Closeup of Silvertip cannabis strain by Bull Run

Cannabis 101: A Beginner’s Guide To The Mighty Bud

We’ve seen a lot of smiling faces come and go, and while everyone comes in excited to dive right in some faces are more hesitant than others.

These are the folks that—thanks to years of negative stigma associated with marijuana use—may know very little about cannabis. They might feel overwhelmed with just how much they don’t know, or are too embarrassed to even ask.

To help combat a lack of access to information, we decided to create a convenient guide to Cannabis 101. We hope that by arming consumers with knowledge we can help you learn how to make better, more informed purchasing decisions, aka the kind of changes that make your day just a little bit brighter.

The Endocannabinoid System

Our body is regulated by a complex series of chemical networks and pathways. One of these is the ECS, or endocannabinoid system. The ECS is in charge of maintaining homeostasis, aka making sure everything in our body from our internal temperature to our blood sugar levels are “just right”.

The ECS system is essential for regulating our moods and everyday well-being. It does so through a system of endocannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, found on the surface of cells. While our body naturally produces its own endocannabinoids, Anandamide and 2-AG, that can activate these “feel good” receptors, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a plant-based cannabinoid that can also bind to these receptors. The end result is that blissful high we all know and love.

It might surprise you to learn that THC isn’t the only superhero in this film, either. There are over 100 different kinds of cannabinoids produced by plants, many of which are still being studied in more depth today.

THC

THC is a pretty marvelous molecule in its own right. It’s been used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions for thousands of years now including seizures and epilepsy, glaucoma, arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and even neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

THC is an analgesic compound, meaning that THC helps you manage pain by blocking pain signals from being sent to the brain. It’s a neuroprotectant that promotes neurogenesis, helping stimulate brain growth by creating new nerve cells. It’s also been known to help kill cancerous cells by inducing cell death in tumors, and can be an especially potent anti-anxiety and antidepressant for some.

Since everyone’s body chemistry is so different, THC affects everyone differently so it’s best to experiment with your dosage until you find that sweet spot. Start slow and take your time.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that each method of THC consumption will affect you differently. For instance, some people find that strains with over 20% THC might be OK to smoke, but might produce a much more powerful effect if consumed in an edible.

CBD

You can think of CBD as THC’s best friend. CBD (cannabidiol) is another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant.

While THC produces that great high CBD is non-toxic, meaning it won’t get you “high” in a conventional sense. It’s an incredibly powerful cannabinoid in terms of the health benefits it offers, which include:

  • Analgesic (pain management)
  • Anxiolytic (anxiety reducing)
  • Anti-inflammatory: CBD lessens the amount of inflammation occurring in the body, providing extreme relief for conditions like arthritis
  • Anti-psychotic: for those with mental illnesses, CBD reduces psychosis to better cognitive functioning. It also helps reduce the discomfort that comes with being too high – yay!
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Anti-fungal

Depending on your needs, you can access CBD in a variety of forms from smoking it to ingesting it in a tincture or applying it topically with a salve. We even have an entire page devoted exclusively to CBD products on our menu, so feel free to take a look and approach any of our budtenders with questions you may have.

The game isn’t over quite yet, though…

Terpenes

Perhaps the most glorious of all the cannabis compounds are terpenes, a group of over 200 organic compounds that give each strain its unique aroma and effects. While research is only beginning to scratch the surface on these compounds a few are especially well-known including:

  • Limonene (focus, mood elevating, sexuality)
  • Pinene (memory, awareness, bronchodilator inducing a quicker high)
  • Myrcene (sedating, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial)
  • Linalool (calming, anxi-anxiety, anti-depressant)
  • Caryophyllene (anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory)

Image courtesy of Blue Ridge Hemp Co.

Leafly has a really great graphic that breaks down terpenes by group and effect:

The best way to get an indication if a particular strain is right for you is by finding out what terpenes you enjoy and finding strains that fit that terpene profile. This will be a far better indicator of whether or not you enjoy a strain that relying on the THC percentage alone. After all, you wouldn’t go up to a bar and order a cocktail made with pure ethanol, would you?

THC, CBD, Terpenes, Other Cannabinoids & Why This All Matters

We’ve already covered a lot of ground on THC and CBD, but that isn’t to say we’ve done it justice: after all, there are so many more cannabinoids in play in your marijuana. A few of these include CBG (cannabigerol), a cannabinoid with potent anti-inflammatory effects that can help patients manage inflammatory bowel disease; CBN (Cannabinol), another minor cannabinoid known to treat insomnia and CBC (Cannabichromene), a powerful anti-depressant that promotes bone and brain cell growth.

Image courtesy of Hemp Oil Facts

When all of these fantastic compounds come together they produce an effect greater than the sum of the individual parts alone. This is called the “entourage effect”, and it’s the reason why smoking flower on its own is such a different experience than smoking a cartridge. It’s also the reason why CBD works a lot better with a little THC thrown into the mix, helping extend the effects of THC by preventing it from being broken down in our livers.

We hope we’ve been able to shed some light on this magical herb and the science behind how it all works, but if you have any lingering questions feel free to leave them in the comments below. We’re all ears 🙂

Love,

The Jayne Team

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