Recreational Cannabis Product labels tell you a lot about the product you’re buying. The total amounts of the two most common CANNABINOIDS , THC and CBD will help to inform you of what you may expect from the product you’ve purchased. However, the way this information is displayed differs slightly from one type of product (a pre-roll, for example) to the next (dried flower or an oil or capsule).
Recreational cannabis products are lab-tested for cannabinoid content. Licensed producers are required by Health Canada and the Cannabis Act to display these amounts on all packaging. Each product’s label displays the overall weight or volume of the product, and the product’s THC and CBD Content.
While a terpene profile is not required to be displayed on packaging, this information is availablE on our online store website.
Two percentages are displayed on the label of dried flower products. The first percentage displays the amount of THC and CBD in the non-medical cannabis as it is packaged. It represents the trace amounts of THC and CBD present in the flower due to UV light exposure, time, and the process of drying and curing the cannabis to preserve freshness and prepare it for sale.
The second percentage indicates the total percentage of THC and CBD when consumed and accounts for the entire process of decarboxylation, which occurs when the dried flower is heated by smoking or vaping. This range gives you a better idea of what to expect when consuming the product.
These percentages are based on a weight-by-weight measurement of cannabinoids in relation to the total weight of the RECREATIONAL cannabis. For example, if a product is 10 percent total THC, and you buy three grams, then 30 milligrams (or 0.03 of a gram) of that product will be THC.
Labels on non-medical cannabis oils feature a concentration of THC and CBD as milligrams per millilitre (mg/ml), the carrier oil used, as well as any potential allergens. As per Health Canada guidelines, oil products cannot contain more than 30 mg/ml of THC; however, there is no current limit on CBD.
The labels for oil-based capsules differ slightly, showing the milligrams of THC and CBD per capsule. Health Canada has limited THC to 10 milligrams per capsule. Like oils, there is currently no limit on the amount of CBD.
Unlike dried flower, pre-rolls are labelled to show the content of THC and CBD in milligrams per unit, as opposed to a percentage. A little math is required to determine the total percentage of THC and CBD in a pre-roll. You must divide the amount of total THC or CBD per unit by the total weight of the product. Both amounts must be in milligrams so be sure to convert the weight of the product to milligrams (pre-rolls are either 0.5 or one gram in size.)
For example, if a pre-roll contains 0.5 grams of cannabis and the total THC listed is 52.5 milligrams, your equation would look like this:
52.5 milligrams of THC divided by 500 milligrams (or 0.5 grams) of dried cannabis = 0.105 = 10.5%
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Cannabis products that are high in the non-intoxicating compound cannabidiol (CBD) have been creating a buzz since legalization. But what exactly is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 chemical compounds (cannabinoids) found in cannabis.
How does CBD work?
CBD works with the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an important internal system that helps to regulate a number of key biological functions including appetite, mood, pain sensations, balance, memory, fertility, and movement.
Our body naturally produces endocannabinoids, which are chemicals that interact with receptors called CB1 and CB2 that are located on cells throughout our body, mainly in the brain, immune system, blood vessels, digestive tract, and most major organs.
Cannabinoids mimic the natural endocannabinoids that our bodies produce—in fact the endocannabinoid system was named after the cannabinoid compounds in cannabis, as these were discovered first.
THC binds with CB1 receptors, which exist in greater concentrations in our brains. This may explain why consuming THC can result in feelings of intoxication or being high.
CBD has been shown to affect the activity of receptors and THC, and increase levels of anandamide. Named after the Sanskrit word for joy (ananda), anandamide is an endocannabinoid known as the ‘bliss chemical’, which is responsible for natural feelings of euphoria (such as the ‘runner’s high’ that some people experience when running).
Unlike THC, CBD does not cause intoxication, and may mitigate some of the effects of THC on the mind, when it’s consumed in cannabis that has a higher ratio of CBD to THC (at least 2:1)
Some CBD-dominant products carry a trace of THC as they are full-spectrum, which means that the extract has retained the original profile of the plant in terms of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other elements. Other oils are broad-spectrum, which means they contain most of the plant’s original profile, but have had the THC removed.
When it comes to measuring CBD or information about dosing, there are no guidelines for non-medical cannabis, but since Health Canada has not placed a potency limit on CBD, some products at BC Cannabis Stores contain as much as 55 mg/ml of CBD (which is generally considered high-CBD by most Licensed Producers).
Read each product’s label to find out how much CBD and THC is in it and what the ratio is to each other.
CBD can be consumed as an ingestible or inhalable product.
High-CBD or CBD-dominant products can be found in most cannabis formats, including dried flower, pre-roll, oils, capsules, vapes, edibles, and concentrates. Products that contain equal amounts of CBD and THC will be less impairing than THC-dominant strains, but may still cause effects for those who are looking to avoid getting “high”.
Cannabis oils are a popular way of consuming CBD as they are smokeless and odourless and can be ingested in capsule form, by dropping or spraying them under the tongue (sublingually), or by adding them to food or drink. CBD oil includes a high-CBD cannabis extract in a carrier oil base. MCT oil is often coconut-derived, and is popular amongst Licensed Producers, but palm oil and sunflower oil are also sometimes used as a carrier oil base. CBD-dominant products have a ratio of at least 2:1 CBD to THC and some products contain zero THC.
CBD can also be consumed in an edible format (chocolate and gummies), or as a beverage such as tea or a pre-mixed sparkling drink. CBD-dominant dried flower, and vape pens and cartridges, offer an alternative way to consume CBD as an inhalable product.
While edibles, like oils, may take between 30 minutes and four hours to feel effects, beverages and inhalable products may be felt within minutes. Edible products have no cap on CBD, but can legally only contain up to 10mg of THC per package, with CBD-only and balanced products offered too.
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Cannabis is a complex plant that contains hundreds of natural chemical substances. More than 100 of these are known as cannabinoids, which are compounds made and stored in the plant’s trichomes. Trichomes are the tiny, resinous glands that stick out from the flowers and leaves of the plant.
What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the most well-known and well-researched cannabinoids; you’ll see it mentioned on the labels of legal cannabis products (often referred to as ‘potency’).
THC effects cell receptors in the brain and body. When cannabis is inhaled or ingested, it can change how these cells communicate with each other.
THC is responsible for the feeling of intoxication (the ‘high’) that’s sometimes experienced when people consume cannabis. THC has some therapeutic effects, but it also has some potentially harmful effects (If you have concerns about the effects of THC, speak with your healthcare provider).
How does THC work?
Cannabinoids such as THC mimic the natural ‘endocannabinoid’ chemicals that our bodies produce. In fact, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was named after the cannabinoid compounds in cannabis.
The ECS is an internal system that helps to regulate a number of biological functions including appetite, mood, pain sensations, balance, memory, fertility, and movement. Our natural endocannabinoids interact with receptors called CB1 and CB2 as part of this system.
When introduced to our system through inhaling or ingesting cannabis, cannabinoids will also interact with these CB1 and CB2 receptors, creating sensations that affect our body and mind. THC binds with the CB1 receptors, which exist in greater concentrations in our brains. This may explain why consuming THC can result in these feelings of intoxication or being ‘high’.
How do I know how much THC is in a product?
To find out the THC potency of a product you can see the concentration of THC shown on the label as a percentage of THC by weight (in dried flower and concentrates such as shatter), by volume in an oil (mg/ml), and as a total amount in edibles and beverages.
Some people prefer to consume products that are higher in the cannabinoid CBD than THC. CBD does not cause intoxication, and may mitigate some of the intoxicating effects of THC when consumed in cannabis that has a higher CBD to THC ratio (at least 2:1). Some products identify the ratio of THC to CBD (for example, products labeled 1:1 contain equal amounts of each).
Look out for products labeled “High-THC” on our website and in our store; this means that the dried flower products contain at least 14% THC.
What are the limits?
THC limits vary across product categories. Flower has no THC limit. Edibles may contain up to a total of 10mg per package, inhalable extracts (vapes/concentrates) and ingestible extracts (oils) may contain up to 1000mg of THC per package, with a maximum of 10mg of THC per unit in the case of capsules.
Start low and go slow
Health Canada suggests that new consumers look for edible products that contain 2.5 mg of THC or less and remember that, while effects can be felt within 30 minutes to two hours, it can take up to four hours to feel the full effects of edibles.
When it comes to inhaling cannabis, Health Canada suggests starting with one or two puffs of a vape or dried flower with 10% (100 mg/g) or less THC to start. Effects can be felt in seconds to minutes, but it might take up to 30 minutes to feel the full effects. The concentration (% or mg/g) of THC can be found on the label. Always read the label to understand the strength of the product. Choose products with a low amount of THC and an equal or higher amount of CBD.
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Start low and go slow if you choose to consume products that contain THC.
Many newcomers to cannabis have questions about THC, and for good reason. THC percentages are displayed prominently on all of the products you will find in our menu and on our shelves. But just what does THC mean and why is it so important?
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is responsible for the intoxicating and mind-altering effects that cannabis produces, and is also believed to have a wide range of therapeutic benefits. THC creates the pleasurable feelings that we typically associate with cannabis by stimulating the brain to release dopamine, which in turn causes euphoria. It’s not just the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, but is also widely considered to be the most important. Cannabis without THC is a little bit like non-alcoholic beer.
Because of THC’s desireable intoxicating and therapeutic benefits, many strains have been specially-bred to feature higher levels of it. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see cannabis strains with THC levels that reach over 25%, and sometimes even over 30%. However, a strain’s THC percentage doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
There are many other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds in the cannabis plant whose effects and benefits can’t be ignored. In fact, well over 100 individual cannabinoids and over 100 individual terpenes have been identified in cannabis. It’s believed that the many cannabis compounds found in a strain or a product come together to produce more complete effects than THC can on its own. This phenomenon, called ‘the entourage effect’, states that these many compounds work together in synergy to produce the buzz commonly associated with specific strains or products.
A good example of the entourage effect in action is distillate vape oils. Distillate oils are made through a complex distillation process that separates each compound found in the source material, leaving behind only pure THC. After, some terpenes are usually added in order to give the oil flavor.
However, some people have noticed that the buzz produced by distillates is shorter and feels less full when compared to smoking flower buds or vaping other kinds of concentrates. That’s because the entourage effect is lacking since very few natural cannabis compounds besides THC exist in these oils. Nevertheless, many people prefer the high-THC buzz that distillate produces as they feel it allows them to focus better, and since they prefer a shorter high.
One recent study from the University of Colorado found that users of concentrates containing massive THC levels did not necessarily report feeling more intoxicated than those who smoked flower with less THC. This has led researchers to believe that less THC is necessary to feel ‘high’ than most people think.
THC percentage isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to enjoying cannabis. Many people looking for the strongest high possible choose strains and products based on their THC content, but this isn’t actually a very good strategy. Shopping for the highest THC cannabis on the shelves is like shopping for the strongest alcohol you can find. But as we all know, there’s much more than alcohol content that goes into making a drink enjoyable.
Is higher THC necessarily better? Probably not. And if you’re new to cannabis or still experimenting, it’s probably a good idea to start on the lower end of the THC spectrum.
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