Over time, cannabis has become much more than just a plant people like to smoke. With cutting-edge research and sweeping legalization throughout the country, cannabis has transformed into a product with engaging variety and versatility for all kinds of consumers.
Since improvements in the cannabis industry are always taking place, knowing about the different types of cannabis and cannabis products is important for consumers looking to make an informed purchase. But walking into a dispensary can be overwhelming if you’re unsure what you’re looking for.
If you’re new to cannabis or curious about what kinds of experiences you can have with it, this guide can help you. Here’s everything you need to know about cannabis and cannabis products.
TYPES OF CANNABINOIDS
Cannabis plants contain a diverse network of chemical compounds that interact with the body and engage with physiological functions. These compounds are called endocannabinoids. In fact, cannabis is comprised of roughly 500 natural components — but here are the main cannabinoids that can affect us during consumption:
THC is the main psychoactive element in cannabis. The physical and mental sensations that come from cannabis use is the THC fusing with your body’s neurotransmitters. That’s why during a buzz you might feel relaxed, experience pain relief, or a heightened sense of euphoria (you might also get hungry).
Aside from these effects, THC is also thought to have several purported health benefitsfor those dealing with a variety of issues. For instance, studies show that THC may reduce chronic pain, alleviate side effects from chemotherapy, settle digestive problems, and bring down tissue inflammation.
Now if you’re looking to obtain the medicinal benefits of THC without an intense high, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acid) will provide the relief without a psychoactive effect. THC in its acidic state is how this cannabinoid is found naturally on the plant. It will not become psychoactive until it is heat activated and converted into THC Delta 9. In its acidic state, the benefits could range from pain relief, insomnia, inducing appetite for those going through chemotherapy, and even reducing seizures amongst epileptics.
CBD is a cannabinoid that is mostly known for its use in treating anxiety and pain. CBD has no intoxicating effects and may actually help reduce the psychoactive high if THC is overconsumed. This bodes well for cannabis users who want to experience the physical relief and sensation of the herb without impacting their cognitive daily functions.
In terms of what CBD does for the body, its relaxation properties are comparable to THC and may be even more useful in treating a variety of medical conditions and physical ailments. It is reported that patients experiencing nausea, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, acne, depression, diabetes, and anxiety can use CBD to aid in alleviating symptoms.
It is important to note that although CBD has many benefits, without trace amounts of THC those benefits may be less effective. The “entourage effect” refers to whole-plant medicinal value, comparable to the mainstream vitamin market where dehydrated whole-plant concentrates are often sought after because the multitude of chemical compounds found in plant-based foods simply cannot be replicated by isolated or synthetic compounds. When purchasing CBD products is it important to think twice and fully research your product before spending your hard earned money.
If you’ve ever held onto your weed for too long, you might notice that this strain you bought to keep you awake and euphoric a year ago is now making you a little slow or drowsy. Chances are that some amount of the THC in that bud has degraded over time and converted to CBN.
CBN is a phytocannabinoid that comes from THC when it is exposed to light and oxygen over time. Its effects are primarily sedative in nature and could actually help your brain get into the right sleep cycles. CBN activates non-cannabinoid receptors in the body, creating a healthy network of communication for cells. Endocannabinoid receptors are impacted indirectly and open up opportunities for several potential medical and health benefits.
Since CBN carries antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, it is often used by those seeking relief from insomnia and osteoporosis. CBN is also thought to bolster the immune system as well as have antibacterial properties when applied as an ointment to cuts, burns, and rashes.
TYPES OF CANNABIS
Now that you understand the primary chemical compounds of cannabis, it’s important to know the different strains of the plant and the desired effects they are known for. We can break down cannabis strains into three main categories: indica, sativa, and hybrids. Each category contains many subsets, all with unique properties and experiences for the user.
Historically, indica strains thrived in highland, Middle Eastern climates, such as India or Afghanistan. Sativa strains originated in coastal, warm regions, like Central and South America. Hybrids are a genetic blend of the two, offering many different combinations of effects associated with the indica and sativa strains. Considering the abundance of strains currently available on the market, it’s safe to say that many are a fusion of both to some degree.
Indica strains are said to offer a calming experience, rendering a mild cerebral effect and physical relaxation. If you think of the stereotypical images of “stoners” laying around on the couch, too much indica could be the root cause. We often help consumers keep these strains straight with a silly little joke that indicas will have you “in-da-couch”. Joking aside, stereotypes have painted a picture of cannabis consumers as lazy, yet these “body high” strains can be extremely relieving to those who experience significant physical pain from injuries or illness.
Many consumers love indica for its reported use in relieving pain, stress, and anxiety. In truth, the indica experience is more about unwinding than being fatigued. Some of the most popular indica strains are LA Confidential, Northern Lights, and Kosher Kush.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are sativa strains, reported to produce an uplifting, energetic experience for cannabis users. Despite mainstream research that shows a somewhat equal distribution of cannabinoids between indica and sativa strains, what potentially makes sativa more spirited are the terpenes found within its genetic makeup.
Due to the sativa plant’s taller, wispier leaves and its origin in warmer climates, terpenes (unsaturated hydrocarbons from the plant’s oils) found in these strains may have a higher potency, resulting in a hyperactive form of stimulation. If you feel the sudden urge to tidy your room or you have a creative breakthrough on a problem you’ve been struggling with, that just means the sativa is working properly.
Some of the most popular sativa strains are Sour Diesel and Jack Herer.
With hybrid strains, cannabis users experience a combination of physical and psychoactive sensations. Pinpointing an exact chemical makeup is a bit challenging since crossbreeding renders complex blends, but as mentioned earlier, many strains can be distinguished by their dominance of sativa or indica.
When researching hybrid strains, decide on what kind of experience you’re looking for. For example, if you want an energized feeling, then sativa-dominant strains are a solid choice. For a laid-back vibe, indica-dominant strains are the way to go. Also keep in the mind the cannabinoid content in hybrid strains. The amounts of CBD, THC, or CBN are mostly dictated by the strain’s dominance, but some distributors may carry products that are elevated in these aspects.
Some of the most popular hybrid strains available are Lemon Kush, Blue Dream, and Skywalker.
TYPES OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS
Perhaps the most versatile feature of cannabis is that it can be consumed in multiple ways. This accessibility is perfect for medical and recreational users alike — what works for one person may not be enjoyable for another.
Consider a patient experiencing arthritis in their hands; rolling a traditional joint may exacerbate pain, so instead, eating an edible or rubbing in a topical ointment could be a better option. Whatever your needs or preferences, the wide range of cannabis products make consumption more convenient. Not to mention the experiences can be equally profound.
Here are some of the most popular cannabis product types for you to explore.
If you’ve ever heard users refer to cannabis as “bud,” then you’re familiar with flower.
Flower refers to the buds of the cannabis plant. Once a cannabis plant is mature, the flowers are harvested, dried and packaged for sale. Flowers come in a variety of strains depending on the cross-pollination of seeds before the plant grows, but female flowers are the only ones capable of producing quality cannabis. Male plants can contaminate a grower’s crop by over-fertilizing females, which results in poor quality.
Flowers can be ingested through traditional inhalation methods, like joints, pipes, and one-hitters.
Let’s face it: in this day and age, the joint has taken a back seat to more modern, up-and-coming options for consumption. But that doesn’t mean joints are any less enjoyable.
Pre-rolls are typically filled with shake (the small bits of flower that fall off the buds during handling) and ground-up buds. While pre-rolls have received negative press as being filled with low-quality cannabis, the truth is that it’s tough to find dispensaries that would even sell compromised product. Long story short: find a solid dispensary like Blüm and you’ll find good pre-rolls.
The pre-roll is a perfect option for the consumer who wants a classic cannabis experience — but doesn’t quite have the time or skills to craft the perfect joint. If that sounds like you, let us do the hard work for you!
Perfect for feeling the effects of cannabis without the fumes, edibles are consumable products that contain cannabis in varying amounts.
Nowadays, THC and CBD are baked into desserts, mixed into chocolates, processed into gummy candies, or swirled into beverages. Highly concentrated cannabis from plant oils or cannabis-infused butters are typically used as a cooking agent. In some instances buds can be used for cooking, but mainstream practices have moved away from grind-and-dine methods.
Nonetheless, edibles are a great alternative for medical cannabis users who rely on bite-sized doses to manage pain, reduce nausea, or for a boost of energy to get through the day. Plus, it’s a fun way for recreational users to unwind before dinner or have a hearty laugh during a flick.
Although they’re used to make edibles, concentrates are fundamentally different in their composition as opposed to oils or buds found in food products.
Primarily, concentrates are made to retain all of the most potent parts of the cannabis plant. Examples of concentrates include shatters (glass-like consistency), budder (cake batter texture), crumble (peanut brittle-like), and crystalline (crystal rock and power forms).
Concentrates also have a high absorption rate for the body. Once ingested, the effects of cannabis are felt almost instantly and can last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.
In the same class as edibles, tinctures are viscous cannabis extracts made with an alcohol base and are typically placed in a carrier oil.
Tinctures are made from a fermentation-like process where cannabis flowers are ground down and mixed with a high-proof alcohol in an air-tight container. Over the course of a month, the contents are filtered through a strainer and what’s left is a potent tincture ready for consumption. Users typically ingest tinctures by administering a drop or two underneath their tongues.
Those wishing to be discreet about their usage may opt for tinctures since it can be easily applied in any situation. With tinctures users have direct control of the dosage, rather than relying on strain potencies that can vary due in flower due to growing conditions. Tinctures are also a good option for users seeking to avoid sugar consumption that often accompanies edibles.
Mostly used for pain relief, topicals are ointments, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin when applied.
Rather than cannabis flowing through the bloodstream, topicals activate CB2 receptors within the skin. These receptors are responsible for controlling immune system functions, pain management, and appetite. Treating inflammation is the main benefit that topicals are said to offer, which is why medical cannabis users potentially have a lot to gain from the product.
Topicals may contain levels of THC, but they won’t induce the same intoxicating experience that traditional cannabis methods offer. The main purpose is to provide soothing relaxation without an intense high.