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The cannabis industry has taken off in an explosive fashion and only continues to grow. From frequently updated legal regulations to an endless cycle of new products and companies, how are consumers expected to keep up with all the information? With strict state governance on industry advertising and limitations on federal research, it can be difficult to track down general information on cannabis commodities.

A ”budtender” by definition, is a dispensary sales associate responsible for helping you find and purchase cannabis-related products. Budtenders have played a crucial role in consumer education since before recreational legalization. Aside from simply selling products, budtenders provide a bridge between general plant information and consumption recommendations. There are knowledgeable budtenders in today’s industry, but with such a selection of shops, brands, and products how do you ensure that you’re getting the best option? We’re here to help you help you navigate the vast Oregon market and make the most out of your dispensary experience by learning how to talk to your budtender.

Personalize Your Cannabis Consumption  

Perhaps you are a patient looking for specific relief. Maybe you are a simply looking for rest and relaxation. Whatever has compelled your trip to the dispensary, going in with a purpose can help you and your budtender pinpoint relevant and effective products. If you’re not visiting for something specific, try narrowing your search and questions down to what matters. Is there a method of consumption you prefer? Are you looking to smoke, vaporize, eat, or apply your cannabis topically? Do you want a quick and strong effect or a lasting, dispersed one? Are you a seasoned consumer searching for potency, or someone new looking for light doses? Maybe you’re not sure and that’s absolutely fine. We’ll share a few pointers on how to find what’s right for you.

Avoid Common Cannabis Misconceptions

This industry is evolving fast. There are bound to be growing pains with such rapid growth. A collective community knowledge and several years of legal sales have provided us with a considerable amount of feedback, but how do you determine the myths from reality as a newcomer? There may not be a plethora of scientific information available, but there are years of trial and error and seasoned industry veterans to learn from. Here, we’ll discuss a few industry misconceptions to look out for on your next dispensary visit.

Cannabis connoisseurs and new consumers alike are generally familiar with the terms “sativa,” “hybrid,” and “indica”. This method of cannabis categorization began as a way to separate distinguishing physical characteristics such as plant structure, and growth patterns. Over time the cannabis community began to associate the effects of consumption with these terms and naturally, when legal dispensaries began to open, budtenders passed this info along. This was merely an effort to explain a complex plant to an entirely new population and for many, it was a loose (but somewhat effective) guideline. As our knowledge and assemblage of feedback has grown, however, professionals and consumers alike have noted that this method lacks the complexity needed when recommending products to individuals. We would caution you not to shop for products solely based on this method and instead recommend steering your budtender in the direction of the desired outcome, flavor, potency, or other characteristics more closely tied to effect.

Now that you’ve navigated your way through finding the right product, how do you calculate the correct dose? It’s important to remember that there are no official guidelines for cannabinoid consumption and that each individual’s molecular composition will play a part in cannabinoid effect. We can’t tell you for sure what will work for your body, but we can give you a few guidelines to start your shopping.

Start low and go slow - this is the best way to ease yourself into a new product without overdoing it. Oregon regulations require producers to mark all products with a “serving size” and even for beginners, it is often a modest starting point. If you have any doubts about dosing, ask your budtender to point out the suggested serving size on any products you choose to purchase. Remember that each type of product will have its own “activation time”. When consuming it’s important to keep in mind that due to the processing mechanisms of the human body, each type of product will have varying activation times. When ingesting edibles, for example, it’s important to wait for the full effects to kick in post-digestion, while sublingual applications, smoke, and vaporization provide more immediate effects.

Another common misconception is that physical size, gender, or age plays a part in a consumer’s tolerance when in reality, tolerance levels have a number of factors. Before you jump to any conclusions, consider the following: Have you eaten before consuming your cannabinoid product? Are you hydrated? Do you have a preexisting condition? Are you on any medications? We consider these factors when taking in other physiologically-altering substances, why not consider them before your cannabis consumption? We’ve heard first-hand accounts of large, grown men struggling with 10 milligrams of THC and we’ve seen young women at half the age and size consume 100 milligrams or more! Don’t misjudge your own tolerance!

The Problem with Potency

As the number of producers and products soar, customers and patients look for consistencies to shop by. Oregon labeling requirements make THC and CBD potencies an easy choice as cannabis products are required to feature these results. A considerable amount of consumers use it as a starting point or basis of comparison, and while it’s important to consider potency, we’re here to caution you from choosing products with this method alone.

It’s always wise to consider your preferred route of ingestion and the variables that may affect absorption in the human body. You may choose your edible products based on cannabinoid potency, but when it comes to products aimed at inhalation, you’d be selling yourself short if you didn’t consider other factors. The cannabis plant offers a diverse array of compounds. The effects you seek are not exclusively achieved with THC or CBD.

If you’re not familiar with the “Entourage Effect” we highly suggest a little research of your own, but for the purpose of this piece, we’ll give you a basic breakdown of the concept: various cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis work together in a synergistic manner. Essentially, the sum of all the parts (cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.) is more effective together than on their own. Terpenes help facilitate the “high” that consumers associate with THC alone. If you’ve never heard of “terpenes” before there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. You may be more familiar with them than you think! These fragrant compounds are found in nearly every living plant on Earth! They’re largely responsible for the unique smell of each cannabis strain, but offer so much more than fragrance. Once consumed with cannabinoids, terpenes can actually facilitate specific interactions with receptors and neurotransmitters in our brain and body. Next time you shop try talking to your budtender about these amazing compounds! You may just find something low in THC and high in a particular combination of terpenes that has a stronger desired outcome than a simple, high THC product!

Ask Questions

Ask all the questions and don’t be shy. This industry is still in its infancy and no question is too simple. Whether you’re new to cannabis or simply stepping into a legal facility for the first time, it’s important to remember that budtenders help consumers with widely ranging levels of knowledge every single day. If you personalize your consumption methods, avoid common cannabis misconceptions, and refrain from choosing based on potency alone, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your dispensary experience. If you’d like some help on your next visit, check out our handy “Dispensary Guide” below!