“Where do I start? It's all so overwhelming! Help!”
A subtle deer in headlights look follows those questions with almost every conversation I have with a newcomer to cannabis. In this article, I’m going to walk my cannabis new-comers through the very basics and set you on a path towards embracing and understanding this beautiful plant.
This article is super long with multiple sections that you may need to refer back to over time. I’ve created a menu link here to help you navigate this massive page.
- Your Why: Your intention for using CBD and/or THC
- Forget the 80s: Removing the negative connotations associated with the polarization of the plant for over a century.
- Cannabis: A quick overview of cannabis.
- CBD: A very fast, surface level introduction of CBD.
- THC: A very fast, surface level introduction of THC (also commonly referred to as marijuana).
- CBD & THC Together: Exploring the what and why of the entourage effect.
- Dosing & Method: Understanding how much to take and how to take it is key to beginning your relationship with the plant.
- My Daily Regimen (& Why) with Cannabis: A quick look at my plant story so you have a frame of reference.
- In Conclusion
- Resources: My fav books and courses on learning more about cannabis.
In business, we talk about “your why” all the time, so I get that it’s an overused cliche at this point, but for our conversation your why really does matter. Most people coming to cannabis for the first time are trying to solve an issue in their life. So, your first step is to identify your WHY.
- Is there a specific ailment you wish to address using the medicinal properties of the plant?
- Are you looking to address any mental health issues? Are you wrestling with the ongoing anxiety that is 2020 or are you working with deeper anxiety and depression issues and hoping to add the plant to your existing regimen?
- Are you simply curious and hoping you can elevate your overall well-being?
- Are you interested in using the plant to enhance your creative process or deepen your spirituality rituals?
Our conversation starts with one of the above scenarios. Yes, there’s an entire discussion to be had surrounding the recreational aspects of using the plant, but for the context of this website and our time together, we’re looking at improving an area of your life with this plant.
Make a small list of health concerns or goals you wish to accomplish so you can steer your cannabis wellness plan!
Forget the '80s
Honestly, forget most of the 20th century when it comes to cannabis. I won’t get into the details here, but essentially, the plant was demonized in the 1920s and 30s by a very wealthy family that feared hemp’s superiority to cotton. Then, in the 70s, Nixon used the plant for his “Law and Order” campaign and the Reagans used it as a prop for a fictitious “war on drugs” that locked up entire generations of Black men and helped prop up the prison industry and Clinton ran with it. I say those things not to be political, but to show you that there’s a reason people demonize marijuana or think it’s a “gateway drug” to something dark and dangerous– because the government and the media created those narratives for their own agendas and the people propagated them for decades.
One of the biggest hurdles in using cannabis is to remove that negative stigma that outside forces have placed on the plant. It’s a plant. A plant that has been traced by anthropologists to ancient medical books and religious ceremonies around the globe going back to the Stone Age. Literally.
So, I ask you to think about your perceptions of the plant and to remove the outside stigmas if you’ve never tried it. Now, there are some very real experiences that people have had in recreational settings that can leave a negative imprint in your mind. Young people smoking large amounts of cannabis and sitting on the couch all day doing nothing. Yes, that type of usage is a real thing and that’s a choice. I know, I had plenty of roommates who did just that over the years. I also had roommates who smoked from sun up to sun down and were managers of ski shops, raced in the town ski events and worked in high powered corporate offices, all while using cannabis.
I ask you to simply identify where your notions of the plant derive and then open your mind to creating your own relationship with the plant free from external influences.
To start with, let's quickly define the term “cannabis” as it has many uses and interpretations in today's world. From the book, Rebel's Apothecary, “Cannabis is a plant in the botanical family Cannabaceae, which encompasses what we think of as the “hemp” plant and the “marijuana” plant.”
In a nutshell, the reason cannabis is so impactful in addressing many health issues is because it regulates something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which was discovered about 30 years ago. We all have this internal regulatory system, so do our pets (and any invertebrate animals), and as we age our ECS gets wonky from chronic ailments, polluted environments or mental stressors. Basically–our shit gets whack from modern living.
From The Fundamentals of Cannabis Certification course: “Essentially, the endocannabinoid system is a set of proteins known as cannabinoid receptors which bind with a set of fatty acid-based molecules known as endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids interact with the cannabinoid receptors in innumerable ways, signaling, controlling and regulating a vast range of metabolic functions in thousands of different animal species, including humans.”
Our bodies have, at minimum, two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. Different compositions of the cannabis plant impact different parts of the body or ailments by interacting with these receptors.
CB1 receptors are located in the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system and help regulate pain, emotion, memory, appetite, seizures, nausea and more.
CB2 receptors are located mostly in the immune system, peripheral nervous system, many organs and the skin. They help regulate inflammation, immunity and pain. (See The Rebels Apothecary to dive deeper into this topic)
The ECS is a much more complex system that warrants much more than a paragraph, but my goal is not to overwhelm you with the science. More on the ECS to come in future articles. And if you want to dive deep into the science behind the ECS and more, please refer to the following:
The Rebels Apothecary, The Pot Book, and Green Flower Media’s Fundamentals in Cannabis Certification (also listed below in the resources section). Also, for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to skip over the individual components of the plant, such as terpenes, flavinoids and strains. They are vital elements of the plant, but its too much to dive into here.
Now, this is obviously a massive topic and will get its own articles later, but very briefly, CBD is either derived from hemp (meaning it has no psychoactive properties) or it comes from cannabis and is processed in a way that removes all or most of the THC in the plant. The presence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also called THC, is the psychoactive effect of the plant and gives you the “high” sensation. The presence of THC is also the legal line that turns the plant into an illegal substance in some states and (for now) on the federal level.
For some, CBD is all they wish to pursue when it comes to the plant. And that’s totally fine! I used just CBD for several years when I returned to the cannabis after a 13 year hiatus. CBD will address many, if not all of the health and wellness issues you identified in your WHY.
CBD, and its cousins CBG, CBC, CBV, etc help our internal ECS reach a state of balance again. In repairing our endocannabinoid system, our bodies can function closer to a state of optimal health. While some results can be felt immediately, when we’re looking for long term healing of our complex ECS system, CBD needs at least a month of consistent use to see results. Again, this will vary greatly by the individual person, but don’t give up after one week if you aren’t receiving your desired results. Alter your dosage, change the product or delivery method or try different plant profiles.
Research for the use of both CBD and THC in epilepsy, cancer (both pain and disease), MS and hundreds of other conditions has shown amazing promise in helping patients restore their quality of life and find substantial relief.
*I am glossing over the scientific aspects because I don’t wish to overwhelm you, but I will write much deeper articles with citations from medical research that will help support my broad-brush statements. I’ll also place links at the bottom of this article for amazing books and courses to begin your own knowledge journey.*
Cannabis containing THC has varying degrees of psychoactive properties that can elevate mood, alter reality, relieve pain and simply mellow you out. Non-technical term there. Yes, CBD can do most of those things as well (except alter reality), but THC is a different way of achieving your WHY and comes with a different set of rules and impacts. Now, please bear in mind that every single body is different and reacts to cannabis in its own manner. Please take what I’m saying as a guide, not strict rules or outcomes.
THC, which is the substance in cannabis that allows the plant to alter the mind, also interrupts the nerves sending pain signals to your brain. Again, this isn’t an article about scientific definitions, it’s a simple introduction. For me, cannabis use is a relationship with a plant that brings me a sense of calm, focus and relief. Your relationship with cannabis may be one that calms your anxiety and removes the pain from your chemo. Or it might be the familiar friend who calms you down after a long, chaotic day and helps you enter a meditative state.
Cannabis is many things to many people and is the reason our WHY is so important. If you mindfully and strategically deploy cannabis as a tool to reach your WHY, your relationship with the plant can start small and evolve into a long term friendship. If you use the plant to escape reality and avoid your life, than your relationship is a codependent shitshow. Don’t do that.
CBD & THC Together
Enter the entourage effect. Simply put, the entourage effect occurs when you utilize both CBD and THC in a regimented manner throughout the day. The stacking of both of these elements creates an enhanced healing effect on the body. Both CBD and THC work in special ways to interact with your ECS.
Now, this ability to deploy the entourage effect will depend on accessibility to both substances. The 2020 election was a big win for cannabis and many more states will be introducing both adult recreational use and medicinal cannabis at the start of 2021. And, on the federal level, there’s strong talk of legalization and the House just voted to decriminalize the plant. Fingers crossed.
If you have access to both, I do recommend deploying the entourage effect and finding your perfect balance of both CBD and THC. Again, every individual is different, but I personally derive the most benefit from both. Before I dive into my personal regimen, let’s talk about dosing and intake methods.
Dosing & Method
Cannabis can be administered in multiple ways and each method impacts the body differently, both in absorption of the substance and speed of relief. For example, inhaling CBD, by vaping or smoking CBD/THC flower (buds), registers an impact on the body within seconds and lasts for about an hour or so. Eating a gummy (or any edible) takes longer, about 1-2 hours, to really feel the effects, but lasts for 6-8 hours because the first-pass process through the liver.
Many people, myself included, use tinctures as the main method of intake, which is done sublinguly. Place the dose under your tongue and hold it for 30 seconds. CBD enters the body fast this way and the effects can be felt within minutes and lasts for 2-3 hours.
Dosing and methods of intake really comes down to your routines and your desired outcomes. I highly recommend keeping a dosing journal as you start this path.
The approach I use to dosing and highly recommend to anyone who asks, is microdosing. Basically, you take a tiny dose of whatever you’re using, usually 1/4 or 1/2 of the recommended dose. You wait and see how you feel before taking more. This is why the journal is so vital. Then, add a little more as you wish to increase the effect. You can also simply add tiny amounts each day until you reach a full recommended dosage.
Microsdosing is also an approach that you can maintain over time, not just in the beginning. I find that with edibles, because they can hit me so hard if I’m not mindful, I only need to microdose low-dose amounts in the afternoon/evening to get my desired outcome. Same with strong flower. In my twenties, I used higher quantities of usually high quality flower, but we didn’t have dispensaries. We had the cook at the bar where I worked who acquired a great stash every month. Now, I find that one good sized bud will last me about a month because I microdose.
My Daily Regimen
As a point of reference, here’s my personal dosing and method regimen. My WHY is to relieve low level anxiety from modern living (hello 2020 dumpster fire), help with leaky gut issues, to focus/relax and to maintain optimal wellness. I also use it for spiritual rituals some nights and for certain writing exercises. I’ve included affiliate links to the products I use in case you’d like to buy some and support the writing on this site ;). I’ve used these products for quite a while and completely trust their quality and production methods. A quality product will provide access to testing for each batch they produce so you can see exactly what is in the product.
In the AM
- 45mg of high octane CBD organic broad spectrum tincture taken under the tongue. 45mg from Joy Organics
- 1 pull from my vape juice. I use a 300mg juice from Funky Farms.
- If I have extra, I add a dropper full of a lower dosage, 15mg or 500mg (seems different, but it’s just labeled differently by the producers) in my morning mushroom coffee.
- I take some random pulls off my vape.
- I may add a small tincture to my tea or use the CBD coconut oil for cooking my lunch.
If I’m wrestling with a health issue (I’m dealing with skin rashes from masks and bad water right now) I’ll add another full dropper of high octane under the tongue around sunset. During the height of the pandemic stress, I began doing a “happy hour” hit of THC (sativa) and power walking. These days (I’m currently in Arizona where I have access to a variety of cannabis) I’ve been taking a hit from my cannabis and writing or reading during happy hour.
Once dinner is done and I know the only responsible act I have left for the day is my dog’s bedtime walk, I take a few hits from my glass pipe of sativa flower and I take half a 5mg gummie. I just recently found edibles that don’t send me straight to bed and I have to say, I really enjoy the mellow onset of the gummies. I barely notice I’ve taken it, but I just feel this subtle relaxation that is calming and so very zen. For me, edibles are a full body “buzz” whereas smoking flower (bud) is a more heady, intellectual “buzz”. Again, we’re all different, so you may have the opposite reaction, or none at all.
Before bed I take the remaining half of the gummie and maybe another drag from my flower. If I have both a sativa and an indica handy, I use the sativa until bedtime and then do one hit from the indica right before bed. Best sleep ever– and I’m the lightest sleeper! Because of my insane skin issues at this moment, I wake up in the middle of the night itchy and fighting the need to scratch. Now I wake up, baste myself in shea butter like a turkey and take a few hits off my CBD vape or THC flower. The effect is almost immediate. My itching subsides and I can sleep again.
I learned these nuances about my personal use through experimenting, microdosing and logging what did and didn’t work. Because I’m so mindful of what I put into my body and how I react to it, I can usually pinpoint a health issue by reverse engineering what I altered in my nutritional intake. I highly recommend everyone cultivate this skill to save yourself from needless visits to the doctor because you ate shit that your body didn’t agree with.
I also used cannabis regularly in my twenties, so I had a previous relationship with the plant that was positive, but never medicinal. I was deeply into all those beautiful hippy bands of the 70s that used plants to power their music. I would attend Grateful Dead shows (before Garcia died) and never do psychedelics. I’d smoke some yummy flower and just listen to the music and step into that transformed state that occurs when the mind is released into profound music. These days, I use binaural beats or Tibetan singing bowls to enter that transformative state while smoking.
The first time I tried CBD was 3 years ago. Our local dispensary had a 500mg full spectrum tincture and I decided to give it whirl. They’d just opened up next to my coffeeshop and I was curious. I’d tried my neighbors homebrew a few times, but never internally or with specific dosage and testing available. That night I noticed the black cloud was gone. It was that “time of the month” and it was peak political shitshow time and I was just feeling the weight of the world.
Within 48 hours of regular use, that weight was gone. I was hooked. I then added a vape pen of CBD for driving in tourist beach traffic (which I loathe). I now enjoyed my driving time without any road rage or anxiety. About a year after starting my CBD journey, I began to reflect on my past cannabis usage throughout my 20s. I enjoyed the plant, was very productive most of the time I used it and was just overall a very relaxed and free spirited human. I missed that person. At times I felt relaxed and free spirited, but again, modern living and a couple decades just wears on you.
So, one night I was like, why not allow cannabis back into the picture? What’s the worst that could happen? You don’t like it and you don’t do it. The plant is not addictive, so there’s no harm in trying it again. When I returned to Arizona for the winter, I asked my neighbors if I could buy some flower from them (they all have the medical card– now adult use is legal!!!). I was able to try different strains and know exactly what I was taking. And yes, I found that the old sensations of relaxation and free spirit did return. But I also found that I only needed tiny doses to feel the impacts. So I began a regimen of CBD during the daytime and THC microdosing at night.
Wrapping This Up
While the question appears simple, “what’s the difference between CBD and THC?” the answer is long, nuanced and dependent upon each individual user of the plant. The essence of both using the plant and what parts of the plant you use boils down to this, what is your intention?
Once you identify your intention for bringing the plant into your life, you can then create a strategy that empowers you to both get to know the plant and openly welcome it into your life.
Your relationship with this plant is just that…your relationship. Make it personal. Make it practical. Make your relationship with cannabis profound.
Self education is key when introducing cannabis into your life. I highly recommend taking courses and reading books to deeply understand how the plant interacts with the human body, and the larger society in general. Visiting local CBD or Cannabis dispensaries and asking lots of questions is also a great way to learn.
Most employees and owners of dispensaries are passionate cannabis and CBD connoisseurs and also advocates of the plants uses and roles in society. If you’re addressing complex medical conditions with the use of the plant, please find qualified medical guidance and work closely with an expert to create a plan.
Green Flower Media also offers shorter courses designed to educate you on the basics of cannabis or CBD and they also have tons of free content. Their certifications are also being utilized by universities to begin offering degrees for multiple aspects of the cannabis industry. Green Flower Home Page click here.
My Trusted CBD Products
Joy Organics Broad Spectrum Tincture
Joy Organics is a premium CBD producer and family-owned operation out of Fort Collins, CO. They offer both broad & full spectrum CBD products, including certified organic lines. Be sure to use the code: CSTREETSPEEPS to get 20% off your entire order or check my Joy's campaign page where I post the month's special sales available exclusively for my audience!
Lazarus Naturals produces high-quality CBD with an emphasis on affordability & accessibility for all and is a small operation based out of Oregon. They also offer special reduced pricing for veterans and low-income populations. I love everything about that!
Funky Farms is my go-to for CBD vape cartridges. I've used them for several years now and they are phenomenal! I mostly vape CBD while driving– no more road rage!
- The Pot Book
- The Rebels Apothecary
- Cannabis and Spirituality
Bear with me, I'm working on a deeper list with links to purchase. I found my books at health food stores that sell CBD products.