Cannabis 101: Everything You Need to Know (2024)

If you’re new to the world of cannabis, chances are you have plenty of questions swirling in your mind. Be it about its various forms, different uses, legal implications or health effects, the world of cannabis can feel a bit overwhelming—especially for beginners. But don’t worry! We’ve crafted this comprehensive guide, ‘Cannabis 101’ to clear your doubts, provide the information you need, and steer you in the right direction. This is your one-stop destination for everything cannabis. 

History and Evolution of Cannabis

The fascinating journey of cannabis traces back to ancient times, with the earliest recorded use of the plant dating back thousands of years. Cultivated initially for its hemp fibers and later grown for its psychotropic properties, cannabis has had a rich and varied history across different cultures and continents. 

In Eastern Asia, around 5000 BCE, cannabis was primarily used for its strong hemp fibers, which were employed in the production of rope, clothing, and paper. Later, the plant made its strides into the Middle East and Africa, where societies began to explore its medicinal properties. Cannabis was often consumed as a remedy for a wide range of ailments, demonstrating its therapeutic potentials long before modern science began investigating them. 

Over time, cannabis reached Europe and the Americas, becoming an integral part of various cultures. However, the 20th century brought significant changes in the perception of this plant. It was during this period that cannabis faced widespread stigmatization and criminalization. Nevertheless, persistent advocacy and growing body of scientific research led to a shift in mindset, culminating in cannabis’s increasing legalization and acceptance in the 21st century. 

Today, cannabis enjoys a new wave of popularity, finding use not just in recreation and medicine, but also in industries like textiles and construction. As attitudes continue to evolve, cannabis looks to shape the future with its tremendous potential and uses, writing new chapters in its long and colorful story.

The Intriguing Science Behind How Cannabis Affects the Body

Have you ever wondered how cannabis carries out its psychoactive and therapeutic effects? The star of our intricate biological response to cannabis is our body’s very own endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining the body’s homeostasis, or equilibrium. It’s responsible for regulating a wide range of functions and processes, including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction, and pain. Fascinating, isn’t it? 

Cannabis works by interacting with this system. The compounds found in cannabis – primarily THC and CBD, latch onto receptors in this system, mimicking the naturally occurring endocannabinoids in our body. This interaction is what elicits the array of effects we experience upon cannabis consumption, ranging from feelings of relaxation and euphoria to alleviation of certain medical symptoms. 

THC, however, has a more direct impact. It binds with the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), predominantly found in the brain. This bonding generates the characteristic ‘high’ associated with cannabis. On the other hand, CBD has a more indirect influence, often reducing or offsetting the effects of THC, and it’s more associated with potential therapeutic benefits. 

Another compelling aspect of how cannabis interacts with the body is the ‘entourage effect.’ This phenomenon refers to the holistic effect created by all the components of the cannabis plant working together reciprocally as opposed to any single compound working alone. 

Ultimately, the way cannabis affects your body varies greatly depending on factors such as the specific strain used, the consumption method, the dosage, and even your individual physiology. Indeed, the science behind how cannabis interacts with our bodies is as intricate as it is intriguing!

Understanding the Different Strains of Cannabis

Interested in diving deeper into the world of cannabis strains? Let’s take a stroll. Cannabis strains are basically categorized into three groups: Indica, Sativa, and Hybrids. Each strain comes with its distinct attributes rooted in genetics, cultivation techniques, and geographical origin, offering unique experiences to users. 

Indica strains hail from colder climate regions and are known for their sedative effects and distinct ‘body high’. They usually result in feelings of relaxation and can be very useful for sleep, pain relief, or relaxation. Picture yourself nestled on your couch, relishing a chill-out evening – that’s possibly an Indica at work. 

Sativa strains, on the other hand, originate predominantly from tropical regions. These strains are famed for their energizing and uplifting effects on the mind and consciousness, often invoking a cerebral head high. Sativas are your ideal companions for social gatherings or artistic endeavors, pumping creativity and conversation. 

Lastly, we have Hybrid strains which are carefully crafted mix of Indicas and Sativas, delivering a balanced mind-body experience. Based on the Sativa-to-Indica ratio, Hybrids can lean towards either parent strain, offering a world of possibilities to cater to specific effect profiles. 

Remember, each strain has a unique chemical composition, dictating its impact on your body and mind. Always be cautious and informed when choosing a strain. Check the THC/CBD ratio, understand the terpene profile, and most importantly, listen to your body’s responses. Each individual’s experience with cannabis can be profoundly personal, making it an intriguing journey of discovery. 

Few Quick Tips: 

  • Start low, go slow. Especially if you are new to cannabis, approach with caution. It’s important to understand and respect the potency of these plants.
  • Always purchase from a reliable source. Quality and safety cannot be compromised, as poor quality products can have health implications.
  • Don’t shy away from asking questions. Knowledgeable staff at your local cannabis dispensary are there to help you navigate this complex terrain.
  • Experiment and explore, but always within the limits of your comfort and safety.


With this understanding, you’re set to delve into the world of cannabis strains with a guided approach, making more informed, enjoyable choices. Enjoy the journey!

Decoding the Chemical Components of Cannabis: THC vs CBD

 A vital part of understanding cannabis is becoming acquainted with its two primary active compounds: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). These compounds, called cannabinoids, interact with your body in specific ways and deliver diverse effects. 

 THC, is the psychoactive compound primarily responsible for the ‘high’ associated with cannabis use. It’s a potent constituent that binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, eliciting feelings of euphoria, altering perception, and influencing short-term memory in a notable way. 

On the contrary, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound known for its more therapeutic benefits, without the intoxicating effects. It interacts differently with the cannabinoid receptors and is touted for reducing symptoms of various health disorders like chronic pain, anxiety, and even seizures. 

The proportion of THC and CBD in a particular strain greatly influences the effects it would have on the consumer. For some, a higher THC content might be desired for its recreational benefits, while others might favor strains with more CBD for medicinal purposes. 

It’s essential to note that the individual effects of these compounds are not just black and white. The ‘entourage effect’ is a concept suggesting that the compounds in cannabis work best when consumed together, producing a more potent therapeutic effect than they would have individually. 

Understanding this delicate dance between THC and CBD is key to decoding cannabis and its various effects, helping you tailor your cannabis experience to your specific needs and preferences.

The Indica vs Sativa Debate: Unveiling the Differences

You’ve probably stumbled upon the terms ‘Indica’ and ‘Sativa’ while exploring cannabis, and let’s be honest, it can be a little confusing. However, once you understand the basic distinctions, you’ll have a much smoother sail on your cannabis journey. But let’s start decoding this fascinating realm. 

Strictly speaking, Indica and Sativa are the two primary classes of cannabis plants. They’re distinguished not just by their plant structure but also their effects on the body and mind. Both strains offer a unique experience, based both on their varying chemical compositions and our individual body’s composition. 

Indica strains usually grow short and wide — typically better suited to cooler climates with shorter growing seasons. They’re known for their relaxing effects, providing a sense of deep body relaxation. Indica is frequently recommended for night-time use due to its ability to help with anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia, and muscle spasms. 

Sativa strains, on the other hand, are quite the opposite. They grow tall, lean, and are better adapted to warmer weather with longer growing seasons. Their effects are often described as uplifting and energetic. Sativas are typically favored for daytime use as they can potentially enhance creativity and productivity, making them great companions for social gatherings and creative projects 

What’s important to remember is that Indica and Sativa simply provide a basic framework for understanding the potential effects of different strains. There’s much more to a strain’s effects than just whether it is an Indica or a Sativa, including its chemical profile, your tolerance, how much you consume, and the environment where you consume it. Put all this together and you may realize that cannabis is much more than a simple binary of Indica vs Sativa, but rather a rich and complex world waiting for you to explore.

Hybrid Cannabis Strains: Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid strains of cannabis bring together the most desirable qualities of Indica and Sativa strains, offering a balanced, versatile experience. These strains are a result of crossbreeding that allows cultivators to enhance certain characteristics, be it flavor, effect, or yield. It makes Hybrid cannabis strains incredibly unique and varied, catering to a spectrum of preferences and medical needs. 

Hybrid strains can lean towards the effects of either Indica or Sativa parent strains, or they can strike an even balance between the two. This variance in effects gives you an element of control in your cannabis experience. For example, some hybrid strains could induce an invigorating, cerebral rush typical of Sativa, coupled with the calming, relaxing bodily effects of Indica. 

One important thing to remember about hybrid strains is that their growth requirements can be diverse. The best practices and tips provided by agencies like CDFW can aid cannabis cultivators in nurturing these strains while respecting environmental guidelines. Whether it’s indoor cultivation with the correct generators meeting state and local laws or outdoor cultivation following the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s guidelines, each approach requires careful consideration and adherence to best practices. 

Hybrid strains also contribute to the variety of cannabis products available on the market. From edibles to topicals, these diverse strains bring something unique to the table, enhancing not just the flavor, but also the overall effect of the product. 

In a nutshell, hybrid strains illustrate the wonderful complexity and versatility of cannabis, making it a fascinating plant both for users and cultivators alike. No matter what your cannabis preferences or needs might be, there’s surely a hybrid strain out there just waiting to be discovered!

The Entourage Effect: The Power of Cannabis Compounds Working Together

Imagine a symphony where each unique instrument combines to create a harmonious melody – that’s the entourage effect. And just like a composition, the entourage effect is about understanding the role each component plays and how they work together to create something even more extraordinary. More specifically, this effect speaks to the process in which various compounds of cannabis, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), terpenes, and others, work together to produce a cumulative effect that is greater than their individual impacts. 

This phenomenon suggests that the therapeutic benefits of cannabis aren’t just a product of single compounds, but a complex interaction of different cannabinoids and terpenes, working in unison. For instance, while THC has its own psychoactive properties, and CBD has various health benefits, when combined, their effect is amplified, providing added benefits and even reducing potential side effects. 

Research is ongoing to fully understand the entourage effect and its implications for medical uses of cannabis. However, an ever-growing body of evidence indicates that it’s this combination of compounds that enables cannabis to alleviate such a vast array of symptoms. By promoting whole-plant extracts over isolated compounds, the entourage effect emphasizes the holistic approach to understanding and utilizing cannabis. 

In conclusion, just as a symphony needs its musicians, your cannabis experience is shaped by the symphony of compounds working together. The more we understand the entourage effect, the closer we get to leveraging the full potential of cannabis.

Deep Dive into the Endocannabinoid System

Let’s take a moment to crunch down the intricate network that is the endocannabinoid system. It’s an essential part of our bodies, and it plays a vital role in maintaining our overall wellness and bodily harmony. Interestingly, this system wasn’t discovered until the late 20th century, during the process of understanding the effects of cannabis on the human body. 

Your endocannabinoid system consists of three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are molecules our bodies naturally produce, very much like cannabinoids, but made within the body. They’re tasked with keeping your internal functions running smoothly. 

These endocannabinoids bind to specific receptors found throughout your body, primarily located in your brain, immune cells, and spinal cord. The two main endocannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more commonly seen in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells. 

When an endocannabinoid binds to a receptor, it signals your endocannabinoid system to take action. The type of action, however, is determined by the location of the receptor and the endocannabinoid it interacts with. 

Lastly, enzymes step in to break down these endocannabinoids once they’ve completed their task. This cycle maintains a balanced state within your body, a state of homeostasis contributing to our physical wellbeing, mood regulation, and more. 

Ingesting cannabis can, in fact, interact with this system, explaining the complex array of responses one might experience. The cannabinoids found in cannabis, such as THC and CBD, mimic our body’s natural endocannabinoids and bind to endocannabinoid receptors, potentially inducing effects ranging from pain reduction to feelings of euphoria. 

Deepening our understanding of the endocannabinoid system could pave the way for unprecedented ways to exploit the therapeutic potential of cannabis. The more we learn, the more possibilities we discover.

Cannabis: Medical Miracle or Mere Recreation?

Cannabis has long been used for both medical and recreational purposes, a duality that often sparks passionate debates. It’s crucial to distinguish between the two to appreciate cannabis in its entirety. 

On one hand, medical cannabis relates to the use of this plant to alleviate symptoms or manage health conditions. The cannabis plant contains over 100 active ingredients, some of which have been shown to have health benefits such as pain relief, managing nausea during chemotherapy, and alleviating certain seizure disorders. It’s important, however, to note that while many health professionals advocate for its therapeutic benefits, robust scientific studies are needed to validate these claims. 

On the other hand, recreational cannabis refers to the use of cannabis to achieve a state of altered consciousness, often characterized by heightened mood or relaxation. Some individuals prefer using cannabis recreationally as opposed to alcohol or other substances because its effects are not only milder but also not as harmful. Yet, legal restrictions and potential for abuse remain primary concerns in the discussion around recreational cannabis use. 

At its core, the answer to whether cannabis is a ‘medical miracle’ or ‘mere recreation’ isn’t simply binary. It essentially depends on the user’s intention and how responsibly it is consumed. It’s crucial to be aware of local laws and health considerations when deciding to use cannabis, either for medicinal or recreational purposes.

The Art of Dosing: How Much Cannabis is Enough?

The “right” dose of cannabis can feel like a bit of a mystery, especially if you’re just starting out. Fear not, guidance is at hand. Like any other substance, the appropriate dose of cannabis varies greatly from person to person depending on factors like body chemistry, tolerance, desired effects, and the particular strain or product being used. Don’t be discouraged if finding your personal sweet spot takes some time and experimentation; that’s normal. 

One key concept to bear in mind when determining your perfect cannabis dose is “start low and go slow.” If you’re new to cannabis or trying a new product, it’s always best to start with a smaller dose than you think you might need. This not only allows you to avoid uncomfortable or unwanted effects, it helps you build up a fuller picture of how different doses affect you personally. Remember, you can always take more if needed, but you can’t take less once it’s in your system.

Determining the right dosage isn’t only about the product or strain, but also about the method of consumption you choose. Inhalation, whether by smoking or vaping, has a rapid onset, usually taking effect within minutes. The effects are intense but short-lived, typically lasting 1 to 3 hours. Edibles, on the other hand, have a slower onset – often taking up to 2 hours to kick in – but the effects can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours. Thus, the consumption method significantly influences dosage timing and quantity. 

In conclusion, cannabis dosing is as much an art as it is a science. Listen to your body, keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice. Most importantly, enjoy the journey!

Cannabis and Culture: A Global Perspective

Cannabis has developed a significant place in cultures worldwide. From leisurely indulgence to functional aid, every region hosts its unique perspective about this versatile plant. 

In western societies, especially in the United States, cannabis has transformed from a prohibited substance to a symbol of cultural transformation. Several western states have been forging the path in cannabis cultivation and legalization. More and more, indoor and outdoor cultivation in the western states is becoming the norm. This has resulted in both the decriminalization of cannabis as well as its mainstreamisation. What was once regarded as taboo and illicit is now a focal point of progressive conversations on healthcare, personal agency, and economic drive. 

Across the Atlantic, European countries such as the Netherlands have already adopted permissive stances on cannabis. Historic ‘coffee shops’ in Amsterdam contribute to the tolerant ethos towards cannabis. This acceptance has brought forth aspects of cannabis cultivation and consumption into the public consciousness, making it a common topic. The future of cannabis in the European landscape will surely act as a model for global trendsetting. 

Shifting locus to Asia, countries like India and Nepal have long histories of traditional cannabis consumption, often tied to religious and cultural events. Despite present regulations, cannabis holds a central social and spiritual meaning in these societies. Similarly, in some communities of the Andean region in South America, cannabis has been used both in everyday life and in sacred traditions. 

However, the story of cannabis isn’t all rosy. It’s essential to consider its contentious nature. Regions such as parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East enforce stringent laws against cannabis, with severe punishments, including capital punishment. 

This juxtaposition of the rampant decriminalization and fierce opposition aptly covers the global perspective of Cannabis culture. It provides food for thought and encourages insightful conversation as we navigate the future of cannabis together.

Growing Your Own Cannabis: A Beginner’s Guide

It’s worth beginning with an understanding that cultivating cannabis can be quite a meticulous task, but absolutely rewarding with knowledge, patience, and the right approach. Regardless of whether you’re looking to turn to the green thumb side or you’re simply exploring your options, this guide is designed to get your journey off to an enlightening start. 

Growing cannabis primarily starts in the preparation phase. Let’s begin with the soil. Imagine the soil as the plant’s home, which needs to be as comfortable as possible. Therefore, it’s crucial to enrich the soil with organic matter or high-quality potting soil, which offers nutrients and aids in water retention. You can add perlite or vermiculite to improve water and air circulation, essential elements for the crop’s growth. 

Next we move to planting the seeds or clones. Seeds are usually a more natural choice for beginners due to their hardy nature. If you’re using clones (young cannabis plants), you might need a bit more experience as they can be somewhat sensitive in the beginning stages. 

The journey of cultivating cannabis doesn’t end with just planting and waiting for them to grow. Pest management is one of the most crucial factors in the entire process. The Department of Pesticide Regulation provides certain guidelines regarding the use of pesticides on cannabis plants, which should be closely followed to ensure your plants can grow naturally, healthily and in compliance with regulations. 

Cannabis Cultivation is season dependent, typically occurring from May to October if you’re growing outdoors, with August and September being the prime harvest time. In California, for instance, the cultivation operations extend from March through October, with the primary planting season in late March and early April. However, these timelines can vary, especially if you are using indoor cultivations methods. 

The process of harvesting, drying, curing, and trimming the plants marks the final phase of the cultivation process. These are often intricate processes and doing them correctly can greatly impact the final product’s quality. 

Cannabis Products: From Edibles to Topicals

The range of cannabis products available today is vast, from classic dried flower to innovative topicals and edibles. Nobody can resist the allure of cannabis-infused cookies or gummies, which offer a smokeless and more discreet way of consumption. Edibles are perceived differently by our bodies as they’re broken down by digestion, leading to a delayed, yet often more intense effect. 

Cannabis infused edibles 

Edibles are cannabis-infused food or drink products. They’re a tasty, versatile, and often healthier alternative to smoking. Although edibles might take longer to kick in — typically one to two hours — the effects usually last much longer and are often more intense. The potency of an edible is determined by the amount of THC and CBD it contains, which should be clearly labeled on the packaging. 

Remember to start with small doses 

If you’re new to the world of cannabis edibles, always remember to start with a small amount. A good rule is to start with a dose of 5mg of THC, and then wait at least an hour to see how you feel before deciding if you want to consume more. Be sure to read the product label carefully to get an accurate idea of the strength and effects you can expect. 

The beauty of topicals 

Moving on to topicals, these are cannabis-infused oils, balms, or lotions that are applied directly onto the skin. They’re used for localized relief of pain, inflammation, and certain skin conditions. Since topicals are non-intoxicating, you can enjoy the benefits of cannabis without experiencing a high. A real game-changer for those who require pain relief but do not wish to ingest or inhale cannabis. 

Educate before you elevate 

As appealing as these products might sound, it’s important to remember that not everyone reacts to cannabis in the same way. Everyone’s cannabinoid receptors are unique and can respond to the herb’s effects differently. Hence, it’s always advisable to “start low and go slow”, especially when trying out a new product. Educating yourself about different cannabis products and their effects will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Cannabis

As we gaze at the vast landscape of cannabis, it’s intriguing to observe the variety of experiences and outcomes that this versatile plant can provide. From the bustling cannabis marketplaces in King County to the nurturing cannabis farms peppered across Grant and Chelan counties, Washington state is a hub of cannabis activity, reflecting the plant’s growing legalization and acceptance. 

Down in Pierce County, you can find medical dispensaries passionately servicing a community that values the healing properties of cannabis. North of here, in Skagit County, the year-round cannabis festivals are a true testament to the plant’s deeply-rooted cultural significance. 

Stevens County hosts advanced cannabis research facilities that further bolster our understanding of this plant’s potential. And then, there’s Clay County, where budding entrepreneurs cultivate exciting new blends and hybrid strains, always pushing the boundaries of what cannabis can be. 

The journey through cannabis is certainly diversified and exhilarating. It’s a journey layered with understanding, curiosity, cultivation, conversations, culture, and endless potential for discovery. If we continue to approach cannabis with an open mind and a thirst for knowledge, who knows what incredible transformations its future might hold?


Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of cannabis for adults.

In 2018, 40% of U.S. cannabis users consumed it at least 20 days per month.

Approximately 9% of those who experiment with marijuana will become addicted.


Cannabis contains over 100 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids.

The most well-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives the high sensation.

What are the main components of cannabis?

The major components of cannabis are its beneficial chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids. There are over a hundred cannabinoids identified in cannabis, but the significant ones – those that have been extensively studied and perhaps heard about – are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). 

THC is most known for its psychoactive properties, this is the compound that provides the user with that euphoric high. THC interacts with receptors in the brain, specifically the CB1 receptors, resulting in a high state. Not only does it induce joy and elation, but THC also shows a potential in providing therapeutic benefits, such as pain relief, sleep aid, and appetite stimulation. However, the psychoactive effects could also lead to anxiety and paranoia for some, an aspect that individual users need to consider. 

CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive. This cannabinoid interacts with the CB2 receptors in the peripheral system and has been lauded for its wide array of potential health benefits. CBD is reputed to deliver symptomatic relief for chronic pain, inflammation, epilepsy, and even alleviate mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. 

But remember, the effects of these cannabinoids can vary greatly from person to person due to numerous factors, such as individual body chemistry, the ratio of THC to CBD in a specific strain or product, the consumption method, and the dosage. 

Other than THC and CBD, there are numerous other minor cannabinoids, like Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabichromene (CBC), and Cannabinol (CBN), among others. The research on these cannabinoids might be relatively sparse compared to THC and CBD, but they are believed to have unique beneficial properties worth exploring. 

The effectiveness of these cannabinoids is not just about their individual properties. According to a concept called the ‘entourage effect’, the different cannabinoids, along with other compounds like terpenes, work synergistically to enhance the overall therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant.

How is cannabis used medicinally?

The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis 

As miraculous as it sounds, cannabis is not merely a recreational tool. Its therapeutic potential has been recognized by various cultures throughout history, and in recent times, the medical community has begun to acknowledge its potential benefits. 

Cannabis contains bioactive compounds known as cannabinoids. The two most well-known among them are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is psychoactive, meaning it’s responsible for the ‘high’ that cannabis is notoriously known for. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and is known more for its medicinal properties. 

Medicinal Uses of Cannabis 

Medical cannabis is often employed as a complementary therapy to manage symptoms that aren’t adequately controlled by traditional treatments. Various studies have acknowledged its efficacy in treating a range of medical conditions. Here are few worth mentioning: 

  1. Chronic Pain: Possibly the most common use of medical marijuana is for pain control. Cannabis can manage chronic pain, significantly enhancing the quality of life.
  2. Multiple Sclerosis: For those struggling with multiple sclerosis, cannabis may offer relief from pain and muscle stiffness.
  3. Nausea and Vomiting: Cannabis can combat the side effects of cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
  4. Epilepsy: Recently, CBD-based drugs have found approval for treating certain types of childhood epilepsies that are resistant to other treatments.

Research Continues 

While these are a few examples of the medical applications of cannabis, it’s necessary to emphasize that research is still ongoing. The potential of cannabis as medicine is vast, but it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before deciding to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Always remember, informed decisions are the best ones!

What’s the difference between cannabis and hemp?

While both cannabis and hemp come from the same plant family, Cannabis sativa, they have some significant differences that are crucial to understand. The primary difference between the two lies in their chemical composition, particularly the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance attributed to the ‘high’ feeling associated with using cannabis. 

Hemp is practically devoid of THC, having amounts generally less than 0.3%. This makes hemp non-psychoactive, and it is often used industrially for various purposes, such as making fiber, oil, and even hemp seeds that can be used in food. Legal regulations differentiate hemp from cannabis based primarily on this THC content. 

On the other hand, cannabis – commonly referred to as marijuana – contains far more THC, generally anywhere from 5-30% or even higher in some strains. This is what creates the euphoria, relaxation, and oftentimes, the psychoactive experience associated with cannabis use. The THC content, combined with the other cannabinoids present, contribute to the therapeutic benefits associated with medical cannabis. 

In terms of legality, laws regarding cannabis and hemp often differ. The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp and products derived from it in the United States; however, cannabis continues to be categorized as a Schedule I drug under federal law, although many states have chosen to legalize it either medically, recreationally or both. 

To sum up, while cannabis and hemp might be cousins in the plant world, they differ greatly in composition, psychoactive properties, uses, and legality.

How can one consume cannabis?

You’re certainly not confined to one method when it comes to consuming cannabis. There’s a smorgasbord of options, each with their own distinctive experience. Let’s delineate some of them! 


Perhaps the most classic and well-known method of cannabis consumption is smoking. This involves inhaling the smoke produced when the cannabis is heated, whether it be in a pipe, a water pipe (often known as a ‘bong’), or rolled up in a ‘joint’. This method allows for fast onset of effects, typically within minutes. 


Heat, meet cannabis, but with no combustion. A vaporizer heats the cannabis to a temperature that vaporizes the active compounds but doesn’t burn the plant material. This results in a clean, smooth vapor that’s inhaled. It’s often perceived as less harsh on the lungs than smoking.


Edibles are food products infused with cannabis such as cookies, candies, or drinks. Eating cannabis can have an effect that lasts up to several hours, as the effects don’t manifest until the cannabis has passed through the digestive system – which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Remember, with edibles, the golden rule is “start low, go slow”.


Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. It’s worth noting that topicals won’t get you ‘high’, rather, they’re predominantly used to relieve pain or for their therapeutic skincare properties. 


Tinctures are cannabis extracts dissolved in alcohol or other solvents, which are absorbed sublingually, or under the tongue. This method allows the compound to enter the bloodstream directly, resulting in quicker effects than edibles. It provides a discreet and controlled method to consume cannabis, especially medicinal cannabis 

What are the benefits of using cannabis?

The benefits of using cannabis are deeply personal and highly diverse. The positive effects are largely down to the phytochemical components present within the plant, primarily cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. These compounds interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate numerous bodily functions such as sleep, pain, mood, and appetite, to name a few. 

For some, cannabis is the key to managing chronic pain conditions. The analgesic properties of THC and CBD can provide relief from discomfort, reducing inflammation, and aiding in sleep. Plus, cannabinoids have shown potential as neuroprotective agents, giving hope to those with neurodegenerative disorders. 

Moving beyond the realm of pain management, cannabis has also been associated with managing severe conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Certain compounds found in cannabis, specifically CBD, have shown to significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures, offering an alternative form of medication for those who do not respond to traditional treatments. 

In the field of mental health, medical cannabis has been gaining traction as a potential treatment for conditions like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. The soothing, calming properties of the herb can help to stabilize mood, promote relaxation, and improve sleep, thereby potentially improving the quality of life for those with such conditions.

Many are turning to cannabis for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can be crucial in addressing autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. The synergistic effect of THC and CBD may help to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms while providing a safer alternative to prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Indeed, the scope of cannabis in the field of medicine continues to expand. As more research unveils new findings, the taboo around its use — driven mostly by misperceptions relating to its supposed addictive nature or unapproved recreational usage — is gradually dissolving. In addition, the increasing legalization of cannabis in certain regions further underscores its potential benefits and applications in medicine. 

However, it’s essential to remember that while evidence supports the benefits of cannabis, its use should be personalized and properly dosed, following recommendations from healthcare providers. As with any medication, the efficacy of cannabis can vary based on individual factors like genetics, metabolism, and existing health conditions. Always aim for balance: using the right kind of product, in the correct dose, at the right frequency, can create an impactful difference in your health and wellness journey with cannabis.

How long does the effect of cannabis last?

So, you’re wondering about how long the effects of cannabis last, huh? Here’s the scoop. How long you’ll feel the impact of cannabis can vary significantly based on several factors. For starters, your individual body chemistry and tolerance levels play a monumental role. Not to mention, other elements such as consumption method also influence how long the effects persist. It’s never one-size-fits-all; every person’s experience is unique. 

Generally speaking, if you smoke or vaporize cannabis, you’re likely to feel the effects almost instantly, typically peaking around 10 to 30 minutes after consumption. These effects usually wane after about two to three hours. However, you could still feel some mild lingering effects for a few hours after that. 

As for edibles, the effects take longer to kick in — anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours post-consumption. The peak usually hits around 2 to 4 hours after ingestion, and the effects can stick around for a whopping 6 to 8 hours, sometimes even longer. Now, that’s quite a ride! 

In contrast, for topically applied cannabis products, the effects are usually localized to the treated area and may last for several hours. However, the timeline can vary a lot, again depending on factors like the specific product used and individual metabolic factors. 

As it goes with all substances, moderation remains the key. Be mindful that experiences can vary dramatically between individuals. So while these are ballpark time frames, your personal experience might not fit neatly into these ranges. Pay attention to your own body and how it reacts to cannabis, and as always, start low and go slow.

In conclusion, the world of cannabis is a complex and fascinating one, with a rich history and a promising future. As we’ve explored throughout this guide, cannabis is not just a recreational substance, but a plant with a multitude of uses and benefits, from medicinal to industrial.

Imperial NYC is the first online dispensary to ship anywhere in the USA with no card required. Your order is twice-sealed airtight in business class packaging making it very discreet. Mail-order typically takes 1-4 business days, however we offer overnight delivery for only $20! Try us once and you will see why we are the weed fan favorite!

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