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How to be down: The Flower Girls’ introduction to cannabis appreciation

Cannabis consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area have access to an extensive selection of some of the finest quality cannabis in the world. Our local flowers are grown by passionate artisans whose wisdom and experience span generations. Such a cornucopia ought to be properly appreciated.

There’s no need to be a pretentious pot snob, but an educated approach to medical cannabis allows you to get the most medicine for your money while enjoying one of life’s finest pleasures like a true connoisseur.

Personal preferences will vary, of course, but to enhance your cannabis experience, consider the following recommendations:

Stop and smell the flowers.
The effects of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are enhanced and modified by terpenes, which are oily organic compounds that provide aroma as well as medicinal benefits. When you sniff a cannabis flower, you are smelling terpenes, which is akin to inhaling essential oils as aromatherapy.

Be mindful about what type of cannabis you are using, and for what intended purpose.
Different strains can have drastically different effects, so make a conscious choice about why you’re using a particular strain.

When a dispensary describes a strain as a sativa, or sativa-dominant, you can expect it to provide a more uplifting, energetic, cerebral high, while a strain labeled indica or indica-dominant should have a more lethargic, sedative, physical stone. However, these categorizations are fairly simplistic and they fail to account for terpenes, which have a crucial influence on the nature and nuance of the effect. Furthermore, the same strain can produce different effects for different people.

The best way to determine which strains work best for you is to keep a list of all the various strains that you have tried, along with your impressions of their effects. You should include the dispensary or collective that provided each strain and you may also find it worthwhile to record prices as well as notes about aroma and flavor. Taking note of your favorite and least favorite strains’ genetics will provide a useful key to making sense of your observations.

Protect your cannabis with appropriate storage.
Cannabis flowers are covered with trichomes that secrete the resin that is responsible for the majority of the plant’s medical and psychoactive effects. If the delicate balls of resin at the end of each trichome are damaged, or if the cannabis flower be- comes too dry, terpenes quickly evaporate, which means that the aroma and certain desired effects are lost. To preserve potency and freshness, canna- bis flowers should be stored in airtight glass jars in a dark, cool place.

Grind your cannabis.
Breaking up a cannabis flower with your fingers removes too much cannabinoid-laden resin. Use a titanium or stainless steel grinder instead. A grinder without a kief catcher is pref- erable, since a flower’s resin is best consumed while it is fresh, and kief that has collected in a grinder will soon become dry and stale.

Photo credit: Jonathan Piccolo/flickr