Cannabis 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Welcome to cannabis 101! This is an introductory article for those new to the cannabis world. In this post, we will cover all of the basics: what cannabis is, the different components in it, its history, how it works in the body, consumption methods, and best practices. We know that there is a lot of information out there on cannabis, and it can be overwhelming. So we have tried to compile everything you need to know into one easy-to-read guide!

Cannabis History and Prohibition

How long have people been using cannabis? All we can say is that the clock keeps taking us farther back in time. Recently, THC was found in ancient pots in tombs over 2,500 years old.

Even more interesting is that chemical analysis of those pots also found evidence of THC in much higher concentrations than wild cannabis. This suggests that the civilization that built these tombs bred cannabis for higher concentrations of THC. Why? One hypothesis is that this special weed was grown to open a communication channel with the divine and the souls of the dead buried there.

Weed was also a fact of life way back in the day in the good old U.S. of A. George Washington himself grew hemp. Abe Lincoln said his favorite thing to do was to sit on his porch and smoke sweet hemp, playing his harmonica. Sounds like good times, and it was. Cannabis was even legal and used medicinally without issue until the Mexican Revolution ended in 1920. This event spurred a large influx of Mexican Immigrants. Cannabis was a part of their culture.

When was Cannabis First Outlawed in the U.S.?

White politicians who opposed this Mexican immigration were the first to fire up the cannabis propaganda machine, calling it “Locoweed” to vilify cannabis and the Mexican immigrants who used it. By 1913, California outlawed the plant. By the 1930s, 29 states had banned cannabis, and the yellow journalism of William Randolph Hurst fanned the flames by depicting cannabis as a drug that drove African-Americans and Mexicans to lives of crime.

Reefer Madness, Marihuana Tax Act & the Controlled Substances Act

The propaganda reached a fever pitch when the film “Reefer Madness” was released in 1936. Congress responded by passing the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, effectively banning cannabis at the federal level. But the mushroom cloud in the “war on drugs” hit in 1970, when Nixon went nuclear with the Controlled Substances Act. The Act established a federal law criminalizing drugs.

Despite scant evidence, cannabis was placed on Schedule I dangerous drugs with no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Most of Nixon’s decision was likely motivated by his fear of the Black Panthers and rebellious hippie culture. He criminalized cannabis to control these groups he saw as threats.

The Impact of the War on Drugs

This federal law radically accelerated the rate of arrests and incarceration for non-violent cannabis offenders. Three strikes rules and mandatory minimums only worsened the gross injustice. But what made these policies absolutely appalling was pervasive racial targeting in how they were enforced. 

The U.S. used these laws to incarcerate African American men at four times the rate of black men in South Africa under apartheid. These laws were a complete failure. Not only did they not achieve their stated goal, but they ruined countless lives and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Is Cannabis Legal Now?

In 1996, California was the first state to wake from this nightmare and legalize medical cannabis. Since then, 37 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have some form of recreational or medical cannabis law. In addition, some municipalities have provided social equity programs to benefit those disproportionately impacted by unjust drug laws.

Despite this progress, cannabis remains on Schedule I, federally illegal, and thousands of people remain locked in cages for using a plant that benefits humanity. So the progress feels good, but a lot of war is still left to fight.

The U.S. used these laws to incarcerate African American men at four times the rate of black men in South Africa under apartheid. These laws were a complete failure. Not only did they not achieve their stated goal, but they ruined countless lives and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

What Is Cannabis?

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Cannabis is a plant, but that doesn’t even begin to describe all it is. Cannabis affects every part of our lives. There’s so much to learn about this sacred plant it can feel overwhelming. So let’s start with the basics.

The Cannabis Plant

Cannabis is a flowering plant in the Cannabaceae family, which includes three primary species: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Various hybrid cultivars are created when Sativa, Indica, or Ruderalis are bred with each other. This practice makes endless unique cultivars with different cannabinoid profiles and effects. 

These plants are characterized by their distinctive cannabis flowers, which contain high concentrations of cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are the psychoactive and therapeutic compounds in cannabis. THC is the primary cannabinoid in cannabis that produces mind-altering effects, or what we refer to as the “high.” Conversely, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that offers many potential therapeutic benefits with none of the intoxication.

To date, 113 cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis. A short list includes:

  • THC: A psychoactive cannabinoid that makes you feel “high.”
  • CBD: A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that may reduce inflammation and anxiety.
  • CBN: A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that may relieve chronic muscle pain.
  • CBC:  A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that may assist with neurogenesis.
  • THCV: A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that may help manage weight in diabetics.

Though these are some of the most well-known cannabinoids, cannabis contains many other chemical compounds, including terpenes, flavonoids, and over 500 different types of phytonutrients.

What are Terpenes? 

Terpenes are the essential oils in cannabis that play a role in aroma, flavor, and effect. There are approximately 400 known terpenes in cannabis, but you won’t find them in every cultivar. Some commonly found terpenes include:

  • Linalool
  • Pinene
  • Myrcene
  • Phytol

This means that different cannabis strains have different balances of over 100 cannabinoids and 400 terpenes. These unique blends interact with your endocannabinoid system to create unique effects.

What is the EndoCannabinoid System? 

Cannabinoids and terpenes interact with the receptor system for cannabinoids in every human: The Endocannabinoid System. This system is a network of receptors and neurotransmitters throughout the body that helps regulate things like mood, memory, pain, and appetite.

Yes, you heard that right. We all have an endocannabinoid system that is directly influenced by the cannabinoids in cannabis.

While that may be the most fun fact in fun fact history, here’s where things get tricky. While we all have an endocannabinoid system, different users experience cannabis differently. While a particular strain of weed may give some insight into its effects, hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes influence each user’s individual endocannabinoid system. This means that what works for you might not work for me. But don’t worry. It’s all good. In the modern cannabis landscape, there’s literally something for everyone.

What are the Different Cannabis Strains?

We’ve covered much of this, so you already have a solid foundation. But are you ready to go deep?

In the broadest sense, we have Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid cannabis strains that mix and match. Different farms or brands may specialize in different cultivars and are always breeding to come up with the next big thing. Some cultivators or farmers may focus on fire sativa strains like Jack Herrer, while others focus on gassy OG’s. This is important because, eventually, you will figure out which farms or brands grow the weed that hits your sweet spot.

There’s a lot of debate about whether Indica, Sativa and Hybrid are valid ways to classify cannabis. The truth is that the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of cultivars are what actually cause the effects. Nevertheless, we can think of Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid as a sort of shorthand for the effects we are looking for.

  • Indica: You want to smoke these strains to relax, chill out, and maybe watch some Netflix.
  • Sativa: These are the strains you want to smoke when you want to be productive, creative, or get outside and explore.
  • Hybrid: These strains mix Indica and Sativa.

So while these terms aren’t perfect, they are a helpful way to think about cannabis.

Cannabis Consumption Methods

While we’ll get the canna goodies soon, it’s essential to understand how cannabis is consumed.

There are three main ways to consume cannabis: smoking, vaporizing, and consuming edibles. Each method has its own pros and cons that we’ll explore in depth.

  • Smoking: The most common way to consume cannabis is by smoking it. This can be done with a pipe, bong, joint, or blunt. While this is the most popular method, it’s also the least efficient, as some of the cannabis is lost in smoke.
  • Vaporizing: The second most popular way to consume cannabis is by vaporizing it. This can be done with a vaporizer, vape pen, e-cigarette, or cannabis cartridge. Vaporizing is more efficient than smoking because it doesn’t involve combustion.
  • Edibles: The third most popular way to consume cannabis is by consuming edibles. Edibles are cannabis-infused foods or drinks that can be made at home or purchased at a dispensary. This also technically includes sublingual cannabis products like cannabis-infused oils and tinctures.

Depending on your needs, one method may be better than the others. For example, edibles might be a better option if you want to consume cannabis for medical purposes because they provide long-lasting relief.

What are the Different Types of Cannabis Products?

In the contemporary cannabis landscape, the different products span a breathtakingly broad range.

Cannabis Flower

Flower refers to the dried bud of the female cannabis plant. Cannabis may be smoked in a hand-rolled joint, a pre-roll, a pipe, a bong…or in desperate situations, from an apple, soda can, or toilet paper roll. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Cannabis Concentrate

This is a “concentrated” form of cannabis made using a solvent like butane or another mechanical process to strip the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material to make wax, shatter, sauce, or even diamonds.

Cannabis Edibles

Cannabis edibles are food infused with cannabis, like cookies, brownies, gummies, or even beef jerky. Yes, beef jerky.

Cannabis Drinks

You can drink cannabis in an infused beer, wine, seltzer, syrup, or powdered mix. So refreshing and a great happy hour alternative.

Cannabis Capsules and Tablets

Capsules and tablets are cannabis-infused versions of our favorite over-the-counter medicines. Many come in effect-specific ratios and precise dosages, so you know exactly what you take every time.

Cannabis Tincture

You can take cannabis sublingually with tincture. These also offer precise ratios and dosage by a measured eye dropper.

Cannabis Topicals

Cannabis may also be applied topically in lotions, creams, or balms to massage away those aches and muscle pains.

With so many cannabis products on the market, it’s important to research and figure out what works best for you. 

Recreational and Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

Cannabis has been used for centuries for both recreational and medicinal purposes. The recreational use of cannabis refers to the use of cannabis for its psychoactive effects. The medicinal use of cannabis refers to the use of cannabis to treat or alleviate symptoms of a medical condition.

In recent years, the medicinal use of cannabis has become more prevalent as a growing body of scientific evidence has emerged supporting its therapeutic potential. Similarly, the push for recreational cannabis legalization has gained momentum as more people have come to see cannabis as a harmless source of enjoyment.

Whatever your needs, it’s good to know a little bit about cannabis and the different ways cannabis helps humanity.

Recreational Cannabis Use 

For reasons ranging from recreational to spiritual, people use cannabis to attain a higher state of consciousness. Some might use it for creativity, trying to find a connection with the divine, or even just plain old relaxation and sleep. People have also stated that it makes intimacy more enjoyable. As an added bonus, it’s much healthier than consuming alcohol if you’re looking for something to sip. Ultimately, do what feels right for you — a judgment-free zone here!

Medicinal Cannabis Use

In terms of medicinal use, The emerging science also shows that cannabis may help treat a wide variety of conditions and symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Neurodegenerative disease (i.e., ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s)

The list goes on and on. In fact, cannabis is being studied for its potential to treat an ever-growing number of conditions and symptoms.

Suppose you’re considering cannabis for a medical condition. In that case, we recommend that you consult your physician, and if your state has medical cannabis laws, refer to them to determine what conditions qualify you to be a patient.

How Do I Choose the Right Cannabis Strain for Me?

Mindset is key here. Relax. Understand and accept that this is a process, and keep these things in mind throughout that process:

  1. What kind of effect are you looking for? A chill Indica? An up Sativa? Something in between? Let your budtender know.
  2. It helps to be curious. Ask your budtender questions. There are no bad ones. They’ve heard them all. That’s what they’re there for. 
  3. Try different things. Go slow. Be patient. Have fun with it. There are no wrong choices. Your experience with cannabis is like life: it’s a journey, not a destination. The point is to enjoy it. Every step. Every toke.
  4. If you’re on the fence, it’s a great idea to give that weed a sniff. The nose knows. If it smells good to you, it will likely feel good to you.
  5. Do your research. Read cannabis blogs (ahem) to learn terminology and find out what’s popular. But don’t get too caught up in it. At the end of the day, cannabis is cannabis. You’ll find your own way.

The great thing about cannabis is that there’s something for everyone. It all comes down to what you’re looking for and doing your research.


Is cannabis addictive?

Cannabis Use Disorder is a real thing, but it’s not physically addictive in the same way that alcohol or opiates are. Heavy cannabis users may have difficulty stopping, but it’s more of a psychological addiction than anything else.

What are cannabis withdrawal symptoms?

Cannabis withdrawal symptoms are typically mild and include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia 

These symptoms usually peak within the first week of quitting and dissipate after two or three weeks.

How long does cannabis stay in your system?

Cannabis can stay in your system for up to 30 days, but the amount of time it takes to clear your system depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • How much cannabis you use
  • How often you use cannabis
  • Your body fat percentage
  • Your metabolism

Are there negative health consequences with cannabis?

Dr. Kevin Hill of Harvard Medical School warns that: cannabis can have harmful consequences for young users, including a loss of IQ points and worsening depression or anxiety. However, he emphasizes that these effects are only seen in heavy, chronic users.

Does the way cannabis is consumed change its effects?

In a word, yes. When cannabis is inhaled as smoke or vapor, it is absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs and passed directly into the bloodstream. Similarly, sublingual and transdermal dosing also pass cannabinoids and terpenes directly into the bloodstream. 

Contrast this with edibles — when we eat or drink weed, it passes through our gastrointestinal system to our liver. This process takes much longer for the onset of effect. The liver also metabolizes THC into a more potent compound: 11-hydroxy-THC. 11-hydroxy-THC slaps hard, with a long-lasting high that settles deep in the body.

Say Hello And Grab Your Goods!

Hello Cannabis is proud to offer the Vista, CA community a safe and welcoming space to purchase cannabis products. Our knowledgeable staff is here to answer any questions and help you find the perfect cannabis product for your needs. So, stop by and say hello today!