Launch Day shopping tips for all cannabis skill levels

Caliva in San Jose has options for every experience level. | Photo courtesy of Caliva

Entering a cannabis store in California for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Here’s what to shop for on Jan. 1, depending on your experience level.

Illustration by Conor Buckley


  • Buy all the medical products you wanted to try but were too afraid to ask your doctor for. Dispensaries will be selling you their medical stocks at first. Try topical creams and patches for your arthritis. Ask for no-high tinctures for insomnia and anxiety.
  • For something more fun, look for cannabis flowers that are under 10 percent THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis that causes euphoria, or a feeling of well-being. Ask for flowers with some amount of CBD, the second most common active molecule in marijuana. CBD does not cause euphoria and limits the high of THC.
  • Can’t roll your own? Ask for “pre-rolls,” a “pre-rolled joint”.
  • Figure out if you want sativa, indica or hybrid types of flowers. Indicas are sedative and more body-focused. Sativas tend to provide more energetic and have more pronounced psychological effects. Hybrids tend to mix the two.
  • Also try dose-controlled Dosist vape pens. They vibrate after one 2.5 mg puff, so you won’t overdo it. Inhaled marijuana takes effect in seconds so you can stop when you’re just right.
  • Beginners need to watch themselves around foods and drinks infused with cannabis. Effects take two hours to be felt, and impatient folks will overeat edibles and then feel bad. Look for edibles that come in doses of 1 – 5 milligrams of THC, like Kiva Petra 2.5 mg mints or Satori 1 mg chocolate raisins. The more CBD the better. Do not take more than 5 milligrams of THC every two hours until you’ve judged effects yourself.

Bloom Farms Highlighter Plus
Bloom Farms’ Highlighter Plus up the style factor.
Illustration by Conor Buckley


So you enjoyed cannabis in college but took a several-decade hiatus. Or maybe you have it every once in a while with one particular friend but it’s not a monthly thing. Read on.

  • Explore cannabis flowers that are 10 to 17 percent THC. They have just the right mix of potency and flavor from cannabis’ terpenes.
  • Try Beboe and Bloom Farms disposable vape pens. They are strong enough for an intermediate user and more versatile and discrete than raw flowers and rolling papers.
  • Try out some of California’s best edibles brands like Kiva and Garden Society. Just be careful not to overdo it. Set a timer for two hours, take one dose of no more than 10 milligrams and wait.
  • Splurge on some extracts. Loads of people prefer hash to raw flowers because it means much less smoke for the same effect. Look out for medium-strength “bubble hash,” which is extract made by ice water agitation. Add the extract to a joint to increase its potency. We do not recommend doing “dabs,” which are large, water-filtered inhalations of pure extracts.

Purple Punch by David Downs
Purple Punch | Photo by David Downs
Illustration by Conor Buckley


California offers the creme de la creme of cannabis production the world over, and with retail storefronts now open, boutique buds can be enjoyed by all adults with a valid ID. For those advanced out-of-state users looking to locate the flowers, extracts and edibles California cannabis patients have been raving about for years, the time has finally arrived. Here are our recommendations:

  • Seek out potent cannabis flowers that are 17 – 30 percent THC. The diverse micro-climates in California allow the state to almost exclusively grow a number of different fruits and vegetables, and the same principles apply to California cannabis — look out for flowers that are local, sustainably grown and seasonal. Standouts from the 2017 harvest at this year’s Emerald Cup, the Academy Awards of outdoor herb, included Roze, Mimosa #3 and Sour Tangie. Several award-winning strains from the cup had the energizing aromas and flavors of citrus fruits, which just so happen to also be in season during the mild California winters.
  • The best California edibles are those that nurture the mind and body. Look out for products with fresh and minimal ingredient lists (an easy way to find fresh edibles is the inclusion of an expiration date). Edibles that take advantage of the state’s bountiful offering of fresh fruits and nuts are excellent choices, and we’re also seeing the adoption of an older food trend: combinations both sweet and salty with artisanal sea salts. California is far ahead of other state markets when it comes to edibles high in CBD, a component of cannabis gaining traction for its wide range of potential health benefits.
  • Also splurge on award-winning, high potency extracts from Moxie and other high-THC concoctions. At Chalice California, the state’s biggest hash festival, a trend emerged of  fresh fruit flavors in extracts from winning from strains such as Clementine, C. Banana and Pineapple. The complex bouquets found in Hawaiian strains are also trending as connoisseurs search for juicy tropical taste profiles.

—Ellen Holland

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