Welcome to the wonderful world of cannabis! We see that you’re doing your homework before diving in, and we’re here to help! Dipping your toes into this rapidly changing realm can be daunting, even for the most experienced cannabis users. With so many unfamiliar terms, mastering the menu of your local dispensary can feel like a Herculean task if you don’t have the basics down. This blog aims to equip you with a strong foundation in cannabis knowledge and will cover topics ranging from basic terminology to uses, as well as potential side effects.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a class of chemicals that are produced by the cannabis plant. To date, over 120 unique cannabinoids have been discovered, the most well-known of which are THC and CBD, and—to a lesser extent—CBN and CBG. Rather than acting independently of one another, cannabinoids (and the hundreds of other non-cannabinoid components produced by the cannabis plant) influence each other’s effects. This synergistic relationship has been described as the “entourage effect,” and is the focus of a growing body of cannabis research.
Our bodies are equipped with a biological system through which we interact with cannabinoids: the endocannabinoid system. We naturally produce neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) called endocannabinoids that cannabinoids mimic and influence in the same manner, which is why cannabinoids like CBD garner so much attention.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most studied because it is the cannabinoid that produces the “high” that the cannabis plant is most famous for. THC differs significantly from the rest of the cannabinoids due to its high degree of psychoactivity, and potently so. It impacts the brain by binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, causing the brain to release dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure.
If you’re looking for relief from anxiety and stress, then you might want to try CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, does not produce intoxicating effects like THC. Think of it more as providing a sense of calm and well-being that is felt over the entire body.
What’s the Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp?
One of the most confusing concepts for new cannabis users is the difference between marijuana and hemp. While the two both belong to the cannabis genus and are therefore genetically related, they are entirely different species. Both plants have unique chemical and physical characteristics, and are regulated differently.
The primary difference between marijuana and hemp is the THC content. Marijuana is usually grown for its flowers, which are high in THC, and is used both medicinally and recreationally.
Hemp, on the other hand, contains an extremely low amount of THC (0.3% or under) and is grown for medical and industrial use. Hemp and its products are legal to grow and possess in all 50 states if the THC content is under the 0.3% threshold. Some common products derived from hemp fibers and oils include paper, clothing, food, textiles, animal feed, and CBD oil.
Currently, the FDA does not regulate over-the-counter CBD products. As a result, there is no federal requirement for lab testing to show safety or effectiveness. It’s recommended that consumers look for CBD products with a COA, or Certificate of Analysis. A COA is proof of independent lab testing that looks for CBD and THC content, as well as the presence of heavy metals and other toxins.
Indica, Sativa, Hybrid
While the relevance of these terms beyond the actual growing processes is a hotly debated topic, they have a solid footing within the industry and should be familiar to you before you begin your product selection. Biologically speaking, these terms refer to how a cannabis plant looks, but it will be more helpful for you to think of these three terms as broad categories into which most cannabis products can be sorted. While each category has certain associated effects, it’s important to remember that each person’s experience with cannabis is unique, and not entirely predictable.
The Indica category is generally associated with full-bodied, sedative effects (pro tip: remember this by associating Indica with “in-da-couch”). In contrast, products belonging to the Sativa category are typically associated with more cerebral effects, such as enhanced focus, energy, and productivity. Just as the name suggests, Hybrid products represent a balance between the Indica and Sativa categories, but can sometimes lean more heavily towards one or the other (i.e. a product can be a Indica-dominant Hybrid or a Sativa-dominant Hybrid).
Potential Benefits and Risks
The cannabinoids in cannabis target CB1 and CB2 receptors located throughout the body in the central nervous system, glands, the gonads, and connective tissues. Due to the influence on these receptors the potential for management and relief of several health conditions and symptoms is possible.
THC has been shown to support neuropathic pain relief in conditions like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and others. It can also be an effective aid in treating nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, and stress.
Although studies have found there are no major malignancies to the throat and lungs when smoking cannabis, it still may pose risks to those with cardiovascular conditions. If you’re looking for alternatives, smokeless vaporizers, along with tinctures, topicals and edibles are available from the Fine Fettle menu.
The user experience with cannabis is highly dosage dependent. It is always recommended to start low and go slow in order to achieve an enjoyable experience and find symptom relief without experiencing side effects. Common side effects may include dry mouth and eyes, increased heart rate, anxiety, and paranoia (associated primarily with sativa strains). CBD is protective against the negative side effects that may be experienced with THC, so trying both cannabinoids together is recommended for first time consumers.
There’s a growing amount of scientific data that suggests that CBD can have therapeutic benefit in a variety of conditions related to stress, anxiety, and depression. Also highly supported is the view that CBD can aid sufferers of migraines, glaucoma, asthma, and some cardiovascular diseases.
CBD is also relatively safe and has been shown to be tolerated among a wide variety of dosages between people. This study suggests that when used moderately, there were no major impairments to motor function, mood, or vital signs.
How To Find the Best Cannabis Products
The best way to discover which cannabis products work best for you is simply trying some! Our budtenders at Fine Fettle dispensary in Rowley, MA, will be happy to help you navigate your options and find the best product for your needs.
Cannabis products come in a variety of dosage forms: flower, edibles, topicals, tinctures, extracts, and vape cartridges. Stopping by a Fine Fettle dispensary and talking with your local budtender is an excellent way to get recommendations based on the goals you want to achieve with better living through cannabis. Our budtenders can also tell you about upcoming promotions and local events that can help you be more involved in the local cannabis community in Rowley and beyond. Lastly, the Fine Fettle blog has a ton of product highlights, recipes, and other pertinent information that will keep you in the loop.
Final Words for Cannabis Newbies
Trying cannabis for the first time doesn’t need to be difficult or confusing. It really all depends on your needs and what you are looking for. Cannabinoids like THC can provide some relief to conditions like stress and insomnia with some psychoactive effects. At Fine Fettle, we offer a range of THC-based products at our dispensary for adult use.
CBD on the other hand can be the answer for you if you’d like something non-intoxicating but therapeutic. By experimenting with these different cannabinoids in varying concentrations, you may find a relief more tailored to you.
Feel free to browse the Fine Fettle Menu for the best high-grade cannabis products and gear. Stop in at our dispensary in Rowley for one-on-one support from our knowledgeable budtenders to find the right cannabis product for you.