A Visual Guide to Taking the Perfect Dab

Dabbing is an effective way to consume cannabis and also a great ritual. Similar to cooking a great meal or mixing a refreshing cocktail, the process of preparing and executing the perfect dab can be meditative and provide a moment to decompress. Like a baseball player stepping up to the plate, as dabbing becomes more familiar, you’ll fall into a routine with your own methods and motions.

Once you know how to dab, there are a number of different techniques you can use to dial in the experience and find the method that work best for you to can achieve the right dab at the right temperature.

To take your dabbing experience to the next level, here are some pro tips and techniques, and explanations as to why you should include them in your dabbing routine.

Always Use a Carb Cap

dabbing, cannabis, dabs, oil day, concentrate, cannabis oil, cannabis extracts, marijuana, carb cap(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: After you apply your dab to the banger or nail, apply your carb cap over the top to achieve a flavorful, low temp dab with thick vapor quality.

A carb cap is an essential dabbing accessory that will help you dab at lower temperatures and vaporize your hash and concentrates more effectively. There are a number of different styles and types of carb caps available, but they all serve the same general purpose–to trap heat and emphasize true vaporization while agitating the oil to spread it across the hot dabbing surface.

Protect Your Banger With an Insert

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Use a quartz insert to keep your banger clean, extend its life, and to never take a dab that’s too hot.

An insert is a small bucket typically made from quartz or other precious heat-retaining materials like ruby. These small buckets fit inside your banger and will help keep an even temperature for vaporization, while also keeping your quartz clean by avoiding chazzing or devitrification.

Once your banger is hot, simply drop in the insert and cap your dab. Then give it a few seconds as heat transfers from banger to insert and gradually heats the dab to the right temperature.

Dosing and applying dabs is easy as you can preload them into the insert and drop it right in. They’re easy to clean and you can keep a few around and use them interchangeably. They’re great for dab seshes with friends!

Cold Start Your Dab

Tip: Try a cold start dab to get the perfect hit at low temperatures without wasting any of your oil.

Cold start dabbing is the process of loading your banger with concentrate first, before you heat it–this is why it’s also known as reverse dabbing.

By applying light heat to a capped banger until the dab starts to vaporize, you are able to control your temperature easily and avoid the risk of dabbing too early on a hot banger. If you don’t get the full dab the first time, you can reheat with your torch again until you’ve completely vaporized your hash.

Spin Some Terp Pearls

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Use quartz beads in your banger to add some action and area to the dabbing surface.

Quartz beads, popularly known as terp pearls, are small beads made from inert, heat-retaining materials and are placed directly in your banger. When heating the banger they will hold that heat and increase the available warm surface area to vaporize your dab off of.

Couple terp pearls with a good carb cap to watch them spin and enhance the way you agitate your dab when vaporizing at low temperatures. The small balls mix and move your concentrate around the warm banger the way a bead in a can of spray paint mixes the paint.

Heat Your Banger Evenly

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Heating your banger or nail evenly will ensure a balanced dabbing temperature.

What might seem like a no-brainer can actually have a huge effect on the quality of your hit. Using your torch to evenly heat the banger will help avoid hot and cold spots and ensure that you are thoroughly vaporizing your dab. Avoiding extreme temperatures with even heating will also extend the life of your nail.

I like to start by heating the bottom of my banger and working up and around the sides, where oil likes to splash and where you agitate your dab with a carb cap. Be cautious not to apply too much heat around the joint or neck areas of the banger as they tend to be more susceptible to cracks.

Time Your Dabs

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: To dab at more consistent temperatures, use a timer to keep track of how long you heat and cool your dabs.

Using the timer on your phone or another way of tracking time, you can gain more consistency in temperature from dab to dab, and you can be confident that they are all reaching about the same temperature every time. Same goes for cooling–as your quartz holds heat and slowly releases it over time, you can track how long it takes to cool to the temperature you prefer and then repeat, time after time.

Each nail will have its own heating and cooling time depending on the quality and thickness of the material, but as a general rule, I like to start with heating for 30 seconds, cooling for a minute, and then adjusting both timers as needed to dial in the experience I’m looking for.

Clean Your Banger After Every Dab

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Clean your banger after every dab to ensure a smooth, flavorful dab every time.

Maintaining a clean banger is simple if you follow a few easy steps. First, don’t dab when you’re nail is too hot–dabbing at lower temperatures helps avoid char, ash, and any other residue from sticking or burning into your expensive quartz banger.

Second, use a cotton swab to soak up and wipe away any residual oil or char left after each dab.

Third, if you have stubborn oil stuck on or dark carbon spots, you can use isopropyl alcohol to help loosen and remove them. For really stubborn spots you can heat-clean your quartz using a torch, but do this sparingly as repeated heating of dirty quartz or glass will cause particles to bake into the banger and slowly deteriorate its ability to retain heat.

Store Your Dabs in the Fridge

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Tip: Preserve the flavor and consistency of your hash, concentrates, and extracts by storing them in a cool, dark, dry place.

Cannabis concentrates are relatively stable products with a long shelf-life. However their form, flavor, and overall composition can change over time when exposed to heat or light.

The terpene content within your extracts is especially volatile and can begin to deteriorate even at room temperature. Because of this, it’s a great idea to store your oil in the refrigerator or freezer.

Short-term storage of grams I know I’ll be dabbing regularly I keep in the door of my fridge. If I have larger quantities of extract or something special that I want to hold onto for longer, I store them in an airtight container in the freezer.

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Congressional Committee Discusses How to Legalize Cannabis

In a first-of-its-kind hearing, a key congressional committee met Wednesday morning to discuss how to finally put an end to federal cannabis prohibition. Titled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” it was the latest indication of just how far Congress has come on cannabis reform after decades of intransigence.

Wednesday’s hearing highlighted competing visions of what reform should look like.

According to most polls, Americans now broadly support cannabis legalization, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in favor. That bipartisan agreement was on display Wednesday at a House Judiciary subcommittee meeting, where members of both parties expressed frustration at the current state of the country’s cannabis laws.

Ending prohibition, said US Rep. Tom McClintock, a California Republican, “may be one of the very few issues upon which bipartisan agreement can still be reached in this session.”

But while lawmakers seemed to agree on the need for reform, Wednesday’s hearing also highlighted tensions between competing visions of what reform should look like.

Race: A Persistent Sticking Point

The war on drugs has wreaked havoc on millions of Americans and their families, but no group has been more disproportionately impacted than people of color. Despite evidence that Americans consume cannabis at similar rates across racial lines, US Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) noted, black and brown people are roughly four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than their white peers. Those disparities are even higher in some parts of the country, including major cities such as New York and Baltimore.

“The foundations of our drug policy are inherently racist.”

Dr. G. Malik Burnett, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Even in states that have taken steps to legalize, racial disparities remain–both in terms of arrests and as measured by company ownership in the newly legal industry. In Florida, for example, which has a limited medical cannabis program, US Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell observed that most people in the legal industry are “white and wealthy” while people of color continue to be arrested. “We have a tale of two Americas,” she said.

To address these inequities, some lawmakers called for automatic vacation or expungement of past cannabis convictions. Others urged more direct action, such as funneling federal funds to help people of color find a foothold in the new industry.

That suggestion was too much for other lawmakers, such as McClintock, the California Republican. Though he agreed with the need for some form of federal cannabis reform, McClintock claimed Democrats were using the issue to inflame racial divisions. “I am disappointed that just as a strong bipartisan consensus is emerging on this issue,” he said, “the majority has chosen to play the race card.”

Other committee members pushed back by highlighting the drug war’s racist origins.

US Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), for one, noted that a chief architect of cannabis prohibition, Harry Anslinger, not only “made claims about cannabis that were incorrect” but “also targeted blacks and Latinos.”

“Would it be fair to say that the origins of marijuana prohibition are racially tinged, flawed?” Jeffries asked Dr. G Malik Burnett, a physician at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance.

“The foundations of our drug policy are inherently racist,” Burnett replied.

Rescheduling vs. Descheduling

In years past, cautious promoters of cannabis reform, such as former Sen. Hillary Clinton, said they would support removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act’s most restrictive category, Schedule I, and reschedule it amid a less-restrictive class of drugs. But both lawmakers and witnesses at Wednesday’s hearings said that removing cannabis from the CSA entirely would lead to better results for most Americans.

“The whole system to me seems irrational.”

US Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)

US Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), noted that cannabis is less dangerous than most Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine and fentanyl. But even moving cannabis to Schedule III would leave obstacles in place for businesses and consumers. Taxing cannabis and expanding research would be allowed under Schedule III, for example, but access to banking and other financial services would still be limited. Nor would a Schedule III classification allow consumption by consenting adults.

“The whole system to me seems irrational,” Lieu said. “I think marijuana should be taken completely off of the Controlled Substances Act.”

Removing cannabis from the CSA completely would also “lower the barrier to entry to the cannabis industry” and thus promote a more equitable industry, Burnett of Johns Hopkins said. Descheduling cannabis would allow cannabis entrepreneurs to access federal incentives for small businesses, including grants, loans, and other financial support. That would mean more equitable access to startup capital than is currently available through angel investors or venture capitalists “who themselves have a diversity problem,” Burnett said.

Public Health

One of the speakers at Wednesday’s hearing was Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who in January announced that her office would no longer prosecute cannabis possession cases. She also filed a motion to erase nearly 4,000 cannabis convictions–a move the court has since denied. Mosby testified that decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis would allow the state to better treat problem drug use while at the same time freeing up law enforcement resources to target bigger public health threats.

“We’ve criminalized what should have been a public health issue this entire time,” she said. Since her office stopped prosecuting cannabis possession cases, Mosby told the panel, the clearance rate for Baltimore’s nonviolent shooting crimes has gone up. “What would my work look like if we were to focus on safety?” she said. “It would be great.”

Gateway Drug & Teen Use

Asked to speak to the notion that cannabis is a gateway drug, Dr. David Nathan, board president for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, called the concern “one of the most thoroughly debunked issues in this debate.”

For one thing, many researchers now subscribe to the so-called common liability theory, which says that there are a common set of factors that tend to lead to all drug use, including poverty, absence of a parent from the home, bad schools, unsafe streets, genetic predispositions, and others. It seems drug use is determined less by what someone puts in their body than the environment that body is in.

Beyond that, Nathan added, “Although there is a correlation between cannabis use and the use of other drugs, there’s also a stronger correlation between alcohol and tobacco and the use of other drugs.” In other words, if we’re truly concerned about a gateway effect, alcohol and tobacco use are bigger concerns than cannabis.

Next Steps

There are a number of bills currently circulating in Congress that address cannabis legalization. The leading measure, the STATES Act, was mentioned favorably by a number of legislators and hearing witnesses. A few, though, objected to the lack of equity measures in the STATES Act–measures which are contained in a rival measure, the Marijuana Justice Act.

Wednesday’s hearing was not meant to consider any one specific bill, but rather to give legislators an overview of the racial justice issues at play.

“Everything in politics seems impossible until it happens,” said US Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). “If 15 years ago I were to tell you, ‘In 15 years we would have gay marriage in 50 states and, in some of those states, we’d be smoking weed,’ you’d think I was crazy. But that is, in fact, what is happening now.”

“I appreciate the fight,” Lieu said. “Keep on fighting, and I believe we can get this done.”

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Most Addiction Specialists Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana, Study Finds

People who shop at recreational marijuana dispensaries aren’t just using cannabis to have a good time. In fact, a new study reports that many adult-use customers consume marijuana for the same reasons medical cannabis patients do: to help with pain and sleep.

A growing body of research has shown the health benefits of legal medical marijuana access, including an association with lower use of opioids. The problem with these laws, however, is that they usually require a physician’s recommendation and/or registration with the state’s medical cannabis program in order to get access. That means many people who live in states where medical marijuana is legal and face barriers to health care are still unable to access cannabis to help alleviate their symptoms.

New research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs this week, however, shows some people in areas where broader adult-use legalization is in effect are side-stepping these requirements to get the relief they need from cannabis retail shops.

“In a survey of adult use customers,” the study states, “we found that the majority reported taking cannabis to relieve pain or to promote sleep. In addition, most respondents taking cannabis for pain or sleep reported substituting cannabis for prescription or over-the-counter analgesics or sleep aids.”

Researchers surveyed 1,000 people who shopped at two Colorado dispensaries and were not certified to access marijuana for medical purposes. The study’s goal was to get a better understanding of how these customers use cannabis to treat their symptoms as a substitute for prescription and over-the-counter medications (OTC).

In addition to gathering sociodemographic information, researchers asked participants about their health status, how cannabis had changed their use of OTC and prescription drugs and if and how cannabis impacted their pain and sleep.

The majority of respondents said they used marijuana to relieve pain (65 percent) and help them sleep (74 percent).

“Among respondents taking over-the-counter pain medications, 82% reported reducing or stopping use of those medications,” the study states. “Among respondents taking opioid analgesics, 88% reported reducing or stopping use of those medications.” Additionally, more than 80 percent of participants who had taken sleep aids, including those obtained with a prescription, also said they reduced or stopped using those medications altogether.

“[T]he majority reported that cannabis decreased their medication use. Adult use cannabis laws may broaden access to cannabis for the purpose of symptom relief.”

“Our findings suggest that de facto medical use may be highly prevalent among adult use customers, and that access to an adult use cannabis market may influence individuals’ use of other medications,” the study’s authors wrote. Despite the fact that adult-use laws are often called “recreational,” the findings suggest that many customers are more interested in consuming cannabis for its therapeutic benefits.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said he wasn’t surprised by the results.

“Several prior studies similarly show that the use of cannabis by qualified patients is associated with the reduction, or even the elimination, of certain other prescription drugs — specifically opioids — over time,” he said. “These findings speak not only to the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis as an alternative analgesic option, but also to its potential role as a harm reduction agent.”

In a statement, Dr. Gwen Wurm, an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and study co-author, explained the significance of the findings: “Approximately 20% of American adults suffer from chronic pain, and one in three adults do not get enough sleep. In states where adult use of cannabis is legal, our research suggests that many individuals bypass the medical cannabis route (which requires registering with the state) and are instead opting for the privacy of a legal adult use dispensary.”

She cautioned, however, that more research is needed to understand the benefits and side effects of cannabis, as well as the ramifications of substituting cannabis for pharmaceuticals.

“The challenge is that health providers are far behind in knowing which cannabis products work and which do not,” Wurm said. “Until there is more research into which cannabis products work for which symptoms, patients will do their own ‘trial and error,’ experiments, getting advice from friends, social media and dispensary employees.”

Patients Are Substituting Marijuana For Addictive Pharmaceutical Drugs, Two New Studies Show

Photo courtesy of Ndispensable.

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Meet the Women Leading America’s CBD Wellness Revolution

On a recent Friday evening in a private home near Walnut Creek, California, several accomplished, professional middle-aged women gathered to learn about cannabis.

The authors of a new book on cannabis and CBD explain it all, clearly and without apology or puns.

Sipping LaCroix and nibbling on cheese and grapes, they were excited to meet Dr. Junella Chin and Aliza Sherman, authors of the new book, Cannabis & CBD for Health and Wellness: An Essential Guide for Using Nature’s Medicine to Relieve Stress, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Inflammation, and More.

Like most of America, they’d heard all about CBD but knew next to nothing about it. That’s a learning gap Chin and Sherman hope to close.

Cannabis & CBD, published earlier this month, details the history, botany, science, chemical compounds, case studies, and practical uses of cannabis. The book is a comprehensive and beautifully designed primer that’s perfect for newcomers–and will fill in the knowledge gaps for more experienced patients and consumers.

An expert guide for non-experts, without stigma, fear, or lame puns. Sherman and Chin get it right. (Courtesy Random House)

Whether as a wine replacement, a substitute for anti-anxiety medication, to ease the symptoms of menopause, or to aid with sleep, there are a myriad of reasons for women to seek out cannabis.

CBD helped Dr. Chin get through med school. Cannabis eased Sherman’s insomnia and neck pain.

But the knowledge barrier to entering the market remains large. That presented an opportunity for female educators and health professionals like Sherman and Chin.

Aliza Sherman is the CEO of Ellementa, a women’s wellness network that offers online resources and connects women in cities across the country at gatherings like the one in Walnut Creek, to learn about cannabis from expert speakers and connect with trusted brands. Junella Chin specializes in osteopathic manipulative medicine, and is currently treating patients in New York City as an integrative cannabis physician.

Prior to the event in Walnut Creek, I sat down with Sherman and Chin for a wide-ranging conversation about their new book and their experiences with cannabis. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Junella Chin: CBD helped her manage a spinal disease and make it through med school. (Jake Elwood photo, courtesy Random House)

Leafly: How did the two of you meet?

Both women laugh.

Junella Chin (JC): We just met!

Aliza Sherman (AS): We didn’t meet until last week. We wrote the book and had not met in person until literally last week when we started our book tour together.

Leafly: Oh wow!

AS: I knew of June from Ellementa New York City. She was invited to speak there by the local leader in New York, and it went really well. I read up on her and took a look online. I saw a lot of great, credible information. I wanted a co-author, preferably a doctor and a woman, and she fit the bill. I invited her to write the book with me and she said yes.

Leafly: How did cannabis enter your life?

AS: A lot of people in this industry have had some kind of physical, mental or even spiritual awakening because they accepted the fact that this plant can be helpful.

‘I thought cannabis was dangerous and illegal and would ruin my brain. It wasn’t until in my early fifties that I began to realize it was medicine.’

Aliza Sherman, co-author

I was resistant to it for so many years. I dabbled in high school and college, but it wasn’t something I thought I should have in my life because of the stigma. I thought it was dangerous and illegal and would ruin my brain.

It wasn’t until in my early fifties when I was suffering that I began to realize it was medicine. … I started researching it and I thought ‘Wow, maybe I could use this for my insomnia and chronic neck pain.'” I tried it and it worked.

I was really excited about the discovery, and I wondered why more people don’t know about this. As a writer, communicator, speaker and teacher, I wanted to teach women about it.

Author and cannabis educator Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman: After finding relief from insomnia and neck pain, she’s now teaching other women about medical cannabis. (Photo: Ageist, courtesy Random House)

A Challenging Spinal Disease

Leafly (To Chin): What about your personal journey with cannabis?

JC: I became a patient before I graduated from medical school. As a teenager, I was diagnosed with a debilitating spinal disease, and that led to years of chronic pain.

‘An HIV/AIDS doctor told me about CBD oil. He said it helped his patients with pain and didn’t make them feel altered.’

Junella Chin, co-author

I cycled through all of the conventional therapies: medications, epidurals, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, rolfing. When I got to medical school I found that the only thing that worked was medication and a brace–that was short-lived, but it got me through chunks of time.

I started doing rounds at the hospital, working 80 hours a week. I had a really hard time standing. One of my attending physicians noticed, and he asked me what was going on. He said “You’re not going to be able to finish medical school like this, to be honest with you. You have a long way to go.”

Getting Through Med School

I explained that I had ankylosis spondylitis–AS. He knew about it, and he knew that there was no cure. All you can do is find symptomatic relief. Dr. Levine was an HIV/AIDS doctor, and he’s the one who offered me marijuana in a tincture form. He said “This is what my HIV and AIDS patients use. It really helps them with pain and it doesn’t make them feel altered.” He didn’t call it CBD oil at the time. He just said it was a different kind of cannabis plant.

I grew up in the Bronx. I was pre-med, I had my eye on the prize, so I didn’t experiment with cannabis. I had an opinion about it–it was for gangsters and high school dropouts. I grew up in a strict Chinese household, and I was taught that it caused psychosis. But I had to try it–either that or drop out of medical school. So, I tried it over a weekend. By Monday I knew it was working. To my amazement, something was changing. I was able to stand and wash the dishes. I could sit for more than a half-hour to study.

I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I went to medical school in California shortly after it legalized here medically [in 1996], so I was able to learn everything I could about both this plant and about conventional medicine. It was the best of both worlds. I decided to dedicate my career to helping patients integrate medical cannabis safely.

Everybody’s Talking About CBD

Leafly: It‘s interesting that the book’s title is Cannabis & CBD. How do you feel about the trendiness of CBD and its promotion to people who may not know what it is?

AS: There are pros and cons. The pros are that when everyone’s talking about it, it’s normalized.

‘Everyone’s hearing about CBD and thinking that it’s going to be a miracle cure for them. But they really have no idea what’s in it.’

Aliza Sherman

Even if it’s trendy, it’s out in the open. People don’t understand that CBD is cannabis and it comes from the cannabis plant. It’s a variation, but it’s still cannabis. Even legislators, they have no idea.

The downside is that everyone’s hearing about it and thinking that it’s going to be a miracle cure for them. They think something is better or healthier because it has CBD in it. But they really have no idea what’s in it–if it’s been cleaned, if pesticides and heavy metals have been removed. They could be taking in toxins and they have no clue.

JC: Other health care practitioners don’t realize that CBD is cannabis, and they feel better saying, sure you can prescribe CBD oil. So it’s semantics. My older patients, 65 and older, always come in and say “I don’t want marijuana, I want CBD.”

So that’s why we named the book Cannabis & CBD. We talked with the publisher and went through different titles, and they said ‘Cannabis and CBD are separated so much in our culture, it would be a good title and then you can delve into it.'”

Leafly: Are there negative side effects to using CBD that aren’t discussed?

JC: Absolutely. It’s not a silver bullet. It can be contraindicated with certain medications. It can change the way your prescription medications and natural supplements work. If you take too much CBD, it can cause nausea or diarrhea. There’s a subset of patients that can’t tolerate the cannabis plant at all, they get very ill or depressed, have trouble sleeping and get anxiety, and that’s something that needs to be discussed. It’s not a cure-all.

Opening Medical Culture

Leafly: Why do you think more MDs aren’t educating themselves about the endocannabinoid system or cannabis in general?

JC: We don’t learn about it in medical school or residency.

‘We don’t learn about the endocannabinoid system in med school. But I’m now teaching it to pharmacists.’

Junella Chin

I’m just starting to do grand rounds, teaching it to pharmacists. I just did a symposium at a medical school in New York, and after that I got so many calls from medical students wanting to shadow me in the office, so it’s starting. But we still can’t prescribe it–we can only recommend it–and there’s a liability with it, it’s still federally regulated. It’s not covered by my malpractice insurance, and if I have an affiliation with a hospital, they’re very clear that they don’t cover you if you recommend it and something goes wrong.

MDs as a whole are very conservative. We follow a linear path. This is botanical medicine with a broader therapeutic window than pharmaceutical meds, and that’s not what conventional healthcare is about.

Leafly: For better or for worse.

AS: Exactly. There’s definitely something to be said about the benefits of regulation–including mandatory testing. A lot of CBD products aren’t tested.

It’s not for us to promote an opinion of which products are best. We don’t say that “isolates are terrible and full-spectrum – whole plant is better.” We explain that there’s a place for each. Isolates are more limited in their ability; full-spectrum CBD has a broader potential to be beneficial for many more things. We let the consumer decide.

What’s Coming Next

Leafly: Over the next five to ten years, what do you think the potential is for cannabis to change medicine as we know it?

JC: I think there will be more research into the biosynthetic version of cannabis. If it’s genetically-modified yeast creating cannabinoids, making it in an isolate form with molecular consistency, then the pharmaceutical industry will embrace it and healthcare practitioners will as well. Ultimately I think that’s where it’s going to go: towards the development of pharmaceutical-based cannabinoids.

AS: For better or for worse. There is a beauty and harmony to nature’s medicine. But the variability scares and confuses people. We’re trying to get to the people that think it’s too complicated and simplify it for them so they can embrace something that’s more natural. Because once it’s a pharmaceutical, it’s very different from the way nature intended.

JC: I think there’s a place for both. With plant medicine, when you’re pulling apart the molecules of the plant, you’re not going to get the benefits of the synergism of the whole plant compound.

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7 Factors That Affect Your Cannabis High

Ask a dozen smokers what their favorite strain is, and you may receive a dozen different answers. Some prefer their high to be mellow, others like it buzzy, some want to feel it in their body, and others yet, in their head. There are a lot of factors that go into personal preferences when it comes to enjoying cannabis, but there are also many factors outside of simple likes that can affect your high.

By understanding the circumstances that can affect your high, you can empower yourself to have better experiences with a variety of strains and narrow down what works best for you.

Here are seven factors that affect your cannabis high.

Set & Setting

Your environment plays a crucial role in the effect of your cannabis high and should not be taken lightly. Sometimes, if you smoke the same strain on two different days, you can have very different experiences.

Next time this happens, ask yourself–what was your mood and environment like before you smoked? Were you relaxed, happy, comfortable? Tense, anxious, or uneasy? At ease with the people in your company? Out in nature, or in a crowd?

Different scenarios can wildly affect your high. It’s important to consider your comfort level before indulging. Perhaps you know that getting high before you have to enter a stuffy waiting room will make you feel anxious, or maybe you know the best time for you to indulge is right before bed.

By being aware of your surroundings, you can figure out what set and setting work best for you, and better prepare yourself for enjoying the best possible cannabis high.

Delivery Method

Smoking, vaping, and eating edibles may all be ways to ingest cannabis, but every delivery method comes with its own variables. Eating a pot brownie and hitting a vape will, generally speaking, affect you differently. Your body processes cannabis from each method differently, and the amount you consume usually differs between methods. On top of that, the duration of a high with edibles can be much longer, and the effects are often reported as stronger.

It’s also easier to control your dose with some methods more than others–vaping for example, as opposed to eating an edible. Additionally, you can get a more potent hit from dabbing oil than from puffing on a joint, and it’s easier to visualize how much you’re consuming with a joint than with a vape. All of these factors can play a role, affecting the quality and length of your cannabis high.

As a result, it’s important to know your own limits with each individual method. Just because you can smoke a blunt every evening doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll enjoy half a pot brownie.

Dose

Dosing can be tricky, especially when indulging in edibles or a new strain. Starting low and going slow is essential.

Dosing may in fact be the most important factor to take into account when considering what will affect your high. Too little and you may feel like you shouldn’t have even bothered; too much and you may wind up sunk in the couch waiting for the high to wear off while the sound of the neighbor’s lawn mower freaks you out (I’ve been there too).

Hitting that sweet spot, and knowing what your sweet spot is, can make a world of a difference when enjoying cannabis.

Cannabinoid Profile

Currently, the cannabinoid profile of a strain is one of the best and most accessible ways to determine how a high will affect you. For example, some people really enjoy the effects of cannabis’ most famous cannabinoid, THC, while others find its effects too stimulating or may have bad reactions from it, like anxiety.

There are other cannabinoids to consider as well, such as CBD and more. Cannabinoid profiles can be diverse and vary widely from strain to strain, but they can also be a powerful tool in assessing how a strain will affect your high.

But it’s necessary to first know how each cannabinoid makes you feel, and this usually requires some experimenting. Once you know which ones work best for you, knowing the composition of a strain will put the power in your hands and will allow you to have the type of high you want.

However, the buck doesn’t quite stop there–other factors can come into play, such as the CBD:THC ratio of the strain, as THC can enhance CBD. Therefore, it is possible to have an unpleasant experience with one strain that is high in THC, but an enjoyable experience with another, simply because the ratio of the two compounds is different.

Terpenes

You’re familiar with terpenes even if you’ve never heard the word before. They are the lemon in your Lemon Haze, the berry in your Blueberry Kush, the fuel in your Sour Diesel. Terpenes give our strains the scents and tastes we love, but can they also play a role in the high? The topic is in need of further research, and it is a fascinating question, but some anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that it can, in fact, make a difference.

For example, a potential effect of limonene is said to be stress relief, and linalool may provide relaxed mood enhancement. It makes a kind of intuitive sense–linalool, for example, is also what gives lavender its signature scent, and no one questions the relaxing effects of lavender oil.

In the future, research will undoubtedly emerge to confirm the beneficial effects of terpenes, and cannabis consumers will be able to say with confidence which terpenes they prefer most.

Age

If you’ve ever asked your folks if they smoked when they were young, you might have heard that they enjoyed it back in the day but can’t tolerate it now. While you may have assumed they simply became uncool once they had kids, the truth is that age may have a surprising role to play in enjoying a cannabis high.

A 2007 study on rats found a link between age and the effects of cannabis. Adolescent rats were reported to tolerate the effects of weed much better than their adult counterparts, who showed more signs of stress, anxiety, and suppressed movement.

More research on age still needs to be done, but it may be wise to reevaluate how much and what kind of cannabis you’re consuming if the last time you smoked was in your teens.

Tolerance

No two people are exactly alike, and the same can be said for a person’s cannabis tolerance. The aforementioned age affects tolerance, as well as other factors, including frequency of consumption, body chemistry, and how long you’ve been smoking. It’s important to know your own personal tolerance, so you know how much or how little to consume, especially when consuming with others who may have different tolerances.

At the end of the day, only you can ascertain what your tolerance is, and by doing so, you will be empowered to have the type of cannabis high you want–whether that be relief, medical benefits, enjoyment, creativity, or whatever other effects you seek.

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How to Make Cannabis-Infused Condiments for Your Next BBQ

Infuse Your Next BBQ

Cannabis-infused condiments are an excellent way to elevate your next meal while also giving your fellow diners the discretion to dose themselves.

Each of the condiments below are designed to be low dose–8mg of THC per serving or less–but while we used a very controlled method to decarboxylate and then infuse cannabis into the desired medium, the potency depends on a number of factors* and we recommend using caution when recreating these recipes.

Just don’t forget to clearly label cannabis-infused foods to prevent accidental or unintended consumption, and always be sure to store away from underaged eaters.

Ketchup

Kick ketchup up a notch by making the classic condiment from scratch with a cannabis infusion. GET THE RECIPE


Honey Mustard

Sweet and tangy! This infused honey mustard will add a little zing to ballpark dogs and burgers. GET THE RECIPE


Mayo

Slather up a BLT, incorporate into deviled eggs, or dip some frites. This infused-mayo adds a little something extra to the dinner table. GET THE RECIPE


Barbecue Sauce

Get saucy this summer with an infused barbecue sauce that can be slathered over ribs and mopped onto grilled chicken. GET THE RECIPE


Green Goddess Dressing

Eat your greens. This creamy infused salad dressing gets its colour from avocados and fresh herbs. GET THE RECIPE

*Tips for Dosing Cannabis Infusions

The potency of your infusions depends on many factors, from how long and hot it was cooked to the potency of your starting material. To test the potency of your finished product, try spreading 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon on a snack and see how that dose affects you after an hour. Decrease or increase dose as desired. You can then use this personalized “standard” dose as a baseline for your recipes. Click here for more information on why potency is so difficult to measure in homemade cannabis edibles.

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Recycling Vaporized Cannabis: 10 Ways to Use AVB (‘Already Vaped Bud’)

“Already vaped bud,” or AVB for short, is the brown, crispy flower that’s left over after vaping cannabis. Although much of the THC in cannabis will be vaporized, the flower isn’t turned to ash (unlike smoking) and retains some of its cannabinoid content. That means it can be used twice, if you know how.

Now, not all AVB is created equal. If you have that vaporizer blasting at a high temperature, it’s unlikely that your AVB will have much left to give. That said, if you hit the sweet spot, and vape with convection heating at around 315-440?F, you’ll be surprised by how much potency can still be gleaned from your leftover flower. Luckily, this is around the temperature you should be vaping at anyway to avoid combustion.

That said, the potency of your AVB will vary depending on not just the temperature it was vaped at, but also the potency of your cannabis flower, and also the method you end up choosing to use your AVB for. As always, when using your final product, remember to start low and go slow until you figure out the potency. After that, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy!

Below, discover 10 creative ways to recycle your AVB, rather than tossing it in the compost.

Edibles

First in line is likely the most obvious use–edibles. Baking or cooking with your AVB is a great choice because it helps to mask the flavor while also making use of those leftover cannabinoids.

AVB can be utilized just the same as ground flower for anything from brownies to herbed salmon, except unlike flower, because it is already decarboxylated, it is ready to use! Simply toss it into the mixture to enjoy, but use it gradually in your recipes, starting with a lower dose at first, as it will be impossible to be sure of the potency. Better to make a less potent batch and have an excuse to eat two brownies than to make one that’s too strong and only be able to nibble a corner.

Water Curing

If you fancy the idea of using AVB for edibles but just can’t get past the taste no matter what flavors you add, water curing might be the trick to help you salvage your bud. The process is pretty easy, but a bit time consuming.

You’ll first need to save your AVB until you’ve accumulated a half ounce or more to make the process worth your time. Next you’ll need patience, because the process itself will take about 4-7 days.

Here’s how to do it:

  • First take a cheesecloth and use it to bundle up your AVB like one big teabag. Tie it off with a string.
  • Place the bundle in a bowl of water, letting it soak thoroughly.
  • Check back in a couple hours and toss the discolored water, adding fresh water in its place.
  • You’ll want to do this for about four days, up to a week but no longer, changing the water as frequently as possible.

Once the time has come, drain the water, wring out the teabag, and then spread the water-soaked AVB evenly onto a baking sheet. Set the oven to 200 degrees and let it chill for two hours, tossing the AVB about every 30 minutes to ensure it dries evenly.

Voila! You now have a batch of AVB without the awful taste. Use it in edibles or turn it into butter to use for everything from baking to breakfast.

Sprinkle on Food

If you love the idea of ingesting your AVB but can’t be bothered to cook, (no judgement here, fellow take-out aficionados), fear not, because AVB can be easily added to any snack. Since it has already been decarboxylated in the vaping process, there’s no need for any extra steps before eating.

That said, for this method, water curing is strongly recommended for flavor purposes, but if you’re really the queen of lazy culture, consider pairing it with Nutella, peanut butter, bbq sauce, hot sauce, or other strong flavors to help mask the taste. This is not the most glamorous use of AVB, but hey, there are those who still drink Bud Light–and it ain’t for the taste.

Capsules

This is another method of direct ingestion without having to cook, bake, or even water cure. There are quite a few benefits of using the capsule method, such as discretion. It’s easy to swallow one while going about your day, making it a subtle and private option. In addition, you won’t have to worry about the taste.

All you need to do is purchase empty gel capsules and fill them with the AVB. The one downside is that the onset of effects will be delayed, since the capsule needs time to break down and dissolve. For some, this may be a perk, for others, a drawback. Either way, this method offers an easy and effective way to ingest your AVB.

Coffee or Tea

As mentioned before, AVB is already decarboxylated. As such, it’s very simple to add it to your morning coffee or tea for an infused beverage that will give you some pep in your step. For coffee, simply add the AVB to your coffee grounds when brewing your cup. Then we recommend adding a strong coffee flavor, like hazelnut or caramel, or a dollop of butter (or cannabutter!)–all will help mask the taste.

When making tea, add the AVB to your tea leaves and allow to steep. Choose a tea that has a strong flavor, and add some honey or another sweetener to help with the flavor. Between the two, coffee will likely be the better tasting, but by experimenting with flavor, AVB can be a decent accompaniment to both coffee and tea.

Cannabinoids bind to fat, so adding a bit of milk or cream may also be a good idea.

Coconut Oil

Infused coconut oil is an easy way to make use of AVB, and it’s especially effective since cannabis is fat soluble–and coconut oil has plenty of that. Once again, this is a method that would benefit from using the water curing method first.

To use this method, add the AVB and coconut oil into a slow cooker and let sit on low heat for a few hours. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. When done, allow to cool and then strain the oil from the plant material using a cheesecloth. Store in a cool, dark place.

Tincture

This is another method that will require patience, and considering that the outcome will not have the same potency as regular flower, you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the wait. If you do decide to give it a go, you can enjoy the convenience of tincture, such as easy and discreet dosing.

Tinctures can be easily added to an array of food and drinks, or simply taken orally under the tongue. Simply follow this useful guide to make a tincture.

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)

AVB can be used to make an ingestible or topical extract, such as RSO, but keep in mind that the potency and purity is not going to be the same as using fresh flower. This would not be an oil suitable for medical grade purposes, but it can serve its purpose as a less potent extract oil for casual use.

If you decide you’d like to go this route, start with water curing, and then follow the instructions for making RSO.

Technically, You Can Smoke It

Alright you absolute madlad, we get it. You can’t be bothered to cook with it, you don’t have the patience to water cure, and you don’t fancy sprinkling it on food. You have your pipe and lighter handy, and you’re wondering: Can I just smoke this shit?

Well, the answer is yes, but if your friends judge you, don’t blame us. This should probably be a last resort, because the potency won’t compare to fresh flower, it will be a harsh smoke, and the taste may just rival an accidental inhale of bong water–but by all means, knock yourself out, you audacious rebel.

With so many methods of using your AVB, there’s no excuse to throw it away after a vaping session! Try some of the above and find the method that works best for you.

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