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How To Judge The Effects Of Cannabis

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We can’t all dedicate ourselves to becoming true cannabis connoisseurs, but there are several factors casual consumers should pay attention to when consuming cannabis. Because cannabis is an incredibly complex plant that interacts with one of the human body’s most diverse physiological control systems, your experience as a consumer is unique. Before you can expect to consistently find the best products for your specific needs, you need to be able to judge the effects of cannabis.

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With this guide based on veteran cultivator Derek Gilman’s approach to analyzing cannabis effects, you can elevate your cannabis knowledge. In judging the effects of a cannabis strain, make sure it’s your first smoke of the day. If you’re still experiencing the effects of previous cannabis consumption, you can’t judge the current product fairly. We also encourage you to read through this guide sober, so you can set up a solid plan of evaluation. 


The cannabis onset is the amount of time that passes from consumption to the first feeling of the product’s effects. In other words, it’s the length of time needed for the cannabis to “kick in.” There should be an estimated amount of time on the package for edibles, but it varies from person to person, so observing how long the onset takes for you is essential. Set a timer to see how long it takes to feel the effects of the product. Depending on what you’ve purchased and your biochemistry, it could hit as quickly as a few minutes or it could take over an hour. Gauge whether the onset effects of the product are suitable to your preferences. Notice if it starts slow or comes on strong right away. 

Creeper Effect

The creeper effect is when the cannabis product doesn’t hit you immediately but comes on strong later on. This is common for cannabis edibles, but it could happen when you smoke marijuana as well. Note the time when you consumed the cannabis product and the actual activation time. With cannabis edibles, your body will need to metabolize the cannabis to turn delta-9 THC into 11-hydroxy-THC. This usually takes an hour for edibles. If you’re smoking or vaporizing, there still could be a delay of up to 20 minutes or longer before you feel the full effects. Determine whether you enjoy the creeper effect if you experience a cannabis product that has a delayed activation time. 


Initially, cannabis could trigger some euphoric feelings, but that’s not always the maximum intensity of the product. Notice whether the strain hits hard immediately or takes several minutes to make its full impact. Also, observe the form of intensity. Do you feel like you’re on a roller coaster ride, or does it weigh down on you consistently? Remember to wait for the peak effects of the product to judge its true intensity. Sometimes you’ll feel high after five minutes, but the feeling is amplified later on. Note the most intense effects of the session, how long it took to reach the peak, and the duration at the apex.


When you’re judging the effects of cannabis, the duration of the elated effects is an important factor. Mark the length of time from the onset effects to the descent back to total sobriety. Most people want cannabis potent enough to last at least a couple of hours. Throughout your high, notice the peaks and valleys of the timeline, and when the product hits maximum intensity. Ultimately, your biological makeup and the chemical makeup of the cannabis product will determine how long the effects will last. Remember that the duration of your cannabis high is dose-dependent. If you dose at frequent intervals, that may not help you judge a particular strain fairly. Consume a standard amount based on your tolerance to judge the effects of the cannabis product. 


Potency refers to the strength of the euphoric effects of the cannabis product, and THC is the main factor that determines it. THC has increased from around 4% in the 1980s to an average of 15% in cannabis products today. If the marijuana scent is strong, it usually means it has a high terpene count, signaling high potency. You can also take a look at the trichome crystals of the cannabis — small hairs on the flower. The potency is likely to be higher when there are more trichome crystals present. Of course, consuming the product is a sure-fire way to test the potency. If it’s particularly potent, a few hits may cause you to be high for hours. Judge how heavily the cannabis hits you and how fast the effects come about. Your unique THC tolerance and the efficiency of your body’s metabolism will be factors in determining how potent a product is for you. 

Type of Effect

After taking a few hits and waiting for the cannabis to activate fully, you’ll want to analyze the type of effect of the product. Does it make you feel high? Do you feel motivated to tackle a project? Are you feeling more creative than usual? Do you just want to sit down and relax? Note how the cannabis product makes you feel. Generally speaking, sativa-dominant strains will stimulate your mind and boost your energy, while indica-dominant strains will help you relax. There are also hybrids that may bring you down or make you feel a “couch-lock effect,” according to Gilman. Perhaps you’ll feel a balanced effect of repose and elation. Whatever it may be, describe how you’re feeling out loud once the cannabis item is fully activated and jot some quick notes down. 


Many cannabis strains increase your appetite, giving you a case of the “munchies.” However, there are some cannabis products that will arrest your appetite. Judge whether the cannabis you’re consuming is increasing your hunger. There are plenty of strains capable of slowing down the neurons in your brain that send signals telling you you’re full. In fact, THC is known to prevent the production of leptin, which suppresses appetite, allowing you to eat more than normal. What have you eaten during your session? Do you feel full or could you have another bite? 

The Finish

The final act of the effects of cannabis is also important to observe. If the product hits immediately and you experience psychoactive effects quickly, your landing could be just as fast. On the other hand, some strains will wear off gradually. As the cannabis high wears off, notice how the euphoria simmers down and gets replaced by sleepiness. Although you may feel sluggish and drowsy once you’re at the finish line, it’s much better than experiencing a hangover. Discern how slowly or quickly the particular strain you’re consuming brings you back to sobriety. 

Time of Day

To judge the effects of a cannabis strain thoroughly, consume it at different times of the day. If you want to be even more thorough, consume it at different times of the day on separate days. The effects of cannabis depend on various factors, such as your body cycle and mood. As you’re consuming the cannabis product at different times, notice what’s consistent about the effects. Additionally, the impact of marijuana is somewhat dependent on the environment you’re in and your state of mind. See if you can pinpoint the time of day when you experience a more positive buzz. Try to use the cannabis product in the same setting for an impartial analysis. 

Learning how to judge the effects of cannabis is just the beginning. If you’re in the industry or looking to boost your knowledge about marijuana, our Fundamentals of Cannabis 100% online program will help. Give yourself the proper cannabis education from industry leaders on the endocannabinoid system, cannabis biology, terpenes, and more. With this knowledge, you can help refine the cannabis industry as a well-informed consumer or producer.

Trusted by top universities, utilized by companies around the world, and endorsed by the leaders shaping the modern cannabis industry, Green Flower courses are the gold standard in cannabis education and training.

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