Speaking the Language of Legal Cannabis: A Guide for Consumers Returning to the Plant

Weed has changed in many wonderful ways since the days of free love, with juicy nugs taking the place of dirty regs.

If it’s been years since your last dance with Mary Jane, it’s high time you tune in to what’s going on with pot these days.

We’re living through a marijuana renaissance, with the cannabis industry taking full advantage of the newfound push to “legalize it” throughout the country. Long gone are the days of your older, somewhat shady cousin selling you baggies of off-green leaves packed to the brim with stems and seeds. 

These days, cannabis culture is populated with professional cultivators and home growers who take real pride in their product, summoning plants with an array of compounds that result in euphoric highs, pleasant lows, and everything in between.


Why You Should Consider A Return To Cannabis

Much more than merely a means of “getting high,” cannabis brings a bevy of benefits. A 2016 study demonstrates that in states with access to medical marijuana, those using Medicare part D—a benefit primarily for seniors—received fewer prescriptions for a host of pharmaceuticals.

But a return to pot is about much more than emptying your medicine cabinet. Consuming cannabis at an advanced age helps manage mild discomfort while keeping day-to-day stress at a minimum and assuring mental acuity. 

It’s true: The plant so despised by your parents and law enforcement is now something of a savior to millions of people. We’re willing to bet the Reefer Madness perpetrators didn’t see that coming. 

For anyone who hasn’t even seen a joint—let alone smoked one—in 40 years, the modern world of cannabis can be dizzying enough to harsh any mellow vibes. We get it. There are dozens of products these days, everything from flower to lotions, edibles, tinctures, and more. 

And then there’s the crazy number of strains out there, each with different levels of different compounds. 

It’s true that things aren’t quite as simple as they were decades ago. But now, you have a wealth of information at your fingertips and plenty of experts who want to help you get back to where you once belonged


What’s Different About Weed Today Compared To Back In The Day?

First things first, no one calls it “grass” anymore. That terminology tapped out when juicy buds replaced stems and seeds as the cannabis standard. So if you find yourself rolling a collection of rainy day women with a batch of low-quality Nixon, consider yourself catnipped. 

The typical marijuana you buy these days is far purer, with striking visual characteristics and bodily effects to match. 

Growers today are sophisticated, knowledgeable, and incredibly proud of their product—and their hard work blazes forth in the THC percentages found in current-day cannabis. 

Cannabis of the 1960s—we’ll call it “hippie weed”—rarely exceeded 5 percent of THC content. 

That’s a number that would barely register with modern consumers, as the mildest strains available today routinely land between 10 and 12 percent, the majority of strains rating around 15 to 20 percent, and the most powerful hitting as high as 30 percent.


What Different Cannabis Products Are Available?

Along with being generally stronger than weed was back in the day, there are also more options for getting high than ever before. Sure, there are still joints aplenty being passed around, but modern cannabis consumption takes on many forms.

  • Flower

Let’s start with the one you’re probably most familiar with. It doesn’t get much better for many consumers than toking on some good, old-fashioned flower buds. This is your basic, smokable part of the cannabis plant, cultivated, harvested, dried, and cured before heading to the dispensary. This is the weed you roll into joints, pack into bowls and bongs, or light up in an apple or crushed soda can.

  • Concentrates

Here’s where things get a tad more scientific. Concentrates are produced by removing excess plant material and other impurities, leaving you with cannabis compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes—the things that actually get you high. Concentrates are consumed in a variety of ways, most notably through the use of a vaporizer. But you could also sprinkle concentrate in the form of kief on a flower to increase the potency. 

  • Edibles

Remember “special brownies” from your youth? It’s become an entire industry in and of itself. Edibles are cannabis-infused food and drinks that are made with flower buds or concentrate. Today’s edibles take the form of everything imaginable—including baked goods, chocolate bars, gummies, mints, beverages, and even cooking oils and butter. 

  • Tinctures

Tinctures are produced by steeping the cannabis plant in an alcohol solution, resulting in a highly concentrated liquid. The most common way to consume tincture is by placing a drop or two under the tongue, where it’s absorbed by blood vessels and sent on an express train straight to your brain and body. But tinctures can also be absorbed through your digestive tract, creating instances of a delayed reaction. 

  • Topicals

Skincare never felt so good. Topicals infuse cannabis into products such as lotions, balms, sprays, salves, and even transdermal patches. Applied directly to the skin, topical cannabis is mainly used to provide localized effects to specific areas of the body, resulting in the physical benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects of THC.


Too Much Too Fast: What Are the Effects Of Stronger Weed?

The skyrocketing THC percentages in today’s should tell the renewed cannabis consumer one thing: Proceed with a healthy amount of caution and be careful not to go one toke over the line. It’s crucial for any old-time stoner looking to get back into the game after decades of the straight lifestyle to understand the effects of modern cannabis. 

Understanding the effect today’s strains can have on your mind and body is simple when you get down to the basics. It’s all about those THC percentages. The higher the THC percentage, the more stoned you’re going to feel. And this opens up another favorable point about today’s cannabis industry: consumers have access to the THC percentages of every strain, with plant characteristics broken down even further with the percentage of CBD, terpenes, and more also available. 

But when THC levels are higher than you’re used to, it can lead to a handful of not-so-groovy effects. This can include:

Paranoia and Anxiety

A mild freak out is always possible when people partake in a doobie session, but extreme paranoia and anxiety can be a major bummer. Edibles and large doses of pot with high levels of THC can cause exaggerated side effects, especially if you’re not used to getting high, or it’s been years since you’ve taken a toke. 

Dry Mouth

Oh, the dreaded cottonmouth—still a scourge of the cannabis community after all these years. THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors in our saliva glands, mirroring a naturally occurring chemical called anandamide, decreasing saliva production. As a result, high levels of THC can leave your mouth drier than the Sahara. 

Red Eyes

When the crimson haze rolls over your eyes, you know you’re irreversibly toasted. Dry, red eyes are the classic telltale sign that’s harshed many mellows and made many eye drop companies exceedingly profitable. Why does it happen? THC lowers blood pressure and dilates blood vessels, leading to red eyes. The more THC, the deeper the red. 

The Munchies

Hey, some side effects can be fun! For example, high levels of THC fire up your hunger by stimulating areas of the brain associated with appetite. This can lead you to raid the pantry, empty the fridge, or explore the many culinary possibilities of Baltimore, which is a stone’s throw from Remedy in Columbia, MD.

Impaired Memory

Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah! The forgetful stoner is one of those inescapable tropes associated with weed and with good reason. Short-term memory loss due to high levels of THC—while temporary—can disrupt your productive day. But let’s be honest, sometimes you want to have a short memory, right?

Sleepiness and “Couch Lock”

Here’s another side effect that can also be a benefit, depending on your perspective. THC can come to the rescue in the fight against insomnia, promoting rest and easing the traffic in your mind that keeps you from getting some shut-eye. But if you’ve got a busy day ahead of you, you might want to aim for lower levels of THC. 

 Sweet Leaf: 9 Strains Low-THC Strains

Back in the day, we would smoke any weed we could get our hands on—and no matter how dry and crumbly those regs were, we were happy to have it. But those days are long gone. Finally, a reason to be satisfied with the relentless march of time!

Today’s cannabis exists in an industry that’s highly curated by professional growers obsessed with developing the perfect strain for every situation. No matter the desired effect, there’s a strain for it. Want to feel energized and euphoric? There’s a strain for that. Or do you prefer a more mellowed-out vibe? There’s a strain for that, too. 

Cultivators accomplish this feat by managing the balance between THC and CBD. As you probably know, THC is the main psychotropic compound in cannabis that alters your mental state, sometimes leading to paranoia. CBD, on the other hand, is the non-intoxicating compound in cannabis with relaxing properties and a variety of mind-body health benefits. 

A high-CBD, low-THC cannabis strain may be ideal for someone who’s looking to keep a clear head while getting some much-needed relief. Here are some of the most highly regarded strains in that particular category:

  • Harle-Tsu

Harlequin and Sour Tsunami combine for a strain that generally sits around 20-24 percent CBD and 1 percent THC, giving it a CBD: THC ratio of 20:1. Because of the incredibly high CBD content, Harle-Tsu is ideal for relieving physical discomfort with a touch of mental relaxation. 

  • Suzy Q

The pleasantly piney Suzy Q is relaxing and uplifting, with a talent for relieving a host of discomforts from head to toe. The little-to-no euphoric high is a product of Suzy Q’s CBD: THC ratio, which hovers around 10 percent CBD and 1 percent THC.

  • Harlequin

 One-half of the Harle-Tsu hybrid, Harlequin is one of the most popular CBD-dominant strains out there. Testing at around 5:2 CBD: THC ratio, Harlequin keeps you clear-headed with a mild taste of euphoria. You’ll have a hard time wiping that smile from your face. 

  • Sweet and Sour Widow

This is about as middle ground as you can get in the world of weed. Sweet and Sour Widow lands an even split at 1:1 CBD: THC ratio, making it a fantastic reentry point for anyone looking to get back into cannabis without blasting off into orbit after one hit. 

  • ACDC

There is no “highway to hell” here, as ACDC strain is typically CBD-dominant, with an average ratio of 20:1 CBD: THC. As a result, ACDC is ideal for daily use to relieve tension-filled discomfort of the mind and body. 

  • Stephen Hawking Kush

While it won’t help you solve the mysteries of the universe, Stephen Hawking Kush does offer mild, relaxing effects of indica-dominant strains. And the healthy dose of CBD makes this strain particularly unique and soothing. 

  • Remedy

As the name implies, it’s good for what ails ya. Remedy boasts about 13 percent CBD and less than 1 percent THC, making it an ultra-high CBD strain that delivers plenty of mellow vibes and minimal psychoactive effects. 

  • Cherry Wine

With the aroma of sweet cherry and hints of cheese and black pepper, Cherry Wine is about as relaxing as a wine and cheese party for one. Cherry Wine quiets frayed nerves and nagging discomfort with 15-25 percent CBD and less than 1 percent THC. 

  • Pennywise

Despite the name, this strain has nothing to do with a demon clown of your nightmares—quite the opposite. Pennywise is a high-CBD strain with a 1:1 ratio of CBD: THC. There is some euphoria associated with this strain, but it’s balanced nicely by the CBD.


What States Have Legal Cannabis: Medicinal & Recreational

All those years spent hiding out in the basement or van getting high—and now here we are today with more and more states legalizing weed. It’s truly far out. 

Even if you find yourself in a state where only medical marijuana is legal, or it’s not permitted at all, times they are a’changin’. New laws come up for a vote every year, leading to an ever-shifting legal landscape surrounding weed. But, when it comes to the legal status of cannabis, people genuinely have the power. 

Here in Maryland, we are very close to full legalization. For now, marijuana is decriminalized, and Marylands’s consumers can legally purchase medical cannabis from the roughly 100 medical marijuana dispensaries serving the state’s 125,000 patients.


Check out this great resource—updated regularly—for the legal status in every state.