How to choose cannabis at a dispensary

How to choose cannabis at a dispensary

My visit to Portland, OR was enlightening. I learned a lot about cannabis and I wanted to share this with our readers. I visited Farma on Hawthorne, a very unique dispensary that thas its own color coding system to help guide customers choose strains. For an outsider, it can be very difficult to know what to even choose at a dispensary, so I asked Emma Chasen, Director of Education at Farma a few questions that can help a newcomer. You can also see part of our interview for our upcomign documentary series Growing Wild below:

Can you help customers identify certain terpenes by associating known smells with the effects? e.g. pine smell means pinene which means...what?

Absolutely! With cannabis novices, I start with the citrus profile. It's usually the easiest to identify since everyone who can smell has smelled citrus before. Limonene is the terpene found in the rinds of citrus fruits and abundantly found in cannabis. It creates the uplifting, euphoric giggly experience that most consumers look for. When I pull out a citrusy cultivar I ask them to inhale deeply and think about busting open an orange in the morning. Relate the uplifting zing of energy from the smell of an orange to the feeling you may expect from consuming a strain high in limonene. For every terpene I try to relate it to a non-cannabis experience for the consumer. For example, pinene is found in pine needles. Think of the deep breaths and clarity you find while walking in a pine forest. Myrcene is found in hops. Think of when you drank one too many IPAs and got really drowsy. Relating to a time when a customer has interacted with terpenes separate from cannabis helps them know what to expect from a strain with a specific terpene profile.

Can you help explain Farma's strain identifying system?

Farma definitely takes more of a scientific approach in the way we speak about and classify cannabis. We don't label any strain as Indica/Sativa/Hybrid. This is because that nomenclature is quite antiquated when trying to predict the effect that a certain cultivar will produce. Really, Indica and Sativa should only be used to discuss plant morphology (how the plant grows) and not how it will make you feel. To determine how a cultivar will make you feel we look to the chemotype of the plant; the chemical compounds found in the matrix of the flower. This means looking at the cannabinoid concentrations (THC, CBD, CBG, etc) as well as the terpene concentrations. Terpenes being the essential oils found in all plants, they give plants their smell, but they also correlate to certain physiological effects and work with cannabinoids to create the experience you feel. Based off of this information we've devised a color coding system that helps customers find the experience they are looking for. Our more relaxing strains are coded in blue, while our more energizing strains are coded in red. Any CBD-intensive cultivars are coded in green.

What are the most frequently asked questions?

We get a lot of questions about terpenes. What are they, what do they do, etc. We also get questions about cannabinoids specifically the properties of CBD. I love any chance to educate so these questions are my favorite!

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions? i.e. high numbers means high effects?

A very common misconception is that high THC is the "most bang for your buck.” The concentration of THC definitely does not correlate to how high a cultivar will make you feel. You need to take a look at the bigger picture, cannabinoids, terpenes, growing practices, consumption method etc. For example, if a flower has a high concentration of myrcene this will make the concentration of THC feel more potent. This is because myrcene increases the binding potential of the CB1 receptor allowing more THC to bind, making you feel higher.

What do you most enjoy smoking and why?

I actually don't love smoking. After swine flu and pneumonia my lungs are beat. I much prefer microdosing edibles, especially something with a little CBD. At the right dose, CBD is incredibly energizing. I love how chatty and social it makes me feel. On the rare occasions that I do smoke, I love a cultivar with some pinene and limonene. Anything that makes me feel silly and energized, I love!

Emma Chasen has a mission to educate and empower people with science, knowledge and connection. After graduating from Brown University in 2014 with a degree in Medicinal Plant Research, Emma went on to coordinate Clinical Oncology trials with the Brown University Oncology Research Group. When her supervisor refused a cannabis trial in favor of another expensive pharmaceutical drug, Emma quit and headed across the country to Portland, OR. She founded Prismatic Paradigm so that she may help people feel empowered to find what makes them feel alive. She seeks to find some meaning in our sociopathic society through spreading knowledge of medicinal plants and allowing people the opportunity to connect with the Earth, themselves and with each other.