Like the flowers you think of as decorative flowers, these are the reproductive organ of the female cannabis plant. But they don’t at all look like the flowers from the florist’s. Cannabis flowers are hairy, sticky and usually covered in what look like tiny crystals. These are the parts that are used in various marijuana products.
Some people still refer to flowers as “buds,” and in horticultural terms the proper name for these female flowers is racemes. All the same thing.
When fertilized by a male plant, seeds are produced. When left unbred, they continue to produce the resin that contains the active cannabinoids.
There are also some cannabis flowers that are both male and female—hermaphrodite flowers.
Edibles are marijuana-infused products that are consumed orally (as opposed to smoking flower or using a concentrate). Edibles usually come in the form of baked goods (brownies and cookies) and candy (chocolate, gummies and lollipops) but are also available in coffee, soda and more. Edibles contain cannabinoids, and most contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Eating an edible is different from smoking cannabis because it’s being digested (not inhaled through the lungs), which often results in a more intense, longer high. This is because you’re absorbing the THC through the liver, which then converts most of that THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which tends to be far more potent than THC alone and crosses the blood-brain barrier more quickly and more easily.
So, when consuming an edible, it’s safest to start off at the lowest dosage and proceed slowly from there. Let the edible take effect—or not—to see if you need to have more before feeling its effects.
Concentrates are products that refine the marijuana into something cleaner and more potent. And the term itself covers a wide variety of products: any type of hash (water hash, pressed hash), kief (dry sieve) and hash oils such as BHO, CO2 oil, shatter wax, ear wax, honey oil). It often looks like honey or butter in appearance.
Topicals are cannabis products where the active properties of the flowers have been extracted and added to a product—like a lotion, a balm or a cream that’s then applied to the skin. They’re usually used to treat muscle aches, tissue problems or skin conditions.
The medicinal properties of the cannabis in the topical are absorbed through the skin but generally don’t give the user any sort of head or body high. Which is why they’re a preferred method of cannabis treatment among users who may not want to inhale or ingest marijuana.
Other cannabis products and ways of using cannabis include: Tinctures, Ingestible oils and Vaping (vape pens and vaporizers).
Tinctures are liquid extracts of cannabis (usually made with alcohol or glycerin). They’re also taken sublingually (three or four drops under the tongue), which both speeds up the absorption process and offers users a way to take cannabis without having to swallow or for those with little appetite. Tinctures made with glycerin tend to be sweeter (and have a kind of syrupy texture), while alcohol-based tinctures have a bit of a burn to them (because of the high alcohol content, usually greater than 80 proof).
Ingestible oils are a good alternative to smoking and fall somewhere in between edibles and concentrates: they are swallowed and digested like an infused product, but often have the consistency of oil. And they’re often in the form of a pill—like any other pill. These ingestible pills tend to have a more reliable dosage (giving the user a more predictable result) and they have no odor or taste.
Vape pens and Vaporizers. Vape pens are basically small, portable vaporizers that use either pre-filled concentrate cartridges or come with a chamber in which to load your own concentrates or flower. Vaporizers also allow users to inhale marijuana, but rather than combusting the cannabis, a vaporizer heats it up just enough so that the cannabinoids activate, vaporize and can then be inhaled. Vaporizers are much better for users who have asthma or some other type of respiratory conditions, or for those who’d just rather not smoke marijuana but still get the direct relief that inhalation provides, as compared to edibles or some other type of consumption.