10 things that you should know about recreational marijuana

Published Aug 21, 2019 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / wtamas

Now that marijuana legalization has been in effect for nearly a year in Canada, it’s time to clear the air surrounding some of the most asked questions, biggest stereotypes and least understood topics around cannabis consumption.

1. Is THC toxic?

A lot of people are under the impression that some media headlines are to be believed. The trouble is that the English language is a complicated one, and there are some words that we use to describe multiple different things. In this case, the most sensationalized news stories used terms like overdosed, which can be confusing when read by the uneducated public.

We often think of an overdose as something life-threatening and incredibly dangerous, which is typically the case. However, when this term is implied in regard to situations surrounding cannabis consumption, the individual who overconsumed was probably not in any real danger.

Though high doses of cannabinoids can trigger specific medical conditions, such as the gentleman who had a heart attack after eating an infused lollipop. In this case, the treat merely triggered a reaction in the body, that could have just as easily been brought on by any type of normal physical activity.

There has never been a single fatality recorded from ingesting too much cannabis, as it would require smoking well over 3000 joints at any one time, to get anywhere close to a toxic dose of THC for humans. Marijuana plants are entirely non-toxic, making them the safest recreational substance on the legal market today.

2. Indica vs Sativa is there any difference?

The Indica vs Sativa debate runs right through every comparison that is associated with cannabis use. It is generally believed that Indica is a stronger, more potent blend that results in a sleep-induced state, and Sativa strains are touted as uplifting and motivating.

However, the truth is much more complicated, and these labels mean more to a marijuana grower than they ever should for consumers. Indica plants are shorter and more robust, which helps them to thrive in less than ideal temperatures and environments. Sativa strains, on the other hand, can typically reach 6 feet tall and produce longer more spindly branches with lower yields.

3. Will eating raw marijuana buds get you high?

Chances are, whether you are an experienced consumer or a less knowledgeable outsider of the community, you probably know that the most commonly used method of ingestion is smoking. However, most don’t realize that while puffing away on a spliff or joint, an incredibly essential process is taking place that results in you feeling high.

Cannabis plants naturally produce the inactivated elements THCA and CBDA, that will not get you high without a bit of extra assistance from a process called decarboxylation. The addition of heat converts these precious elements into the ones that most people are aware of, which are CBD and THC. So, in short, no, eating raw marijuana buds will not get you high, but they are packed with essential fatty acids and vitamins. This is the reason why so many people have begun juicing bud flowers for health reasons without the adverse effects.

4. Can you use recreational marijuana products to medicate?

Yes, you most certainly can! A lot of people are discouraged by the lack of options available to medical patients in Canada. As of now, the few recreational cannabis products available include buds and a few topical oils or sprays, but you can legally create all of the incredible treats, creams, oils, tinctures and edibles using recreational cannabis as a medicine.

The most challenging aspect of this journey is often the lack of CBD that is found across the marijuana strains, which is the element that provides the anti-inflammatory, and more medicinal base. So be sure to do your research and select a strain that is appropriate for your particular symptoms. If you don’t know where to start, then it might be a good idea to seek assistance from a knowledgeable budtender.

5. The difference between medical and recreational marijuana

Since recreational marijuana products can be used to self-medicate, a lot of people wonder what the difference is. In truth, this is a label that has been applied by the medical marijuana community, and well established and documented cannabis research. These strains are selected for their quality, and efficiency in treating some of the most and least commonly felt symptoms from all across the globe.

In the end, all cannabis strains come from the same genetics that medicinal ones are derived from. The most significant difference is, most products sold as medical marijuana will contain a higher dose of CBD, an element that is missing from selective breeding by recreational consumers over the years. CBD pure medical products are generally advertised as cannabis, but most often made from industrial strains of hemp that are known for producing high quantities of the element, without the presence of THC.

6. What is the appropriate dose of THC or CBD?

There is really no one size fits all approach when it comes to the elements from the marijuana plant. Every person’s symptoms or idea of the perfect high will differ slightly from the next. Your tolerance level and the way that your body absorbs and interacts with the cannabinoids are also unique to you, so this may require some experimenting. That is especially true for brand new consumers, who are just learning what to expect.

Though we cannot provide an exact dosage guide that will suit everyone, there are a few recommendations that are excellent to keep in mind as you begin the journey to building a positive relationship with marijuana use.

7. The types of cannabis products

For new consumers, it can be challenging to navigate the menus of unheard of and exciting marijuana products. Here is a breakdown of the categories of different cannabis products that exist today.

·         Raw cannabis buds - These are the bud flowers from marijuana plants that are harvested, dried and cured before being packaged and ready for consumption.

·         Oral concentrates - This category includes concentrated cannabis products that are meant to be taken by mouth like sprays, oil and tinctures.

·         Smokable concentrates - Smokable marijuana concentrates can go by many names, including BHO, wax, budder, honey, oil, shatter and dabs.

·         Topical concentrates - Topical cannabis products can take many forms, including oil, cream, salve and spray.

8. The different methods of ingestion

·         Smoking - This is often done using a cannabis roll like a joint, blunt or spliff, but can also be accomplished with the assistance of a bong, dab rig or weed pipe.

·         Eating - Edibles are relatively straight forward and consist of anything that you would be expected to eat.

·         Topical - Topical products are generally used for medicinal purposes by being rubbed onto the body and absorbed through the skin.

·         Vaping - A THC vape is a healthier alternative to smoking, as you do not inhale noxious chemicals or carcinogens.

9. How long do the effects of marijuana last?

The answer to this one will depend on how much you took, how potent it was, your method of ingestion, and your tolerance levels.

·         Edibles - Cannabis edibles are considered to be the strongest method of ingestion, as the effects are typically more intense and longer-lasting than any other. These goodies can take up to 2 hours to kick in and 12 hours to entirely wear off.

·         Smokables - Joint, bong, THC vape, and all other methods of inhalation will be felt almost immediately and can last for up to 6 hours after ingestion.

·         Topicals - Creams, salves and any other topical cannabis products do not result in the stereotypical high sensation, as the majority of the cannabinoids are not able to make it past our skins natural barriers, but if you are using them for pain relief, then you can expect up to 4 hours of effects.

10. How long does THC stay in your system?

When people ask the ultimate question of how long THC stays in your system, they could be meaning one of two different things. The first is the one we answered just prior to this and includes how long the felt sensations can be expected to last, but in this case, we are talking about how long the THC and/or CBD may be stored in your system.

This information can be especially useful for anyone who is facing drug testing and unsure of when they should quit. However, much like with dosing, there is no true answer for everyone. If you are an experienced and regular consumer of cannabis, then you can expect the THC to be detectable for longer than someone who has only smoked once in their entire life.

THC binds to the fat molecules in the body and clings there for quite some time. It will slowly and naturally dissipate over time, but it is not uncommon to still have THC detectable in your system for at least 30 days after your last use.

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