Maybe you’ve smoked marijuana before but you’re not too familiar with the details – you just know it got you high. So when a dispensary opens near you and you find yourself surrounded by gummies, balms, and teas, you might be surprised at the versatility of a single plant.
At its most basic, cannabis is a plant. This plant secretes hundreds of chemical compounds that give the drug many of its most defining traits. One group of compounds are terpenes, most known for giving cannabis a variety of distinctive scents and flavors. Due to the lack of abundant research on the subject, there are varying thoughts on how large a role terpenes play in the mental and physical effects of cannabis. Another compound, cannabinoids, is what is known for creating these effects.
What are Cannabinoids?
There are at least 113 known cannabinoids in marijuana plants, but just two that get primary focus when discussing it: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD provides many of the medical benefits that have allowed legal cannabis to gain traction, but it remains more well-known for THC, the psychoactive component that gets you high – though it may hold medical uses as well. There are several notable differences between CBD and THC – not just in terms of getting high, but also side effects, methods of ingesting, and the legality of the two. Still, they are the two cannabinoids most widely known and frequently associated with cannabis.
Cannabinoids causes these effects by interacting with a number of receptors in a person’s body that make up the endocannabinoid system. There are two known types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1, found mostly in the nervous system and in the brain, and CB2, found more in the immune system throughout the body.
Since CBD and THC are the most well-known compounds in cannabis, the majority of studies that have been done on the effects in marijuana have involved cannabinoids.
What is Cannabis Used For?
Depends on who’s using it. Some people use it for pain relief, and others use it to fall asleep mid-movie with pizza in their hand. It’s most common legal usage is medicinal, but the eroding stigma has caused an uptick in legal recreational use as well.
How is Cannabis Taken?
Cannabis has turned out to be a very versatile plant, so it’s no surprise that there have also turned out to be a lot of ways to ingest it.
What are the options for getting legal cannabis into your system? Here are some of the most popular options.
Smoking: I mean, are you surprised? Of course this is the most widely recognized method. Even when using medical marijuana, often patients end up smoking it in order to feel the effects of it.
Vaping: Vaping, though, has become arguably a more popular choice for medical marijuana users. Vaporizing concentrates (often in oil or wax form) is seen as a more convenient way to smoke than having to roll up your own marijuana. Just buy a pen and a cartridge.
Edibles: In the wake of increased cannabis usage, there has been an increased popularity in edibles. No longer just known for hacky “weed brownies” jokes in movies, edibles have instead become a growing industry. Legal dispensaries may have not just brownies but gummies, chocolate bars and much more. And cannabis-infused drinks like lattes and beers have become the talk of every food website aimed at people who live in Brooklyn.
Tinctures: Tinctures are droplets that are often placed under your tongue to most strongly experience the effects. Though the effects will take longer to experience if ingesting tinctures via food and drink, it is possible to place them in as well.
Topicals: Studies have shown that cannabis can have not just pain-relieving properties but anti-inflammatory properties as well. As such, one growing product in the world of legal marijuana are topical products. Lotions, balms, shampoos, bath bombs and many other topicals are being created and sold as having therapeutic effects.
Popularization of Cannabis Culture
“Cannabis culture” is a pretty dorky way of putting it, but the use of marijuana in popular culture has no doubt played a role in increasing public opinion that cannabis is not as harmful drug as once believed. Pop culture went from movies about the dangers of marijuana driving you insane to television shows where suburban mothers sell it in a 70 year span, and though it hasn’t solved everything relating to the stigma, it mainstreamed the idea of marijuana users not being criminals or degenerates, but everyday people.
What is the Cannabis Cup?
The mainstream nature of all this has turned once underground festivals into massive national events. Notable marijuana magazine The High Times has held the Cannabis Cup, a multi-day festival dedicated entirely to weed, since 1988.
The Cannabis Cup used to be only in Amsterdam, but in the 2010s expanded to 3 cities in California and 1 in Michigan. The event allows growers and manufacturers compete to win Best in a number of categories – indica, sativa, CBD oil, edibles, vape pens, and more. These festivals have expanded not only to fit the evolving landscape of marijuana, but also by adding performers. The 2018 Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino was headlined by Nas, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz. When hip-hop legends are headlining expos dedicated entirely to marijuana, it’s clear it’s no longer seen as the scary gateway drug it once was.