“Experiment, take notes and be open to trying various options until you find what works best for you.”
Budtender, Reserved Cannabis
Whether one of your New Year’s resolutions is to switch to more smoke-free options, or you’re looking for a different way to sesh during these cold months, we’ve got tips for you. We spoke with budtenders from Reserved Cannabis, Purple Tree Cannabis and Willy’s Cannabis Supply Co., who guided us through what to look for when shopping for non-combustible products.
First off, why choose a smoke-free product?
While no consumption method is entirely risk-free, there are ways to enjoy cannabis that can reduce harm for both you and others. Although inhalation may be the most common consumption method, it poses risks such as smoke exposure and harm to lung health.
Using a vaporizer to inhale dried flower has the fewest risks of any inhalation method, because the aerosol, or vapour, that’s produced by heating the cannabis contains fewer toxic by-products than smoke. However, vaporizing is not completely safe. Health Canada warns the aerosol can contain toxic substances. And not much is known about the risks of vaping liquid cannabis products such as distillate.
Budtender, Willy’s Cannabis Supply Co.
“For beginners or more casual consumers, I often recommend edibles and beverages, since they make it very easy to control the dose.”
What types of smoke-free cannabis products are available?
Visit any Authorized Cannabis Store, and you’ll find many smoke-free cannabis products that contain the same THC, CBD and other cannabinoids as dried flower. Non-combustible formats include edibles, beverages, bottled oils, oral sprays and even topicals.
Currently trending, say budtenders Ronit Gulati of Reserved Cannabis in Waterloo, Ont., and Céline Marchand from Willy’s Cannabis Supply Co. in Chatham, Ont., are ingestible products like sodas, chocolates and gummies infused with solventless concentrates, such as hash rosin. Both budtenders say that in their experience, these concentrate-infused edibles seem to produce stronger effects than other types of edibles.
Topicals are another choice for all experience levels. With familiar formats like lotions, creams, gels and bath bombs, these cannabinoid-infused products are meant to be applied to skin, hair or nails. Because the products are only applied externally, they typically do not produce psychoactive, or intoxicating, cognitive effects. Instead, you may feel tingling on the skin or muscle relaxation in the local area they’re applied. Find out more about how topical application of cannabis works.
How can consumers find products that fit their needs?
To find the products you’re looking for, Malwina Kuzniewska from Purple Tree Cannabis in Toronto recommends a straightforward approach: Don’t be shy about asking budtenders questions about the ingredients, cannabinoids and ratios so you know exactly what you’re buying.
Both Gulati and Kuzniewska encourage consumers to look beyond THC and CBD, and to experiment with minor cannabinoids, such as CBG. If you’re unsure about the potency of a product, budtenders can help explain all the numbers on the label.
Marchand suggests considering how easily the product can be dosed, as well as your experience level. “For beginners or more casual consumers, I will often recommend edibles and beverages, since it’s very easy to control the dose. For more experienced consumers, I often recommend oil, edible concentrates and occasionally edibles and beverages.”
Read the product information to understand how much THC, CBD and other cannabinoids you’re getting in each drop or spray of oil, individual soft chew or capsule.
Budtender, Purple Tree Cannabis
“With smoke-free products, it can take longer to feel the effects than smoking, so be cautious and give it time.”
What should new consumers consider in terms of potency and timing of effects?
“Keep in mind to always start low and go slow,” says Kuzniewska. “With smoke-free products, it can take longer to feel the effects than smoking, so be cautious and give it time before considering taking more.” Health Canada recommends starting with a low dose edible, such as 2.5 mg THC.
“Not many casual consumers realize that some of the effects of edibles and ingestible oils can last for eight to 12 hours,” adds Marchand. “Especially with beginners, I stress waiting the full two hours to notice full effects before considering if they want to add more to their dose. You can always take more, but you cannot take less.”
What other safety tips can you suggest to consumers when trying a new product?
If you’re trying a cannabis product for the first time, use some caution around the timing of effects — every product and format may affect you differently. For example, smoking a joint may produce effects within seconds, but it may take 30 minutes to two hours to feel an effect after ingesting a capsule. “Don’t expect [anything ingested] to hit as fast as taking a bong rip,” warns Gulati. “Be patient — that way you’ll avoid being greened out on the couch after just one edible.”
“Absolutely have every caution around driving,” adds Marchand. Consuming cannabis and driving is not only illegal, but it’s also dangerous. Feelings of drowsiness, as well as slowed reaction times, can significantly impair your ability to drive safely.
Get more tips for reducing your risk when consuming cannabis.