Voted Best Budtender in Chicago, Lorena Cupcake has answered hundreds of questions from cannabis buyers and patients during her tenure as a budtender. And now they are turning that experience into a monthly column of advice. Ask a budget tender. Do you have a question for Cupcake? Send your questions to email@example.com.
I smoked a lot of flowers and then took a couple of years off. Now I mostly like vape pens and chocolates that I pick up when I visit my sister in Massachusetts.
There are many other products (wax, resin, splinters, tinctures) that appear to have been made when I did not participate; What's the best way to get high these days?
Dear concentrate curious,
The best way to get high is the path that works for you. As you've already seen, this can change over time. Everyone has their preferred methods of cannabis use that weigh effects and experiences against practical concerns such as cost, convenience, and safety. Once you've found the right fit, this is the best method for you, at least for now.
One of the most important ways we are changing over time is to achieve tolerance to THC, the chemical component in cannabis that creates an intoxicating high. If you smoke weed every day like you used to, the CB1 receptors that interact with THC in your body become less sensitive. Over time, cannabis won't affect you as much, and you may need a higher dose to get the same high.
Since you are coming back from a long tolerance break, you are likely still in the process of becoming tolerant of higher doses of cannabis. Because of this, I think it makes sense to outline your options, from easy-to-dose products preferred by newbies to highly potent concentrates loved by longtime Steiners.
When I had one-on-one consultations at a medical pharmacy, many patients did not have a solid history of recent weed smoking experiences. Some were brand new to cannabis on the recommendation of a doctor. Others hadn't met a Doobie as the most popular variety was the classic Acapulco Gold.
Since they didn't fully understand how different doses of THC affected them, the last thing I wanted to do was send them home with a 50 milligram fruit chew for the wildest evening of their lives. Tinctures were a great option as they are an accessible medium for those familiar with hemp-based CBD oil. They're also easy to dose just a few milligrams at a time.
Tinctures are essentially oil (cannabis resin made by glands known as trichomes) that is emulsified into a carrier liquid. Because the manufacturing process is a little more complicated than shaking up salad dressings, they tend to be more expensive per milligram than a budget brand gummy bear. Because of this, I don't usually recommend them to anyone who has already built tolerance for food unless money is not a problem or digestion / intestinal absorption.
You mentioned that you enjoy candy bars and I think they're a super solid choice in the edible category. Chocolate contains three substances that mimic the effects of cannabinoids by activating receptors and inhibiting the breakdown of anandamide. Often referred to as the bliss molecule, anandamide is partly responsible for the blissful feeling we get from fat-soluble THC. Hence, it is believed that combining THC with the fat- and anandamide-enhancing chemicals in chocolate will make your high more long-lasting and powerful.
Gina Coleman / Weed Cards
Beyond chocolate, there is a whole world of gummies, cookies, crispy snacks, and carbonated beverages that vary from state to state. When measuring quality, the rule of thumb is to look for products that are infused with cannabis oil. While some companies formulate their recipes from scratch, others use spray nozzle machines to deliver precise doses of distillate to the surface of a wholesale candy or snack. Since THC distillate has been stripped of all terpenes, it is common to experience the effects of these foods very differently.
Maintaining the broadest spectrum of beneficial phytochemicals in an extract is important to achieving a full, smooth high that mimics the beneficial effects of flowers. While there are many full-spectrum tinctures and edibles in the market, nothing beats the quick-acting effects of inhaling smoke or steam for some.
I applaud your choice of vapes that are believed to pose fewer health risks than smoking. Vape devices use an electronic element to heat cannabis anywhere within a sweet spot of 330 to 365. When you're ready to upgrade oil cartridges combined with a vape battery, you can pick up a dry herbal vaporizer and start blooming again. From there, all you have to do is figure out which strains are right for your individual preferences and biology.
You can also take a portable concentrate vaporizer like the dual-use Pax 3 or the G Pen Roam and try out some of the waxes, resins, and splinters you've seen. However, I wouldn't feel compelled to use concentrates just because they are there.
I'll tell you a little secret: I hated dabbing for a long time. I just didn't have the tolerance to deal with highly potent extracts. The first time I hit a swab, I would lie awake paranoid for hours and then wake up, genuinely relieved that I was no longer high. Now that I'm a regular swab with worn out CB1 receptors, I wouldn't be able to repeat this experience if I tried.
Gina Coleman / Weed Cards
The nice thing about Blobs is that they are there for you when your mounting tolerance means your old routine no longer brings you the same level of relief. Some people can just take a tolerance break. One study showed that CB1 receptors become more available after just two days and continue to upregulate them over a period of four weeks.
Others have serious everyday pain or mood management needs that make these very powerful, concentrated forms of cannabis an amazing resource. I chatted with Dances, a Los Angeles-based musician known for posting funny observations and brilliant ideas after hitting his Puffco Peak, about the benefits of concentrates. You get a more immediate, more intense high, along with a clearer taste, he told me about DM.
UNCUT GEMS NEEDS A VIDEO GAME
– Zaza and Digweed (@dances) December 31, 2020
I started dabbing regularly after recovering from a car accident, he said. I've used weed for pain before, but I like coming up. Swabs accomplish this when added to the rotation. I really feel the difference in the loads; I can choose how my day goes. Plus, he can use concentrates to get what he calls weed k-holes super high.
This is not the experience everyone is looking for. Maybe you are not ready for it yet. When I took my first swab, it definitely wasn't. The most important thing is to keep trying different products and learning about new product categories, including those not mentioned here (like Rick Simpson Oil and two categories I want to cover in next month's column). While the methodology can change over time, cannabis will always be there to get you high regardless of your tolerance level.
Featured image by Gina Coleman / Weedmaps