“I would begin by identifying products that we have in stock that have a lower THC content in them.”
Budtender, CANNABIS XPRESS
Shopping for cannabis can be overwhelming for new consumers; it can be hard to know what questions to ask, what potency or product format to try, and what type of harm-reduction practices to use for a first experience. That’s why we asked budtenders to answer the burning questions new consumers are too nervous to ask.
Learn more about beginner-friendly cannabis products here.
Visiting an Authorized Cannabis Store for the First Time
Walking into a cannabis retail store for the first time can feel intimidating when you’re new to it. However, even if you’re totally unsure of what to expect, there is no need to be nervous. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect from a store visit:
You can purchase and carry in public, up to 30 grams (about one ounce) at one time of dried recreational cannabis or its equivalent in edibles, concentrates or other formats for personal use.
You won’t be able to see cannabis or accessories from the outside of the store. On the inside of the store, cannabis is stored securely. Because you’re not allowed to handle the cannabis before you purchase it (only staff can), you can ask staff to retrieve it for you.
Authorized Cannabis Stores will display the Provincial Retail Seal. Learn more about how to tell if a source is legal.
Cannabis products, accessories and cannabis-related items are available
You can find the following cannabis products available for purchase at Authorized Cannabis Stores: dried flower/pre-rolls, oils/capsules, seeds, edibles, beverages, vapes, concentrates (e.g., shatter, hash) and topicals. You can also find cannabis accessories and other items related to cannabis or its use and cannabis-themed items.
Find more details about what to expect at an Authorized Cannabis Store here.
Different Cannabis Formats for Different Occasions
There’s a cannabis product for every kind of consumer — and budtenders are there to guide you to the best option.
Dried Cannabis: Flower, milled, pre-rolls
Seeds: Autoflower seeds, feminized seeds, hybrid or indica or sativa dominant seeds
Edibles: Gummies, chocolates, baked goods, pantry items (i.e. infused maple syrup, hot sauce, honey, sugar)
Vapes: Cartridges (510-thread, PAX), batteries, disposable pens
Extracts: Oils, capsules, oral sprays, softgels, sublingual strips
Concentrates: Hash, kief, wax, resin, rosin, shatter
Beverages: Sparkling water, soda, drink mixes, coffee, hot chocolate, tea
Topicals: Bath bombs, soaking salts, face and body creams, facial cleansers, muscle and joint cream
What are the best products for new (or newish) consumers?
Really, there is no one “right” product. Every consumer is different and your experience with cannabis depends on a number of considerations, including individual factors like your weight, sex and how much you’ve eaten that day. That being said, if you’re walking into an Authorized Cannabis Store for the first time, a budtender can help steer you in the best direction with some advice.
Andrea Feldman-Kohlver from CANNABIS XPRESS shares the importance of THC and CBD ratios and potency.
“[For a new consumer], I would begin by identifying products that we have in stock that have a lower THC content in them. The higher the THC, the stronger the psychoactive effect will be and if someone is consuming cannabis for the first time, that feeling can be overwhelming,” says Feldman-Kohlver.
“I would also recommend CBD products for those who may be apprehensive about the intoxicating effects of THC. For those that want a balance of THC/CBD, there are pre-rolled joints that offer a gentle balance of the two.”
Ashleigh Sawyer from Kelly’s Cannabis likes to tailor her recommendations based on what the consumer is looking for and goes from there.
“It depends on what way they are looking to consume, and what outcome they are looking for. says Sawyer. “If they are looking for flower/bud, I would recommend a small-batch, craft grow with a lower THC content and good terpene content geared towards their specific want,”
“If they are looking to try edibles, I recommend a package containing four or five gummies so they can start low and go slow. Gummies come in many different pack sizes — with 10 mg THC being the max per package. You can start with gummies containing 1 or 2 mg of THC so you can start at the bottom and slowly work your way to the perfect amount for you.”
If you’re new to cannabis, you can check out the OCS Beginner’s Guide to find a product that fits your needs.
Budtender, Kelly's Cannabis
“I recommend a package containing four or five gummies so they can start low and go slow.”
Can you share any tips or safety advice to help consumers have a positive experience when trying new cannabis products?
Know the onset: Different cannabis products take different amounts of time for consumers to feel the effects. Knowing how quickly you will feel the psychoactive effects of cannabis will affect the experience.
“I would start by educating the consumer on different consumption methods and explain that they result in differing onset times,” explains Feldman-Kohlver. “For example, inhalation methods such as smoking or vaping will typically have a faster onset that can be felt within minutes, whereas edibles can sometimes take up to two hours to feel the effects. With edibles, I always emphasize caution on the delayed onset because if you’re overconsuming without the tolerance, it can lead to an unpleasant experience.”
Set the scene: Where and when you consume cannabis as well as who you’re with all affect the overall experience. These budtenders recommend consciously choosing the atmosphere and friends you enjoy cannabis with.
“I would recommend staying hydrated and consuming in a safe and familiar environment, ideally with friends or people that you trust,” says Feldman-Kohlver.
How would you guide a new consumer to cannabis products if they were concerned about the onset timing of effects?
Start low and go slow: This expression is popular in the cannabis industry. It’s important for new consumers to start with lower potency products and be patient to feel the effects. Otherwise, it’s easy to take too much too quickly, which can lead to an unpleasant experience.
“Definitely start with a lower dosage, especially if it’s your first time trying a new product or consumption method. You know your body and can gauge its response to avoid overwhelming effects.
“Be aware of the THC content and don’t be afraid to engage with your budtender about what exactly you’re looking for, if you’re concerned about the psychoactive effects or have anxiety surrounding experimenting with cannabis, [budtenders] can find you a product that is low in THC [or more CBD dominant],” says Feldman-Kohlver.
What to Think About Before Heading to an Authorized Cannabis Retail Store
What flavours or smells are you looking for?
Seeking out cannabis based on flavour or smell might sound funny if you’ve never experienced cannabis’s prominent skunky smell. A variety of flavours and aromas are available thanks to terpenes and flavonoids that occur naturally in the plant.
“I would start by asking the customer about their favourite flavours and if there is a specific taste that they are looking for in a cannabis product,” says Feldman-Kohlver. “Different strains have varying terpene profiles which contribute to their distinct taste. Finding a strain that has a specific dominant terpene can help match the flavour preference.”
Five of the most common terpenes found in cannabis are:
- Myrcene: Musky, earthy scent
- Pinene: Woodsy, pine scent
- Limonene: Citrus, lemon or lime scent
- Linalool: Sweet flower, citrus scent
- Beta-caryophyllene: Peppery spice, woodsy scent
Learn more about terpenes here.