For many, gone are the days of getting weed from a shady drug dealer in a dark alley. Several provinces and states around the world now allow the sale and delivery of marijuana for medical use only or both medical and recreational use, and the list is growing. Buying weed legally can be daunting to those new to the privilege. That’s why we put the following checklist together for help getting started.

Understanding Cannabis

The simplest cannabis product is the flower of the female plant. The flowers produce the sticky green nuggets that can be dried, ground-up, smoked in a pipe or rolled into joints with rolling papers similar to rolling and smoking tobacco. The use of the word “marijuana” is beginning to diminish as it becomes associated with criminalization. This is why more and more people are beginning to refer to it by the scientific name cannabis.

The Different Types of Cannabis

The cannabis plant is divided into two basic subspecies: indica and sativa. Most people consider the effects produced by each to be different. Therefore, we generally divide our flower sections into one of three broad categories: sativa, indica, or a hybrid of the two. Talented cultivators work to produce strains with exotic names like Sunset Sherbet or White Widow. Each strain produces a different effect when smoked. Sativa is considered to be more of an energetic and cerebral high while indica produces a relaxing body high. However, these are not hard rules and much evidence exists that claim all cannabis plants today are a hybrid of those two subspecies. Therefore, it can be more difficult to predict a specific high.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Our own bodies actually produce cannabinoids. They are chemicals associated with appetite, movement, memory, and pain. Research indicates they may work to reduce anxiety, inflammation, and pain. These chemicals are also found in the cannabis plant. The most powerful cannabinoid is the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol shortened to THC for simplicity. Back in the 1960s and 70s, the THC content of “pot” or “reefer” was usually only 10 percent or less by weight. Today, cannabis products are often 20 to 30 percent or even more. THC isn’t the only ingredient to consider when shopping for cannabis. Aromatic essential oils called terpenes help give cannabis flavor when smoked.

How to Buy Medical Marijuana

Recent research has strongly suggested that cannabis is beneficial for a host of diseases and conditions. Cannabis used in the medical field is referred to as medical marijuana. Although laws for use vary by locale, the steps are generally the same. The first step is to obtain a medical cannabis card issued by a licensed physician. Most states require the card to be valid in that state, however, some states accept out-of-state cards through reciprocity.

As with all prescribed medicines, a doctor must have a good reason to recommend it. Each locale has its own set of ailments called qualifying conditions. Some of the most common are chronic pain, cancer, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, HIV, PTSD, and multiple sclerosis. Once issued a medical marijuana card, it can be used at marijuana dispensaries or even to buy weed online. In states or territories that allow recreational use, only a valid ID showing the purchaser to be age 21 or older is needed.

Cannabis Edibles

Some people prefer alternative methods to experience cannabis other than smoking it. For those, cannabis edibles are available in a wide array of products from gummy candies to chocolates or even cannabis-infused soda and coffee. It’s important to understand the difference in ingesting cannabis from smoking it. When weed is eaten, it takes from 30 minutes to an hour to feel the effects. In contrast, the high from smoking is almost immediate. Edible consumers that get impatient may find themselves ingesting too much. It’s impossible to overdose on THC, but getting too high can be uncomfortable for most people. Be sure to check the label on edibles to determine how many milligrams of THC are in each serving. We recommend beginning with five to 10 milligrams and then waiting a full hour for the effects. Then the amount can be increased or decreased accordingly.

Cannabis Concentrates

Others who wish to avoid smoking weed opt for cannabis concentrates in the form of vaping or dabbing. These concentrates can contain as much as 90 percent THC or more so as with edibles, beginners should tread lightly to start. Cannabis concentrates are used in a vape pen or water pipe called a dab rig. Vape pens are the easiest to use. Vape cartridges containing the concentrate screw onto an electronic battery much like an e-cigarette. Dabbing is more involved and includes using a small blow torch and special bong. Although it’s a bit cumbersome, “dabbers” claim the experience is worth it.

Where to Imbibe

After finding the favorite way to use cannabis, keep in mind that not all places allow public use even where it is legal. Hotels have varying policies for using cannabis. Always check local laws and avoid driving while imbibing everywhere as it is treated as driving under the influence. Enjoy cannabis responsibly.

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