Consumer Education

Understanding the different types of strains

While there are hundreds of different strains and varieties of cannabis, they all come down to four basic classifications: indica, sativa, hybrid, and CBD. No matter the strain, it can be categorized as one of these types. There are several differences within each category as well, including various cannabinoid and terpene profiles, which further impact the effects of the strain. 

Because each strain has a unique makeup, these categories only serve as general guidelines for effects. Here are the basics of each type:


Sativas are typically energizing, uplifting, and recommended for daytime activities. They tend to be stimulating and are sometimes reported to boost creativity or focus. 
Indicas tend to be on the sleepier side and often promote relaxation and sedation. They are recommended for evening use, as they are often responsible for a “couchlock” effect. 


Hybrid strains contain a mix of sativa and indica genetics. They come in a variety of ratios, some split 50/50, and others indica or sativa-dominant. These strains are often bred to keep the desirable traits of certain genetics and remove the undesired effects. Hybrids can be used for both daytime and evenings, depending on their specific makeup. 


CBD strains are bred to contain high levels of cannabidiol and low amounts of THC. This cannabinoid does not produce intoxicating effects like its counterpart, THC. Cannabidiol attaches to cannabinoid receptors indirectly, which can provide therapeutic effects without intoxication. Many CBD strains still contain lower amounts of THC, though, so users may experience a high. High CBD strains are often sought by users who want a mild, therapeutic experience. 

Different types of
Cannabis consumption

Beyond different types of strains, there are also different varieties of cannabis products. The Healing Center offers a range of products for different preferences. 

Oral Consumption
Eating or drinking cannabis-Infused products is a popular choice for consumers who want to avoid inhalation. This method typically takes anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours to take effect and tends to last longer than inhaled cannabis. Some edibles are designed to be eaten normally with effects coming on within two hours, and others are designed to be taken sublingually (under the tongue) with effects in about 15 minutes. 

When taken sublingually, products can bypass the liver and enter the bloodstream quickly. While effects will come on quickly, they will also wear off faster when taken sublingually versus eaten. When eaten or drank, edibles must be broken down by the liver, so they take longer to take effect and will also lose some active compounds in the process. The effects typically last longer when consumed this way, though. 

The most common form of cannabis consumption is inhalation. There are two distinct categories when it comes to inhalation: smoking and vaping. Smoking cannabis creates combustion and smoke to inhale, and vaping cannabis creates a vapor to inhale. 

Combustibles include pre-rolls and flower, as these must be lit with a flame to produce smoke for inhalation. Those who do not want to inhale smoke may opt to vape, as vaporizing cannabis heats it to a temperature hot enough to produce a vapor without ever combusting. Because vaping eliminates many of the carcinogens in smoke, many health-conscious consumers choose to vape instead of smoke cannabis. 

Topical application
Cannabis can be applied to the skin for relief in targeted areas. Topical cannabis products include sprays, lotions, balms, and ointments. Topicals generally do not cause intoxicating effects, though transdermal patches are designed to enter the bloodstream and may cause intoxication. Most topical products are simply for local relief and will not enter the bloodstream. Instead, they’ll provide relief where applied.  

The different types of
Cannabis products

Although we have covered the different types of cannabis consumption, knowing the different types of products and their uses will enhance your overall understanding. 

Flower: Cannabis flower is extremely popular among users, as it can be smoked, vaped, and cooked into edibles or topicals. You can buy it in various quantities at the dispensary, or purchase ready-to-smoke pre-rolls. 

Concentrates: Concentrates have become more popular over the years as users have tuned into dabbing, vaporizing, and making their own edibles. Hash, waxes, oils, and other extracts all fall under the concentrates category. These products are typically much more potent than flower and allow users to get a quick, powerful onset with a small amount of product. 

Marijuana-Infused Products (MIPS)/Edibles: Edibles and other marijuana-infused products like beverages come in a variety of dosages and are an easy way to consume cannabis. They typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect and can last for up to around eight hours. Consumers should start with small doses and wait 30 minutes to an hour before consuming more to prevent taking too much. 

Tinctures: Tinctures are made of cannabis extracted into alcohol or another solvent. They can be swallowed for similar effects to an edible, or left under the tongue for a minute as sublingual application. Tinctures are easy to dose, discreet, and can produce effects quickly when taken sublingually. 

Topicals: Topicals like lotions, balms, oils, and similar products get applied directly to the body for targeted relief. They have a delayed onset but do not cause intoxicating effects. Transdermal topicals, such as patches, are designed to penetrate the skin barrier and enter the bloodstream. This can get users high, though these products are less common than traditional topicals. 

How to dose 

The huge range in product type, potency, cannabinoid and terpene profiles, and other differences between various products makes it impossible to give a general dosage to consumers. Instead, users must experiment to find the right dose for their needs. 

A good way to navigate cannabis dosing is to keep a log of your experiences. Jot down the consumption method, amount consumed, and the effects you experienced. From there, you can increase or decrease your dosage over the course of several uses. 

Some products provide general dosing guidelines. If you purchase a marijuana-infused product, the label may advise you on how to dose it. It’s a good idea to follow the label, as it is written with the specific product in mind. If there is not a dosing guideline on the level, start low and go slow. You want to find the smallest dose that provides desired effects, so start with small amounts and adjust from there. 

Product labels provide general information to assist with dosing, including cannabinoid and terpene contents or milligrams per serving. Higher potency products should be consumed in small quantities until you understand how they interact with your body. Whether you are taking a tincture, eating an edible, smoking a preroll, vaping concentrates, or any other method, the guidelines remain the same – start low and go slow. 

Cannabis tolerance,
dependence, and withdrawal

Different drugs have varying effects, but they all tend to produce similar symptoms. If you recognize the following signs and symptoms of substance abuse, it may be time to consult a trusted person about your drug use. The following are common signs of substance abuse:
Neglecting school, work, or home responsibilities because of drug use
Taking risks or consuming drugs under dangerous conditions
Increased tolerance 
Neglecting activities you once enjoyed
Continuing use after knowledge of potential or current harms 
Losing control over consumption

It’s normal for a cannabis consumer’s tolerance to increase if they start to use it more often or in larger doses. However, if users find themselves needing more and never reaching a satisfactory level, it may be time to reevaluate their consumption habits. Additionally, if users have an increased tolerance paired with others on the list above, it may be time to consult someone. 

While physical dependence on cannabis has not been substantiated thoroughly through research, heavy or frequent use can lead to increased tolerance, leading consumers to need higher doses and different strains. To learn more about tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal, visit is a non-profit dedicated to improving mental and emotional health. It provides resources, including guides, to help users recognize the signs of abuse and addiction. For more information about substance abuse and addiction, visit:

Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline: 800-327-5050
Online resources:

Massachusetts cannabis laws 

Individuals may possess up to one ounce of cannabis with no penalty. Secured in the home, they may possess up to 10 ounces. Those caught possessing over one ounce on a first offense may receive a misdemeanor and up to six months of incarceration/and or a $500 fine. A subsequent offense can result in a misdemeanor and up to two years of incarceration/and or a $2,000 fine. 

Consumers may not sell cannabis to any other individual. Only licensed retailers can sell marijuana. First offenders caught selling less than 50 pounds of marijuana may be punished by a fine of $500-5,000, and/or up to two years of incarceration. Subsequent offenses may receive a fine of $1,000-10,000 and/or 1-2.5 years of incarceration.

Marijuana safety 

Here are some tips for staying safe with cannabis:

Keep products away from children. Keep products in their original child/tamper-proof packages and store them away from areas children can access. Store any edibles away from other food to prevent confusion. 
Speak with a healthcare provider before using marijuana, especially if you are on any medications or have health conditions. 
Be aware of the side effects. Some people report dry mouth, anxiety, dizziness, paranoia, slowed reactions, and impaired motor skills. 
Do not drive under the influence of cannabis. Driving or operating under the influence of marijuana is illegal under  M.G.L. c. 90, § 24.

Cannabis has not been analyzed or approved the by FDA. Limited information exists about side effects, and there may be health risks associated with its use.

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