If you don’t know the products you are working with, you will never be an effective cannabinist. Sure you can work on the fly but if you want to get that one thing that will change someone’s day, or potentially their life, you need to know what you have to offer. Regardless of where you work these tips will get let you understand what to recommend to your patients to get them where they need to be.
Know Your Meds
‘Flowers’ is the professional term for the buds of the cannabis plant. These are flowers just like on any other type of plant, but these contain the cannabinoids that set it apart from your everyday rose or lily. Cannabis flowers can come in a variety of types, a variety of colors (mostly green and purples, but you will find some red and blues!), and a variety of sizes.
Indica buds are typically denser and more round shaped while Sativa buds are generally more elongated and less dense.
Indica strains are typically your Kushes and Fruits, while Sativas are your Jacks and Trains or Diesels.
Indicas are typically dark green or darker in color while Sativas are orange or lighter in color.
The term ‘concentrates’ refers to parts of the cannabis plant that have been concentrated into a typically higher potency product that can be ingested differently than flowers. They come in a few different varieties, using solvents to extract (i.e.: BHO), using water, or Co2:
Wax(Ear Wax, Crumble, Honeycomb, SuperMelt)-
Wax is the lowest quality form of concentrate. It is not an unhealthy form of concentrate, but this is the lowest of all the qualities you can get from concentrating wax. If you have a choice you should typically go with shatter as a choice because of the better purity and overall reception of terpenes resulting in a better flavor and potency. While still effective as a concentrate, it should be on a lower grade shelf.
Shatter is the highest quality form of concentrate you can get. It looks like glass if done correctly, clear and not cloudy. Shatter retains more cannabinoid content and is typically a higher testing concentrate than wax.
Oil comes in a couple different varities. Some of the best, highest testing, cleanest concentrate you can find is in oil form. It has been stripped of all lipids and plant matter and should be a bright clear yellowish color. This is BHO (Butane Hash Oil). Another form of oil is extracted using ethanol and is a dark brown, almost black, color. If this process is done correctly, this type of oil is the most medicinal form of concentrated cannabis you can find.
Water hash is safer to smoke than BHO. It is made using water as the extraction solvent so there are no residual solvents to worry about. The concentration can not reach the same levels as solvent extraction though. You will see the max levels with water hash in the 60%s while solvent extraction can reach into the 90%s. Full melt is by far the best quality of water hash and the best full melts can be pressed and ‘dabbed’ like some BHO concentrates but without ingesting any residual solvents.
Indica vs. Sativa
This is the most common difference people understand when dealing with cannabis. They know that there is something called Indica and something called Sativa, but few can tell you what the differences are. And what is a Hybrid anyways? Here is a breakdown:
Indica is focused in the body. That means that the effects will primarily relax your body and make you feel sleepy and unmotivated. It is also typically a good muscle relaxer and pain reliever. Indicas are used mostly in the night time, after work or school, when the day is over. If you smoke Indicas in the early hours of the day you might find yourself asleep on the couch at noon or completely putting off things you needed to have done. Some people have reversed effects so Indicas are good for them in the day. Be sure to ask your patient how other Indica strains have effected them in the past.
Sativa is the other end of the spectrum. Sativas are primarily focused in the cerebral part of the body. They are generally motivating and stimulating so they are better for daytime use. They are also mood elevators so they are good for a needed game changer or if you are feeling depressed. If you ingest Sativas in the evening you might find yourself cleaning the house or doing a project into the wee hours of the night.
A Hybrid typically gives you the best of both worlds, but when you want a specific medicinal effect, Hybrids can leave you feeling overwhelmed with the different medicinal benefits rolled into one. You usually feel hybrids in the mind as well as in the body but the effects are less intense in one or the other. Let’s look at an example or a wonderful Hybrid flower, Green Ribbon. This flower is a cross between Train Wreck and Afgooey (Afgooey being a cross between Afgoo and Maui Haze). If you know any of your genetics you can see the hybrid qualities immediately. Train Wreck, typically, is your ‘clean the house’ sativa. It will get the mind going with ideas and will have your eyes darting around the house finding things to ‘fix’ or ‘put back together’. Usually in a very euphoric state of mind. Fun, right? Not to someone with anxiety.. but for the most part this is a great strain for the day time. Now Afgoo, on the other hand, is a great body relaxer, and with the Haze cross in there for Afgooey, you will find your mind feeling very hazy and dreamy as well. So you add these two things together and what do you get? Green Ribbon! One of the true 50/50 hybrids you will find out there. You have to be careful when dealing with this type of strain though, it can have a wide range of effects for people. Find out how other Hyrbrids have worked for your patient before and you can probably get a good idea of how hybrids will work for them in the future. The more experience you have, the easier this explanation will be! Don’t forget to read, read, read!
Now, FYI, in this day and age you would be hard pressed to find a 100% genetically pure Indica or Sativa. Everything has been cross bred over and over so the closest you will find is an 80/20 cross breed. In the eyes of a Cannabinist, an 80/20 or 70/30 Indica or Sativa is labeled as such, while 60/40 or 50/50 are labeled as true hybrids.
Ingestibles, as most things dealing with cannabis, come in a variety of forms. They can be in edible form, tincture, or oils. ‘Ingestible’ refers to something that can be taken orally, without externally being activated by heat. The activation all happens in the body. They are the best ‘medicinal’ form of cannabis medication due to the fact there is no smoking needed to take the medicine. They have different effects than smoking cannabis so you need to understand the difference. You CAN’T OD by smoking cannabis, you CAN OD by ingesting it. Although ‘OD’ in the cannabis world is sleeping for three days straight and experiencing some grogginess upon awakening. You can feel some paranoid or overwhelmed feelings though and those are not fun feelings to deal with if you don’t know what is going on.
Let’s breakdown the different types of ingestibles that are on the market:
Edibles are the most well known ingestible in the cannabis world. Most people have at least been offered a brownie at some point in their cannabis life by someone, them saying, “Just try it, it will make you feel good”. Upon ingestion, this is followed by feelings ranging from- ‘You feel nothing’ to ‘You are completely floored and unable to function for hours’. You never felt this way from smoking cannabis though, what happened!? The answer is 11-Hydroxy-THC. The metabolic form of THC. When you smoke cannabis, the THCa decarboxylates into Delta-9 THC. When you ingest cannabis through your stomach, the body metabolizes that same THCa into 11-Hydroxy-THC (or 11-OH-THC) which affects your body differently that Delta-9. It gives you much more of an unmotivated, stuck feeling and usually leads to a nice nap or relaxing time. Typically people use edibles for the evening or to help sleep but there are some companies that have, for example, combined cannabis chocolate with caffeine infusions to get people the medicine they need, while avoiding the afternoon naps. Be sure to ask your patient how edibles have affected them in the past to gauge what they should be using for the future. If you have someone that has never tried a cannabis edible, be sure to start them on a low dose, there is no telling how 11-OH-THC can affect someone and they will not feel good if they are not prepared for the effects. A good starting dose is 5 mg. That may sound small but your patient will thank you when they are feeling good and not feeling paranoid or crazy because of too much THC. CBDs can give people a relaxing body feeling so you want to start low and see how your patient reacts before you increase their dosage, although the effects are much less in comparison to THC. CBDs are also non-psychoactive so they are better for the daytime medication.
Tinctures have made a name for themselves in recent years due to the fact they are one of the most accurate ways to dose your patient. You can get a very accurate amount of cannabinoid per drop or spray as opposed to an edible, where it is humanly impossible to gauge a ‘per bite’ amount, without testing that specific piece you are ingesting. Plus they can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) for faster activation and absorbant rate through the capillaries rather than through the stomach and liver. Be sure to note which tinctures are made with alcohol and which are made with glycerin or other compounds. Giving a recovering alcoholic, or pregnant mother, a tincture prepared with alcohol is obviously not the best practice. Use your head when dealing with these types of medication.
Fully Extracted Cannabis Oil-
Now this is, in our experience, the Mecca of cannabis medication. You can find extracted cannabis oil in THC potencies from the 20%s up to the 60%s and it can pack a wallop to a light or even experienced user. I personally am almost a 20 year user and cannabis oils floor me everytime. Even with a light dose. This is what you want to recommend to your hospitalized or Stage 4 patients. This is the true medication that will cut through the disease and really provide relief to those that need it. It does not cure cancer, let’s get this straight now, none of cannabis ‘cures’ cancer, but it helps in a multitude of ways for anyone experiencing extreme pain or disease. It helps people eat. It helps people sleep. It helps people relax. Even for people who haven’t had these benefits in a long time. And those things can be life changing for people who need it. This is due to the entourage effects of the full plant that goes into making good cannabis oil. You don’t want to give this to your first time user though, it will ruin them. Edible OD X 10. Be sure to understand what is in whatever fully extracted cannabis oil you use.
Furthermore, there are fully extracted oils that can be especially high in CBDs. These are amazing medicines because you can get the medicine you need without getting the psychoactivity of THC. These medicines are great for anyone who is in a lot of pain or needs to balance back out. CBDs are also antiproliferative. They stop cancer cells from growing. Make sure people get as much CBDs as they can if they are dealing with any form of cancer of extreme pain refer to the Schutz Media Cannabinoids Poster. Zoom in to see which cannabinoids help with which conditions and be sure to listen to the SMC Podcast- Cannabinoids and Their Uses to get a full breakdown of each cannbinoid.
And finally, different from ingestibles, are your infusions. This is where you take your cannabis extract and you infuse it into a lotion or balm to use topically. There are a wide variety of products that have been infused with cannabis from bath salts (the ones you soak into in the bath), to lotions, balms, and even chapstick. Effectiveness varies. Typically this category of medicine is good for psoriasis, arthritis, skin conditions and other external uses. Be sure to find medicine that is high in CBG and CBCs when dealing with infusions, they are the best cannabinoids for external and skin conditions.