The perception of legal marijuana is there's one kind with one high but that perception is wrong.
A Google search for the biggest misconceptions about marijuana will inevitably lead you to “pot makes users lazy.” That, in fact, is part of a much larger misconception that all marijuana is created equally.
Since the legalization of recreational use and sale of marijuana and the continued high demand from all walks of life for the plant, the selection of marijuana has increased, but many of the same stigmas are attached. Even three years after the passage of Amendment 64.
But most shop owners and those who work in the industry have created business on the fact that marijuana is diverse. The drug can be catered to specific medical needs or personal preference. The diversity in each strain comes from more than 80 known cannabinoids, which are the chemical compounds that affect users in different ways.
There are three main categories of marijuana, sativas, indicas and hybrids. Each different.
Indicas result in the heaviest body highs.
“It makes a lot of people sleepy; it’s also a really good pain reliever because it relaxes your whole body,” Starbuds manager Sarah Mutty said.
On the other side of the spectrum are sativas which give customers the biggest head highs. Unlike an indica, a sativa enacts an active, creative and motivated high that doesn’t make the customer want to nap at all, she said.
The highs aren’t the only difference in the two main types of the plant. Sativas grow much taller than indicas, but indicas will generally have a higher yield. Sativas originated in countries close to the equator, while indicas were originally grown in higher altitudes.
A hybrid can lean either towards a sativa or indica or can be what she said is a true 50/50.
“So a true 50/50 would give you some of the head high you would expect out of the sativa and some of the body relaxation of an indica so you get both,” she said about hybrids.
General Manager Peter Mutty said that Starbuds carries a hybrid strain called Girl Scout Cookies which combines a sativa called Durban Poison and an indica called OG Kush. This strain originally was cultivated in California but can now be found on shelves all over Colorado, according to the Colorado Pot Guide.
“You get this wonderful speed running around in the beginning but at the end you relax, so if you like Durban Poison but you don’t like the after effects then this one (Girl Scout Cookies) kind of tones down the back end,” he said.
Sarah Mutty explained that all marijuana has the generalized indica, sativa and hybrid labels but that within each category there are subcategories called strains that all do something different.
Indicas: The indica plants are generally short and bushy with wide leaves and are densely branched. They developed thick coats of resin for protection because they originated in mountainous regions with harsher climates and conditions. Because of their shorter physique they have a shorter flowering time which is ideal for indoor cultivation. A high from an indica strain is generally more relaxed, calming and sleep provoking with full body effects. Indica strains are usually best suited for night use because of the body high that results in “couch lock” – meaning users are content just sitting around and unwinding as well as being relaxed enough to fall asleep. For medicinal benefits people use indica strains for insomnia, pain relief and muscle spasms.
“We have an indica called Purple Cotton that was bred for pain relief and relaxation and that one’s not going to make you fall asleep; you’re just going to have a pleasant, relaxing, pain relieving strain,” she said, “Kurple Fantasy that is a cross between Purple Urkle and OG Kush and that is going to make you go to sleep and they’re both indicas.”
“A strain is a combination of plants that have been merged together to deliver a certain type of experience,” Peter Mutty said.
Different strains of cannabis can be used in ways other than smoking buds and waxes. Many shops carry edible products like chocolates, brownies, drinks and candies, and they may also carry creams, oils, teas and other various products.
Strains and products at dispensaries vary from store to store but there are products that are more popular than others. Strains like Golden Goat and Blue Dream are common in dispensaries and are popular among consumers.
For people new to marijuana products, the staff at many shops do a total evaluation of their customers.
Sarah Mutty said Starbuds staff try to tailor recommendations to what people want to get out of their highs so they can have a good experience.
Sativas: Sativa plants are tall and thin with narrow leaves and are loosely branched. They originated in regions closer to the equator where there are temperate climates requiring a longer time to grow. Their longer growing period makes them well suitable for outdoor gardens, but sativas can also be well maintained in indoor grows. With a sativa a consumer would expect a head high with mild hallucinogenic properties which tends to result in a high that is uplifting, creative, spacey and energized with cerebrally-focused effects. This type is well suited for daytime use. Sativas can be used to help with depression, anxiety, ADD, fatigue and other mood disorders.
“Somebody that has a really high tolerance smoking might have a very low tolerance on edibles because your liver has to metabolize it. It’s going to be a totally different level of THC so it’s going to affect them a lot differently than smoking, and it takes a lot longer,” she said.
THC is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. The National Institute of Drug Abuse said that memory, pleasure, thinking, coordination and perception of time can be affected by THC.
Sarah Mutty said that smoking marijuana results in an instant type of high and that edibles take about an hour and a half to result in a high, but that some inexperienced consumers will be impatient and take more than the recommended doses and become uncomfortably high.
“The new people, we have to teach them about edibles because even somebody that comes in here and smokes, if they’re trying an edible for the first time, we have to tell them about the doses,” Peter Mutty said.
He said that a recreational marijuana candy bar carries 100 mg of THC and a normal dose is 10 mg, whereas, medical marijuana edibles carry up to 500 mg.
Starbuds is a recreational marijuana dispensary and Peter Mutty said that the difference in recreational marijuana versus medical marijuana isn’t in the weed but in the dosage and taxing.
“Because we’re recreational we tend to buy and distribute marijuana that has a high level of THC in it because people that generally come here want to get high,” he said.
The store can carry medical products and distribute them to medical marijuana consumers but they are limited by the amount they can carry. Peter Mutty said that he pays 17 percent taxes as opposed to straight sales tax which are not imposed on medical marijuana stores ultimately making medical marijuana cheaper than recreational marijuana.
“If you come in here and show me a valid medical license I will give a discount because I respect that you’ve got a need I want to take care of, and I don’t want you to feel like you have to go to Colorado Springs just to get what you want; the only thing that they can’t get are the really high dose edibles,” he said. “But one thing that is not restricted is the high dose or high concentrate of the waxes and shatters and hash oils; we are allowed to still sell those.”
CBD is a cannabis compound that is used to emit medical properties but does not make the consumer feel high in the way that THC does. Sarah Mutty explained a diagram that showed that CBD can act as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety relief, pain reliever, nausea reducer and can help inhibit cancer growth.
“An example of something that might be medical there’s a strain called Harlequin and is designed to have extremely high CBD but most people that are coming here are not looking for that. CBD will help you if you have glaucoma; CBD will help you if you have anxiety issues; CBD will help you if you have seizures,” he said.
Peter said that what is unique about their store is the quality of the grow that they offer because their store got third place at the Cannabis Cup for the best Colorado sativa flower with their strain Pootie Tang.
“We get our buds from our grows in Denver. Starbuds has five grows in Denver, all supervised by the same master grower,” Peter Mutty said.
The edibles and other types of products come from Denver vendors and companies and some of their chocolates come from local Pueblo companies. Concentrates that Starbuds carries come from Denver once a week, and some of their other concentrates come from Boulder.
Sarah Mutty said that all of Starbuds’ grows are organic and indoors. The benefit of an indoor grow is that the grower can control the light cycle and doesn’t need pesticides for outside bugs, she said.
“What we mean by organic is that we don’t use pesticides; an organic grow is a non-pesticide grow and we don’t put weird chemicals in our fertilizers to make it grow better. We are totally organic and we are indoors,” she said.
As opposed to organically grown marijuana, there is synthetic weed that can be sold at head shops, Sarah Mutty said.
“Synthetic weed is called spice and it’s sold at head shops, and it’s very dangerous; it has totally unpredictable effects and it can kick off a psychosis episode,” she said.
Sarah and Peter Mutty both echoed that their store is for adults only and that the precautions they take are for their customers.