Cannabis Basics for Cannabis Beginners
If you are beginning to take notice of all the emerging research that marijuana makes a positive difference in users’ lives, you aren’t alone. Cannabis use is on the rise, and for the most part, people who start to use cannabis products continue to use them thanks to their numerous benefits.
However, before you venture into your friendly neighborhood marijuana dispensary and make your first weed purchase, you need to know a bit more about cannabis — particularly what is in the drug, what types of cannabis you can buy, and all the different ways you can use it.
CBD vs. THC
Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, compounds unique to cannabis that tend to have unique effects on the human body. However, comparing CBD vs. THC is a good way to understand all of marijuana’s advantages and disadvantages.
THC, more specifically delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the most abundant cannabinoid in most varieties of cannabis. THC binds to certain receptors within the human body, causing the famous high associated with marijuana.
THC interrupts current bodily functions, like pain or nausea, and often inspires euphoria and deep relaxation. It is possible to overdose on THC, but overdoses aren’t particularly physically dangerous, merely uncomfortable. You can easily avoid an overdose by understanding your tolerance and being cautious with your dosing.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second-most abundant cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD does not bind with receptors, but it does influence the body to produce beneficial neurotransmitters that provide benefits of their own.
Studies on CBD have found it to be a critical treatment for seizure disorders as well as useful in the management of chronic pain and muscle spasms. In fact, CBD is so promising that it already forms the foundation for FDA-approved epilepsy medication. Also unlike THC, CBD doesn’t make users feel high, and it is impossible to overdose.
Cannabinoids vs. Terpenes
THC and CBD aren’t the only cannabinoids within cannabis, but they are the best understood. Researchers have discovered over 100 other cannabinoid compounds, but only nine (to include THC and CBD) have been studied in any quantity.
The other cannabinoids have similar names: cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerovarin (CBGV), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidivarin (CBDV) and cannabichromevarin (CBCV). More research is necessary to understand exactly how these compounds interact with the human body.
Terpenes are another class of compounds within cannabis that can have effects on users. Essentially, terpenes are natural fragrance compounds; their most obvious effect is in changing the smell of cannabis varieties, but they can also affect users’ health in certain ways.
Unlike cannabinoids, terpenes are not unique to cannabis. In fact, most of the terpenes present in different cannabis varieties are better known for their presence in other aromatic plants. For instance, limonene is the dominant odor of citrus, pinene is the smell of pine trees, and linalool is the aroma of lavender.
Terpenes might be the reason that different “strains” of weed have different effects, but as with cannabinoids, more research is necessary to fully understand how these compounds work.
Flower vs. Concentrates
There are many, many different ways to use cannabis. The oldest, most famous, and most popular way is to smoke flowers, which are dried nuggets of plant material that you crush up and roll into paper or else pack into the bowl of a pipe or bong.
Flower, also called bud and nug, tends to be affordable and is available in many varieties at pretty much every dispensary around the country. Even better, you can buy pre-rolls, which are like cigarettes prepared for you at the dispensary, so you don’t have to get your fingers sticky.
Increasingly, cannabis users have started preferring concentrates, which are products that strip the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. Concentrates come in various forms, from oils to waxes to toffee-like shatter and even powder.
These days, most concentrates are made with complex extraction rigs, but it is possible to make some concentrates, like kief and hash, at home. There are many different ways to use concentrates. You can wrap them into joints or administer some types under your tongue; you can also use a dab rig, which super-heats concentrates for a purer, smoother experience.
As a cannabis beginner, you have much to learn. Cannabis culture has evolved over the course of centuries, and knowledge about this sticky green herb continues to develop. If you take the time to talk to your local budtenders and stay abreast of emerging cannabis news, you should start to feel more confident with cannabis.