Thursday March 12, 2015
The recreational cannabis industry in Colorado is booming. Nearly $76M were raised in the state in taxes last year. While that is a staggering number, it’s even more staggering when considering the amount now legal recreational dispensaries earned from these very same taxes in 2014 which was not reported (nor did it need to be). With so much sales profit, the margin for product research, development, and ultimately improvement and specificity is larger than ever before.
So, what does this mean to consumers? A sometimes overwhelmingly large selection of buds, edibles, and oils that only continue to become more potent while at the same time becoming more specific to the target effects. Lower potency buds are certainly still available, but without asking for them specifically, consumers - both in-state and from around the country and globe - will most likely purchase the top shelf, high potency strains from a recreational dispensary. Assuming this to be true, here are some things to be aware of with each available strain and type of recreational marijuana offered in Colorado.
First originating from equatorial countries such as Colombia, Mexico, and even East Asia, the Sativa strains of cannabis are typically associated with an uplifting, energetic, and euphoric head high. These types of cannabis have also shown effectiveness in treating stress and ADHD. Overuse of Sativa-based strains, however, can exponentially increase these effects, leading to feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Like any other ADHD drug on the market, if used (or overused) by someone who does not suffer from ADHD, the opposite effects of anxiety and restlessness can occur. Sativa consumers do not typically experience negative side effects with acute use (aka: in one session). Instead, prolonged use of exclusively Sativa strains typically leads to negative symptoms after many weeks or months. To alleviate negative symptoms, simply switch to Indica or Hybrid-based strains of cannabis.
Unlike its uplifting sister (all bud-yielding plants are females), Indica is typically associated with a slow, melting feeling. The usual colloquialism: Indica = In-da-couch. Overuse of these ‘Earthy’ tasting strains can result in loss of motivation and laziness. These side effects can result after intense, acute use (aka: one heavy session) or after prolonged usage, with tolerance building for many days, weeks, or even months. Once a tolerance is acquired, the positive effects of the high such as body euphoria, pain relief, and relaxation give way to the negative effects of loss of motivation, laziness, and decrease in efficacy of pain relief. If you begin to feel the negative side effects, either during one smoke down or further on down the road, simply switch back to consumption of Sativa or Hybrid-based strains rather than Indica-based strains of cannabis.
The first rule of edible marijuana is very simple: don’t be an idiot. The typical negative side effects of edible marijuana emerge when the consumer does not give his or her bloodstream ample time to process the THC treat. If you eat a piece (or pip) of chocolate and don’t immediately feel the effects...WAIT. Take doses as recommended by the packaging in order to not overload the bloodstream. Not heeding these warnings can resulting in a shockingly strong high that can lead to unfortunate results. There has been some national news coverage concerning negative edible side effects, but these instances occur only in extremely rare cases, despite getting most of the national attention. To quote South Park, if you do not take edibles as directed on the packaging, ‘you're going to have a bad time’. This is exactly what happened to the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd linked above, by the way. She was ‘that tourist’ who did not heed the label warnings, experienced negative side effects due to not heeding the warnings, and then blamed the producer of the product for her negative experience. Don’t be ‘that tourist’, and instead enjoy what can be the most amazing high by simply following directions.
Finally, the most concentrated form of marijuana: hash oil. Depending on the type of THC extraction and the skill of the extractor, these little golden globs of glory can range from 30% THC to over 90%! Most of the time consumers, also known as ‘dabbers’, take a blowtorch to a hollow nail situated on a smoking rig and touch a pinprick worth of oil (aka: BHO, hashish, shatter, wax) to the red hot nail and inhale. However, oil can also be gently placed - without using fingers - atop an already loaded bowl of flower to kick the smoke into high gear. Most negative effects including vertigo and dizziness occur with intense, acute use of oil from inexperienced or overly anxious consumers. Shortness of breath can also be associated, since such a high concentration of THC is being ingesting into the lungs at once, physically and chemically binding to much of the lungs’ alveoli. Be sure to ask the concentration of a particular oil before purchasing to ensure no negative side effects occur. One type is not particularly more potent than another, the names such as shatter or wax refer to the appearance of the concentrate, not the concentration of THC, itself.
Photo Credit: Coleen Whitfield (license)