Cannabusters myth # 24: It doesn't make a difference how you consume cannabis

Sep 21 2018, 8:49 pm

Every day, in every way, cannabis legalization in Canada is getting closer. But despite all the hype, noise, and publicity, there seem to be recurring cannabis myths flying around that just won’t quit.

With 24 days until federal legalization, Grow’s daily Cannabusters series tackles common myths by cutting through the stigma and sensationalism to bring you the facts about cannabis.

Myth: It doesn’t make a difference how you consume your cannabis.

Fact: Your method of consumption makes a significant difference in how you experience the effects.

Weed has come a long way in the past decade – gone are the days when a cannabis enthusiast’s only options for consumption were mostly limited to joint vs. bong, with the occasional blunt or pipe thrown in. But does it really matter which option you choose? Grow took a look at three of the most popular forms of consumption so you can make an informed choice about what’s right for you.

Smoking

When cannabis flower is smoked, it is heated to roughly 1475 degrees F. When smoke is inhaled, the active chemicals bind to receptors in the brain, which alters perception and results in a “high.” It also somewhat reduces the potency of the flower.

Smoking is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to feel the effects of cannabis, as well as one of the most accessible.

The dose is easy to control when smoking, provided the user is familiar with the strain and depending on their tolerance level and frequency of use.

The onset of the high is quick – anywhere from immediately to 10 minutes. Users can expect the effects to last approximately 1 to 4 hours.

Edibles

The cannabis in baked edibles is heated to a much lower temperature – around 300 to 350 degrees, meaning very little of the cannabis is burnt. This allows the plant to retain more of its potency.

Because the THC in baked edibles must be processed through the liver before it makes its way to the bloodstream and penetrates the brain barrier, the THC is converted to a stronger version of the chemical en route. Drinks, candies, capsules and other edibles are metabolized in a similar way.

As THC is not water-soluble, the cannabis used to make edibles must first be dissolved into a fat, such as butter or oil, or take the form of an extract, in order to feel its effects. (Although some companies are now working with water-soluble powdered cannabinoids).

The onset of the high takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours – much slower than other methods. This is because the body needs time to digest the product that’s slowly making its way through its digestive system.

Users can expect a high to last approximately two to 12 hours, which is significantly longer than other methods (although there are a lot of variables). Users who are used to smoking can expect a much more intense, physical high than they could expect from combusted flower, or even anxiety and paranoia – so it’s important to go slow if trying edibles for the first time.

While it’s possible to make DIY edibles, it should be noted that users should employ caution, as it’s difficult to determine your exact dose.

Baked Edibles CEO Brandon Wright notes that “being able to break off that known dosage is also really important to most consumers, especially those who don’t have a tremendous experience with edibles.”

Vaping/concentrates

Vaporizers heat concentrates (although there are vapes for flower as well) by conduction, converting the extract into vapor, which is then inhaled. Concentrates are heated to at least 300 degrees F.

The vapor is processed by the body in a similar way to smoke, although its lower temperatures and minimal content of non-cannabinoid compounds makes it a “healthier” option with fewer side effects.

“Different types of extractions produce different highs. Depending on the actual extraction method used means capturing different profiles,” says Phil Kwong of Holistek and 3 Carbon.

The speed of onset of the effects is similar to that of smoking (rapid), although the effects can be far more intense and longer-lasting given that you’re smoking, well, a concentrated version.

Those looking to try extracts have a choice of several different forms, including hydrocarbon and CO2.

Kwong’s a fan of the hydrocarbon method for manufacturing reasons – hydrocarbon extractions are quicker to make and cost efficient – and because they retain a broader profile, meaning they retain more cannabinoids and terpenes (fragrant oils in the plant that affect its scent and flavour).

But don’t even think about DIY.

“If you produce one of these products at your house you’re at risk of starting a fire or explosion. The need for regulations of C1D1 spark free rooms, for light hydrocarbon extraction, is necessary, for safe production,” says Kwong.

But users shouldn’t be scared of extracts.

“Extracts aren’t intimidating, says Kwong. “These are the types of products you can show your parents and introduce to your grandmother.” This includes things like topicals, tinctures, and concentrates for vape pens, none of which will be available on October 17.

The government has stated that concentrates and edibles will be be legal within a year of the Cannabis Act coming into force.

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