Complete beginner’s guide to cannabis


If you’re new to cannabis, it can seem pretty overwhelming at first. Our goal with this article is to cover all the basics. We have full comprehensive articles on all of the topics we’re going to cover on this one. but, the beginner’s guide to cannabis is a good place to start if you’re new.

What is cannabis? beginner’s guide to cannabis

The chemical structures and differences that makeup Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD)
The chemical structures and differences that makeup Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD)

In short, Cannabis is a plant. If you have never heard the word cannabis before, you probably have heard of some of these other terms for it:

  • Weed
  • Pot
  • Mary Jane
  • Dope
  • Ganja
  • And most commonly marijuana

There are two main types of cannabis, these are called “indica” and “sativa”. Long story short, they are two of the subspecies of the genus cannabis. Basically, this just means that indica and sativa are like cousins. There is also cannabis called “hybrid”, all this means is that there is some sort of blend between the two. If you want to read more about indica and sativa click here. We have a fully comprehensive guide that breaks down their similarities and differences

Comparing the differences between sativa and indica

Another common term that you will see is “strain”. Cannabis cultivators and growers commonly cross breed 2 kinds of cannabis. This has been going on for many generations. What they do is, they take a male cannabis plant and breed it with a female cannabis plant to create a new type of cannabis that is a mixture of the two parents. Many of the strains you see nowadays have unknown origins because of this, but we’ll get into the origin of cannabis later on in this article.

Origin of cannabis I History of cannabis

It is believed that people have been using cannabis for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Its origins are debated, but its generally believed to be from somewhere in Central Asia. There have also been cannabis seeds dated up to 10,000 years old found in Japanese pottery relics, along with scraps of woven cannabis fabrics. Some experts believe that cannabis and human beings relationship could date back even further.

Illustration of colonists harvesting cannabis in the late 1800s
illustration of Spanish colonists introducing hemp to North and South America in present-day Mexico and Chile. 1545-1800s

When was cannabis brought to America

We know that the origin of cannabis is not the United States or Canada. But how did it get here? That’s a question that lots of people ask, but the answer is up for debate. Some people speculate that cannabis was brought over by Christopher Columbus, or that it spread out from Brazil and Chile in the 16th century. The most commonly accepted theory of how cannabis came to America is in the form of hemp. Consequently, many people seem to directly link this to the cannabis that is smoked today.

All we really know for sure is that cannabis was prevalent along the east coast in the 19th century and extremely prevalent in the south in the early 20th century. This played a key role in why cannabis is still illegal in most states to this day.

Understanding cannabis terminology

We’re just going to try and cover the most common cannabis terminology out there.

A common term that you will hear from time to time if you’re talking about cannabis is “cannabinoids”. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are found inside of the plant. These are what make up the psychoactive and medicinal properties.

A few other terms that have been getting a lot of attention as of late are CBD and THC. These are two of the 85 known cannabinoids in cannabis. In short, CBD has no psychoactive properties which means it does not get you high, and THC does have psychoactive properties. CBD and THC both have their own medicinal purposes, if you’re looking to find out which one is right for you or are just curious, be sure to check out our CBD vs THC article here.

Chemical compounds of THC and CBD illustrated

Cannabis effects

If you have ever googled to see what the effects are of cannabis, I’m sure you’ve seen the standard:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • The Munchies
  • Tired
  • Laugh at everything
  • Happier
  • Pain relief

But, how much of this is true? The truth is, cannabis affects everybody differently. It is entirely possible that you and another person could smoke or ingest the same amount, and have entirely different effects.

It also matters what kind of cannabis you are smoking. Sativas are going to make you feel differently than indicas, and the same goes with strains. Every strain is different and the only way to truly know which one is right for you is by trying.

Different ways to consume cannabis

cannabis grinder with grinded cannabis inside on table with stickers

When it comes to consuming cannabis, it’s not like it used to be. Nowadays, cannabis comes in almost any form you could imagine. Here are some of the most common ways people use cannabis.

  • Smoking
  • Eating
  • Vaping
  • Lotion and cream
  • CBD – THC oils and teas

If you’re new to cannabis I would highly recommend staying away from most of these. These concentrates are extremely strong; they are not made for beginners. It is not possible to overdose on cannabis. However, if you were to take too much it would not be a good time. 

How do people smoke cannabis?

There are a couple of main ways that people smoke cannabis. The most obvious being a joint or a spliff. Another common way people smoke cannabis is with a pipe or a bong. To clarify, the only difference between a pipe and a bong is that bongs use water to filter the smoke.

Bongs are quickly becoming the most common way to smoke cannabis, primarily because the amount of cannabis required to smoke is much less than a joint.

Vaping cannabis

Another common way people use cannabis is by vaporizing it. Vaping is seen as the healthiest way to use cannabis since the plant is not actually burning. Vaporizers are set at a temperature so that only the crystals on the cannabis are combusting.

The only downside to vaporizing cannabis is that it tends to be pretty expensive, mid-grade vaporizers are about $100-200.

If you’re interested in learning about the different way people consume cannabis, we have a fully comprehensive article here.

Common myths about cannabis

Harry Anslinger sitting at a desk with legal documents 1954 announcing crackdown on drugs
Harry Anslinger 1954 announcing crackdown on drugs united states

In the 1930s the united states launched a war on drugs and made propaganda videos on cannabis. These propaganda videos a led fear-shocked united states banning cannabis, and telling other countries they had to do the same. 

You would think that wouldn’t happen nowadays. But it does, there are plenty of cannabis myths that still get spread around in 2019. They play a big part in why cannabis is still illegal in most states.

  • You can overdose on cannabis
  • Cannabis is worse for you thank drinking alcohol
  • If you smoke cannabis, you will become lazy
  • Smoking cannabis is worse than smoking cigarettes
  • Smoking cannabis can kill brain cells
  • If you use cannabis you’re more likely to get schizophrenia
  • Cannabis is a gateway drug

Cannabis facts

Although there are lots of myths about cannabis, it is important to understand that it can cause negative health effects. So, here are some facts about cannabis that has been backed up with research:

  • Smoking cannabis is not good for your lungs
  • Smoking cannabis can harm a developing brain
  • Cannabis can affect decision-making abilities
  • Some people who smoke cannabis experience memory loss
  • Cannabis can affect cognitive abilities like reaction time, and coordination

If you have any other questions about cannabis, please feel free to leave us a comment! We will try and answer all your questions

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