If you’re new to the world of cannabis, you might be unsure when it comes to buying your medicine. Unlike with prescription pharmaceuticals, which come exactly as prescribed, a recommendation for medical marijuana isn’t always so straightforward. So how should you go about comparing your cannabis products?
The truth is, cannabis is a complex plant, and if you don’t understand it, you can’t compare anything. Sure, you could tell that the crystal covered flower was likely more potent than the dried-out forest green buds. But if faced with a choice in similar strains, edibles, or other products, how do you decide?
Download 5 Tips For Choosing A Medical Marijuana Product
What Makes a Good Product?
First things first, we ought to get an idea of what a good product is. The best products will generally fulfill the following criteria:
- Product is tested for safety
- Third lab testing
- Product consistency
- Product is tested for cannabinoid and terpene content
- Reasonable pricing
- No outrageous medical claims are being made (unless they have good evidence proving it!)
- The company is willing to put their product/s through clinical trials.
To find out more about how Leafwell seeks to understand what makes a good cannabis product, take a look at our blog post here.
Comparing Cannabis Products Isn’t Black and White
When you visit the dispensary, your budtender is likely to be able to point you in the right direction. However, the decision on what to get is, ultimately, up to you. The problem is the answer isn’t always as clear as the “pretty” flower versus the “scraggly” flower. Some strains, while they may not be visually stunning, still pack a punch and provide more relief than expected.
For many, flower is the obvious starting place. However, some may be unable to, or apprehensive about, the idea of smoking. Vaping may also prove useful for those who need the immediate effects of cannabis, but not everybody cares much for this ingestion method, either. In this case, edibles, topicals and tinctures are often the best solution. Even then, the answer isn’t always as easy as “cookie or brownie.” This is why understanding the basics of cannabis science is important for any medical marijuana patient or cannabis consumer.
THC, CBD, or Both: What Are You Looking For?
You’ve most likely heard of both by now. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that is responsible for feeling “high” as well as for providing relief to symptoms like pain and nausea. CBD on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and can counteract THC, and has many of the same medicinal properties.
Most of the time, these two cannabinoids work better in tandem, like when you smoke flower or use a full spectrum tincture. However, some people find more relief through THC, while others prefer CBD to avoid the buzz.
Some strains are higher in THC, while others are much higher in CBD. Granddaddy Purple, for example, is a high THC strain, while Charlotte’s Web is a high CBD strain.
Don’t Compare Flower, Edibles and Extracts to Each Other
One of the biggest mistakes a new cannabis consumer can make is comparing flower to edibles and extracts. Each method of medicating is going to affect you differently, so there really isn’t much of a comparison to be had in the first place.
Flower is generally a lot mellower that provides relief to pain, tight muscles, nausea and more. Smoking or vaping flower also has a more immediate effect. Edibles take a lot longer to hit you, and they are likely to hit you harder when they do take effect, and the effect will last longer too. Extracts on the other hand, are often isolated THC or CBD, and a little goes a long way.
Indica, Sativa and Hybrid: Knowing the Difference
Possibly the most important thing when you compare cannabis products is understanding the difference between an indica, sativa, and a hybrid. Each produces its own unique effects, and personal preference, the reason you’re medicating, and when you’re medicating will all come into play here.
According to the old way of thinking about “strains, indicas are the ones that make you feel heavy, sluggish, couchlocked, but generally loose, relaxed, possibly even tired, and often in less pain. Sativa strains are the ones that are likely to leave you feeling energized, creative, possibly talkative, and almost hyper with your head buzz. A hybrid strain is often a safe bet, especially for new consumers, providing a balance between the two, though it may be indica dominant or sativa dominant.
However, it is best to remember that the distinction between “indica” and “sativa” with regards to their effect is mostly arbitrary. An indica-style plant that contains the same cannabinoids and terpenes as a sativa plant (or vice versa) will likely have the same effect. It is the chemical composition of the plant that will give you a guide on its effects, not their name or their “indica” or “sativa” labelling.
How to Choose the Right Cannabis Product for You
The truth is the only way to really know what the right cannabis product for you is to experiment with them. Not everyone with the same condition will respond to the same strain in the same way, like any other medicine. The beauty of medical marijuana is that, unlike pharmaceuticals, it’s not a one-size-fits-all medicine. You may fare better with edibles, while someone else you know with your condition may find better relief through flower or extracts. Unlike with sedatives, opioid-based painkillers or even ibuprofen, taking a little bit too much cannabis is not likely to end up with you in hospital!
Medical marijuana comes in so many shapes and sizes that almost anyone can find something that works for them. It might not be straight forward when it comes to how to compare your cannabis products but understanding these differences will come a long way in finding what’s right for you.