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Ask a Budtender: Back to Basics

In our inaugural column, we talked with a budtender from Cookie’s Melrose in Los Angeles about the basics of picking pot

A budtender (right) shows cannabis buds to a customer at the Green Pearl Organics dispensary on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in California, January 1, 2018 at the Green Pearl Organics marijuana dispensary in Desert Hot Springs, California. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

In legal states, dispensary clerks have become the de-facto experts on modern weed products and how to use them — offering everything from recommendations on the kind of flower you should smoke to the best vape system to fit your particular needs. Yet for the rest of us, in non-legal states, the options for helpful interactions are few and far between. That’s why we’re starting this monthly column where we ask the budtenders the sticky questions — so you don’t have to. For our inaugural post (which was also featured in our first annual “Weed Issue,” on stands now) we talked with V, a budtender at Cookies Melrose in Los Angeles, so she could tell us how best to get high.

How can I avoid getting paranoid when I smoke?
I’d recommend a hybrid that tests high in CBD. In our bodies, we have something called the endocannabinoid system, receptors that connect cannabinoids to influence the serotonin levels in our brain. And if our system becomes imbalanced and we’re missing the CBD, we can experience anxiety and stress. By taking CBD, we’re filling those receptors and allowing us to balance that out.

What’s the difference between vaping and smoking?
Vapes generally have a concentration of 60 to 90 percent THC, but flower is normally around 13 to 20 percent, sometimes 30 — but for the most part you’re only smoking the concentrates, so you can just take a few hits on vape and you can feel stoned. Whereas with flower, you probably have to smoke a little bit more, and you’re also smoking the fats and lipids that are in the plant.

Which is better?
I think it all depends on the person. If you’re trying to just smoke purely THC, then vapes are the way to go. Personally, I love rolling a joint. I just think it’s part of the lifestyle of being a stoner, you know? I love having a vape around for when I’m traveling and I don’t have the resources to roll a joint. But anybody who has a job where smoking cannabis could affect their employment, I would recommend using a vape. It’s much more discreet.

What’s the most common question you hear?
Probably which strain has the most THC. And this is where I take the time to educate people — it’s not always about the THC content. When you go get a drink at the bar, you never ask for Everclear — no one enjoys drinking Everclear — but that’s the highest alcohol content. What really ­influences someone’s high is actually going to be [the THC content] paired with the terpene profile in the cannabis.

Wait, what are terpenes?
Terpenes are pretty much just essential oils. For example, there’s limonene, which will give you a refreshing feeling, more energy. Pure THC will get you stoned, but the terpene profile influences how you feel. And because everybody’s body is different, each terpene profile will influence someone’s high differently. I recommend people smell the flower and see what [their] body reacts to. Choose based off that.

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