Cannabis is a versatile and multifaceted plant, and as it gains acceptance in more states, the variety of cannabis products categories continues to proliferate. The expanded marketplace now offers a wide range of product categories to cater to different preferences and needs – each offering a unique experience and consumption method.
How does a new – or even veteran – consumer pick the right product for the best personal experience? The choice of flower, prerolls, vaping pens/cartridges, edibles, concentrates, tinctures and other pure medicinal products can overwhelm new users and make choosing difficult for seasoned advocates. Let’s break down the differences.
First – What’s in A Name?
“Cannabis” is the preferential term when discussing cannabis and its derivatives, as it directly refers to the botanical name of the plant. “Marijuana” is actually associated with prejudicial connotations – dating back tit eh 1920s as an anti-Mexican term for migrants immigrating into the United States.
Most other common names stem from street language, counterculture and back-to-nature movements: reefer, pot, grass, weed, herb, dope, ganja, jive, trees and many more.
Historically, the two cannabis types – indica and sativa – only dictated the actual structure of the cannabis plant, though, in modern times, they came to be used to determine the likely effects a consumer feels:
- Indica – a shorter dense plant – tends to provide a relaxing sedative effect best used for pain relief, relaxation and as a sleep aid in the nighttime.
- Sativa – a taller rangy plant – tends to provide an uplifting effect that stimulates creativity – most often used in the daytime.
- Hybrid – a mix of the two that can create either an uplifting or relaxing effect based on their parent strains and terpene profile. These strains can be suitable for daytime or nighttime use. Most common strains found in dispensaries tend to be hybrids (even though labeled as Sativa or Indica).
Many cannabis products follow this general rule-of-thumb, but as growers constantly synthesize and produce new strains, effects have become varied across strain types: indicas may become more energizing while sativas become more mellowing.
The most classic and natural form of cannabis, flower refers to the dried and cured buds of the cannabis plant. These aromatic, resin-coated nuggets can be consumed in various ways, such as smoking, vaping, or even used for making homemade edibles.
With countless strains to choose from, each with its own flavor profile and effects, cannabis flower offers a diverse and customizable experience for consumers. You can get the more premium varieties with large buds at a higher price point and experience a more potent effect, or you can also get the smaller buds or “shake” for a lower price and a (generally but not always) weaker potency.
- Flower is one of the most affordable types of cannabis products, making it ideal for users who are on a budget.
- It’s available in various strains, making it more likely for you to find one suited to your needs.
- High bioavailability – delivers a higher level of cannabinoids to your body, as well as feeling quicker effects.
Prerolls, as the name suggests, are pre-rolled cannabis joints, eliminating the need for consumers to roll their own. They are convenient, portable, and often come in a variety of strains and sizes. Prerolls provide a hassle-free way to enjoy cannabis flower, making them a popular choice for both beginners and experienced users.
3. Vape Pens:
Vape pens and cartridges have revolutionized the way people consume cannabis. These portable devices use cartridges filled with distillate cannabis oil or live resin, offering discreet and convenient consumption. Vape pens come in a range of flavors and potencies, allowing users to control their dosage and experience.
Vape pens can be used with a separate 510 threaded battery (or proprietary battery like PAX or Stiiizy) or as disposables. Strains and flavors have quadrupled in the last few years, and many manufacturers offer specific cannabinoid rations (THC; CBD; THC/CBD; sleep varieties; etc.)
For those who prefer not to inhale their cannabis, edibles are an ingestible delectable option. These are cannabis-infused treats, ranging from gummies, fruit chews and chocolates to beverages and even savory snacks.
Edibles provide a longer-lasting, full-body experience, as they must be digested before the effects are felt, making them a great choice for those seeking a more gradual and sustained high.
However, since they first have to go through your digestive system, it might take one to two hours to feel the onset, but the effects will be more potent and last much longer (up to six hours or more). Dosing has become more straightforward with predetermined dosages, so it’s best to “microdose” (start with ¼-1/2 of the recommended dose for newbies).
Cannabis concentrates are potent extracts that come in various forms, including shatter, wax, and oil. These products contain high levels of THC (or CBD) and are consumed by dabbing, vaping, or even adding them to a joint or a bowl. Concentrates offer a quick and intense high, making them a preferred choice for experienced users (generally not for beginners).
Some techniques they use to make these types of weed products include dry processing, pressure/heat processing, and solvent extraction. What makes these cannabis products so potent is their higher proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes.
There are various ways to use cannabis concentrates. Dabbing is a popular method. You can also use vaporizers or dab rigs to smoke the product.
- Concentrates offer immediate effects
- They are more potent requiring use of less product to feel the effects
6. Medicinal Products:
Cannabis has historically been utilized for its medicinal properties, and several product categories cater specifically to patients seeking relief from various conditions. These products include tinctures, topicals, capsules, and transdermal patches. They are carefully dosed to provide consistent and reliable therapeutic effects, making them a valuable option for those looking to manage symptoms or improve their quality of life.
While liquid tinctures and topicals are the most common medicinal products, some are made to be ingested in capsule and tablet form which are very easy to use and dose.
A cannabis tincture is a concentrated liquid extract of cannabis. It’s typically made by steeping cannabis flower, or sometimes other parts of the plant.
Tinctures are used for their ease of dosing and discreet nature, and they can be purchased with different cannabinoids rations for specific effects (THC; CBD; THC/CBD; CBN; etc.).
Tinctures are usually taken orally by placing a few drops under the tongue and swallow it after 30-60 seconds (sublingually) allowing for rapid absorption through the mucous membranes in the mouth. They offer precise dosing because you can control the number of drops you consume via a pre-measured dropper.
Effects often kick in faster compared to edibles but slower than smoking or vaping, usually within 15-45 minutes. The effects can last several hours, making tinctures a good choice for sustained relief.
Tinctures can also be added to food or beverages if you prefer to consume them this way.
Topicals are infused with cannabis extracts, such as CBD (cannabidiol) or THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), that is designed to be applied externally to the skin for quick local pain relief. These products can come in various forms including creams, balms, lotions, oils, and even transdermal patches.
They are not meant for consumption or to get the user “high” but are instead used for localized relief of pain, inflammation, and skin-related issues. Cannabis topicals are often used for conditions like arthritis, muscle soreness, or skin conditions, and they provide the potential benefits of cannabinoids without the psychoactive effects associated with smoking or ingesting cannabis – though transdermal varieties enter the bloodstream and may be felt by THC-sensitive individuals.
Cannabis Product Categories Summary
The world of cannabis is a diverse and ever evolving one, offering something for everyone. Whether you’re a recreational user looking for a flavorful experience, a patient seeking relief, or simply curious about what cannabis has to offer, these various product categories allow you to explore and enjoy the plant in ways that suit your preferences and needs.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cannabis products, so testing various products is the general protocol in finding what suits an individual’s particular needs.