use this type of strain to help me ease into sleep before bed.

Sativa: When you want to be more active and have a focused mental experience, a Sativa is your best choice.  Where Indica is a better strain for nighttime consumption due to its soporific properties, Sativa is a better daytime strain option.  Its more cerebral than physical, so it’s great to have if you are going to a friend’s backyard BBQ and want to be relaxed but still socially engaged.

Hybrid: This type is exactly what it sounds like—a hybrid of Sativa and Indica strains.  The features of a hybrid will vary depending on what parent strains are used.  Hybrids can be an interesting mix, and you need to try them to truly understand which you prefer.

How best to consume cannabis:

Contrary to popular belief, there are several ways to enjoy cannabis beyond smoking.  Even smoking cannabis doesn’t have to mean simply smoking a joint.  Read on for more:

Smoking

While this is the most traditional way of consuming cannabis, it’s not the only way. But for some people it’s the go-to method, so here are some of the common ways you can smoke cannabis.

  • Hand-rolled joints: A classic solution, old-timers who love weed still love to roll joints and share with friends. If you don’t know how to roll a great joint, hook up with a Gen X’er or a weed-loving Baby Boomer for a tutorial. Joints are made for sharing though, so don’t Bogart, whatever you do!
  • Hand pipes: These can include different designs and types of material, so it’s a great way to express yourself.
  • One-hitters: These smaller pipes are made to look like cigarettes, so it’s a stealth way to consume when you are out in public.
  • Water pipes: While less convenient in terms of portability, water pipes are more advanced than a hand pipe (and people swear by their bongs or bubblers) so it’s worth a try if you are looking for new ways to consume. Using hookahs, which are also water pipes, is also a great, social way to smoke.
  • Homemade one-time devices: These are, in my opinion, a for-emergencies-only method. These are usually homemade pipes, like an apple pipe or homemade water pipe using a plastic water bottle.
Vaping

This method has advanced a lot in the past few years and has some great options. Additionally, if you really want to take it to the next level, convection vapes allow you to save the used, dry herb to make butter, etc. for edibles.
  • Portable vapes: Typically, vapes use concentrate or oils versus dry herb.  You can still find some dry herb options but they tend to be less effective.
  • Larger vapes: Typically larger vapes use convection and with this method, you can get a more even heating of the herb. Some of the most common are volcano vapes.
  • Dabbing: This is the newest form of vaping and is unique in that it uses concentrate heated on a hot nail to create a vape. There are some interesting players in this space but research well before trying it, as there is some technique required.
Oral consumption

This can be a tricky one at first because the time it takes to metabolize the cannabis is different than smoking. It’s important to really educate yourself before trying these methods.

  • Tinctures: This method is great if you don’t want to smoke or inhale vapours. It’s also a better way to control dosage.  It’s an easy way to absorb cannabis/CBD and can be great if you are using it for more medicinal (versus recreational) purposes.
  • Ingestible oils: This is a more medicinal method with concentrate packaged into capsules for easy digestion. This method is a good middle ground between tinctures and edibles, and provides more control when it comes to the dose you ingest.
  • Edibles: While this is one of the more controversial methods of using cannabis, for some people it’s the best and easiest way to partake. The controversy really stems from making cannabis look like a treat or dessert, and therefore more attractive to underage users. But the other challenge with edibles is that people don’t always understand that they work differently from smoking.  In fact, it can take upwards of 45 minutes to an hour for a person to feel the effects of an edible versus smoking or vaping, which takes 10 to 15 minutes to feel the effects.  So, while this can be a delicious option, you really need to ensure you are eating the correct amount and not overindulging.
Earth Kisses Sky Skin Salve

Earth Kisses Sky Cannabis Skin Salve

Topicals

Creams and salves are becoming increasingly popular and for good reason. Anti-inflammatory as well as medicinal properties (even relief for bug bites!!) are reasons many women may want to explore cannabis products when determining their skin-care or topical pain relief options. While topicals will not produce a buzz, women are turning more and more to cannabis topicals for relief of skin conditions and pain.

In the end, there are lots of ways to use cannabis. Cannabis is more than one experience and you need to try it in different ways and different strains to really understand if it’s the right choice for you.  Try various products to see what works best for you.

As always, enjoy responsibly!

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