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Recommending an Appropriate Dose

Cannabis Flavours and Effects

Part of the responsibility of being a licensed cannabis retailer is having the ability to inform your customers on how to dose themselves with a particular product in order to get a desired effect. This is harder than it sounds; we don’t know exactly how cannabis works on the human body, and things are complicated by the sheer range of strains and the different ways to consume them. The key to directing your customers lies in knowing what they want from their experience, and understanding how the different compounds found in certain plants can help achieve that experience.

There are many forms of cannabis intake. The effectiveness generally depends on the individual and oftentimes how comfortable the participant is in their surroundings; a calm, relaxing space at home is conducive to a positive experience.

The same amount of cannabis can produce opposite effects in different people.

There are many factors to dosing other than just seeking strains that are high in the dominant cannabinoids THC or CBD. Terpenes are aromatic molecules of cannabis and are responsible for the fragrant smell and taste of the plant. The combination of terpenes and the therapeutic uses of cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and can improve the absorption of cannabinoids, assisting them in a number of ways.

What Factors Affect Dosage?

Many experienced consumers have come to find that taste and smell can and often do affect the experience. Becoming aware of the different terpene profiles in cannabis and their effects can help customize the overall experience. As with anything else cannabis related, you could always consume more to achieve the desired effect. However, unlike any other substance, the effectiveness of cannabis can decrease at an individual level once you’ve reached the ‘Goldilocks zone’ of dosing. This means that each individual may have a particular dose range. For many cannabis users, less can be more. The same amount of cannabis can produce opposite effects in different people, so it’s important to know your expectations before advising your customers.

There are many ways to consume cannabis, but we’ll focus on the general properties and characteristics that the basic plant possesses. There are many ways to partake, ranging from smoking and vaporizing, to infused edibles and even topical rubs. Each method may produce varying effects, even with the same strain. For example, smoking from a water pipe will produce a much stronger, faster effect than ingesting an infused edible. Be mindful of limits and recommend that customers start out slow.

A Primer On Terpenes

There are over 400 compounds that are active in the cannabis plant, but there are nine dominant terpenes, which we’ll examine.

There are three basic types of cannabis plant: sativa, indica, and hybrid. Sativa strains are typically more energizing and stimulating, so best for dosing during the day. Indica strains have a sedating effect on the body, producing a less bright, euphoric sensation in the head. These strains tend to be relaxing, so best for evening and nighttime. Hybrids are a combination of these plants with varying lineage that are bred to have the best effects of either their sativa or indica parents.

Sativa strains contain many flavourful terpenes like Alpha-Pinene and Beta-Pinene, responsible for the pine tree-like aroma found in Jacke Herer and Dutch Treat. These strains, and many flavoured versions like it, are great for upbeat energy. More importantly, these terpene properties typically produce focused, calm energy without the accompanied rushed or anxious feeling that can be attributed to some heavier sativa strains.

Indicas contain flavours rich in Myrcene, the most abundant terpene in cannabis and is mostly described as the earthy and musky notes of the plant. Myrcene is usually responsible for the heavy body and sedative effects, and can be found in such strains as Skunk, MK Ultra, and White Widow. Strains heavy with Myrcene are great for nighttime relief and relaxation.

Hybrid strains contain the terpenes Limonene and Linalool. Limonene is the second most abundant terpene. It resembles lemons and often has a very citrus-like smell. Limonene has been known to improve mood and reduce stress and is found in many strains with the word “lemon” or “sour” in the name. Linalool tends to be responsible for cannabis’ distinctive aroma, with spicy and floral notes present throughout the plant. The flavour profile of Linalool can be found in other spices like lavender, mint, cinnamon, and coriander. Linalool has been found to be very relaxing and sedative.

Best known for its spicy peppery notes, Caryophyllene is a terpene found in many spices like cloves, basil, and oregano. It can be calming and relaxing for the joints and the body in general. Some strains high in Caryophyllene can make the user energetic and happy. Popular strains with Caryophyllene include Skywalker and the brighter, more euphoric Super Silver Haze.

Similar to chamomile, Bisabolol has a floral scent and can also be found in candeia trees. While it’s recognized to calm the body, it focuses the mind. Alpha-Bisabolol can be found in strains like Harle Tsu and Blue Power.

Also known as cineole, Eucalyptol is the main terpene of eucalyptus and has cool, minty tones. However, this terpene is rare and few strains contain it in large amounts. It’s great for relaxation, and can encourage an overall happy feeling. Eucalyptol can be found in such strains as Headband and Yoda OG.

The same amount of cannabis can produce opposite effects in different people.

Humulene has a profile like hops and its aroma contains woody and spicy notes. It tends to be energizing and can be found in strains like Pink Kush, Stardawg 91, and Calyx OG.

Another terpene that deserves an honorary mention is Camphene, best described as having the aroma of fir needles, musky earth, and damp woodlands. It can be found in strains like Ghost OG, Strawberry Banana, and even Mendocino Purps, and can be characterized as inducing a feeling of happiness, but can make the user feel flushed.

Why Should you Start Small?

Ultimately, it’s best to be cautious when advising your customers, and starting with small amounts, especially with concentrates such as shatter, is necessary. Although you will always be adding to your knowledge of different strains, the way a person’s body processes cannabinoids and terpenes depends on their own biochemistry. Everyone is different and the old adage ‘different smoke for different folk’ rings true. Finding a balance is key, and with the knowledge of cannabis flavours and potential attributed effects, you can advise your customers about dosing with confidence.