Advertisement

Cannabis 101: A Reference Guide for Beginners

Share:

Cannabis Crop

In the last couple of years, cannabis shops have exploded across the marketplace—and this highly competitive retail environment isn’t unique to big cities. Last year, Urban Flavours opened its doors in Niverville. Since that time, Rural Buds has come to St. Adolphe, and Happy Valleys has opened a location in Île-des-Chênes. Customers are now spoiled for choice.

Since the legalization of cannabis in 2018, many people are trying it for the first time. Although cannabis is, by most accounts, safer than alcohol,1 many still have trepidations about its use due to old-fashioned beliefs or a simple lack of knowledge.

Traditionally it has been somewhat difficult to get a true picture of the pros and cons of cannabis since it wasn’t a legal product. Now that it is legal, customers have access to a wealth of information on the subject. This article will cover the basics of cannabis use for the beginner.

Cannabis is an annual plant, meaning that it lives and dies within one growing season and then needs to be planted again—much like wheat, corn, or canola. There are three different cannabis plants: sativa, indica, and hybrid.2

The cannabis plant can produce multiple different products. The first product you may have heard of is hemp. Hemp is a member of the cannabis sativa family. It’s an excellent crop for the environment since it requires no pesticides and little water.

Hemp can be used to make a multitude of products including clothes, bags, lotions, and ointments. Hemp seeds, which are technically a nut, are considered a very healthy food and are often sprinkled on salads or yogurt etc. Hemp seeds don’t contain sufficient psychoactive compounds to make anyone feel “high.”

The chemical structure of the cannabis plant is tremendously complicated, but potential users should know about cannabinoids. The hemp plant contains more than a hundred types of chemical substances known as cannabinoids, one of which is cannabidiol, usually referred to as CBD.

There are CBD-infused balms, lotions, sprays, and creams that can be used topically to help with swelling or pain. Anecdotally, topicals have been shown to help with medical issues like psoriasis, headaches, and menstrual cramps. Importantly, applying these topicals to your skin cannot get you high.3

Research is ongoing into the effects of CBD, but it has already been proven to be an effective anti-seizure medication for epileptics. Many studies and anecdotal evidence also point to CBD as an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reducer. There is also an indication that CBD may be effective at reducing symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia.

CBD has shown significant promise as a treatment for anxiety, depression, and PTSD as well. It’s also known to help with some stomach issues, including nausea, which can make it helpful for cancer patients on chemotherapy. Additionally, CBD is being studied for its ability to lower blood pressure, a major factor in heart disease.3

The market is currently saturated with CBD products, some of which may be low quality. So before you use a CBD product, be sure to talk with a healthcare professional to discuss appropriate dosage and any potential concerns.

If you choose to use a CBD product, be sure to pick one that has been third-party-tested for quality and purity.

The other major cannabinoid in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Simply put, THC is the part of the cannabis plant that has the potential to make you high.

But there are tremendous differences in types of THC and their effects.

Let’s return now to the three categories of cannabis plants: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Each can have a different effect on the body and mind.4

At the most basic level, sativas are considered the energy-giving type of cannabis and indica is considered to be the relaxing type of cannabis. Hybrids, naturally, can have the effects of both. However, these descriptions are a generalization.

Cannabis retailers in Manitoba are highly regulated and, as a general rule, retailers are very knowledgeable about their products and are excited to share their knowledge with customers.

A good “budtender” at a retail store can give you very specific advice based on the products they have in store and what you hope to get from the product.

Harsimran Sandhu, one of the co-owners of Urban Flavours in Niverville, says that his store actually carries a pharmaceutical line of cannabis that is specifically labelled with its medicinal purposes. So a staff member at his store could recommend a package of that cannabis or use their own knowledge to suggest a helpful product.

Sandhu says that when customers come into Urban Flavours, they are generally greeted right away. Staff are available to answer questions and give advice, but Sandhu says they also make sure that the store is a no-pressure environment. Their goal is to destigmatize cannabis and provide meaningful assistance, so they have taken great pains to make sure their store is a relaxing, safe space for all customers.

Staff members at retail cannabis stores in Manitoba must be at least 19 years old and have completed the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority’s Smart Choices Cannabis Retail Certification program.10

Another common word you may hear bandied out in cannabis circles is terpenes. Here’s a helpful definition: “Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants and some animals. They’re responsible for the aromas, flavors, and even colors associated with various types of vegetation. In terms of cannabis, terpenes are what make certain strains smell or taste different from others… While nearly all plants contain terpenes, some of the more common sources people encounter them include: cannabis, aromatic herbs like sage and thyme, and citrus fruits.”5

Once again, the effects of terpenes are mostly anecdotal. But the prevailing theory is that the dominant terpenes of a strain work together with the amount of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in the product to produce the effects people associate with the different strains.5

Therefore, terpenes are among the main factors a budtender may use to guide a customer towards the right type of cannabis for them.

Let’s say you go into your local cannabis store and describe that you’re looking in a product to help reduce your anxiety. The staff member may recommend a cannabis product that is high in the terpene limonene. Limonene is a common terpene with a distinct citrus smell. In mice, and so far anecdotally in humans, it’s been found to help reduce anxiety.5

Myrcene is a cannabis terpene that is also found in mangoes. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties and has been known to have sedating effects. So a product with myrcene may be recommended if you’re looking for some help with your sleep.5

Indeed, Sandhu says that he believes the most common question his team gets at Urban Flavours is: “What product will help me sleep?”

There are many terpenes, and a huge number of combinations, so it may be helpful to do your own research and then ask advice of your local cannabis store employee.

The next thing you’ll need to consider before trying cannabis is the delivery method.

Cannabis will only provide psychoactive effects if it is heated before use. This is known as decarboxylizing, or decarbing.6

The most common way to use cannabis, traditionally, has been to smoke it. When you smoke cannabis, it goes straight into your lungs and hits your bloodstream immediately. The effects are felt very quickly.7

Cannabis can be rolled into a joint, which is like a cannabis “cigarette” (but with none of the additives found in cigarettes). You can purchase cannabis and rolling papers and roll joints yourself, or you can buy pre-rolls, meaning that the joint has been made and packaged in advance, at your local cannabis retailer.

Another common way to smoke cannabis is in a blunt, which is like a cannabis cigar. It should be noted, though, that most cigar wrappers are made of tobacco leaves, so a blunt can involve smoking a combination of cannabis and nicotine.

These days, you can purchase hemp wraps as well.

You can also smoke cannabis through a bong or water pipe. These devices allow you to smoke the cannabis through a filter of clean water, which can reduce any potential harsh taste.

Pipes are also available for cannabis use. They can be large and ornate or very small and inconspicuous. A small pipe is sometimes referred to as a “one-hitter.”

Smoking cannabis does not produce the harmful health effects of smoking a cigarette, but it is not without some risks. Cardiovascular function is affected by inhaling any kind of smoke, whether it be a cigarette, a joint, or even the smoke from a bonfire.7

A comprehensive study on smoking cannabis carried out by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that the use of cannabis does not increase the risk for cancers associated with tobacco use. There is also some evidence that smoking cannabis could trigger a heart attack, although more research would be needed to determine whether there’s actually a link.

Regular cannabis smoking is associated with frequent bronchitis episodes and can worsen respiratory symptoms like a chronic cough. Some evidence also suggests that smoking cannabis when pregnant could be connected to lower birth weights in the baby.

Additionally, there is some evidence that cannabis use may increase the risk of triggering psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and depression. However, this link is tenuous and is still being studied.7

The next popular method of cannabis use is vaping. Vaping involves putting cannabis into a vaporizer, which then heats the cannabis enough that it releases its cannabinoids and terpenes. This means that instead of inhaling smoke you inhale a fog-like vapour.

Vaping allows you to feel the effects of the cannabis very quickly, much like smoking. You can really taste the terpenes and flavours in the cannabis, and some of these flavours can be very pleasant. Vaping is a common choice for novice cannabis users.8

One can vape cannabis flower or oil, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Cannabis oil can be more expensive and there aren’t as many varieties. However, less oil than flower is needed, oil produces almost no smell, and it’s generally a one-step process to vape oil.

Cannabis flower is cheaper to vape and comes in a wide variety of types. But the flower can still have a distinct smell, and you may need to take a few steps to make it ready to vape.

Vaping is considered less harmful than smoking because vaping doesn’t produce as many carcinogens or tar. There are very few negative health effects associated with vaping cannabis.8

There are many ways to consume cannabis, but the last of the three most common methods is eating it. Food and drinks infused with cannabis are called edibles. Unlike with smoking or vaping, the effects of eating an edible can take up to two hours to kick in, so it’s important to be patient while you wait for the desired effects and not just consume more and falsely assuming that you haven’t taken enough.9

The effects of edibles can last a lot longer than smoked or vaped cannabis. Depending on your tolerance, the dosage, and whether you have an empty stomach, effects can last up to 12 hours.9

Sandhu points out that although people have traditionally thought of cannabis as having a relaxing effect, a good sativa product can give you a burst of energy. Urban Flavours currently sells a shot-glass-sized energy drink that’s popular with those who need to stay awake to get through a night shift or meet a deadline.

Eating cannabis-infused products can take a little bit of trial and error to get the dosage right, but there are no known negative health effects to consuming an edible.9

Sandhu also points out that in Manitoba the amount of THC that’s allowed in an edible is relatively low, so you don’t have to worry about getting a high that feels like it’s too much for you. He says that if a new cannabis user asks for advice on what to try, he and his team may steer them towards an edible since it’s quick and easy to consume, doesn’t require any equipment, and may not have as much stigma associated with it (as opposed to smoking).

“I think people think that cannabis is going to make you sick, and that if you get bad advice that it will give you ill health,” says Sandhu. “But really, even if you get poor advice, nothing detrimental to your health is even possible.”

All in all, cannabis is considered to be a safe product and is legally available throughout the province in many different forms. Maybe it’s right for you.

For more information

1 Leslie Young, “Is Alcohol or Pot Healthier for You?” Some Canadians Considering Switching Away from Booze,” Global News. November 18, 2018 (https://globalnews.ca/news/4671669/alcohol-or-marijuana-healthier/amp).

2 “Cannabis Basics,” Lift.co. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://lift.co/cannabis-101/cannabis-basics/the-cannabis-plant).

3 “CBD Oil Benefits,” Healthline. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-oil-benefits#pain-relief).

4 “What Is THC?” Lift.co. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://lift.co/cannabis-101/cannabis-basics/what-is-thc).

5 “Cannabis 101: What’s the Deal with Terpenes?” Healthline. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://www.healthline.com/health/cannabis-terpenes).

6 “Delivery Methods,” Lift.co. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://lift.co/cannabis-101/delivery-methods).

7 “Smoking Cannabis,” Lift.co. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://lift.co/cannabis-101/delivery-methods/smoking-cannabis).

8 “What Is Vaping?” Lift.co. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://lift.co/cannabis-101/delivery-methods/what-is-vaping).

9 “What Are Edibles?” Lift.co. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://lift.co/cannabis-101/delivery-methods/what-are-edibles).

10 “What Education or Training Do You Need to Sell Cannabis?” Legalline.ca. Date of access: July 28, 2022 (https://www.legalline.ca/legal-answers/what-education-or-training-do-you-need-to-sell-cannabis).

Advertisement
More LOCAL NEWS

Four Municipalities Team Up to Build Cooperative Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Town of Niverville’s boardroom was the setting for a major public announcement on August 18. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of four municipalities in the rural southeast, plans can now...

Read more

The Town of Niverville’s boardroom was the setting for a major public announcement on August 18. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of four municipalities in the rural southeast, plans can now...

Read more

Council Seeks to Approve More Commercial Zoning Along 311 West

At a public hearing on August 16, Niverville’s town council entertained a developer’s request to rezone a parcel of land from Agricultural Limited to Commercial Corridor. The parcel in...

Read more

At a public hearing on August 16, Niverville’s town council entertained a developer’s request to rezone a parcel of land from Agricultural Limited to Commercial Corridor. The parcel in...

Read more
Advertisement

Ritchot Residents Encouraged to Use Online Service Request Tool

There’s a new online tool that some residents of Ritchot may not yet be familiar with. It’s a portal on the RM website called Service Request and its aim is to provide a convenient way to report...

Read more

There’s a new online tool that some residents of Ritchot may not yet be familiar with. It’s a portal on the RM website called Service Request and its aim is to provide a convenient way to report...

Read more

Inflation, Interest Rates, and the Inevitable Real Estate Market Cooldown

Post-pandemic inflation has affected virtually every commodity available to Manitobans by now, putting a massive strain on consumer pocketbooks this summer. It should come as no big surprise then...

Read more

Post-pandemic inflation has affected virtually every commodity available to Manitobans by now, putting a massive strain on consumer pocketbooks this summer. It should come as no big surprise then...

Read more
Advertisement

IDC Residents Seek End to Boil Water Advisories

It may be difficult to believe that a neighbourhood in our corner of southeast Manitoba could be living under a regular boil water advisory (BWA) in 2022. But that’s exactly what residents of...

Read more

It may be difficult to believe that a neighbourhood in our corner of southeast Manitoba could be living under a regular boil water advisory (BWA) in 2022. But that’s exactly what residents of...

Read more

The Fine Haus Fiasco: How the Victims Moved On

It’s been almost three years since The Citizen first reported the story of a young Winnipeg couple whose dream of moving to Niverville was dashed in a high-profile real estate fiasco. In 2019,...

Read more

It’s been almost three years since The Citizen first reported the story of a young Winnipeg couple whose dream of moving to Niverville was dashed in a high-profile real estate fiasco. In 2019,...

Read more
Advertisement

New Water Treatment Plant Soon to Be Operational

Niverville’s water utility services have made some significant strides this summer with the near-completion of a $5-million-dollar project located along Fifth Avenue South. The new water...

Read more

Niverville’s water utility services have made some significant strides this summer with the near-completion of a $5-million-dollar project located along Fifth Avenue South. The new water...

Read more

Long-time Niverville Resident Bill Fast Enters Council Race

Bill Fast is a familiar name in Niverville, and on October 26 he’ll also be an option on the municipal election ballot. Fast is vying for one of four councillor positions and hopes to serve the...

Read more

Bill Fast is a familiar name in Niverville, and on October 26 he’ll also be an option on the municipal election ballot. Fast is vying for one of four councillor positions and hopes to serve the...

Read more
Time until next issue
Citizen Poll

Are you satisfied with the level of candidate choice available in your area so far in the 2022 municipal election?

For related articles, see links below.

Town of Niverville

Myron Dyck https://nivervillecitizen.com/...
Jason Alderson https://nivervillecitizen.com/...
Nathan Dueck https://nivervillecitizen.com/...
Meghan Beasant https://nivervillecitizen.com/...
Chris Wiebe https://nivervillecitizen.com/...
Bill Fast https://nivervillecitizen.com/...
John Funk https://nivervillecitizen.com/...

RM of Ritchot

Chris Ewen https://nivervillecitizen.com/...
Ron Mamchuk https://nivervillecitizen.com/...