A Guide to Understanding Cannabis

Only having been legal since October 2018, some may still be unfamiliar with cannabis and understanding what exactly they are purchasing at a dispensary. This is a non-exhaustive guide to reducing risk and becoming comfortable with cannabis.


What are the laws?

In Manitoba, cannabis can be legally purchased from a licensed retailer by a person who is 19 years of age or older. It can only be smoked or vaped, or prepared into an edible cannabis product at a private residence. This also includes any other form of cannabis, which you can find more about here. Cannabis can not be used in public, which includes the University of Manitoba’s campus. A person can have 30 grams of dried legal cannabis on them in public at any time.


What’s sativa and indica?

The terms ‘sativa’ or ‘indica’ are often thrown about in conversations surrounding cannabis, but what do they really mean? According to some experts, the difference between these two categories have little scientific evidence. The general public often associates sativa with stimulating and energizing effects compared to indica’s sedative and relaxing effects, according to one study. While it may be interesting to think that they differ drastically, factors like THC and CBD content, the way it is consumed and simply a person-to-person difference is more likely to determine the effect it will have.


What is CBD and THC?

According to the government of Canada, THC is responsible for most of cannabis’ effects. THC is derived from a process called decarboxylation, which occurs when the substance is heated above 120°C, like when it is smoked. Its’ most common effects are euphoria, anxiousness, drowsiness, decreased reaction time and concentration. With a higher THC content, comes a higher likelihood to experience impairment.

CBD, on the other hand, has been shown to actually decrease the effects of THC and is not generally intoxicating. Some experts say it can help reduce chronic pain, decrease anxiety and for falling asleep. Although it may not have the same effects as THC, it is still important to be aware that it can cause impairment.


How much THC and CBD is in the product?

The numbers after Total THC and Total CBD represent the amount of THC or CBD after the product has been heated. The numbers after THC or CBD simply represents the amount of THC or CBD that is active in the product without it being heated. When the total amount and the CBD or THC amount is the same, that means it has already been heated which happens with products like oils or edibles.

“To minimize your risk or if you are a new consumer, look for a product containing 2.5 mg of THC or less or 10% THC (100 mg/g) or less, and an equal or higher amount of CBD.” - Health Canada

How long will the effects last?

The length of time that it takes to begin feeling the effects of cannabis as well as the time it takes to stop feeling the effects of cannabis vary depending on the way it is being consumed.

For smoking and vaping cannabis, you could begin to feel the effects after seconds or minutes and it can last for up to six hours. When ingesting cannabis (through swallowing, drinking or eating) the effects may be felt after thirty minutes to two hours and can last for up to twelve hours.


How can I minimize my risk?

Don’t mix! If you decide to consume cannabis, avoid consuming other substances for that period of time.

Plan ahead! Find a designated driver ahead of time so that you have a safe ride home.

Take breaks! Frequent use of cannabis can lead to dependence, so taking days without it can be beneficial.

Know (or get to know) your limits! It can be hard to know exactly how cannabis will affect you, so starting with small amounts and waiting between doses is the best bet to reduce your risk and discover the amount that you’re comfortable with.

Exhale! When smoking or vaporizing cannabis, avoid holding it in your lungs for extended periods of time since this can cause damage.

Sources:

https://lgcamb.ca/public-education/can-and-cant-of-cannabis/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5576603/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6225593/

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/about.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/laws-regulations/regulations-support-cannabis-act/consumer-information.html

https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/how-to-read-a-cannabis-package.aspx

https://www.gov.mb.ca/cannabis/knowthefacts/cannabisandhealth.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/information-medical-practitioners/information-health-care-professionals-cannabis-cannabinoids.html#a1.0

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/campaigns/cannabis/canadians.html#a4

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/resources/what-you-need-to-know-if-you-choose-to-consume-cannabis.html