At this point in the age of “Renaissance” for cannabis, most consumers are familiar with two components of the plant: THC and CBD. The first and most commonly spoken of is THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s the psychoactive ingredient that makes you feel “high” after consumption. The second common component, which is becoming much more widely known these days, is CBD, short for cannabidiol. It is a non-psychoactive chemical that can be derived from both cannabis plants and industrial hemp.
As a cannabis consumer, you may notice that in any visit to a dispensary nearly every product is going to have some sort of indication of the amount of THC and/or CBD contained inside the product. Many consumers make their purchasing decisions based on those numbers alone. This served as a convenient benchmark for new cannabis users as our industry began to spread its wings. However, we’ve now reached the point where products, consumers, retailers and technology in cannabis are getting to be fairly sophisticated. THC and CBD are just the foundation of your experience.
Imagine walking into a bakery and saying, “I would like something made with sugar and flour, please.” You would get whatever is within arms reach, and you could be leaving with anything from a brownie to a loaf of bread. Your request was fulfilled but your experience is lacking. THC and CBD are like the sugar and flour in cannabis products. Just as there are a baffling number of ingredients you can add to sugar and flour to make something delicious, there is a plethora of other components, such as complex cannabinoids and terpenes, that make cannabis products different.
For example, product A is 21% THC and 1.3% CBD, while product B is 21.3% THC and 1.14% CBD. On that data alone, is it really justifiable to say one will perform differently than the other? I don’t think so. Why is that so often the only information we get as consumers? If every single product in the dispensary has at least one of these two things, why is that all we ask for? Let’s ask what they have that makes them different. Why is product A an indica while B is a sativa? Why do I feel euphoric after consuming this edible while this other one doesn’t affect my mood at all? Why do all these vape cartridges taste like fruit and offer similar experiences? How does this joint get me feeling like a celebrity while it makes my partner jittery? Ask these questions! Look for products that share more information about how they are sourced, and what terpenes and lesser known cannabinoids are present. Some producers/retailers of cannabis products know how naive the average consumer is and prey on that to make a buck. Be skeptical of products that mention only THC and/or CBD as they are often missing key parts of the plant they came from. You could be missing out on a “full-spectrum” experience, and it could mislead you on how much you could enjoy a strain or particular method of consumption.
As a consumer in the cannabis industry right now, the dispensaries are your oyster. Go in, ask questions. Be willing to try products that may not have 80%+ THC but contain portions of the plant you are less privy to. Learn about the strains you love to get a deeper understanding of what else they have going on besides the basic building blocks that are THC and CBD. Request strain-specific items and more information from producers and retailers. By learning more and sharing information, together we can bring the cannabis Renaissance into the cannabis Age of Enlightenment.