People use cannabis for many different reasons.  Some are looking to experience intentional effects of increased relaxation, creativity or energy, and others are simply looking for a safe and legal way to appreciate the intoxicating experience some cannabis strands offer.

Whatever your reason, it is important to consider both your biological makeup, as well as your personal goals and expectations when trialing different products, as the effects of cannabis are highly individualized. Physiological factors such as genetics, gender, age and body type play a vital and important role in how cannabis will affect you. As well, non-physical matters such as personality, mood at the time of consumption and existing mental health conditions should also be noted to determine if a cannabis trial is more helpful or harmful.

Finally, you should determine your own personal goals, desires and expectations when trialing cannabis. Whether your goal is to experience a deeper sense of relaxation, calmness or creativity, understanding your desired outcome will help you to choose the right strain and consumption method of cannabis for you. Cannabis directly interacts with the brain and central nervous system, and no two individuals have the same physiological makeup or goals and expectations. Therefore, cannabis products can, and do, affect individuals differently.

Once you have determined your goals for trialing cannabis, it is time to consider other factors when deciding on the right cannabis products for you. The following are important considerations to think about: 

Strain Type

Each strain – or breed – of cannabis is defined by its own unique appearance, odour and effects. There are three main strains sold in Ontario, including:

Indica – a species of cannabis that originates from the Hindu Kush mountain range within Afghanistan and Pakistan. In appearance and growth, Cannabis Indica plants tend to be bushier than their Sativa counterpart, and are often described as having relaxing, calming effects.

Sativa – a species of cannabis that originates from South America, the Caribbean and Africa. These plants are normally taller and slimmer than their Indica counterpart, and Cannabis Sativa strains are often described as having stimulating, energizing effects on both the mind and body.  

Hybrid – a cannabis plant that is a genetic cross between two or more strains. Many cannabis strains on the market today are hybrid, so investigating these strains’ THC and CBD profiles may help you better anticipate the kinds of effects you may experience from them.

THC Content

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that is primarily responsible for the intoxicating effects associated with cannabis. In general, the higher the THC level, the greater potential and likelihood for intoxication.

Cannabis is packaged with clear and consistent labelling and a product’s THC potency is expressed as a percentage: For instance, “a product that is labelled 15% THC means that THC makes up 15% (or 150 milligrams per gram) of the total cannabis content.”   It is important to understand the label and THC percentage of your product, and when in doubt, opt for lower THC content to start out.

CBD Content

Cannabidiol (CBD) is also a cannabinoid that can affect your mind and body; however, it is generally not intoxicating and even has the potential to offset the effects of THC when combined together in similar amounts.  If you prefer a minimally psychoactive experience, consider CBD-only products or those with a high ratio of CBD to THC. You can learn more about CBD here.


Terpenes are fragrant molecules that are actually found in all plants, but are particularly abundant in cannabis. There are over 100 terpenes in cannabis that produce unique combinations of flavours and aromas. The tastes and smells of the terpenes in cannabis products range from woodsy to spicy to citrusy sweet, giving each cannabis strain its own unique flavour and aroma profile.  While studies are still underway to better understand how terpenes might play a role in affecting a person’s cannabis experience, they can still be a useful tool in cannabis trialing. Discovering which aromas and flavours are appealing to your nose can be a great starting point or guide in determining which cannabis products might be best for you.

Consumption Method

Different methods of consumption affect you in different ways because of how the cannabinoids enter your bloodstream. This difference is most obvious in the timing of the onset and the duration of the effect.

  • Inhalation (smoking or vaping) generally has a 5-15 minutes onset and a 4 to 6-hour duration, with potential residual effects lasting up to 6 to 8 hours.
  • Ingestion (eating or drinking) generally has a 30 minute to 3-hour onset, with potential residual effects lasting up to 8 to 12 hours.

It is important to be aware that consumption with a quick onset may have a shorter acting time, while consumption with a slow onset may have longer acting time. Be sure to wait an appropriate amount of time to gauge the level of effect.

Consumption Amount

With cannabis, a little can go a long way especially for beginners. Be sure to always follow manufacturer instructions and take your time to gauge your reaction and help control your experience. Even if you choose a lower-potency product, if you over consume, you are more likely to experience unpleasant, negative or harmful effects. This is why it is advisable to start with a very small amount and consume it slowly.

When you begin experimenting with different cannabis strains and combinations to achieve your desired state based on your personal goals, it is important to monitor yourself and your reactions to each trial.  Remember, no two individuals have the same physiological makeup, therefore cannabis products can, and do, affect individuals differently. If you are new to consuming cannabis, consider starting at very low THC and CBD levels as you learn how your body responds.  Document how you feel both physically and mentally before and after each new trial and use this information as a map to determine the best combination for you. 

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