Consumer Education and Frequently Asked Questions

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Table of Contents

1. Warnings

Marijuana has not been analyzed or approved by the FDA. There is limited information on the side effects of marijuana, and there may be health risks associated with using marijuana.

Marijuana and marijuana products should be kept away from children and stored in such a way as to prevent access by anyone under the age of 21.

When under the influence of marijuana, driving is prohibited by M.G.L. c. 90, § 24, and machinery should not be operated.

Consumers may not sell marijuana to any other individual; only Marijuana Retailer Establishments licensed by the Commission may sell marijuana and marijuana products directly to consumers.

Selling marijuana to others is illegal and a first-time offense (under 50 pounds) may be punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment / $5,000 fine. Subsequent offenses may be punishable by up to 2.5 years imprisonment / $10,000 fine.

Possessing more than the legal limit (1 oz.) outside your home may be penalized by up to 6 months imprisonment / $500 fine.

Failure to keep marijuana and marijuana products in excess of one ounce locked up within the home may be punished by a civil penalty of up to $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana.

The civil penalty for consuming marijuana in public or smoking marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited is up to $100.

An individual may receive a civil penalty of up to $500 for having an open container of marijuana in the passenger area of a vehicle while on the road or at a place where the public has access.

An adult may not grow marijuana plants where the plants “are visible from a public place.” A violation of this section is punishable as a civil offense with a penalty not to exceed $300 and forfeiture of the marijuana.

A person who is at least 21 years of age and who cultivates more than 6 but not more than 12 marijuana plants or who possesses an amount of marijuana outside of his or her place of residence having a weight of more than 1 ounce but not more than 2 ounces shall be subject only to a civil penalty of not more than $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana not allowed.

Individuals who knowingly and intentionally supply, give, or provide marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories to a person, under 21 years of age, either for the person’s own use or for the use of the person’s parent or another person shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year or both the fine and imprisonment.

Individuals who knowingly and intentionally allow a person under 21 years of age (except for the children and grandchildren of the person charged) to possess marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year or both the fine and imprisonment.

An individual under 18-20 years of age (unless a patient with a registration card for medical use of marijuana) that purchases or tries to purchase marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100 and completion of a drug awareness program.

An individual under 18 years old that purchases or tries to purchase marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100, completion of a drug awareness program, and notification of parent or legal guardian. Failure to complete drug awareness program within one year of offense may be basis for delinquency proceedings.

An individual 18-20 years of age that alters, defaces, or otherwise falsifies identification (ID) offered as proof of age with the intent of purchasing marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100 and completion of a drug awareness program.

An individual under 18 years old that alters, defaces, or otherwise falsifies ID offered as proof of age with the intent of purchasing marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100, completion of a drug awareness program, and notification of parent or legal guardian. Failure to complete drug awareness program within one year of offense may be basis for delinquency proceedings.

Individuals who knowingly and intentionally allow a person under 21 years of age (except for the children and grandchildren of the person charged) to possess marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year or both the fine and imprisonment.

2. Product Types

The vast array of different cannabis products allows for consumers to better find a product that fits their unique body and needs.

Flower

Cannabis buds are often referred to as flower. Many consumers enjoy the ritual and history associated with flower. There are many different strains of flower available making it important to pay attention to a strain’s cannabinoid and terpene
profiles.

Onset: 0-10 Minutes Duration: 2-4 Hours

Cartridge

Cartridges contain concentrated cannabis oil used for vaping. Vaping is the process of heating cannabis to low temperatures and creating vapor without creating smoke. The majority of vape cartridges use CO2 or distillate oil as part of the extraction process and consumers are recommended to buy “pure” cartridges that do not contain fillers or additives. If interested in vaping, there are both all-in-one disposable vapes and cartridges powered by a special battery available to try.

Although vaping is similar to smoking as far as onset and duration, research is showing that vaping may be healthier for users lungs. Vaping offers greater cannabinoid efficiency with fewer potential carcinogens. It also allows for more discreet cannabis use as the scent from vapor fades quickly.

Onset: 0-10 Minutes Duration: 2-4 Hours

Edible

As medical cannabis has evolved, product manufacturers have found more and more ways to deliver THC and CBD to patients. Presently, there are many different types of items infused with cannabis such as sweet and savory food products, drinks, and capsules. Patients are consuming chocolate bars, gummies, popcorn, coffee, water and even beer infused with varying amounts of THC and CBD.

Onset: 30 Minutes-3 Hours Duration: 6-8 Hours

Extract

Extracted cannabis products come in a large variety of forms. Manufacturers use solvent and non-solvent based extraction methods to produce products of different consistencies. There are thick sticky oils, resinous bits, gooey budder and waxy waxes. Extracts offer higher potency and better flavor which makes them popular with more experienced users. Some popular types of extract include: kief, hash, shatter, budder, droppers, and crumble. 

Extracts are used in dabbing, vaping, tinctures, or to simply sprinkle over flower in a joint or bowl. Different types of extracts take effect and have different durations based on how they are consumed. Typically users notice the onset of inhalable extracts sooner than those of products taken sublingually. Products taken sublingually can have effects lasting up to 6 hours.

Onset: 0-10 Minutes Duration: 2-4 Hours

Preroll

Purchasing a preroll eliminates the hassle of separating, grinding and rolling cannabis flower into a joint. Prerolls offer consistency and portability allowing users to easily and quickly reach desired effects and outcomes. Many users report loving the ritualistic experience of smoking joints and hold a fondness for the aromas and flavors that a part of the process. Prerolls allow consumers to smoke favorite cannabis strains without much work. The effects of a flower preroll can be felt quickly after inhaling. Some users report noticing effects in as little as 5 minutes that last for up to 4 hours. Dosing a preroll is easy –take a puff and see how you feel!

Onset: 0-10 Minutes Duration: 2-4 Hours

Topical

A topical is a cannabis product (such as a lotion, cream, or balm) that is applied externally. The medicinal properties of cannabis are absorbed through the skin and are used to treat several conditions. Topicals offer consumers many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without intoxicating psychoactive effects of other delivery methods. People often use topicals to treat muscle soreness, dermatitis, localized pain, and inflammation.

Because most topicals don’t induce psychoactive effects, (though there are some high in THC that are reported to do so) it is difficult to gauge when and for how long the benefits of a cream, lotion, or ointment will last.

Onset: 15-30 Minutes Duration: 2-4 Hours

3. Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds secreted by the cannabis flower that give cannabis its effects and benefits. To date, more than 80 varieties of cannabinoids have been identified that affect humans by binding to receptors in the brain (CB-1) and body (CB-2). By far, the two most commonly discussed cannabinoids are THC and CBD.

CBD – Cannabidol

Non-psychoactive, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-convulsant, Antioxidant, Anti-psychotic, Anti-anxiety, Neuroprotective

THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol:

Psychoactive, Relaxant, Appetite stimulant, Pain relief, Drowsiness, Euphoria, Anxiety THC and CBD get the majority of the attention, but it’s important to be aware of additional cannabinoids that also play a big role in the effects of cannabis strain. Touch a tile below to learn more.

CBG, cannabigerol, is non-psychoactive and not commonly reported in cannabis potency profiles. Some refer to CBG as the mother of all cannabinoids since it is believed that it is a fundamental precursor to THC, CBD, and CBC.

 THCV, tetrahydrocannabivarin, is being investigated for perhaps being an anti-obesity agent because it appears to suppress appetite. THCV makes the effects of THC less intense for some users.

CBN, cannabinol, is created when THC is exposed to oxygen and light. Cannabis flower that is old and has not been properly stored will often show high levels of CBN.

CBC, cannabichromene, is non-psychoactive and not commonly reported in cannabis potency profiles. Researchers think most of CBC’s benefit comes via synergistic reactions with other cannabinoids. 

THCa, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a non-psychoactive annabinoid found in living or raw cannabis. THCa converts to THC as the plant dries or is heated – a process known as Decarboxylation CBDa, cannabidiolic acid, is the most common  hytocannabinoid produced by hemp varieties of cannabis. Recently, selective breeding has increased the amounts of CBDa among medicinal cannabis cultivars.

4. Terpenes

Terpenes (also called terpenoids) are organic compounds that make up essential oils and are present in flowers, trees, and plants including cannabis. They are responsible for the unique smells and flavors of different cannabis strains. while combining with cannabinoids to cause different effects

Pinene

This terpene may remind you of Christmas trees and will help decrease short-term memory loss. Pinene is present all throughout nature and is what gives an evergreen tree its unique scent.

Aroma: Early Vaporizes at: 311F Also Found In: Pine Trees

β–Caryophyllene

β–Caryophyllene is the most common terpene found in extracts and is associated with many health benefits. It is of interest to scientists because it behaves like a cannabinoid in activating CB2 receptors.

Aroma: Spicy Vaporizes at: 266F Also Found In: Black Pepper

Ocimene

Often utilized in creating fragrances, Ocimene has a floral, sweet aroma reminiscent of the outdoors. Ocimene also acts as a pheromone involved in social regulation within honey bee colonies.

Aroma: Floral Vaporizes at: 151F Also Found In: Daisies

Humulene

A close relative to the hops used in making beer, humelene has a spicy, herbal aroma. Although cannabis is often associated with wating this terpene is actually known for suppressing appetite.

Aroma: Earthy Vaporizes at: 222F Also Found In: Hops

Limonene

Often tied to euphoria and anti-depressive effects, Limonese is also believed to help with digestive issues. Limonene is abundant in citrus peels but isn’t wholly responsible for lemony scent of some strains.

Aroma: Fruity Vaporizes at: 348F Also Found In: Citrus

Linalool

Offers anti-anxiety and calming effects, especially when taken with CBD. Linalool’s anti-microbial properties are useful for both the plant and the eventual consumer.

Aroma: Floral Vaporizes at: 388F Also Found In: Lavender

Myrcene

Used in the perfume industry, Mycene relaxes muscles and increases blood-brain barrier permeability. One 7 year study determined myrcene to be the most important responsible for “couch-lock”

Aroma: Musky Vaporizes at: 332F Also Found In: Mango

Terpinolene

This terpene is often associated with sativas and offers many users the experience of mental clarity. Terpinolene has a clean, fresh aroma and is the least prevalent terpene in most strains of cannabis.

Aroma: Fruity Vaporizes at: 366F Also Found In: Apples

5. FAQ

While there is typically little to no difference in cannabis products offered at medical, recreational, or dual use dispensaries, there may be differentiation in experience, price, quantity allowed, or age restriction. Medical dispensaries require a medical cannabis permit card and patients are often subject to less or zero tax on purchases. Many states also allow patients under the age of 21 to obtain this medical card, extending access in certain situations such as cancer or epilepsy.

Any naturally occurring plant compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors. The cannabis plant produces phytocannabinoids in the form of carboxylic acids. For example, the two most popular cannabinoids THC and CBD in their acidic plant form are called THCA and CBDA, respectively. Until very recently, we thought these were only found in the cannabis plant; however, we now realize that some other plants appear to contain phytocannabinoids as well.

Since every individual is different, and there are also multiple factors to take into account, there is currently no standard dose of cannabis. We all react differently to substances. Therefore, if you are not an avid user of cannabis, your tolerance will be low and the effects will be stronger. It is important to “start low and go slow” when finding the sweet spot that achieves your desired outcome(s). Experts suggest starting with the minimum effective dose (MED) and slowly increasing as tolerance builds.

Some cannabis products can be taken sublingually, which means placed under the tongue. Common products taken sublingually are tinctures, sprays, dissolvable strips, and lozenges. These products can be placed within the mouth, specifically under the tongue, because there are a large number of blood vessels there which absorb cannabinoids. This delivery method offers rapid and effective absorption.

Historically speaking smoking cannabis is the most common delivery method and something that many associate with cannabis use. Smoking cannabis is often considered a controversial delivery method because it contains chemicals and carcinogens that are potentially harmful to your lungs. Some research has found that cannabis smokers do not appear to have an increased incidence of lung cancer. A lack of increased risk, however, does not mean no risk. Chronic cannabis smokers can develop bronchitis. Users should be aware of the risks involved with smoking and should use this method in moderation.

The aroma of cannabis flower can be attributed to its unique terpene (terpenoid) profile. Terpenes are essential oils that occur naturally in plants, trees and flowers. Throughout the growth cycle, terpenes act as a defense mechanism that deter and/or attract certain insects and animals. Once the cannabis flower is dried, cured or chemically altered, these terpenes become denatured by oxidation and are then called terpenoids. These terpenoids give off specific aromas and some cannabis strains have even become known for their unique smells.

You’ll likely hear loads of differing viewpoints on whether cannabis addiction is real or not. One thing is typically agreed upon, however, and that is — if dependency occurs, it is an addiction in psychological terms rather than in the physical sense. In comparison to harmaceuticals (many of which carry a high risk for addiction), cannabis has a significantly lower potential for adverse side effects, withdrawal and/or dependency.

The length of time varies depending on how often you use cannabis. THC is stored in the body’s fat cells and it also accumulates in the body over time. There are different ways to test for THC and some tests can locate its presence longer than others. THC appears to stay in saliva the shortest amount of time, followed by urine and then hair.

It should first be said that using cannabis responsibly and in small doses can help users avoid feeling any negative effects. Cannabis has yet to cause even one death; however, consuming too much can lead to some uncomfortable side effects. Some of these are very mild, like dry mouth and increased appetite. Other users have reported feeling dizzy or disoriented. Cannabis overdose can cause users to experience feelings of anxiety and slight paranoia.

Cannabis changes over time when it has been exposed to oxygen, heat or UV light. These changes alter the chemical compounds in cannabis (cannabinoids and terpenes) and the effects the user may experience. This is why proper storage of your cannabis is important. Aged THC, for instance, converts into the cannabinoid CBN. CBN offers an array of benefits, the most pronounced of which is its sedative effect which makes it helpful in treating insomnia.

The chemical compounds within cannabis are altered depending on which stage they are in. Cannabis flower that undergoes exposure to heat (decarboxylation) or time (has been dried and cured) has undergone a chemical change, which in turn alters its chemical makeup. Heat and time convert THCA and CBDA to THC and CBD, respectively.

The chemical compounds within cannabis are altered depending on which stage they are in. Cannabis that has been freshly-harvested, and is uncured (not dried) is flower in it’s “raw” stage. Raw flower is cannabis in its acid form and is comprised of different chemical compounds. For example, raw cannabis contains the cannabinoid THCA (among others), but when its stage is altered by undergoing heat or time (becoming dried), the cannabinoid THCA is then converted to its psychoactive neutral form, called THC.

There are a few things you can do if you find yourself experiencing any discomfort: Keep calm — breathe and remember the effects will pass. Take pure CBD to reduce feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Drink plenty of water. Lemon water has been said to help. Sleep it off — time is the best remedy. Chewing on black peppercorns is a popular, quick fix.

As cannabis products continue to advance and mature, new forms of concentrates and extracts become popular. This is a direct result of the many and varied extraction processes for the cannabis plant. Many consumers enjoy the therapeutic benefits associated with these products because of their potent amount of cannabinoids, and now there are plenty of options when it comes to concentrates/extracts and their consumption methods.

Terpenes and cannabinoids work together to achieve a wide range of health benefits. This synergistic interaction is often referred to as the Entourage Effect, which magnifies the benefits of the individual components of the plant. In short, the impact of the entire plant is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, since terpenes and CBD are able to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC, it is thought that the use of the whole plant can amplify the medicinal benefits of cannabis while simultaneously mitigating anxiety induced by high levels of THC.

Interestingly, the studying of the cannabis plant is what led to the discovery of the human Endocannabinoid System, which is responsible for establishing and maintaining our health and affects almost every system in our bodies, which is why cannabis can treat an array of symptoms. This system helps regulate sleep, appetite, digestion, hunger, mood, motor control, immune functioning, reproduction, fertility, pleasure and reward, pain, memory, and temperature regulation.\r\n \r\nEndocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout our bodies, but no matter where they are, they have the same driving force: homeostasis (aka keeping us from getting all out of whack). The cannabinoids found in cannabis assist in correcting deficiencies and restoring balance to our bodies (and minds).

Surprisingly, there are currently many options for those who would like to benefit from the healing properties of cannabis yet aren’t comfortable with too much psychoactivity. A great place to start would be CBD-rich products since CBD is non-intoxicating but offers plenty of medical benefits.. You can begin by exploring high CBD to THC ratio products, like an 18:1 CBD:THC tincture, for example. Eventually, once tolerance is built, higher THC ratios could be less likely to produce psychoactive effects while still benefiting from THC’s healing properties.

There are more consumption methods than ever these days. Some may be considered healthier than others (i.e. vaping over smoking flower), but there truly is no “best” or “one size fits all” method. What way you prefer will be based on evaluating convenience, strength, healthfulness, onset and duration. Since there is such a wide range of options, you can explore each and pick a favorite or two, or tailor your consumption method based on the situation. Also, there are plenty of ways to be discreet about your cannabis use, if need be!

Labs test cannabis for two main reasons: to make sure the products are safe for consumption and to let consumers know about the potency of the products they’re using. The test results ensure that there are no pesticides or other chemicals present as well as accurately gauging the chemical composition of cannabinoids and terpenes. Interestingly, since cannabis is influenced by many environmental factors, two strains with the same name that weren’t grown under the same conditions can have different levels of each compound.

Cannabis strains are different variations of genetic profiles. They often have creative names, like “Durban Poison” or “Pineapple Express”, and have their own cannabinoid and terpene profiles that cause certain effects. Currently, many have lumped strains into three categories – like “indica” (restful), “sativa” (alert), or “hybrid” (balanced). This is a very general concept since the best way to anticipate how you’ll feel is by knowing what that strain is composed of. THC and CBD potency is a good place to start!

The truth is that every individual has unique body systems that cannabis can affect slightly differently. Although there are general common effects that you can expect, there are additional variables to consider that can affect your experience. Cannabis composition

– What cannabinoids and terpenes are present, and in what levels. Delivery method – How cannabis is consumed can change the onset and duration times. How are CBD and THC different? Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most prevalent chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Although they are both cannabinoids, they produce different effects. The biggest of these differences is that THC is psychoactive, whereas CBD is considered non-intoxicating.

6. Substance Abuse Resources

From helplinema.org:

It can be hard to admit and accept that you or someone you love has a problem with substance use. Understanding how alcohol or other drugs affect you or a loved one is an important first step toward getting better.

Here are some common signs and symptoms of substance use disorder:

  • Losing control and judgment, especially when it comes to substances (drinking/using more than you meant to, for longer than you meant to)
  • Taking risks
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, at work, or in relationships
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Disconnecting from friends and loved ones
  • Not taking care of your health or hygiene
  • Hiding activities, injuries, or how much alcohol or other drugs you used
  • Tolerating more and more of the substance to get the same effect
  • Drinking or using other drugs even when it has a negative impact
  • Needing to use to feel OK
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use alcohol or other drugs. This can include anxiety, shakiness, sweating, nausea and/or vomiting, depression, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms.

 

If you are struggling with addiction, call The Massachusetts Substance Abuse Helpline at 800.327.5050 8am-10pm Mon-Fri, and 8am-6pm weekends. You may also visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website to find treatment near you at www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment