At TOKE, it’s our goal to ensure that when you purchase cannabis from our store, that you’re also provided with accurate and detailed information about cannabis. Cannabis is a substance that should be used with caution and safety, with the user understanding its effects on the mind and body before consuming.
Here, we’ve compiled some of the main points on cannabis that any cannabis consumer should know before making the choice to consume.
For more information, we are an open door for questions, and will be happy to help clear up anything that’s confusing for you or fill any gaps of knowledge.
First, we’ll start with defining cannabis.
What Is Cannabis?
Cannabis Sativa is a flowering plant species whose buds contain over 138 known cannabinoids, including delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), as well as terpenes, fatty acids, omegas, and flavonoids. Some cannabinoids, such as CBD, found in cannabis are non-intoxicating, however when cannabinoids act in synergy with other cannabinoids such as THC, through a phenomenon called The Entourage Effect, they produce psychoactive effects in the consumer. This is the “high” most individuals associate with cannabis use.
How Does Cannabis Work in the Body?
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam was responsible for discovering The Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is responsible for bringing balance and homeostasis to different systems in the body.
The ECS has receptors in many different systems including circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, immune, integumentary, skeletal, muscle, reproductive, and endocrine systems and is responsible for the regulation of overall health. The body naturally produces cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids, which act on the ECS. Cannabinoids produced external to the body in plants are known as phytocannabinoids and must be consumed to take effect.
There are two main receptors in the ECS, which include CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are designed to act as “master conductors” which regulate signals sent throughout the body. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found in peripheral organs and play a large role in immune function.
When cannabinoids enter the body, they act on CB1 and CB2 receptors, “unlocking” cellular potential and altering signals sent by different systems. This is why cannabis produces a physiological and psychological response, as it is literally altering how the cells in your body act and react.
Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, known by its common nomenclature of THC is the cannabinoid that produces the intoxicating effect, or “high”, that most people associate with using cannabis. This may include feelings of euphoria, happiness, relaxation, decreased stress, decreased anxiety, and overall well-being. As individuals are as different as the strains they smoke, the effects will vary and are a unique experience to the consumer.
In the 1980s, the average THC content of available cannabis strains was around 3%. Today that number can reach as high as 30%, with an average 15% THC content, although we carry a number of different THC potencies in our store. Genetics researchers, breeders, and cultivators have figured out how to grow plants with very specific THC content to ensure the desired results are met.
THC enters the body and acts on the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors are concentrated in the brain, specifically areas that may affect short-term memory, learning and problem solving, and coordination.
THC acts by mimicking a chemical called anandamide. Anandamide is a naturally occurring cannabinoid produced by the human brain and is responsible for maintaining normal communication and function in the brain. THC acts on neurons to alter the messages the brain receives, which alters the chemical communication in the brain and causes the consumer to feel “high”.
Typically, the naturally occurring cannabinoids, such as anandamide, can maintain normal brain function, but when exogenous THC is consumed, the signals become altered. This may cause decreased coordination, short-term memory, and problem-solving abilities.
All About CBD
CBD is the abbreviated name for cannabidiol, which another one of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and will not make the user feel “high.” CBD does have mood-enhancing properties and is therefore referred to as non-intoxicating rather than non-psychoactive. CBD is currently being researched for its potential medical properties, and the findings are positive.
It’s important to understand that you may get CBD products at stores like TOKE, but we do not promote the medical uses of CBD in our store. If you have heard about CBD in the medical cannabis context, we recommend you contact your doctor to work on getting your medical cannabis document.
CBD in the recreational context is often used to balance out the effects of THC. In fact, research is increasingly supporting that CBD may be used to “calm down” the effects of THC when the consumer is feeling as though they have overconsumed.
What’s the Difference Between Indica and Sativa Strains?
Strains are as unique as snowflakes, with each type of cannabis producing different effects in different individuals. Genetic profiles and terpene profiles determine what type of effects different strains will have and create the strain’s unique taste and smell.
When you come into our store, you’ll notice that products are often categorized between Sativas, Indicas, and Hybrids. In general terms, sativas produce energetic and uplifting effects, while indicas are associated with “in-da-couch” or for their relaxing and sedative properties.
As cannabis has now been bred for thousands of years, it is very rare to come across a pure sativa or pure indica strain. Most modern strains are a blend of these two species and are referred to as “hybrids”. Hybrids are generally expressed as sativa-dominant or indica-dominant hybrids, depending on which traits are more heavily expressed.
Nevertheless, here are some of the factors that differentiate indica and sativa strains.
Indica plants grow short and bushy with big, wide leaves and small internodal spaces. Indica plants tend to produce bigger, bushier buds as compared to Sativa plants and are known as high-yielding, easy to grow plants with a 7-8 week flowering time.
Cannabis from the indica species is well known for its sedative and relaxing effects. Many consumers equate indicas with a “couch-lock” high that leaves the consumer feeling mellow and sleepy.
Indica strains are intended more for consumption at night due to their sedative effects. Indicas are also excellent for taking a load off at the end of the day, or for relaxing and unwinding on the couch with a movie and some snacks.
Indica strains tend to be higher in CBD and lower in THC compared to Sativa strains.
Cannabis plants grow tall and tree-like, with large internodal spaces and large thin leaves. Sativa strains are more appropriate for environments with longer growing seasons as they have an 8-10 week flowering time and may not fully mature in colder climates. Sativa plants tend to have smaller yields, as compared to indica strains, and the buds are usually smaller and less dense.
Cannabis from the Sativa species is well known for its uplifting and energizing effects. Other effects may include euphoria, happiness, mood-enhancement, and stress relief.
Sativa strains are great for daytime use as they are uplifting and energizing. Many consumers report that sativas enhance creativity and stimulate artistic endeavors.
Sativa strains tend to be higher in THC due to longer flowering periods.
Understanding Your Cannabis Label
Health Canada mandates that all Licensed Producers have clear labels with sufficient information to allow the consumer to understand what they are getting in their product. Take a look at your label, and use the key below to understand which each element of the label means:
- The colour of the cannabis packaging must be one uniform colour, with the inside being a different colour.
Excise Tax Stamp
- This stamp indicates that the manufacturer has paid the federal cannabis excise tax to Canada Revenue Agency. This tax revenue is split between the federal and provincial governments. Each province’s stamp has a unique identifying number and is colour-coded according to the province under which the cannabis is to be sold.
- Health Canada’s warning symbol must appear on any cannabis product that contains more than a “negligible” amount of THC (enough THC to produce a psychoactive effect, or a “high”).
- Strain names are not regulated by Health Canada and do not pertain to what is inside, but they have been applied to different varieties of cannabis to help distinguish between them. The most helpful information is found in the THC and CBD content label as well as the terpene content found on the strain description and terpene description.
THC and CBD Content
- Regulated cannabis must display THC and CBD content as two separate and distinct figures. For THC, there are two figures displayed. The THC content of dried cannabis is displayed first, while the second figure is the THC and CBD content when the cannabinoids are activated by heat (smoking, vaping, cooking, etc). Potency is displayed as the percentage of THC found in a cannabis strain. Usually, a strain with 0 to 10% would be considered “weak”, while anything from 10 to 20% would be considered moderately strong. Anything above 25% would be considered extremely potent.
- A black and yellow warning label contains messages from Health Canada. Warning label statements include a primary sentence (i.e. “Cannabis smoke is harmful.”) and a secondary sentence (i.e. “Harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke are also found in cannabis smoke.”). The Warning Label differs by product and Licensed Producer and the type of product being consumed.
Strain and Terpene Description
- This is optional information for the Licensed Producer to include. Strain descriptions may include details about its strain type (i.e. indica-dominant hybrid), and dominant terpenes.
- This displays the net weight of cannabis in a package in grams. Varieties sold in our store range from 1g to 3.5g (“an eighth” or in Ontario you’ll hear it referred to as a “half quarter” to 7g (“a quarter”) to 14g (“a half ounce”).
Packaging Date and Expiry Date
- Each package must contain the date in which the cannabis was placed in the packaging to be sold to the province. In most cases, an expiry date must also be included. If a Licensed Producer does not have specific data about the stability of their product, it is acceptable to print the phrase “No expiry date has been determined”, while if they have specific data about stability, they must include an expiry date for their products. It should be noted that cannabis can be sold up to 11 months after it’s been produced.
Recommended Storage Conditions
- This includes tips on where you should store your cannabis.
- This information details the name of the company that produced the cannabis as well as a phone number and email address for the producer.
Child Safety Warning
- All cannabis packages must contain the statement: “KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN/TENIR HORS DE LA PORTEE DES ENFANTS”
- This information may not mean much to the consumer, but it is helpful if there is ever an instance of a product recall. If you ever want to make a complaint to a Licensed Producer, they will ask for the packaging date as well as the Lot Number so they can investigate the specific batch for which a complain was made.
- These must be in black and white so to not appear attractive to children, meeting the government’s child-proofing standard.
Methods of Cannabis Consumption
Cannabis can be consumed in a number of different ways, although the most popular method remains inhaling cannabis. Cannabis can be smoked or vaporized, and its effects are almost instantaneous.
Methods for inhaling cannabis include smoking dried flowers, vaporizing flowers, and vaporizing oils and concentrates. Vaporizers have a coil that gently heats the cannabis material without combusting the substance. This releases more cannabinoids and terpenes than smoking and does not release the plant by-products associated with combustion. Vaporizing cannabis is also easier on the lungs and is a preferred method of ingestion for medical patients.
Cannabis can also be ingested through edibles. Edibles are cannabis-infused foods or beverages that are ingested, with the effects taking anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes (or sometimes longer!) to fully take hold. Edibles include products such as infused gummies, candy, cookies, brownies, juices, and teas, offering a fun and flavourful way of enjoying the effects of cannabis.
Respecting the Plant, Consuming Cannabis Safely
It must be remembered by a cannabis consumer that cannabis is a substance that can alter your physiology and psychology, and thus it must be respected as such. Until this day there have been no reported cases of anyone ever dying from a cannabis overdose and it’s pretty much biologically impossible. However, there is such thing as overconsumption.
Taking time to educate yourself about cannabis, cannabinoids, and the different levels of cannabinoids in your cannabis will help you prepare for the cannabis experience. If you’re able to understand, for instance, that your THC percent is a relatively high one, you’ll know that it will take less than a lower THC product for you to fell the effects.
As mentioned before, there is more research emerging that supports the use of CBD to balance the THC high. If you feel you’ve overconsumed, use some CBD oil or a CBD vape to bring you back to earth.
Always remember that substances must be used with caution, and that there are inherent risks and dangers associated with using substances. Never consume cannabis and drive, as this is both illegal, and your ability to drive safely may be impaired.
If you have questions about cannabis, its effects, or the available products that we have in store at TOKE, don’t hesitate to connect with one of our knowledgeable and friendly staff who will be happy to answer your questions, or guide you to additional resources to further your learning.
Be safe, have fun, and enjoy cannabis with TOKE.