Weed Coast: “Start Low, Go Slow”

Planning on trying cannabis for the first time (or the first time in a while) come legalization? Our columnist shares his advice for indulging responsibly.

Come October 17, millions of people living in and travelling across Canada will have the chance to smoke weed legally (ahem) for the first time in nearly one hundred years. Many of my fellow Canadians are pent-up, literally chomping at the bit to try legal cannabis. They’ll be so excited to unlock the mysteries of the plant that they may lose their common sense and end up consuming copious amounts of dried bud, oil or capsules, before first educating themselves about the potential effects, both positive and not-so-positive.It’s unclear how many of those first customers may have ever tried cannabis before (I mean, who is being totally honest in those surveys anyway?), but one thing is for sure: consumers that are new to these products are likely to smoke too much, too fast…resulting in a possibly unpleasant experience.Thankfully, there’s a way to avoid that.You see, cannabis, like any other powerful medicine, has incredible, and some say wildly untapped promise, to offer significant benefits for health, balance and overall well-being—but only when consumed correctly.Responsible members of the cannabis industry (and fellow enthusiasts) have developed a mantra, that if followed, can offer a rich, multi-levelled experience that goes well beyond a simple “high.”And if you remember just one thing I’ve shared with you to date, remember this and repeat after me: Start low. Go slow.So, what does that mean?It’s simple. First, when you visit a store to purchase a new selection, start with a product that is low in THC, the major cannabinoid primarily responsible for both the psychoactive and intoxicating effects from cannabis. A low-THC product could be classified as one that contains less than about 15 percent by weight. Next, you’ll want to go slow. This means starting out with just one puff or two (if you choose to smoke or vaporize it), and then wait 10-15 minutes to see what happens. Taking it easy out of the gate will help you understand the effects of a cannabis product that’s new to you.

And if you remember just one thing I’ve shared with you to date, remember this and repeat after me: Start low. Go slow.

Remember that we’re all different, and there are so many factors that can affect your experience—including tolerance, body mass, the particular combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, and so on.Taking the start low, go slow mantra to heart, I tried three new products this week, making sure to observe and interpret the experience before trying more. The results were surprising.First up was Sour Tsunami a sativa-dominant hybrid that posted a low THC concentration of around 6-7%, balanced with 10-11% with the other main cannabinoid, CBD (we’ll talk more about that one in the next column). The bud was dense, with sticky khaki-green leaves surrounded by tightly-wound dark orange hairs. The aromatics were totally up my alley: grape-flavoured lifesavers mixed with a fresh sprig of pine. Within five minutes from my first pull, I noticed a mild but substantial spike of elation balanced with a mellow feeling that eased the strain in my shoulders. The full experience peaked after about an hour, the build remaining slow and pleasant. With such low THC, I was wondering why the effects were so elevated, but its aromatic terpenes – pinene and limonene, are known for providing just that. The full experience lasted about two hours. Very economical for just one puff!The next day, I tried the MediHaze, another sativa-dominant hybrid that was also high in CBD. This one immediately brightened my mood. Its pale green buds, coated with a thick dust of dried white trichomes gave off a distinctly woodsy, mushroomy note, mixed with aromas of brie cheese rind and Elmer’s school glue. Just one puff lasted about 90 minutes, and although the elation was shorter-lived, the ascent to the experiential peak was notably steeper. Glad I started slowly with this one. Just right.After the MediHaze, I was quite looking forward to a more balanced experience, so I chose the Mataro Blue, a tasty, fruity hybrid. Its tight, dry leaves were pale green with a delicate purple sheen. I cracked one of the buds open to reveal a burst of upfront aromas of dried strawberry, lime peel and white pepper – the latter notes likely from a spicy terpene called caryophyllene. With flavours that carried from the nose, the effect was mild, smooth and lingering, perfect for a lazy ferry ride to one of our beautiful Gulf Islands on a warm summer’s evening.The breakdown:  Sour Tsunami, Sativa-dominant Hybrid ($10/gram), MediHaze, Sativa-dominant Hybrid ($12/gram), Mataro Blue, Indica-dominant Hybrid ($12/gram). Available at Lotusland Cannabis Club (Various locations in Vancouver, North Vancouver and Victoria.) 

Want more cannabis recommendations and advice? Check out more from our Weed Coast column here.