How does it work?
THC is the main compound in the cannabis plant, responsible for feelings of euphoria, relaxation, creativity and other effects that users report. Cannabis can also cause paranoia, anxiety, and other negative feelings in some.
Many things contribute to how cannabis affects you and makes you feel, including:
- Your body chemistry
- Type of strain consumed (its chemical profile)
- How much you consume (dosage)
- Method of consumption (joint, bong, dab, edible, etc.)
- Set and setting—are you having a good or bad day? Are you outside, inside, at a concert, or out to dinner?
- Intention—are you consuming to watch a movie, do art, or go for a run? Do you want to get a little high or very high?
There’s more to it than THC
Cannabinoids and terpenes are the main compounds in the cannabis plant that get you high or provide medicinal benefits. The two main cannabinoids are THC and CBD. THC gets you high, whereas CBD is non-intoxicating. People consume both cannabinoids for medicinal benefits. Most strains you buy at the dispensary will be high in THC, and some will be high in CBD or have a balance of the two.
Terpenes are weed’s scent compounds, giving the plant its complex aromas. Hundreds of terpenes are found in trace amounts in the plant.
Cannabinoids and terpenes work together synergistically through a process called the entourage effect, and they interact with and activate the body’s endocannabinoid system, a cellular system which maintains balance in your body. This is how you feel high and experience symptom relief or other effects of cannabis.
Too much, too little, or just right?
Dosing cannabis can be tricky because cannabis effects plateau at a certain point and if you take more, it won’t necessarily increase effects. This plateau level is different for everyone based on body chemistry, the weed strain’s chemical profile, and how much you consume.
Ways to consume weed include smoking, vaping, eating, and topical application. Weed can be smoked through pipes, bong, and bubblers, which can be made from a variety of different materials and objects. It can also be rolled and smoked in joints, blunts, and spliffs.
Vaporization is popular today, especially with the advent of vape pens, which are popular with beginners because they are discreet, portable, and easy to use. There are many different types of vaporizers—some are handheld, some are larger devices that are plugged in at home—and they can vaporize flower, concentrates, or both.
Dabbing is a relatively new form of consumption in which cannabis extracts are flash vaporized. Beware though, dabs contain concentrated amounts of THC and are very potent; sometimes just a sliver of a concentrate will be equivalent to a whole joint or bowl. Dabbing is often for more experienced consumers.
Edibles are any food or drink infused with cannabis. Common edibles include: gummies, brownies, chocolates, and cookies; less common edibles are: drinks, such as sodas, beer, and wine, potato chips, beef jerky, and pretty much anything that can have cannabis butter or oil added to it. They are great for cannabis beginners because you don’t need a device to consume them and they are measured and dosed, so you will get a consistent experience time after time.
With edibles, always remember: start low and go slow. Take a little bit, such as 5mg or even less, and wait an hour or two for the effects to kick in before taking more. Edibles are typically stronger, take longer to kick in, and last longer than smoking or vaporizing weed because they are processed in the stomach and liver, as opposed to the lungs.
Education is key
People have been consuming weed in various forms for thousands of years for spiritual, medicinal, and recreational purposes. Now, the jagged leaf that is so recognizable can start to become truly known. For more information, check out the resources at Leafly Learn here