The strides made in cannabis policy reform across the country have fostered a new age of choice for consumers eager to take advantage of the benefits of cannabis and CBD. Nearly two dozen states have legalized cannabis for use by adults, and the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp products including CBD from coast to coast.
These victories in turn have led to a renaissance in the array of cannabis and CBD products available to consumers, with options including cannabis flower, vapes, edibles, and more all vying for attention in the marketplace. They all have their advantages and supporters who vouch for them, but the sheer volume of choices can sometimes seem overwhelming for even the most experienced cannabis connoisseur. So, how can consumers choose the right cannabis products for their needs?
Before that question can be answered, cannabis and CBD shoppers should consider several factors that can help guide their selections. Some of these factors are pretty straightforward, such as whether you are planning to use cannabis recreationally or in order to take advantage of the medicinal qualities of the plant. However, other factors that should be considered are less obvious and can be missed, including the duration of effects, the efficacy of a product for its intended outcome, portability, and ease of use.
In this article, we will explore these factors and how they can help you select the cannabis and hemp products that are right for you. We’ll also take a look at many of the product choices that can be found at your favorite dispensary, smoke shop, or online retailer, including information on how they are used and how they address the factors behind creating an enjoyable and effective cannabis experience.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Cannabis Products
Before you begin shopping for cannabis or CBD products, you should think about several factors that can help guide your choice. For example, how quickly you can feel the effects of cannabis and how long those effects will last should both be taken into consideration. Other factors such as ease of use and portability, how discreetly a product can be used, and what specific effects you are seeking also come into play.
It is also important to remember that cannabis products can affect different people differently, so personal experience should also help inform your choices. While many like cannabis for its ability to reduce anxiety, others may actually become anxious with use. If this happens, taking note of the product’s cannabinoid and terpene profile can help you learn what products to avoid. Similarly, when you find a product you like, the same information can help you select products you will enjoy the next time you shop.
Your history as a cannabis consumer is also important in other ways. Everybody’s endocannabinoid system can vary, a factor that can also affect which products are right for you. More experienced consumers often develop a tolerance to the effects of cannabis, which may make the more potent products available a good choice. But if you are new to cannabis, products with lower levels of THC are probably more appropriate.
Because so much goes into creating an effective and enjoyable experience, consumers seeking guidance on which products will fit their needs should ask themselves several specific questions:
How fast do you want to feel the effects, and for how long?
Cannabis products can vary in how quickly they take effect and how long the effects last. For example, if you are looking for a nice buzz at the end of a long day, something that comes on fast but isn’t going to last the whole night might be desirable, making flower or vapes, which come on quickly before steadily dissipating, a good choice.
But if getting better sleep is your goal, a gummy or tincture, with effects that come on more slowly but can last for hours, is likely a better option. Just take your choice an hour or more before bedtime to help you sleep through the night.
On the other hand, consumers seeking pain relief or to ease a migraine likely want the products they use to take effect immediately and to be long-lasting. Situations like this can call for a dual approach that relies on smoking or vaping for quick onset paired with an edible or tincture to extend the duration of benefits.
How discreet do you want to be?
Different situations can call for different levels of discretion, depending on where you live or where you consume cannabis. Smoking cannabis, with its accompanying distinctive odor, is the least discreet consumption method and is definitely not the best choice for all situations. Vapes and tinctures are less obvious, but if you are on the road or traveling, edibles such as gummies can be discreetly consumed in public.
How easy do you want your experience to be?
Some methods of consuming cannabis, such as smoking or doing dabs, require an array of accessories that can include pipes, bongs, glass rigs, or rolling papers, not to mention a lighter or butane torch to get them going and additional items to keep them clean. Vaping is less involved and can be as simple as having a battery and charger on hand to enjoy a cartridge or pod. The easiest methods yet are gummies, soft gels, tinctures, and disposable vapes, all of which are self-contained and ready to use without additional accouterments or expense.
How frequently do you consume cannabis?
Your frequency of use can also influence your choice of cannabis products to use, particularly if you are trying to keep the cost down. Frequent users might prefer products that offer the most bang for the buck, making cannabis flower a good choice because it does not have additional manufacturing costs factored into the price. However, infrequent users might be able to focus more on enjoying the experience and opt for somewhat pricier products such as soft gels or gourmet gummies instead.
What effects do you desire?
Deciding what type of cannabis product you buy can also depend on the effects you desire from the experience. The same cannabinoid can produce different feelings depending on how it is consumed. For example, smoking or vaping cannabis with THC will quickly produce a high, generally within minutes. The effects also have a relatively short duration and can begin to subside within an hour or less, depending on your tolerance.
Consuming THC edibles will also get you high, but the effects are delayed, often by an hour or more. But once the effects kick in, they can be quite intense and last for several hours or even through the night. The difference between the two experiences is significant, so it’s a good idea to give both a try to see which you prefer for a given situation or desired effect.
Another point to consider is that some types of cannabis products make it easier to dial in a specific dose, be it a microdose or a macrodose. Cannabis tinctures generally have their potency listed on the label with instructions that correspond to the included dropper, making it easy to deliver a precise dose, large or small.
Types Of Cannabis Products
A visit to your local dispensary or a trusted online retailer will reveal cannabis in a great variety of product types, which are also known as form factors. Cannabis flower is the most popular and is also the basis for most other product types. Once cannabis flower (and sometimes the trimmings from manicured flower) is processed in one of several different ways, several other products can be manufactured from it. Options include:
Cannabis flower can be bought packaged in glass jars or resealable plastic or mylar bags. Consuming flower can be accomplished in several different ways, the most popular generally being smoking via a pipe, bong, or joint. Flower can also be vaped using a vaporizer made for dry herb use. Pre-rolled joints, also called simply pre-rolls, offer an easy way to enjoy flower without needing additional accessories.
Smoking or vaping cannabis flower offers the quickest onset of effects (within one or two minutes) with a duration that is relatively short compared to edibles, perhaps an hour or two, depending on the potency of the herb and the amount smoked.
Cannabis concentrates are created by extracting the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other desirable compounds from plant material using one of several different methods. Frequently, ethanol or a hydrocarbon such as butane will serve as a solvent to accomplish the extraction. Other methods involve using heat and pressure to squeeze the desirable compounds out of plant material. Once the extraction has been made, further processing yields several different concentrate products for dabbing, such as wax, badder, rosin, or crumble.
Cannabis concentrates that are dabbed or vaped have a quick onset (one to two minutes), similar to smoking flower. Also like smoking, the duration of effects is shorter than edibles, but the high potency of many concentrates can extend the duration, depending on the dose.
Hashish, or hash, is the original cannabis concentrate, with a history that goes back hundreds of years in some African, Middle Eastern, and Asian cultures. Hash is produced by separating and collecting the trichomes (tiny glistening glands that contain desirable compounds including cannabinoids and terpenes) from cannabis flower or leaves. Once collected, the trichomes are pressed into a sticky, aromatic mass, which is sometimes aged before use.
Hash can be consumed by smoking, either alone or mixed with flower, in a pipe, bowl, or joint. Hash can also be vaped with a dab rig, or added to foods to create homemade edibles. The onset and duration of effects vary by consumption method, with smoking and vaping offering the quickest onset and shortest duration. Hash consumed in edibles offers a high that will take longer to kick in, as long as an hour, but will also last the longest, likely several hours or more.
Vape Cartridges and Pods
Vape cartridges and pods allow you to enjoy the quick onset and potent effects of cannabis concentrates without the equipment and hassle of doing dabs. The industry standard is known as a 510 cartridge and must be used with a battery, most often shaped like a pen, although other styles are also available. Pods are similar but have a specialized battery that only works with one type of pod.
Both cartridges and pods are easy to use and are more discreet than smoking. They also offer the quick onset of effects like smoking or doing dabs, with a duration of one to two hours, depending on the dose.
Edibles are available in many different types of products, including gummies, candies, baked goods, beverages, and even salty snacks. The amount of time it takes for an edible to kick in can depend on the dosage and type. Those that are eaten may take longer than those that are absorbed in the mouth, like lozenges. Edibles typically take around 30 to 60 minutes to kick in. However, onset time depends on several other factors such as dosage, the concentration of THC or CBD, and where in the body the edibles are being broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Chewable edibles, such as gummies, cookies, and brownies, may have longer onset times because absorption first occurs in the digestive tract. From there, active ingredients enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver, where they are metabolized before being released back into the bloodstream and enter the brain, at which point the effects become apparent. The high from edibles can feel more intense and will likely last considerably longer than smoking or vaping cannabis, perhaps six hours or longer.
Cannabis topicals are cannabis-infused products that are applied directly to the skin. They come in various forms, including creams, balms, lotions, oils, sticks, roll-ons, and transdermal patches. Topicals are usually used to provide localized relief from pain, inflammation, and soreness without producing any psychoactive effects. Some topicals are also used to treat skin conditions such as eczema.
The onset time for cannabis topicals is typically between 15 to 60 minutes, and the pain-relieving effects can last for up to 6 hours. It’s important to note that the onset time and duration of effects can vary depending on the product’s concentration of THC and CBD, as well as the individual’s endocannabinoid system and body chemistry.
Pills and Capsules
Cannabis pills and capsules are oral forms of cannabis that are ingested and absorbed through the digestive system. They contain cannabinoids, usually THC or CBD, and are used to provide long-lasting relief from pain, anxiety, and other medical conditions. The onset time for cannabis pills and capsules is typically between 30 minutes to an hour or more, depending on the dosage and the individual’s metabolism.
The effects can last for up to 12 hours, but can vary depending on the dosage, the concentration of THC and CBD, and from individual to individual. Pills and capsules can also contain other cannabinoids, such as CBD for anxiety, CBG for inflammation, or CBN for sleep.
Cannabis tinctures are liquid cannabis extracts that are typically taken sublingually (under the tongue). They are used to provide fast-acting relief from pain, anxiety, and other medical conditions. The onset time for cannabis tinctures is typically between 15 to 30 minutes, although it can depend on how much you have consumed and your metabolism. The effects of tinctures can last up to 8 hours, but can vary depending on the dosage, concentration of THC and CBD, and by the individual.
Cannabis beverages are an increasingly popular way to consume cannabis. They come in many different forms, including teas, sodas, and energy drinks. Cannabis beverages are used for a variety of reasons, including relaxation, pain relief, and as an alternative to alcohol.
The onset time for cannabis beverages is generally between 10 to 60 minutes but can vary depending on the product’s concentration of THC and CBD, as well as the individual’s body chemistry. The effects of cannabis beverages can last up to 12 hours but can vary depending on the dosage and from person to person.
Many different types of cannabis products, or form factors, are available on the market today, with options including flower, concentrates, hash, cartridges, pods, edibles, pills, capsules, and beverages. There are so many possibilities, in fact, that some consumers may find it difficult to choose which cannabis product will suit their needs.
You can make it easier to choose the right cannabis product for you by considering several factors, such as how quickly you want to feel the effects and how long you want them to last. Other factors that go into the decision can include what specific effect you are looking for, the ease of use, how portable and discreet a particular product is, the intended dosage, or how frequently you use cannabis, and how the frequency affects your budget. Thinking about these factors and the different types of products can help you choose the right cannabis product for you from among the many available on the market today.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the different types of cannabis products?
Many different types of cannabis products, or form factors, are available on the market today, with options including flower, concentrates, hash, cartridges, pods, edibles, pills, capsules, and beverages.
What is the difference between THC and CBD?
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are two of the most well-known cannabinoids found in cannabis. THC is known for its psychoactive effects, while CBD is non-psychoactive and is believed to have a range of therapeutic benefits.
How long do the effects of cannabis products last?
The duration of the effects of cannabis products depends on several factors, including the method of consumption, dosage, and individual tolerance level. Generally, the effects can last anywhere from two to six hours or more.
How do I choose the right cannabis product for me?
Deciding on which cannabis product is right for you involves considering several factors, such as how quickly you want to feel the effects and how long you want them to last. Other factors that go into the decision can include what specific effect you are looking for, the ease of use, how discreet a particular product is, the intended dosage, or how frequently you use cannabis.