Thursday, November 30, 2023

Budtenders suggest taking slow approach to cannabis

By Brittany Whalen

            Since the legalization of adult-use cannabis in New York State as of March 2021 for adults 21 and over, there has been a broad spectrum of products released on the market for recreational use. This leads first-time cannabis consumers to wonder: Where do I start? What products will work best for me? How will I feel?

            Dank 716, the first adult-use dispensary to open on the West side at 501 Main St, has been leading the charge to create a friendly and educational environment for the most experienced cannabis consumers to first-time consumers.

            “Purchase from a legal dispensary. Start low and go slow. We want you to have a good first experience,” Dank 716 Budtender Dan McCormick says.

            With many products on the market such as pre-rolled joints, vape cartridges, and edibles, the options to “start low and go slow” can be extremely overwhelming. Yancy Matos, Dank 716 budtender,  says dividing an edible into smaller doses is an important step to “start low and go slow.”

            “If you purchase a 10-mm gummy, cut it into fourths. Take one-fourth, which is approximately 2.5 mm, and see how you feel,” Matos says.

            Anywhere between a half of a milligram to 5 mm is considered a micro-dose. Edibles such as gummies, chocolates, chews, drinks, and tinctures are available to purchase and are a good option for first-time cannabis consumers who do not want to inhale or smoke cannabis.

            The rules of micro-dosing cannabis for first-time consumers are a staple in other areas of practice. Daniel Ryszka, a New York State pharmacist working in the local cannabis industry, says divisible dosing is a necessary step in the process.

            “Dividing doses, such as splitting a 5-milligram gummy into halves or quarters, is close to taking between 1-2 milligrams of THC. Make sure to take half or a quarter of the gummy while at home. Do not go anywhere or drive anywhere. After about an hour, walk around and see how you feel,” Ryszka says.

            For the first-time cannabis consumer who wants to try flower, aka the cannabis plant, there are products available with lower THC contents that can be inhaled.

“It’s all about how the cannabis is grown. Outdoor-grown cannabis will have a lower THC profile, but the flower will have a better flavor when smoked,” says Miranda Sherman, cultivator and consultant of local cannabis farms.

Sherman encourages consumers to take THC breaks to help with THC receptor sensitivity. The market leans towards higher THC percentages but Sherman says there’s a market for lower THC percentage products.

“I think sales are driven by higher THC potency, but pricing is more friendly to a lower THC potency,” Sherman says.

Safety and guidance are incredibly important for cannabis consumers regardless of medical status. New York State pharmacist, Ryszka, says listening to your medical provider is crucial.

“If a patient has a particular issue, they need to speak with their provider about a proper cannabis product. I want to emphasize to speak with your pharmacist and provider,” Ryszka says.

As for non-medical patients, the rules of safety are still crucial for an enjoyable experience for adult-users.

“Listen to your budtenders. When you purchase from a legal dispensary, you’re going to know what the THC contents are,” McCormick says.

The New York State Office of Cannabis Management provides further information on topics such as general education, home cultivation, and health effects.