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The need to be picky

Smoking marijuana shouldn’t just be about getting high

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Smoking marijuana: what was once a part of the American counterculture has become a rite of passage. Like underage drinking, teenagers are also beginning to consume marijuana, whether it’s with friends, at parties, or once they enter a college setting.

For myself, I grew up about three miles outside downtown Seattle in a neighborhood where weed was vastly popular, even before Washington legalized it. Upon entering high school, access was never a problem and getting high was something you did to try it at least once.

When you’re young, you drink alcohol to feel its effects; but as you get older, you begin developing preferences. Maybe you’re a Rainier person or maybe you like gin and tonics. Regardless, as you age and become acquainted with alcohol, you figure out what you like and don’t like. So why don’t we do the same with weed?

It’s easy to critique those that haven’t educated themselves on weed strains and such. However, it’s also understandable why someone wouldn’t know because marijuana consumption isn’t universally accepted and is still federally illegal, but some states have legalized it medically or recreationally. Studies have shown how marijuana affects brain development and school performance, especially in adolescent and young adult years. So, if you’re going to consume something that affects your body, you should be willing to a little research beforehand.

When it comes to weed, there are a few things of which to take note: strains, form, and delivery method. Weed isn’t the nuggets you see on Google Images, nor is it the stereotypical cartoon leaf. Technology has transformed this plant in ways that make finding the right way to get high an art form.

Let’s begin with strains. Like many species of plants in the world, growers have been carefully selecting certain genes to create strains. You can think of a strain like a breed of a dog; breeders will select traits that they like and isolate them. Growers do the same, isolating flavors and scents like strawberry, citrus, and earthy as well as effects like happiness, tranquillity, and aphrodisiacs.

You don’t need to know what every effect a strain has. Frankly, there are too many strains out there to do so. Instead, you can use online encyclopedias. A favorite of mine is Leafly. Leafly goes beyond just telling you what each strain can do. You can sort by what mood you’re interested in. If you want to feel energized, that’s a category. As someone who is interested in origins, Leafly also provides the historical background on each of their strains and even gives you a local map so you know which dispensaries have it in stock.

Next: form and delivery method. Sure, you can buy flower, but there’s also shatter, oil, wax, and edibles. Each form requires a different delivery method. Flower is typically smoked in either a pipe, bong, or rolled in a joint.

Shatter and wax are used for dabs. These require a higher temperature for consumption and also have much higher percentage of THC. Shatter and wax are essentially extracts —— the resin that coats buds —— collected in various ways and concentrated. A highly potent bud will register around the upper 20% to 30%. Concentrates, however, can register up to 99% and a little goes a long way.

Oils are often what you find in vaporizers or dab pens. They come in cartridges and you can purchase different strains that you switch out for different moods. They’re compact, discrete, and no lighter is required. However, the quality of concentrates can vary. If you’re concerned with quality and purity, take a look at it and see how translucent the oil is. Cheap vodka has more impurities and so do cheap cartridges.

Finally, we have edibles. If you’re worried about your lungs, this is the way to go. Once you consume an edible, there is a delay in feeling the effects since stomach absorption is a slower process. Edibles can be made at home or purchased in store. If you’re new to edibles, I suggest buying in store. Homemade edibles require careful measuring and it’s easy to make one too effective or not effective enough. Edibles can come in all types of forms and can be enjoyable to consume. There’s chocolates, caramels, and sodas and each will clearly state their serving sizes.

Every strain, form, and delivery method provides a different experience and reaction, just like what can happen with alcohol or junk food. Figure out what works best for your lifestyle as well as your body. Just because something sounds fun doesn’t mean you’ll react the way you want to. There’s an art to finding the right fit and it may take some weird trips as well as some time.

Reach Podcast Editor Christine McManigal at Twitter: @clmcman

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