Different types of cannabis products
There is a wide variety of cannabis products, the primary categories being dry flower, concentrates, edibles, tinctures, and topicals.
Dry flower: Dry flower is the most common cannabis product purchased today. Dry flower can be smoked or vaporized (vapor contains trace amounts of carbon monoxide and dioxide, making it a preferred option of consumption). One can smoke cannabis via a hand pipe, water pipe (bong), a joint (rolled with thin paper), and a variety of other similar methods.
Cannabis flower is just the raw cannabis buds which contain all the original cannabinoids and terpenes from the cultivation process as it is not extracted or purified. Different strains of cannabis flower often contain different cannabinoid contents - some high in THC and low in CBD, some high in CBD and low in THC, and everything in-between. Varying cannabinoid content between strains also applies to less abundant cannabinoids and terpenes. The effects of smoking or vaporizing cannabis can typically be felt from two to ten minutes after consumption, which is the quickest method of cannabis consumption.
Concentrate: Cannabis concentrates are a purified and concentrated form of cannabis that contain high amounts of cannabinoids in relation to the volume of concentrate. Concentrates are essentially substances containing the cannabinoids and terpenes removed from the flower. They come in many forms (liquid and solid) as there are a variety of ways to create concentrate from cannabis, the most common are rosin, wax, budder, crumble, shatter, distillate, soft, hash, and crystalline.
Methods for consuming concentrates are dabbing (temperature conductive vaporization), smoking it with cannabis flower, or vaporizing with a portable or table top vaporizer. Concentrates are generally much more potent than any other type of cannabis product because they contain such a large amount of cannabinoids in such a small volume. There are different methods of obtaining concentrates, some methods exclusively isolate THC or CBD, and some isolate a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes. The effects of concentrates typically take effect within two to ten minutes of inhalation.
Topicals: Also known as salves, creams, lotions, and oils are cannabis products that can be applied to the skin. Some topicals can be absorbed into the skin (transermal) and some cannot, depending on what they are composed of. However, they generally do not make their way into the blood stream. Similar to most other cannabinoid-based products, topicals can contain varying amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Edible: Cannabis based edibles are any kind of food or drink that is infused with THC, CBD, and/or other cannabinoids & terpenes. Edibles come in a wide variety of types - bakery treats, sodas, fruit frinks, gummy candy, chocolate, dissolvable tablets & powders, butter (can also be used for cooking edibles), and even entire meals. They also come in a variety of doses at retail stores, usually anywhere from 1 mg to 200 mg.
Similar to concentrates, edibles can contain only THC, only CBD, both THC & CBD, or all cannabinoids and terpenes. Edibles take the longest of any consumption method to take effect and are the most variable as it depends upon things such as time since last meal and exercise consistency. Edibles usually take effect anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours after ingestion.
Tincture: Also known as a “sublingual”, tinctures are a type of oil-based or water-based orally administered cannabis liquid. This differs from concentrates and edibles because concentrates are inhaled and edibles are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, whereas tinctures are absorbed in the mouth, often beneath the tongue or in the gums. Tinctures come as liquids administered via a pipette dropper and oral sprays administered by spraying into the mouth (like a breath freshener).
Just as edibles and concentrates, tinctures can contain a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes which range from only THC to all cannabinoids and terpenes. Tinctures also come in a wide range of cannabinoid concentrations. Tinctures can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes to take effects, assuming the tincure was absorbed in the mouth and not swallowed.
All about strains
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of different (dry flower) varietals of cannabis known as "strains", each with a unique name often given by its original cultivator. Each of these strains differ genetically, which is what sets them apart. Due to their genetic differences they can be cultivated to contain different cannabinoid and terpenoid content. However, it is important to note that the cannabinoid content of a particular strain is a result of not just its genetics, but both its genetics and the way it is cultivated. This means that you can take two seeds of the same strain and create two chemically different plants by cultivating them differently. This is significant because it means two plants that have the same strain name can have very different effects. Look at the cannabinoid content of the strain when choosing flower, not the strain name, because it is the cannabinoid content that is responsible for the strain's effects.
What part of cannabis actually causes the effects?
The cannabis plant contains a wide variety of chemicals, known as cannabinoids and terpenes responsible for the effects that one experiences when consuming cannabis. Each of these chemicals has a different molecular structure and can cause different effects. Although each of these cannabinoids and terpenes can be found in cannabis, some appear in a higher abundance than others.
Check out our page dedicated to cannabinoids and terpenes where we talk more about their chemistry and biochemistry.