If you’re new to the world of cannabis, then October 17th, 2018 might have marked the start of legalization but also the beginning of an onslaught of information that can be overwhelming at times. The good news is that you don’t need to know everything to get started. If you don’t yet know your LPs from your THC, just sit back, relax and we will give you the highlights of everything you need to know about cannabis.
What is cannabis?
Marijuana, weed, pot, reefer, dope - it has gone by many names but cannabis is the scientific name for the plant and the one that is now used in the legal non-medical space. The flowers (buds) of the female cannabis plant are harvested, trimmed and cured, then inhaled or ingested as dried flower or an extract. You can legally buy and carry up to 30g or equivalent of non-medical cannabis in the form of dried flower, oils, and capsules.
You might be familiar with the phrase ‘BC Bud’ due to the famous reputation that cannabis from the province of British Columbia has across Canada and the world. Find out more about the history of BC Cannabis here.
Cannabis is a plant and we smoke/ingest the dried and cured female flowers.
Indica vs Sativa
Traditionally, cannabis has been unofficially classified as two subspecies: sativa and indica, with a ‘hybrid’ being a combination of the two. Cannabis sativa was considered to have a more energetic effect, whereas indica is thought of as having more of a relaxing effect (the ‘in da couch’ stoned feeling that you may associate with cannabis).
Licensed Producers (LPs) - companies that have been authorized to grow and sell cannabis - have continued to use these classifications post-legalization and when you buy online or in-store from BC Cannabis Stores or private licensed retailers you’ll see that sativa-dominant, indica-dominant, and hybrid are often used as categories.
Read more about naming conventions, on our post Indica vs Sativa, Does it Matter? to find out more about how hybridization has made these categories practically meaningless. Be aware of the categories as people will talk about them but don’t worry too much about them as a guidance tool. Think of it a bit like ‘red’ or ‘white’ wine - it doesn’t tell you much about how each individual wine will taste, whereas varietal and alcohol content etc may give you more info.
Indica and sativa are old ways of classifying cannabis based on the sub-species of plant. Sativa strains are considered to be uplifting and indica is thought of as having more of a sedating effect.
What are terpenes?
If you’ve experienced the floral smell of lavender, the earthy clean smell of pine needles, or the zesty citrus tang of an orange, then you’ve smelled terpenes. These are the aromatic compounds that act as an insecticide and are found in most plants, including cannabis. There is a school of thought that these terpenes can provide certain effects from uplifting (limonene) to mellow (myrcene) or invigorating (pinene). Read more about terpenes or check out our product pages for further information about the scents and aromas that you’ll find in our BC Sungrown cannabis.
Cannabis aromas may influence your experience.
What are THC and CBD?
On our website, you’ll see that we choose to classify our cannabis as High THC, High CBD or Balanced. You may be a little familiar with these terms but what are THC and CBD? They are both compounds called cannabinoids - there are hundreds of them in cannabis but we’ll focus on THC and CBD for now as these are the two that you’ll find on cannabis labels.
Cannabinoids interact with the body’s Endocannabinoid System to regulate things such as pain management, sleep, appetite, movement, and memory. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol if you want a science lesson) is the cannabinoid that produces a ‘high’ and euphoric effects, whereas CBD (Cannabidiol) is non-intoxicating and is thought to provide focus and calm.
CBD will not make you ‘high’ and high CBD products help to offset some of the effects of THC. Start low, go slow is the golden rule of cannabis consumption, especially for newcomers. Choose a product that is high in CBD and low in THC and try a little… wait… see how you feel… then try a little more until you get the desired effect.
Look for THC and CBD levels as the most important indicator of potential experience.
How do I consume cannabis?
Whether you smoke, vape or ingest cannabis, you need an application of heat to elicit a psychoactive effect. The heating process called decarboxylation and it converts the cannabinoid acids found in the plant's resin glands from psychoactively inert, to psychoactive. The application of heat removes an extra carboxyl molecule, converting THCA to THC, and CBDA to CBD.
Smoking or vaping dried flower will provide faster effects (within seconds or minutes) and may last a few hours. Ingesting cannabis as an extract in oil or capsules provides a slower onset (around 30 minutes to two hours) and may last up to 24 hours, because it needs to go through your digestive system and blood brain barrier. Again, start low and go slow - some people don’t wait to feel the effects and ingest more, so the effects can be more intense when they occur.
Starting with a small amount and waiting to see how you feel can help to avoid this - it’s virtually impossible to ‘overdose’ on cannabis (you’d need to smoke more than 20,000 joints in one go), but it can be unpleasant to feel anxious if overconsumption has occurred. Don’t be afraid of the effects, but take it slow in the beginning to figure out what you like - you wouldn’t chug a bottle of vodka and expect a light buzz, so a little common sense can help here. If for some reason you feel like the effects are too intense, rest assured that it’ll just be a temporary feeling and it won’t cause any damage.
Start low, go slow - ingesting and inhaling cannabis produces different duration of effects.
Choosing a cannabis product
It’s still a lot to take in but when you’re ready to choose your cannabis here are a couple of ways to choose your product and strain.
Look for a quality product - you want the flower (‘bud’) not the shake (the organic material that fall off dried flower). You might hear people talk about ‘premium’ flower or ‘mids’ - premium is top-notch cannabis and mids are mid-level quality cannabis, as the name suggests. Brick is low-quality cannabis and it tends to appear more in the black market. Legal non-medical cannabis is generally mids and above, although it’s worth reading reviews of an LP before you choose your product. Tantalus Labs’ Sungrown method provides quality by using elite genetics, careful growing techniques, long flowering times, cold drying, and full spectrum sunlight to ensure we produce premium cannabis.
Look for premium quality cannabis from reputable LPs.
Choosing a strain
So. You know what THC/CBD profile you’re looking for and you may be drawn towards certain terpenes (aromas), now how do you pick a strain?
You might hear people talking about cultivars or phenotypes - these are the correct botany terms for different varietals of cannabis but the term generally used is ‘strain’. You may expect strains with the same name to have the same flavour profile and effects, but much like a merlot can vary between vineyards, cannabis strains from different LPs may have different flavours but will have certain characteristics in common. With cannabis strains, years of underground growing, different techniques, and hybridization have meant that strains can vary between producers. In addition to this, some LPs are creating new strain names or giving classic strains a different name, so you’ll need to look more carefully at the THC/CBD and terpene content to find the right one for you.
In our Sungrown BC cannabis collection, you’ll find classic strains such as the high CBD Cannatonic and the high THC Blue Dream, as well as the balanced Skunk Haze and Harlequin. We also have strains that we’ve named ourselves high THC Serratus and high CBD Cascade. Look at THC/CBD content and aromas/terpenes to find the right one for you.
Strains with similar names may have similar effects but THC and CBD level are best indicators of potential experience.