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Cannabinoids, terpenes, hybrids, buds: There are so many terms in the cannabis lexicon that basic understanding—much less actually choosing a strain for consumption—can seem overwhelming. But take a deep breath and read on. If you’re a total newbie, here’s what you need to know to simplify the process.
1. Choosing a strain
There are two main types of cannabis plant: sativa and indica. Strains made from a sativa plant, which is tall with narrow leaves, are typically used during the day due to their energizing effects, as reported by consumers. Indicas, whose strains are made from a shorter plant with wider leaves, are often used at night as they can promote relaxation and calm, as reported by consumers. Hybrids are a mix of the two plants, but are usually either indica- or sativa-dominant. When choosing a strain, you can also take a look at the percentages of CBD and THC, which will impact your experience (see below!), as well as the dominant terpene, which will influence the flavour profile of the flower, powder or oil.
Quebec-based cannabis brand HEXO offers 11 different strains of dried flower—four of which come in a pre-rolled format—in addition to smoke-free products.
2. CBD vs. THC
Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are cannabis’ two best known active compounds (called cannabinoids). Different strains have different levels of each compound (measured as a percentage of the cannabis product weight) and one could contain high CBD with low THC, while another might have the opposite. THC is the compound that creates a feeling of being high. CBD, on the other hand, has non-psychoactive effects, and is shown to counteract the THC’s psychoactive effects, like the feeling of getting high.
3. Flower, pre-rolled joint and oil: Modes of consumption
There are many ways to consume cannabis, but the most traditional is in dried flower form (also called buds), which can be smoked in a joint, inhaled through a bong or pipe or vaped with a vaporizer or vape pen. These methods of consumption typically work faster than ingestion. You can also place droplets of cannabis oil under your tongue, or even massage topical products. Commercially-made edibles are not yet legal in Canada, but will be by the end of this year.
HEXO makes dried cannabis flower; pre-rolled joints; fine-milled, activated cannabis powder; and oils, including their award-winning high THC or CBD sublingual peppermint oil, Elixir.
4. Practicing safe consumption
Even if you’re above the legal age limit, which is 19 in every province and territory except Alberta and Quebec (where it’s 18), cannabis may not be a good fit if you have a history of psychosis or other psychiatric disorders, or if you’ve been diagnosed with a disease that affects your liver, kidneys, lungs or heart. Always consult with your health-care practitioner if you have questions about using cannabis. It’s still smart to start off with a low dose and go slow—meaning you wait to see how a single puff, droplet of oil or bite of homemade cannabis brownie affects you before trying more. You should never consume cannabis and drive.
5. Travelling with cannabis
Taking cannabis products across international borders is a big no-no, even if you’re travelling to a country or state where cannabis is legal or decriminalized. Trace amounts can be detected by canine agents at border control, so make sure you’ve cleaned your luggage prior to international travel if it has ever held a cannabis product. It is legal to carry up to 30g of dried cannabis or its equivalent throughout Canada, so long as you are above the legal age limit in the province(s) that you visit. And remember, if travelling in your vehicle, cannabis must be out of reach and stored in a trunk.
For more information on Canadian cannabis regulations, check out the Government of Canada’s Cannabis Act. And to learn about HEXO or purchase dried cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints, powders or oils, visit hexo.com and sign up for the newsletter.