Introduction to Cannabis


Cannabis is a plant that produces chemical compounds called cannabinoids and terpenes. Many of these compounds interact with our bodies’ endocannabinoid system to create various physical and mental effects. As a result, cannabis can be consumed to treat certain ailments as well as for recreational enjoyment.

Cannabis flower can be smoked or used to make extracts, concentrates, edibles, and a number other products. Each product type has unique characteristics both in physical and chemical properties and may affect users in unique ways.

Below is some essential information about cannabis that we feel cannabis consumers should know in order to understand how to select cannabis products and predict their effects. Please explore our website and social media for additional educational content, and feel free to reach out to us with any questions.

Potential Medicinal Benefits of Cannabis


Current research demonstrates that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of symptoms and conditions. Cannabis has been used to help patients cope with chronic pain, diabetes, epilepsy, PTSD, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and many more. Because the research on cannabis is still new, there is no official agreement on which conditions are most suitable for treating with cannabis. If you would like to learn more about the medical effects of medical marijuana, this Wikipedia page is a good start.  If you reside in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or another state with progressive marijuana legislation, you can speak to your physician regarding your condition or symptoms and whether MMJ or cannabis is a viable treatment option.

For more insight on which ailments or indications might benefit from cannabis treatment, check out our Medical Conditions & Symptoms page.

What's in Your Cannabis?


Cannabinoids

Found in cannabis and other plants, Cannabinoids are a range of naturally occurring chemical compounds that interact with specific chemical receptors in the brain and nervous system. These receptors make up the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate important functions such as appetite, pain, mood, and memory. As such, the amounts and combinations of cannabinoids found in different strains of cannabis are what create physical and emotional effects felt from using various cannabis products.

Testing cannabis products and determining a cannabinoid profile allows patients and doctors to more accurately predict potential effects of different products. This enables patients to select a strain or product that can address their particular needs or treat specific symptoms.

Terpenes

Another class of compounds found naturally in cannabis plants are Terpenes. These are the compounds partially responsible for creating the smell and taste of cannabis, but they have also been noted to interact synergistically with cannabinoids to have their own health benefits and treatment applications. The combination of physical and mental effects that result from the interplay between cannabinoids and terpenes is known as the “Entourage Effect.”

Looking at a terpene panel in addition to the cannabinoid profile provides a clearer indication of the potential effects that may result from using a particular cannabis product.

Strain Selection

Due to physiological differences from person to person, the varying compositions of cannabinoids and terpenes found in different strains of cannabis may affect each individual in a unique way. When selecting a strain, be sure to inquire about the expected effects and discuss what symptoms you’re attempting to treat with your provider. Look at the potency profile that should be present on the label and note how that strain affects you when using a controlled dose.

Because the science surrounding cannabis is still new, there is no sure-fire way to predict how a strain will affect you before trying it yourself. You’ll need to adjust dosage and stay aware of which combination of cannabinoids and terpenes works best for you when using a given method of consumption.

For more information on how certain cannabinoids and terpenes are thought to affect consumers on average, take a look at our Resources section.

Methods for consuming cannabis


If you are interested in seeing the potency profiles or safety screens of flowers, concentrates, edibles, tinctures, or other infused products we’ve tested, please refer to our Tested Products database where you can search the results of all our public samples.

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