On June 25, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, making Illinois the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational cannabis. (Washington, D.C., has also legalized recreational marijuana.)
When Illinois and Michigan begin allowing recreational marijuana sales in 2020, around 70 million adults will be able to legally shop for recreational marijuana products.
So if you’re new to shopping for cannabis products, don’t worry. We’re here to help you navigate one the fastest-growing sectors in the American economy.
The Cowen Group forecasts a $75 billion global sales number for cannabis by 2030!
You have a lot of choices in today’s cannabis market. But don’t let the jargon intimidate you.
First, buying pot products is supposed to be fun (or at least interesting). And second, it’s not as complicated as it seems.
You typically have a choice between three types of products – THC dominant, CBD dominant and THC/CBD blend (don’t worry, we’ll explain these terms below).
These products typically take similar forms – gummies, concentrates, “flower” strains and topical creams.
So read on. And enjoy your introductory guide to buying marijuana products.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant. It’s the compound (and product) that gives people the “high” sensation.
THC induces euphoria. It has a variety of other effects on people, including relaxation, anxiety reduction and pain relief.
The cannabis industry typically markets two types of marijuana – cannabis indica and cannabis sativa.
Cannabis indica is believed to relax the body by increasing dopamine levels. Users also experience muscle relaxation and nausea relief. Indica strains are typically used at night due to their relaxing effects.
Cannabis sativa is believed to be the opposite of the indica plant. Cannabis sativa creates a “mind high.” This stimulating effect on the body fights anxiety and can serve as an antidepressant. Sativa’s effects allow users to consume it during the day.
Some scientists say there is no distinction between cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. But at this point, this is how marijuana is marketed.
For THC fans looking for where to begin, these are the products for you.
Most Popular Beginner Cannabis Indica Strands
- Granddaddy Purple:This berry-colored bud provides a mix of happiness and relaxation.
- Bubba Kush: This strain has a coffee-like taste and helps relieve bodily pain.
- Northern Lights: This indica has a spicy aroma and creates a feeling of comfortable laziness.
Note that these three products are typically smoked.
Most Prominent Cannabis Sativa Brands
- Sour Diesel: Known as “Sour D,” this strain relieves users from stress, pain and depression.
- Lemon Haze: This sativa has a lemon flavor along with a yellowish tint.
These two products are also typically smoked.
Concentrates and Extracts
The use of concentrates has also become more popular in the past couple of years.
Concentrates are formed by using solvents to extract 40% to 80% of the plant’s THC. Consumers use concentrates to get a more immediate and intense high.
And some of the most popular THC-dominant concentrates on the market are made by Viola.
Viola was founded by former NBA first-round pick Al Harrington. Harrington started Viola in 2011 while he was still playing in the league. Harrington saw how marijuana helped treat his grandmother’s glaucoma and then decided to move into the industry. And he named his startup Viola after his grandmother.
Harrington also has firsthand experience with the power of medical marijuana. Harrington contracted a staph infection while getting surgery to repair his meniscus. It took several surgeries over the course of two weeks to battle the infection and fix his knee. And at the end of those surgeries, Harrington decided to try THC and CBD treatments to aid his recovery. Harrington says after that day, he never touched pharmaceutical pain medicine again and manages his pain exclusively through medical marijuana.
Viola has operations in four states – California, Colorado, Oregon and Michigan. The company has more than 70 employees. And it plans on expanding into Nevada and Arizona shortly.
Viola sells concentrate vape cartridges for consumers who prefer a smokeless method. Customers can also purchase straight Viola extracts that are collected from the flower’s essential oils.
Viola’s extracts come in both shatter and live resin forms. Shatter is a translucent concentrate derived from a butane extraction process. Resin, on the other hand, is formed using a freezing process on the cannabis plant. Both can be vaped or dabbed.
Another way to use THC is through topical products. Topicals are creams and lotions that you can rub into your skin. The topicals we list here have high THC levels designed to address specific pains.
Most topical products don’t create a high since the THC is absorbed by the skin and does not reach the bloodstream (transdermal patches are the exception to this rule).
But these easy-to-use products are in high demand for people with aches.
The most popular topical is the Mary Jane’s Medicinals salve.
Mary Jane’s Medicinals’ cannabis-infused salve comes in a variety of scents, including lavender, peppermint and orange. Each scent offers different healing properties. The THC in the salve helps soothe aching joints and sore muscles. And the salve’s smooth texture allows it to be easily absorbed by the skin. Mary Jane’s salve also won the “High Times Cannabis Cup” for best topical in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
A popular skin care topical is Liddies Coffee Scrub.
Liddies Coffee Scrub has nothing to do with pain relief. Instead, you use it to exfoliate your skin. The THC in the scrub is provided by THC-infused organic coconut oil. And the THC promotes better blood circulation. So for smooth skin and better circulation, this is the product for you.
The marijuana industry has found a huge fan base with edible products. It generally takes between one and three hours to feel the effects of these products.
A popular type of gummy is KushyPunch strawberry sativa gummy.
Gummy candies are among the most popular edibles due to their sweet and sugary taste. And KushyPunch is one of the best.
Southern California’s award-winning edible brand KushyPunch is defined by its top-selling gummies.
Founder and CEO Ruben Cross’ goal was to develop a healthy edible option with organic, non-GMO gummies.
He has done just that.
KushyPunch’s strawberry sativa product is its highest-selling with fans raving about its burst of flavor and clean high.
These low-calorie gummies are the perfect place to start for people who enjoy edibles.
There are also taffy edibles, like Cheeba Chews.
Cheeba Chews have been around since 2009. And they’re known for tasting good – and being potent. In fact, if you’re new to cannabis, make sure you take it easy when you’re noshing on Cheeba Chews. They’re small. They’re potent. And it’s really easy to eat too many before you know it!
Right now, they’re sold in three states – Colorada, Nevada and California.
CBD is the nonpsychoactive part of cannabis, so users won’t experience the high that THC delivers. CBDs can come from marijuana plants. They can also come from hemp plants. Because hemp plants are fully legal in the U.S., you’ll likely see more hemp CBD products than pot-based CBD products in the market. CBDs can be used to help treat a variety of health issues, including (among other things)…
- Anxiety and depression
- Antipsychotic effects.
Like THC, there are CBD strains users can buy in order to smoke the plant. These are among the best starter strains:
- Harlequin: With a 5:2 CBD-to-THC ratio, this strain helps reduce anxiety and relieve pain.
- Ringo’s Gift: At a 24:1 ratio, this flower gives the consumer a soothing brain sensation.
- ACDC: This 20:1 flower is used to treat patients with pain, anxiety and epilepsy.
- The Wife: Another 20:1 ratio flower, it stops the effects of nausea, chronic pain and migraines. It also reduces chemotherapy side effects.
Concentrates and Extracts
No other brand is a better starting point for CBD users than CBDfx Wax. CBDfx Wax provides a product that’s organically grown with no GMOs.
The wax contains 1 gram of 30% CBD oil and 300 milligrams of pure CBD. Each container holds around 20 servings.
There’s one other thing you should know about CBDfx Wax. The product is designed to be “dabbed” – not smoked.
The dabbing process involves first heating up a “rig” with a blowtorch. A “rig” is smaller than a bong and is attached with a “nail” where the concentrate goes.
Once the nail is hot, you apply the wax to the heated nail. Then you breathe in the concentrated smoke. Dabbing delivers the effects of extracts like wax much faster than smoking. If creating a rig or blowtorches aren’t your thing, you can get an electronic nail that heats the extract on its own and provides temperature control.
Some of the most popular topicals come from Lazarus Naturals Topicals.
Nearly every list ranking the best topicals includes a Lazarus brand. And for good reason. The brand is really good.
The balms range from lavender to cedar citrus to mint. Each selection smells like a mix of fresh aromas and scents.
Lazarus uses natural, non-GMO hemp. And the Lazarus topicals are third-party tested for pesticides to ensure safety.
Lazarus also offers steep discounts for veterans and people on long-term disability.
One of the best gummies is Green Roads Relax Bears.
Green Roads is a Florida-based company that produces some of the most popular gummies in the country. Its natural hemp gummies always get great reviews.
All of Green Roads’ products are created by veteran pharmacists. Green Roads’ hemp gummies have 10 mg of CBD per snack.
And one of the best chocolates is To Whom It May.
Chocolate and cannabis have been a magical combination for centuries. But To Whom It May is decadence on another level. The highly rated chocolates come in four flavors – Vivienne, Zak, Myra and Ralph. Each flavor, much like a character in a book or a movie, has its own personality. And you can order each flavor by the box or mix and match. Either way, you will be one happy customer.
Hybrid cannabis strains are a combination of both indica and sativa classes of the plant. And the effects of the hybrid take on the characteristics of both plants. For example, hybrids can make you feel both relaxed and euphoric.
These strains make up half of the cannabis market.
- Blue Dream: This hybrid provides a full-body high along with its berry aroma.
- OG Kush: This skunk-smelling hybrid generates a head high while also increasing focus and improving mood.
- Pineapple Express: A combination of “Trainwreck” and “Hawaiian” strains, this pineapple-tasting hybrid creates a creative and energetic THC high.
- AK47: This sativa-dominant strain will create a relaxed high while also spewing creativity.
- White Widow: This hybrid creates an energized effect and sparks creativity.
The Curaleaf THC-Hybrid Concentrate benefits those looking for hybrid effects but at higher doses. Curaleaf operates 49 local dispensaries in 12 states. And it could be America’s next big brand.
Curaleaf products go through rigorous testing to develop safe and quality concentrates for consumers. The THC-Hybrid Concentrate comes with varying THC levels for those who desire extra-strength relief.
Its hybrid concentrate comes in a glass syringe to create extremely accurate dosages. A typical dose of this product is 40 mg twice a day.
This hybrid concentrate is best used for those trying to seek immediate relaxation.
For hybrid topicals, Trulieve Topical Cream 250MG Hybrid is the place to go.
The cream is taken from a high-THC hybrid flower and features organic aloe and leaf juice with a clean oil extract.
This pure ethanol extraction process creates a product holding around 250 mg of THC. Dosage of the 2-ounce cream is around an average 5 mg twice a day.
Like all topicals, this cream can be used for pain relief, soreness, inflammation, psoriasis, dermatitis and itching.
One of the best hybrid gummies are Wana Brands hybrid sour gummies.
Wana Brands hybrid sour gummies are made by one of the best infused products companies in Colorado. Wana also operates across six other states.
These sour gummies taste like real fruit. They come in grape, raspberry, lemon, green apple and orange flavors. They’re all handmade from natural, gluten-free ingredients.
The website MassRoots left a raving review about these gummies. It claims that whether for a summertime hike or a long road trip, these edibles are down to a science.
These gummies are a hit in Colorado. And eventually, they will become a true leader nationally.