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Cannabis Basics

Whether you call it Cannabis or Marijuana, there are several fundamental points to understand.  Learning what makes each Cannabis plant different and what the benefits of each are will help you get the best results.  Each plant is different depending on the type, strain and what Cannabinoids compounds are present.   It is also important to know what the different methods of consumption are and which is right for you.

The Cannabis plant includes four diverse types or classifications.  Sativa dominant plants grow tall with skinny fan leaves, which are light green and grow best in warmer regions.  These strains produce a cerebral effect, are uplifting and are recommended for daytime use.  Indica dominate plants grow short with thick fan leaves, which are a dark green colour and are grown in cooler regions.  These strains are known for producing a body effect, can be sedative and is recommended for nighttime use.

The third plant type is called a hybrid, which are most modern strains of Cannabis.  These are a combination of both Sativa and Indica, in varying amounts depending on the plant.  They can produce a mixture of effects, depending if it is more Sativa or Indica dominate and are the result of cross-breeding.  The last type are ruderalis plants.  These grow much smaller than the other types and have little to no medicinal benefit.

One factor that determines the different strains are the various terpene profiles present in the plant.  Terpenes are responsible for the aroma, flavour and even some medicinal effects of each Cannabis strain.  Soil conditions, environmental factors and genetics effect the profiles of each plant.  Each terpene has its own unique benefit and adds to the effects of the Cannabinoids.  Some of the most common are Limonene, Myrcene, Pinene, and Caryophyllene.

Cannabis contains over 100 different Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD.  They are developed in the trichomes of the plant and stimulate different receptors in the brain.  Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or THC is the component responsible for the psychedelic effects and can help control pain and insomnia.  Cannabidiol or CBD is not psychoactive and can help control inflammation and may treat seizures.

The more popular method of consumption is to smoke the herb in a joint, blunt, pipe or bong.  Dried herb vaporizers are a safer alternative to smoking and are available in both portable and home models.  There are also several different forms of infused edibles which include candies, desserts, ingestible oils, and tinctures.  Other delivery methods such as topicals, transdermal patches, suppositories and even sublingual spray are also available.

All these methods of consumption can affect individuals differently and have benefits to each.  Smoking Cannabis gives an immediate effect and lasts a brief time which makes it easy to control dosing.  It takes more time for the effects of edibles to be felt and lasts longer than by smoking alone.  It is always recommended to ‘start low and go slow’, to find what works best for you.

As of July 1, 2018, recreational Cannabis consumption will be legal for adults in Canada, but until then the only legal source is to have a medical Marijuana prescription.  If you have a qualifying medical condition you could access Cannabis through regulated licensed producers.  Contact a local Cannabis resource centre for information on how to get started.

References:

The Stoner Mom, I Love Growing Marijuana, Green Relief,  and Leafly.

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