Expert Advice: What to consider before visiting a marijuana dispensary
Host Amber Smith: Here's some expert advice from neurologist, Dr. Hesham Masoud from Upstate Medical University. With marijuana now legal in New York state, what should people consider before heading to a dispensary?
Hesham Masoud, MD: I would say be aware that you're dealing with more potent products now. So if you had used recreational marijuana in the past, then maybe now you're entering into a commercialized space now, and so you need to be aware that things are significantly more potent.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. So those are the major components, and the differences is, the CBD is non-psychoactive, and the THC is psychoactive. That relative concentration of THC versus CBD is really what's going to predict for you if you're getting more of a psychoactive component versus one that doesn't have that and has maybe the CBD's effect, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects.
Be aware that essentially THC is what's going to have that psychoactive alkaloid that's going to have those behavioral disinhibitions, maybe anxiety, so on and so forth. That's going to be in a higher concentration in sativa plants. So if it says sativa, if it comes from a sativa plant, or they say "sativa dominant," expect that that means it's going to have more THC, so potentially more psychoactive versus CBD.
And CBD is the one that has the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effect and sort of the body type stuff. And that may have a higher component or higher concentration in a plant called indica. So if it says "indica dominant" or indica, then I would expect not to get as cerebral, but maybe more body. Are you never going to have the cerebral? No. Unless it's like zero THC and all CBD, expect to have some sort of psychoactive component. So that would be something to be aware of. It's this ratio, though, of how much between THC and CBD, and using sativa as your surrogate for THC and indica as your surrogate for CBD, with the knowledge that indica still has THC in it.
And then it's also important to know that this THC or these cannabinoids, if you're ingesting it, are really enhanced by foods that have fat in them. And so if you eat something that's greasy, it may potentiate the effect even more. So it can be a little bit difficult with edibles, because the dose response has to do with, obviously, the time from ingestion, and it's not as quick an absorption as it would be if one were inhaling it through smoking or a vapor.
It's important to know that eating versus vaporizing has a different effect, slightly, that is not as easy to predict in terms of comparing it to smoking. These cannabinoids can have different vaporizing points in terms of temperature. And therefore you can have different ratios between your THC and your CBD than if you had smoked it.
I would say another thing to be aware of is the people behind the counter for the most part, if you're going to a dispensary that has some regulation to it, are going to know a little bit about things. So I would share maybe your history of use because potency is modulated, obviously, by your own intrinsic tolerance. And you can't really say, "oh, well, when I use alcohol, I am fine, so I'm going to be okay with marijuana." There is really no conversion there that I've seen. But, just sort of sharing that, "yes, I'm a heavy cannabis user," or "I'm a very light user," so on and so forth.
And then when deciding on the way to ingest it, understanding that a vaporizer may be more potent. An ingestible may have a little bit more of a different behavioral effect than what you were used to when you had tried marijuana in the past. That can be in a very delayed fashion, so really give yourself time and plan your day accordingly. I think those are the basic considerations.
Host Amber Smith: You've been listening to neurologist, Dr. Hesham Masoud from Upstate Medical University.