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Five questions to ask when visiting a retail marijuana shop for the first time

A great shop:Green Theory in Bellevue
So you’ve decided to visit a retail marijuana shop. Welcome to the new world! If this is your first experience you may be overwhelmed by the variety available. Even if you’re an experienced user, shopping at a pot retailer may be the first time you’ve been able to choose a particular product or strain, and there’s a lot to know. Here are five questions to ask when you visit your local marijuana retailer.

Is it organic?

As with food or anything else you consume, it’s best to know how your marijuana was grown and harvested. So a good first question is whether it was grown organically. That means using all-natural compost and healthy, nutrient-rich soil, and avoiding synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Organic farming also encourages soil and water conservation while reducing pollution and farm waste. The result is a product that smells, tastes, and smokes better, and one you can feel good about buying and using because it’s sustainable.

Where is it from and how was it grown?

This is a follow-up question to the one above. As the name suggests, sungrown means grown outdoors under the sun. This is in contrast to marijuana grown indoors using artificial light and climate control such as humidifiers and air conditioning. Along with being healthier, sungrown marijuana uses significantly less energy. Indoor grows are massive electricity hogs that have a huge environmental footprint. A reasonable estimate is that about a half-ton of coal (or 400 pounds of natural gas) is required to produce less than one pound of marijuana. If a healthy environment and product matters to you, ask for sungrown by name.

What strain do I want?

There are two primary strains of cannabis, sativa and indica. (Other strains exist, including hybrids, but here we’ll focus on the two big ones.) Each type induces different effects. Generally speaking, indica gives you a strong body high and makes you mellow and want to melt into the couch. It’s often used for insomnia and is a good pain reliever, which is why many medicinal marijuana patients choose it.

Sativa creates a more energetic, euphoric, and cerebral experience. It’s also known to stimulate focus and creativity, and is better suited to daytime use since it doesn’t usually make users as tired as indica.

How strong is the marijuana?

Now that you know the difference between sativa and indica, the next step is talking about THC content. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis. Basically, the stuff that gets you high. The amount of THC determines its strength. The THC in most strains available in Washington state stores ranges from 10-25%. Novice users should start at the low end to see what’s best for them. All products in stores will have the THC content available either on the packaging, or with the budtender.

What is the difference between buds, edibles, and other infused products?

In a word, potency. Eating a cookie, brownie, candy, or something similar can be much more intoxicating than smoking the buds (also called flowers). Digesting it can also take 30-90 minutes to take effect, so be aware that you don’t eat too much. Oils, waxes, or other extracts are similarly powerful and should be taken only in small doses.

Whatever your experience level, hopefully the information above will be useful when you visit your local store. Remember, moderation is the key to a good experience. Enjoy responsibly!


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