Answered By A Scientist: 10 Questions Asked in a Dispensary

By: Christopher Pauli

We all realize there’s an issue in our legal system when bringing a chocolate bar from a dispensary on a plane is the equivalent of smuggling Heroin.

Most people would never find it acceptable to smuggle Heroin on a plane; however, they don’t think twice about bringing some pain cream or patches that they bought legally in a dispensary. However, the current political landscape of the US has made CBD pain cream and Heroin equivalent, which is socially and medically detrimental.

While it’s recreationally legal in over 8 states, and medically legal in 29 states, the United States Federal Government classifies Cannabis as one of most addictive substances with no medical value, right along with Heroin, GHB and bath salts. For the minority of individuals that have never been in a dispensary or have Cannabis questions they were embarrassed to ask, this article is for you.


1: Can I take my Cannabis products home with me? What if…?

There’s no exception or what if about it. Whether it’s CBD pain cream or just the smallest bit of hash, it cannot leave the state under any condition. We have states with overages (Oregon) and states with shortages (Nevada), but it’s federally prohibited to export from one state to another.


2: What’s Sativa and Indica and why do they change?

The budtenders across the counter from you most likely haven’t studied the ancestral relationships of the genetics of their Cannabis, nor do they know that this plant is from South Africa or Afghanistan. While most people realize there are some noticeable differences between Sativa and Indica, it’s mainly a feeling based distinguishment. As the chemicals of the plant evolve over generations, the feelings caused by using these plants will change and various combinations of active ingredients are made by the different strains of Cannabis can cause vastly different effects.  

How Do They Decide?

Usually dispensary employees and patents will keep track of the feeling they experienced when using a certain strain, and then they will try to find general trends that describe the effects of that strain.


3: What is CBD and where does it come from?

Is there a difference between CBD from Hemp or Regulated Cannabis?

Yes, it would be analogous to the difference between a supplement company and a pharmaceutical company producing the same drug. While the pharmaceutical company have to test, verify and maintain standards within their product, supplement companies can add nearly anything to a grocery store shelf without FDA approval or a professional’s recommendation.

Are Hemp products all THC-Free?

Not necessarily. While most products will process the plant extract further to remove THC, this is not necessary in the hemp market as long as the product is below 0.7% THC by dry weight.

Are these unregulated products dangerous?

In short, possibly. Recently there has been reports of other research chemicals have been sold under the guise of CBD in Utah that describe the synthetic chemical as similar to Spice or K2, which were banned years ago.


4: How long will it last and/or stay in my system?

Most people that use Cannabis products will feel the effect for about 4-6 hours; however, as a budtender, I’ve heard patents describe the effects from lasting as short as an hour to as long as a full day.

Generally, within 30 days after using most of the cannabinoid metabolites have been cleared from the body; however, recent research has shown that some metabolites can be detected after 30 days.  THC, the main active ingredient in smoked Cannabis, can be  detected up to 30 days after usage, 11-OH-THC, the active ingredient in edible Cannabis,  can be detected 15 days after stopping Cannabis use, and THC-COOH, a breakdown product of Cannabis, is measurable in some participants after 30 days.


5: Can I get stronger edibles and what about other cannabinoids?

While many states have adopted a standardized system for selling edibles, it does vary between states. For example, in California and Colorado, recreational edibles can contain no more than 100mg in a package with 10mg being the max single dose. While this seems to be a generally accepted dosage, Oregon had halved this limit to a be a maximum of a 50mg package with a 5mg dose, which has lead to an excessive supply of Cannabis, which arguably drives the black market.


6: How would you describe the feeling or high of Cannabis?

While many people describe vastly different experiences with Cannabis, we’ve started to better classify and understand this mysterious plant. Using subjective experiences, it is difficult to compare substances that we use daily. While many drugs, such as opioid painkillers, and anxiety medication clearly warn users to not operate heavy machinery and that dizziness or drowsiness may occur on the bottle, many patents disregard those warnings and would argue that those medications do not have a “high”. Others find that those medications are much more intoxicating than Cannabis, and prefer to use Cannabis throughout the day to manage their anxiety or pain since they find it less negatively affects their daily life.

Furthermore, Cannabis is classified into Sativa and Indica mainly based from most terpene content, which can change the feeling or buzz. Sativa’s generally have a more head-dominant high that is uplifting, euphoric, and even energetic; whereas, indica’s will be more relaxing, body-highs that can be even be sedative in some strains. The important thing to realize is that this is a scale of feelings these strains are classified on, so when asking for a strain that helps with sleep, each budtender will have their own ranking of which strains helped him or her sleep the most.


7: What’s the difference in feeling between edibles and smoking a joint?

When you eat an edible, the active ingredient in Cannabis, delta-9-THC is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC) through digestion which being a different chemical produces a pretty different effect in the user.  Smoking or vaping is usually the fastest acting method of ingestion, usually within a minute for max blood THC levels and will wear off within a few hours of smoking. Eating Cannabis is a slower onset and longer lasting high that is predominantly in the body, regardless of being sativa or indica dominant.

The main issue with edibles is inexperienced users will eat a piece of chocolate and not notice any effect after a half hour or an hour. Thus, they will continue eating the chocolate and have an unenjoyable time on edibles since the effects begin to take place generally an hour after eating the edible and will build up over the next hour, which most people do not expect.


8: Why do some edibles feel different than others if their both 10mg?

The main differences between edible companies is a result of the extraction, infusion and delivery mechanisms that are incorporated into the product. As for the efficiency of these different methods, it varies greatly depending on the person. While some people may prefer a CO2 oil extraction in their edibles, others may prefer an infused CannaButter or ethanolic extract. While this varies between individuals, there are certain delivery mechanisms, such as liposomal microencapsulation or adding lecithin are known to increase the efficiency of the cannabinoids.


9: What’s the difference between topicals and transdermals?

Will I get high from my pain cream?

The main differences between topicals and transdermals are that topicals are made for local pain or inflammation relief; whereas, transdermals are made for systematic relief of pain or inflammation since it will soak through the skin to circulate in your blood. While most of these products will not produce a feeling or high, some of the transdermal products with THC can provide a euphoric or noticeable feeling depending on how much was applied.  


10: What won’t get me high but help my pain? I’m on XY and Z prescriptions but I don’t like the idea of getting high.

The Medical Dictionary defines psychoactive substance as a pharmacotherapeutic agent that possesses action to alter mood, behavior, cognitive processes, or mental stress.”  With this definition, most prescription painkillers, anxiety medication, antidepressants, alcohol, Cannabis and even caffeine would all be considered psychoactive drugs. Thus, most drugs patents take will have a “high” or feeling associated with the drug, but that is in part why the drug is effective.

The stigma around Cannabis users being “high” or “a lazy stoner” is part of derogatory propaganda that has kept Cannabis prohibited for the last 80+ years; whereas, pharmaceutical companies use the words “drowsiness or dizziness” to describe this side effect. As opioid deaths skyrocket, it becomes obvious that Cannabis may be a safer option than pharmaceuticals for many conditions, and this stigma of being high should not continually be propagated as this negative life-ruining aspect of Cannabis, but the effect with which we seek relief.