There’s no one size-fits-all formula to consuming cannabis, and now with recreational use cannabis strains about to become available across Canada, there’s never been a better time to start taking stock of what you’re smoking, vaping, and eating.
Unlike alcohol, which generally produces predictable results (based on volume and body weight), the effects of cannabis are not only unique to each person’s endocannabinoid system but some cannabinoids are also biphasic, meaning different doses of the same product can produce different results.
Such variables are the reason why packaging laws in countries such as Canada restrict definitive claims when it comes to effectiveness. With descriptive information absent and only technical specs like strain name, type, and ratios provided, it’s left to consumers to weed out what they’re looking for and what works best for them. Taking notes – literally – can be helpful when trying to pinpoint your own personal sweet spot and curate desired effects for specific occasions.
Cannabis journals can be especially useful tools when establishing your own personal baseline. The highly personal exercise can be as easy as putting pen to paper, but there are also templates, apps, and even smartphone-synced devices meant to glean insights, inform future purchases, and gently guide you towards the best experience for the moment.
Karen King, founder of the lifestyle brand Calm & Good, has been charting her cannabis consumption with the aid of a Goldleaf Taster’s journal simply for the purpose of cultivating an appreciation for different producers, strains, and products on the market.
After several sessions mapping out tasting notes on a flavour wheel, King describes how her “favourite strains seem to have a similar shape,” and the self-discovery that her preferences lean towards earthy, spicy and musky terpenes rather than citrus, fruit, and pine flavours. “I’m starting now to see patterns that will help steer me towards those kinds of strains in the future,” she says.
Perhaps more valuable still is evaluating how different strains, THC/CBD ratios, and methods of consumption can cause different results. For those interested in taking a more scientific approach, smartphone-synced devices like the MyDx Analyzer can detect levels of THC, CBD, terpenes and “400+ chemicals within cannabis that impact the mind and body,” but the process needn’t be so hi-tech to be informative.
Writer and editor Ama Scriver credits journaling with giving her a better sense of “what works, and what doesn’t,” but also “when to not go past that threshold.” Scriver logs her experiences via informal descriptions like “’feeling floaty’, ‘wanted a nap’, ‘felt super anxious…’ because “that was the language that I could identify with.” The idea was to “trigger some of the senses I was thinking/feeling in that moment.”
If words are still too cumbersome, do like Toronto chef Nathan Middleton, who used stickers to rate and remember which vape pens he liked best. Rather than taking rigorous notes, Middleton developed a colour-coded system corresponding to a chart to distinguish between products that gave him a “body high” and “head high.”
Regardless of whether you take a hi-fi or lo-fi approach, the idea of reflective writing is to be less passive in your individual cannabis consumption. Consider the results like your own personal roadmap – the collected info can be used as a reference when consulting your budtender and can set expectations for when trying out new strains.
Story by Sammi Green
Graphic by Andrew Cooper
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