New to Cannabis
by Cal Chan
Whether you grew up with cannabis as a recreational and/or medicinal tool, or you’re just beginning to explore this plant, it can be quite an interesting and enlightening experience. As a plant, it has been used for centuries for various medical, spiritual, and recreational purposes. While it continues to be illegal at the federal level, there are more and more states beginning to decriminalize and even legalize it for recreational use, which is quickly changing the cannabis landscape. So far, as of this posting, 37 states have legalized cannabis for medical use, and 18 states have legalized it for recreational use.
One of the first distinctions to make is the difference between cannabis and marijuana. These terms are often used interchangeably, however they are not quite the same. Cannabis refers to all products that are derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant. Marijuana refers to parts of the Cannabis Sativa plant that contain THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance in cannabis responsible for making you feel “high.” There are cannabis plants that contain no THC or trace amounts of it, but instead only contain CBD, or cannabidiol. These plants are referred to as industrial hemp, and are used for a variety of products like paper, fabric and textiles, supplements, food products, beauty products, clothing and accessories, and even household products. Many CBD-based tinctures are crafted using industrial hemp.
Cannabis can be consumed in a variety of ways. Traditionally, people have smoked the flower to get high. There are now several ways to consume your cannabis including edibles, tinctures, vapes, dabbing, and extracts known as concentrates. These methods of consuming cannabis each involve different methods of production. It’s important to understand how these products are made to ensure you are consuming a safe, clean product.
Being high refers to the feeling of relaxation, euphoria, and often the enhanced focus and creativity that comes after smoking. Some people do experience negative effects such as paranoia and anxiety. This response comes from within the amygdala of the brain, which is responsible for the fear response and the processing of emotions. There are many factors that come into play to determine the type of response a person will have to smoking cannabis, including their own body chemistry, the chemical profile of the strain that had been smoked, the method of consumption (an edible, a joint, vaporizer, a bong, etc), your setting, and your intentions or plans for your smoking session.
Novice smokers may notice that they don’t get the traditional feelings of euphoria, giggliness, or paranoia that is traditionally associated with smoking cannabis. This is completely normal, and attests to your body adjusting to the “sensitization period,” as it’s called by experts. What often happens is that it takes a few times using cannabis before your cannabinoid receptors understand what to do with them. It may take several times before you know what your body feels like when it’s high versus what you think you’re supposed to feel when you’re high.
To use a real-life example you could think of it like riding a bike for the first time. It’s not that you ‘don’t know how to ride a bike’, it’s that you haven’t taken enough rides on your bike. Your body needs to experience THC in order to understand what to do with it.