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A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis and CBD

How to choose the best product for you

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A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis and CBD

Cannabis and CBD are gaining recognition as herbal healers with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiepileptic, anticancer, and antibacterial properties. But where should you start when you’re ready to try it out? Read on for actionable tips you can use to make informed decisions.

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Cannabis, hemp, CBD—what do they all mean?

Cannabis is the umbrella term for marijuana and hemp. Generally speaking, marijuana is a variety of cannabis plant containing higher THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) than CBD (cannabidiol) levels, while hemp is a higher-CBD variety of cannabis plant.

CBD is an active compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD can be used for its healing powers without producing a high or intoxicating effect.

In Canada, cannabis became legal in 2018 under the <Cannabis Act>. Under the Act, both cannabis and CBD are strictly regulated. Because both cannabis and CBD are sold in many different places, some unregulated, you may be skeptical about purchasing either one—and for good reason.

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Be cautious when buying

The products being sold as CBD are many. And, as with consumables of any kind, buyers should be diligent about learning about the product they’re buying. In 2018, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report showed 52 people were sickened with nausea and seizures from synthetic products falsely labelled as CBD.

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Online safety

When shopping for cannabis or CBD online, you’ll want to protect your health, keep financial information secure, and ensure you’re purchasing from legal sources. Buying legal cannabis in Canada ensures you’ll be consuming a safe product. To legally sell cannabis, retailers need to meet strict rules set by their provincial/territorial governments.

Legally sold cannabis products are emblazoned with a Canada excise stamp. According to Public Safety Canada, this stamp guarantees that “the product is produced according to the highest health and safety standards, reflects accurate THC levels, and is free from other substances that could cause serious harm.”

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In-store shopping savvy

Jacob Stevens, founder of Purpose Moose Cannabis, says customers of all ages visit his three Ontario stores. Stevens was one of Ontario’s 25 initial “lottery” winners in January 2019.

Stevens recommends keeping two things in mind when shopping for cannabis in store.

  1. You should know what you’re looking for, in terms of sensation. A budtender/educator can help steer you to the right strain from there. Legally, they can’t dole out health advice, but they can tell you what they’ve found to work.
  2. Stevens advises knowing how you want to consume it, whether through smoking, vaping, capsule, tincture/oil, or edible.

“Find a place where you feel comfortable speaking to a budtender, and have all of your questions answered,” advises Stevens. “If not, maybe find a better person to speak to or go to another store.”

Our friends to the south

In the US, cannabis is illegal at the federal level. As of February 3, 2022, 37 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia allow cannabis products for medicinal use. As for non-medicinal use, as of November 29, 2021, 18 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia allow it for adults.

Options for delivery

There are four ways you can consume cannabis or CBD.

Delivery method Typical usages Experiences 
inhalation pipe, bong, vaporizer, joint, hookah rapid onset of effects; feel “high” within minutes
oral-mucosal tincture applied under the tongue or sprayed into the mouth
ingestion edibles: food or beverage made with fat or oil infused with cannabis effects may take up to 2 hours, making it difficult to determine dosage
topical thick oil extract applied to the skin localized relief from pain or inflammation

No matter how you choose to consume cannabis or CBD, the amount of THC and CBD within a particular plant will determine its physiological effects.

Cannabis or CBD?

Indications Cannabis CBD
For treating seizures Epidiolex (oral CBD/purified CBD product) has been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat seizures associated with two epileptic encephalopathies: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
For relief from pain or inflammatory conditions Topically applied balms, oils, rubs and creams.
For chronic pain There is a growing body of preclinical and clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD oil for chronic pain.
For relaxation/easing anxiety At lower doses (7.5 mg), THC appears to decrease anxiety. At higher doses (12.5 mg), it increases it. Between 300 and 600 mg of CBD administered orally has been found to reduce both acute experimentally induced anxiety in those without anxiety disorders and patients with social anxiety disorder.

Hempseed oil contains amazing health benefits

Although hemp and cannabis derive from the same plant family, Cannabis sativa L., they’re not created equal. Seeds from the hemp plant do not contain a significant amount of THC or CBD. But hempseeds offer a nutritious bonus: they’re loaded with heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic, alpha-linolenic, and gamma-linolenic) as well as an optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

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