The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Cannabis
How to pick the best method of consumption and product for you.
In 2017 I didn't even know how to use a lighter. I had tried cannabis in passing at parties, but I knew nothing about the plant. The stoners mentioned words like "cannabinoids," "terpenes," "THC," and "concentrate." I just smiled and nodded. I knew there was a process in deciding how my group of friends got high. Honestly, I was content with just experiencing the high and leaving the other stuff to the professionals.
As I continued to dabble in weed, I noticed I needed a base knowledge to have the best experience. How do I know which strain to get? How can I learn the difference between good weed and bad weed? What is "live resin," and what does it mean?
It's intimidating to ask others, and marijuana affects everyone differently. Knowing the different consumption options, how they'll affect you, and how they are made will help you make the best decision. Thus you will have a better experience and impress your friends with your cannabis know-how.
What is Cannabis?
“When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.”
― Bob Marley
Cannabis is a leafy plant with the capability to stand on its own. Female plants produce the buds that are dried out and consumed for recreational and medicinal properties. Cannabis is known by many names, reefer, marijuana, weed, gas, sticky, etc. Call it what you want; what's it's made of is more important.
Physical Components of Mary Jane
Found at the end of a female stem, the cola is usually what you think of when picturing marijuana. As a rule of thumb, the bigger, heavier, and more densely covered in trichomes a cola is, the better quality it will be. However, some growers will naturally cultivate cannabis cola's that are more loosely structured and leafy.
Trichomes are hairlike spirals that cover the outer surface of the cannabis plant. Trichomes protect the plant from its environment and contain glands that create flavonoids, cannabinoids, and terpenes.
Don't know what a terpene is? Read this:
Smoking Cannabis Flower
Smoking is my favorite method of consumption. I enjoy the entire process. I love to pick the flower at the shop and smell the different strains. I like the texture of the flower and the immediate action time. Plus, smoking seems to create a sense of community within the stoners of the world.
I've had some of my best conversations on a couch with a stranger after finishing a blunt. The ritual of rolling up, my favorite song in the background. It's a meditative event and a highly recommended way to consume.
“To inspire himself, he lit up a marijuana cigarette, excellent Land-O-Smiles brand.”
― Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle
Steps for Success
“Of course I know how to roll a joint.”
To smoke cannabis, you need a few items:
1. Cannabis flower
2. Something to roll with or a piece made for smoking (a pipe, bong).
3. A lighter or matches
How to Pick the Right Flower
There is nothing worse than paying a premium and expecting a mindblowing experience, just to get home and discover you've been ripped off. The product isn't potent; you don't feel how you want, or even worse- you only feel adverse effects. The cannabis market is competitive and lucrative. Sometimes the producers will try to cut corners or overprice their product. But there are ways to identify what's quality and when you're being sold a bill of false goods.
How does the flower smell? Does it have a strong smell? Good or bad, the potency of the aroma is a good indicator of terpenes. High terpenes usually mean a good taste and a smell- which also means quality. Can you pick up notes of diesel? Or fruit? That's a good sign.
”Let us burn one from end to end, and pass it over to me my friend… ”
Ben Harper -Burn one Down
How does it look? Is it vibrant and colorful or dull and dry? Can you spot orange pistol-like hairs darting out from the center? Or frosty trichomes coating the buds? Look for different colors like purple or white. It's hard to go wrong with a strain that looks and smells good. However, you can do some genetic research and determine which terpenes and cannabinoids work best with your biology.
"Extracts are made by using an added solvent (removed by the end of the process) to extract the desired cannabinoids. Solvents include but are not limited to Butane (BHO), Propane (PHO), alcohol, and ethanol."
Cannabis Extract Products Made With Butane Hash Oil (BHO)
(The following are all considered "dabs").
Sap: soft and malleable but not as liquid and runny as oil.
Sugar Sauce: crystal-like sugar granules. More solid than sap or oil.
Wax: one of the most common forms of BHO available on the market, wax is solid but workable and soft, similar to the sap.
Crumble: has a solid composition. Though it easily breaks apart when handled. Think of any of crumble, and the texture will be close.
Honeycomb: A brittle honeycombed shaped BHO extract.
Budder: a whipped, highly pure, and rare form of BHO. Coined after its namesake for having the soft creamy texture.
Pull and snap: Like taffy, pull and snap extracts can be pulled apart and snapped into smaller pieces. It is sticky and stretchy.
Shatter: Shatter is the hardest and possibly most common BHO extract. It features a solid structure that can be broken into smaller pieces.
All of the above mentioned will get you really stoned. Be cautious when using cannabis extracts or "dabbing." Usually, this method is reserved for those whose tolerance has grown too high for smoking. But everyone can enjoy a good dab sometimes. Knowing which texture and product you want will help you dose, and handle the extract. Dabbing requires a few extra tools and some finesse, but it can be a really fun way to consume Maryjane.
"This happens when manufacturers flash-freeze cannabis plants mere minutes after they are harvested, rather than curing them (as is done with the plant material used for most BHO products). The result is an aromatic, flavorful marijuana extract with a robust terpene profile and potent levels of cannabinoids. "
Live Resin harvesting uses flash freezing instead of drying and curing. During the drying and curing process, terpenes are often damaged and lost. Live Resin is harder hitting and better tasting.
Concentrates are made by using a mechanical process to yield highly concentrated trichomes.
Well Known Forms of Cannabis Concentrate:
When cannabis flower is ground up, the powdery substance that is left is called kief. It is a potent and wonderful addition to joints, bowls, or even on its own.
Hash or Hashish: Made by pressing kief into a disc or a ball, Hash has a darker color and more flowery taste.
Ice Hash or Bubble Hash:
To make Ice Hash, flower is filtered through iced cheesecloth to freeze the trichomes, creating a bubble hash. It looks like kief and shares a similar texture.
"Hash Rosin is normally extremely potent in terpenes and is one of the higher-priced concentrates on the current market. Made by using a combination of heat and pressure and typically NO solvents, Hash Rosin has a varying “budder/badder” consistency."
There are other concentrate products like cartridges (marijuana vapes). But they are pretty self-explanatory, and the consumer needs to research their production. Different companies may use additives in their cart that cause adverse health effects.
“A great writer is a blitzed illusionist of portable magic. You're welcome.”
Edibles are exactly what they sound like- food with weed-infused in it. Edibles can be delicious, and they can be disgusting. It's a delicate tightrope prance the whole way through. For example, one evening in my beginner stoner days, I decided to eat a brownie and smoke a blunt. Within 30 minutes, I was on mars and did not return for at least 5 hours.
Heed my words. Wait at least an hour for your edible to hit before eating another or consuming another way. In my experience, gummies, and orange cream white chocolate (for whatever reason) mask the marijuana flavor best. Weed does not taste good. But, there are some delicious edibles out there that make it tolerable and even enjoyable. The Wyld gummies are some of my favorites, and you can find that review below. Thank me later.
What To Do Next?
Go consume some cannabis! If you are a true beginner, there is nothing like this time. Cannabis is a new and beautiful world, and every high is mind-blowing. Enjoy it. You now have the tools and jargon necessary to blend in with the experts, but it's more fun to be new. Be safe and the next time you find yourself on a couch, locked in conversation with a stranger after a fat joint, think of me.