Marijuana is one of the few non-toxic, non-addictive products that individuals can use after a long day at work and forget about any stress that they might have accumulated. In the US, approx. 61% of cannabis products consumers reported using them to relax. However, marijuana is also used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, such as inflammation of the joints and muscles, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety disorders, glaucoma, and others.
In areas such as British Columbia, marijuana can be purchased from government-owned dispensaries, as well as from authorized private sellers, such as TopShelfBC.
The strains of marijuana and their main compounds
Marijuana can be purchased in a wide variety of forms. It is most often sold as-is, to be rolled up and smoked, however, there are many marijuana-derived products that are available in dispensaries. This having been said, choosing the right product for you is usually a matter of understanding what effects each type of marijuana has on the body.
- Sativa – Sativa strains are often more energizing than others. They have a higher THC content and are considered to induce a “mind high”. These strains are preferred by individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders or have very stressful lives. Using Sativa strains leaves individuals feeling creative and productive;
- Indica – Indica strains have higher levels of CBD than other types of marijuana. However, this does not necessarily mean that they contain less THC. It is possible to find Indica products that offer the same high as Sativa ones. For the most part, Indica strains are considered very relaxing and are highly effective at reducing pain. Furthermore, they are often used by individuals who have trouble sleeping or who suffer from inflammation of the muscles and joints;
- Hybrid strains – Hybrid strains are created by mixing different types of Sativas and Indicas. These are created to obtain products that have very high levels of THC or CBD. Most dispensaries will specify if a hybrid is Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant. Depending on this, the effects of a hybrid will be inherited from one parent-plant or the other;
Each of the three categories presented above will have certain THC: CBD ratios. Both compounds are used to treat or relieve pain, anxiety, nausea, and a variety of other conditions. Other than the medical benefits, the main difference between THC and CBD is the fact that the former is the one responsible for the high sensation.
THC is intoxicating and if a product has a higher concentration of this compound, then the sensation will be more intense. On the other hand, CBD does not offer any of the intoxicating effects of THC and is much more effective for treating chronic pain.
Marijuana-based products that are designed for medicinal use are often very effective because it is possible to increase their CBD concentration without risking that some individuals will not be able to handle the intense intoxicating effect that a high dose of THC would have.
As a result, high doses of CBD can be more often found in products such as topical ointments, edibles, and pills. There are also CBD-based products that are prescribed for pets such as cats and dogs.
Know what marijuana products are available to you
Most dispensaries will sell Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid products, under a wide variety of forms. Depending on how a particular product is consumed, it will have different effects on the body. The main types of marijuana products are:
- Inhalation products – These are meant to be used in a vape or rolled in a joint and smoked. These products allow the body to easily absorb and process the CBD and THC compounds and are considered useful for treating conditions such as neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia. With these, the body absorbs, on average, 25% of the active compounds that the products contain;
- Edible products – Edible products can in many shapes and sizes. They can be in the form of gummies, cookies, brownies, butters, and even beverages. Edibles can sometimes contain much larger doses of THC and CBD than inhalation products, making them more suited for experienced consumers that want an intense high sensation;
- Tinctures, oils and other topicals – These products are usually meant for medical situations. They are applied to parts of the body and absorbed through the skin. Items that fall under this category tend to have a higher content of CBD and a lower concentration of THC;
What to expect when using marijuana
Depending on the strain that you use, Marijuana products may have different side effects. These range from dry mouth, lethargy, and dizziness, to increased heart rate and decreased blood pressure. However, these are usually associated with the THC content of the product, not the CBD one. Furthermore, the higher the THC concentration, the more intense the high sensation will be and the greater the risk of experiencing one of these side effects.
Products that have low-to-medium concentrations of THC can usually be enjoyed without experiencing any of the side effects mentioned above. It is also important to mention that smoking and eating cannabis-based products will create different experiences.
Products that are meant for smoking, such as vape oils, are more easily absorbed by the body and the effect of the THC and CBD content can be felt in only a couple of minutes. Furthermore, the high sensation only lasts for 30-60 minutes.
On the other hand, using oral cannabis products, such as edibles, take longer to affect the body. In some cases, it can take up to two hours for an edible’s THC and CBD content to be fully absorbed by the body. In the cases of these products, the body converts the THC into 11-hydroxy-THC. This new compound produces more intense psychoactive effects. The high from edibles can last for far longer than other products and it may take several hours or days for the sensation to completely disappear.
Know your tolerance and start slow
Every individual has a different tolerance to marijuana, particularly to its THC content. Individuals who have never used cannabis products in the past should start with strains that have a lower THC content and then move to stronger ones until they find a high that they are comfortable with. For beginners, the ideal THC:CBD ratio is 1:1. This will allow the CBD content to balance out the psychotropic effects of the THC and deliver a pleasant experience all-round.