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The Complete Women’s Introductory Guide to Cannabis

Introduction

If you’ve discovered this guide, that means you’re curious about cannabis. And how could you not be? Everyone’s talking about it!

Cannabis is all over the news, it’s on the cover of Time magazine, and it’s the hottest business sector on the planet. Women everywhere are educating themselves about cannabis and making a conscious decision to incorporate it in their lives. There are an ever-growing number of reasons women are embracing cannabis. Maybe it’s to help with women’s health issues or to elevate their fitness routines and recovery. It could be as an alternative to wine when it’s time to relax after a long day, or for its newfound popularity as a skincare ingredient. Whether you’re 21 years old or past your 70th birthday, we’re happy you’re here! We created this guide to act as your comprehensive introduction to cannabis and inform your curiosity.

So, where do we begin? 

Let’s forget everything you thought you knew about cannabis and start with the basics.

Women's Guide to Cannabis

What is cannabis?

Cannabis, also commonly referred to by a variety of other names including marijuana and weed, is a plant that originated in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The cannabis plant contains over 63 known cannabinoids, which is a science-y term for a chemical compound found exclusively in cannabis. The two best-understood, and certainly the most talked about, are THC and CBD. When someone refers to the “high” they experience from cannabis use, that’s an effect of THC. But many of the claimed medical benefits of cannabis are thought to be caused by CBD. For example, the active ingredient in the newly FDA approved anti-seizure medication Epidiolex is CBD. 

When shopping for cannabis products at a dispensary, you’ll see labels on most packaging that provide a breakdown of how much THC and CBD are in the product, as well as any other cannabinoids. An easy way to remember the difference between the two is a simple acronym: THC is The High Creator. However, the most important distinction and certainly the most important nugget of information so far is this: you can use cannabis without getting high, and many, many people do. Just remember that and we’ll address it in more detail further on in this guide.

Why is cannabis so stigmatized?

Believe it or not, the stigma associated with cannabis use is a relatively recent phenomenon. For thousands of years we find evidence of women using cannabis for a variety of reasons. Queen Victoria is said to have used cannabis to relieve menstrual cramps. Maya Angelou sang inspired praise of her cannabis experiences. Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut is reputed to have used it as an aid for childbirth. It wasn’t until the 1930s that cannabis really got a bad rap, depriving women of this incredible plant for over 90 years. And here’s the worst part: it was intentional! 

In the early 1900s, cannabis use was most closely associated with Mexican immigrants. As anti-immigrant sentiment grew, politicians were looking for a way to prosecute newcomers from Mexico. The stigma was essentially written into law with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, spearheaded by former Department of Prohibition head Harry Anslinger. (When alcohol prohibition was repealed, Anslinger’s job became obsolete, and he apparently needed a new substance to vilify and prosecute.) Anslinger partnered up with news baron William Randolph Hearst to douse the public with exaggerated or completely fabricated stories about horrible crimes supposedly committed by cannabis users. Even though doctors largely came out opposed to the bill, (including the American Medical Association), it passed congress. This is seen as the critical turning point for cannabis prohibition and the birth of the cannabis stigma that has persisted until today. 

Thankfully, that stigma is lessening and loosening as legalization turns to normalization and people “rediscover” this amazing plant.

Plant basics

Let’s take a closer look at the cannabis plant itself. The cannabis genus is actually made up of three distinct species. There is Cannabis Sativa, which are physically taller plants with narrow leaves, Cannabis Indica, that appears bushier and has broader leaves, and Cannabis Ruderalis, a shorter, hardier species with very low THC (which is typically only relevant to cannabis breeders that are developing new strains.) What many cannabis newbies don’t realize is that the desirable part of the plant actually isn’t the leaves, which is confusing since the worldwide symbol of cannabis is the leaf. What folks are really after these days are actually the flowers or buds. That’s where most of the cannabinoids like THC and CBD are concentrated. 

If you were smoking pot back in the 60’s and 70’s you were likely smoking a ground-up mixture of leaves and flowers, but the cannabis of today is purely flower. That’s partly why you read news articles or reports about cannabis being way stronger now than it was back then. While it’s absolutely true that today’s cannabis has higher THC levels, it’s also because smokable cannabis products are now made exclusively from the flowers. In addition, only female cannabis plants produce flower, so it’s only female cannabis plants that are used for cultivation. Just one more of the many reasons why women might feel so connected to cannabis!

What are cannabis strains?

Bubba Fett? Durban Poison? Lavender Jones? Blueberry Headband? If you’ve heard names of cannabis strains tossed around, you may be thoroughly confused. Entire encyclopedias can be written about cannabis crossbreeding and genetics, but for the purpose of this guide, we’ll keep it simple. If you’re a pet lover, here’s a helpful analogy for you; think of cannabis like the species, like a dog or cat, while the cannabis strain would be the breed, like a Great Dane or a mini schnauzer.  

Each strain is created by cannabis breeders to highlight or promote specific characteristics of the plant. Some strains might have been selectively bred to have extremely high THC or CBD levels, while others are bred to highlight a specific aroma, taste, or appearance. If we go back to our animal analogy, it’s similar to how some dog breeders might breed two dogs to get a stubbier nose or smaller size in their offspring.  

Because the chemical compounds that make up each cannabis strain are slightly different, each strain produces a slightly (or sometimes drastically) different effect. Cannabis genetics and breeding are an art form on their own, and the variety of strains available on the market today are staggering. There are thousands to choose from, with more being introduced all the time. Often, the name of a strain will be derived from the name of the two parent strains that were crossbred to create it. For example, Lavender Jones was created by crossbreeding Purple Urkle and Casey Jones. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this interesting corner of the cannabis world, visit the Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Breeding on Leafly.

Your first time using cannabis

So, you’ve decided to try cannabis for the first time. That’s exciting! After all, you never forget your first time. The effects people describe from cannabis use are as varied as cannabis products. Some report feeling relaxed or sleepy, while others may feel energized and uplifted. Some say it allows their mind to wander, and most report an altered perception of time. For many women, it’s a life-changing experience, others may decide it’s not for them, and most of us will fall somewhere in the middle.

What you can expect from your first time using cannabis has a lot to do with the consumption method you choose. Whether you’re smoking cannabis, vaping cannabis oil, eating an edible, or using some type of cannabis patch, each will produce a slightly different effect. If you’re using a high-CBD product, you might not really notice anything at all. Regardless of which type of cannabis product you choose to use for your first time, we always recommend starting with a very small dose. Wait a while to see how you feel, and then decide whether you’d like to increase your dose to intensify the effects.

Here’s a few tips to help make sure your first experience with cannabis is an enjoyable one.

  • Don’t do it alone. Invite a girlfriend or two over to join you, especially one that has prior experience using cannabis. 
  • Start low and go slow. This advice is mainly given for edibles, but it applies well to any cannabis product being tried for the first time. 
  • Stay home. You know how scientists always have a “control” group for an experiment, and then only test one variable at a time? Think of your first cannabis experience like that. Don’t start with a cannabis extract at 3am in some random apartment. For your first time, stay home where you are comfortable and familiar with your surroundings. 
  • Give yourself plenty of time. The first time you try cannabis you don’t want to be fitting it in before a work event or something important. Give yourself time to enjoy the experience, and a big buffer before you need to do anything critical. 
  • Make sure you have lots of water and stay hydrated. Cannabis can make you dehydrated. “Cotton mouth” is a real thing!
  • Have some snacks handy. The “munchies” may happen, and you want to be prepared if they do!
Lightshade Dispensary's Women's Guide to Cannabis

Cannabis Consumption Methods

Not interested in smoking? No problem. While that’s the most traditional cannabis consumption method, it’s quickly losing ground to the variety of other methods now available. In fact, for women that are just beginning to explore cannabis, it’s not the most popular choice anymore.

Vaping

For first-timers, vaping is one of two consumption methods we recommend, (the other being edibles, coming up next.) The process of vaping cannabis involves heating cannabis flower or concentrates to a temperature high enough that it turns the active cannabinoids (like THC or CBD that we mentioned above) into a vapor, which is then inhaled. Vaping is mostly odorless, and vape products come in a wide variety of flavors if the taste of cannabis isn’t really your thing. 

Cannabis vaping has been growing in popularity because it’s simple, can be discreet and extremely convenient. There are many different types of vaporizers available ranging in size and complexity, including desktop vaporizers as big as computers or vape pens smaller than a lipstick. The simplest vaporizer option is the disposable vape pen. They have no buttons, there’s no charging required, and no matches or rolling papers needed. You simply inhale on the end of the vape, and everything else happens automatically inside the pen. Super simple!

The onset of effects when you vape is quick, within a few minutes, and the duration of the effects (we’re referring to the psychoactive effects here) is relatively short at 1.5-3 hours. As a beginner, you can start with a couple of short puffs on a vape pen, then wait 10 or 20 minutes to see how you feel. Then, you can take an extra puffs until you reach the desired effect. 

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Marijuana Edibles - Lightshade Dispensary Colorado

Edibles

Edibles are another smoke-free consumption option that are often the first-choice of cannabis newbies. It’s as easy as it gets: you simply eat or drink the product. This is the second-most traditional cannabis consumption method behind smoking. You’ve probably heard of pot brownies or cookies, (or maybe you remember a scene or two in movies where somebody accidentally eats a pot brownie, usually leading to comedy.) Well, edibles have come a long, long way from pot brownies, and have spawned many sub-categories. Beyond traditional baked goods, there’s every sweet treat you could imagine, from chocolates to gummies. And technically still an edible, cannabis beverages are quickly growing in popularity too. Want to drink a cannabis-infused cherry soda? No problem, brands like Dixie specialize in exactly that.

Edibles are processed through the liver instead of through the lungs like smoking and vaping, producing a notably different experience referred to by some as a “body high.” They have a much slower onset, sometimes even taking several hours before feeling the effects. We often hear of newcomers taking an edible, waiting 30 minutes, and believing there hasn’t been any effect, taking more and having a bad experience. That’s why we can’t stress this enough: START LOW AND GO SLOW! Edibles bakery Sweet Grass Kitchen recommends that women new to edibles begin with no more than 2.5mg of THC. And don’t be afraid to cut an edible into smaller pieces for a smaller dose! For example, Sweet Grass’ Chocolate Chip Cookies are 10mg of THC per serving but can easily be cut into fourths for beginners.

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Dissolvables

Dissolvable cannabis products are one of the most versatile products available today. The most popular example of a dissolvable cannabis product is called Ripple and is made by Stillwater. It’s a powder that comes in small packets, about a quarter of the size of a sugar packet you’d use for your coffee. Their range includes packets of 10mg THC, a “balanced” 5mg THC and 5mg CBD packet, and a 10mg CBD / 1mg THC packet. The powder is tasteless, odorless, and when mixed into liquid, colorless. And while we refer to them as a “dissolvable,” they don’t necessarily need to be dissolved into liquid. You could sprinkle a Ripple pack onto a slice of pizza, mix it into your morning coffee, or add to a virgin mojito. Heck, if you’re pressed for time and would prefer to take it with your vitamins, you can simple drop the powder directly into your mouth.

Further along in this guide, you’ll find a delicious recipe for cannabis-infused, non-alcoholic margaritas that feature Ripple.

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Stillwater Ripple Dissolvable THC:CBD - Lightshade Dispensary Colorado
Stillwater Ripple Dissolvable THC - Lightshade Dispensary Colorado

Tinctures and Capsules

Capsules and tinctures could technically still be considered both edibles or extracts (confusing, we know), but we believe they are better explained in a category of their own. Capsules are tasteless, odorless, and one of the most precise dosing methods available. If you’d prefer to simply take your cannabis with your vitamins in the morning, then that’s the choice for you. Tinctures are a liquid cannabis extract that are popular with consumers looking for dosage control but prefer faster onset of effects compared to capsules. For women interested in using cannabis solely as a medical product, these are both popular options.

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Smoking

The traditional way to consume cannabis, smoking still offers many benefits as a consumption method. Smoking cannabis provides a fast onset of effects, and relatively short duration when compared to other methods. It remains a favorite for cannaseurs that enjoy experiencing the aroma and taste of the plant. There are many, many ways to smoke cannabis. Joints, pipes, bongs, hookahs…it’s a very long list! While smoking is still the most popular consumption method, it’s rapidly losing ground to alternatives like vaping and edibles.

Many newcomers to cannabis that aren’t smokers already aren’t interested in smoking cannabis. That’s particularly true for women that are interested in cannabis as an addition to a healthy and active lifestyle.

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Extracts & Concentrates

Extracts and concentrates are umbrella terms that represent another dimension within the cannabis world, with their own tools, techniques, and terminology. The basics are exactly as you’d imagine: extracts are products that are created by extracting the desired compound(s) from the cannabis plant, or a product that is processed into a concentrated form. They are typically (but not always) consumed using vaporization. The range of extract products available today is staggering, and more and more different types of extract products seem to be hitting the market. 

CO2 oil that you would use in a vape pen or table-top vaporizer is an extract, but in this section we’re referring to the other products in this category like shatter, wax, live resin, budder, and hash. These products are typically not recommended for women that are just starting their cannabis journey. Also known as dabs, they are consumed with a super-hot dab rig, (a glass apparatus made specifically for this purpose) often heated with a blowtorch. If that sounds intimidating, you’re not alone. Most cannabis fans that prefer extract products have a very high-tolerance and have worked their way through other consumption methods before “graduating” to dabs.

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Topicals & Transdermals

A topical cannabis product is exactly what you’d expect: a product that is applied topically to the skin. They are typically found in the form of lotions, balms, oils, and salves that are infused with cannabis. Topicals have a range of THC and CBD content, with some containing only CBD and some containing high amounts of THC. Do you remember when we said you could use cannabis without getting high? Topicals containing THC do not produce psychoactive effects. That makes these products a fantastic delivery method for women that would like to use cannabis to treat aches, general pains, and muscle soreness. Some topicals are even infused with essential oils. How about a lavender-infused, high-CBD lotion to put on your sore shoulders just before bed? Or a menthol-CBD rub for your legs after a long hike? Yes please!

Transdermals are cannabis products that are applied to the skin in the form of a patch or gel pen. Unlike topicals, however, transdermals  penetrate the top layer of skin introducing their ingredients directly to the bloodstream. Transdermals can produce mild psychoactive effects depending on their ingredients. This cannabis product sub-category is quickly growing in popularity because they offer some unique properties not found in any other “consumption” method. First, they provide a quick onset, usually within 15-30 minutes. Second, transdermal patches provide a steady, long-lasting effect, often for 12 hours or more. They’re perfect for women looking for all-day relief and who need convenience and discretion. Some transdermals include CBD only, while others include a mix of CBD, THC, or CBN (yet another cannabinoid that’s gaining popularity for its anecdotal health benefits.) For example, Mary’s Medicinals produces a range of patches that have THC derived from a Sativa strain, THC derived from an indica strain, a combination of THC and CBD, or CBN.

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Mary's Medicinals Patches at Lightshade Dispensary Denver

Key points:

  • Don’t want to smoke? You don’t have to! There are many smoke-free consumption methods available. 
  • Different consumption methods produce different effects and time of onset.
  • Edibles require more patience: start low and go slow!
  • Extracts and concentrates are not suggested for first timers.
  • Our recommendation for a first timer is a microdosed dissolvable or disposable vape pen.

Cannabis Uses for Women

While there’s a whole host of reasons that both women and men might decide to use cannabis, there are a few that are specific to women.

Cannabis and Cramps

Historical evidence going back over 1000 years documents women’s use of cannabis to relieve menstrual pain. While there are few scientific studies for this application of cannabis, there are many anecdotal success stories. Some cannabis brands, like Foria and Sweet Grass Kitchen, are even making products specifically for menstrual cramps. Typically delivered via vaginal suppository (now there’s cannabis product category that didn’t exist a few years ago) or via an edible, many women now swear by cannabis to help combat the ill effects of their monthly visitor.

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Foria Vaginal Suppositories - Lightshade Dispensary Denver

Alternative to painkillers and pharmaceuticals

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage our country, but the mortality rates are actually growing disproportionately for women. (From 1999 to 2016 mortality rates for opioid overdose increased 321% for men and 507% for women.) Data also tells us that women transition from casual use to addiction faster than men, and are less likely to enroll in substance abuse treatment programs.

Thankfully, many women are now looking for alternatives to opioid-based painkillers and other pharmaceuticals that have highly addictive properties. Like most research around medical cannabis, the science surrounding the use of cannabis as an alternative for opioids is in its infancy. Still, it’s promising enough that Colorado recently allowed physicians the option to recommend medical marijuana instead of opioids for pain relief or post-operative pain.

Cannabis use during menopause

Menopause is a life-changing event that can wreak havoc on a woman’s body for a year or more. Mood swings, hot flashes, pain, low libido, fatigue, weight gain, osteoporosis, insomnia; it’s a long list of difficult symptoms that can cause anxiety and/or depression in some women. To combat these symptoms and make life more bearable while the body re-adjusts to its new homeostasis, many women are turning to cannabis for relief.

Cannabis vs Alcohol - Lightshade Dispensary Denver

Alternative to wine or alcohol

It’s easy to get in the habit of drinking wine or a cocktail in the evening. But as women age, casual habits can develop into more significant problems of alcoholism or worse. Recent news articles have suggested that more and more women are swapping out their evening rosé for a rose gold vape pen. You’ll find more information on this important topic in a dedicated section of the guide below.

Stress

Stress reduction has been a common motivator for cannabis users for many years. Science has recently begun exploring its effectiveness. A 2018 study from Washington State University is thought to be one of the first that breaks down these results by gender. Their findings suggest that while using inhaled cannabis significantly reduced ratings of depression, anxiety, and stress, women reported larger reductions than men. (Could it be that women are generally under more stress than men? We’d believe it!)

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Sexual health

Cannabis-derived sexual health products are a big topic. Cannabis lubes, tinctures, intimate massage gels, anal suppositories and vaginal suppositories promise more satisfying sex, stronger orgasms, and easier arousal. Then, of course, are the other cannabis products (smokable flower, vapes, etc) that aren’t necessarily marketed or packaged for female sexual health. What does the science tell us? A 2018 study looked into the impact of cannabis use specifically on women. Its findings have yet to be duplicated, and it was a relatively small sample size. However, it does provide support for the claims that cannabis use can improve the sex life of some female users. 

Author of the study Dr, Becky K. Lynn writes, “The question of how marijuana leads to these positive changes in sexual function is unknown. It has been postulated that it leads to improvement in sexual function simply by lowering stress and anxiety. It may slow the temporal perception of time and prolong the feelings of pleasurable sensations. It may lower sexual inhibitions and increase confidence and a willingness to experiment. Marijuana is also known to heighten sensations such as touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing.”

Cannabis and Fitness

One of the most persistent stereotypes associated with cannabis use is that of the lazy stoner. However, it turns out that regular cannabis users are actually more likely to workout than non-users. So much for stereotypes! It seems the cannabis-fitness connection may be beneficial to many women for pre-workout use, post-workout recovery, or “elevated” exercise such as yoga, jogging, or hiking. Much of the hype connecting cannabis to fitness benefits stems more from CBD rather than THC. Even the World Anti-Doping Agency is getting onboard, removing CBD from its list of banned substances back in 2018.

Pre-workout cannabis use

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that, “the more difficult and unpredictable the task, the more likely marijuana will impair mental and motor performance.” So while it might not be a good idea to use cannabis before going for a personal record on the squat rack, many cannabis users choose to consume before exercise.

Some describe it as a way to help “get in the zone” or “out of your own head” and report that it allows them to power through difficult or strenuous moments. That’s especially true for repeated, monotonous movements experienced by runners, for example. The cannabis may allow their minds to wander rather than focusing on the difficult activity. In that way, cannabis may mimic the “runners high” that runners often describe. Believe it or not, cannabis use prior to workout may actually be motivational for some women. Users that consume before (or shortly after) a workout report getting an average of 43 minutes more exercise per week compared to cannabis users that do not mix cannabis with their fitness routines.

Cannabis for Recovery for Athletes

Post-workout recovery

If fitness is an important part of your life, then you likely already take vitamins and supplements to help with recovery. Many women are now choosing to include cannabis in their post-workout recovery regimen. It makes sense; cannabis can help your muscles relax, reduce inflammation in joints that have taken a beating from a difficult workout, and improve restful sleep, (which is when most of your body’s recovery occurs already). There’s a variety of products available specifically for this purpose, like topical creams and patches that can be applied directly to sore muscles. Or if you like a good, relaxing soak in the tub, try a cannabis infused bath bomb. Don’t worry, you won’t end up smelling like weed! If you choose to incorporate cannabis into your post-workout recovery, we’d recommend using a product that is high in CBD compared to THC, or at least balanced between the two compounds. CBD is believed to be the compound responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis.

“Elevated” exercise

One of the trendiest associations between cannabis and fitness is that of “elevated” exercise, specifically yoga. Cannabis yoga classes can be found in virtually every legalized market. According to instructor Amanda Hitz at Bend & Blaze Yoga in Denver, “it allows you to kind of quiet the chatter in your mind, which is a big part of yoga.” There’s even an organization that trains and certifies yoga instructors to teach “Ganja Yoga.” Does that seem over-the-top? Not when you consider that goat yoga is actually a thing that exists. Sooooo….

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Key points:

  • Most athletes that use cannabis before exercise report that it works best for repetitive, basic fitness activities like jogging. 
  • For recovery, use a product that is high in CBD. 
  • Looking to add a new dimension to your yoga practice? Cannabis yoga is currently the most popular cannabis-related fitness trend.

Cannabis in Skincare

Many women include a skincare regimen in their daily self-care. It seems like there’s always a new ingredient or different type of rub, scrub, or lotion available. Well, move over hyaluronic acid, because cannabis is the hottest new skincare ingredient on the block. No, people are not rubbing dried cannabis all over their faces. As a skincare ingredient, it’s normally in the form of cannabis oil derived from hemp. (Just remember, hemp is a type of cannabis that has essentially no THC in it.) It makes sense; cannabis is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and the root (or symptom) of many skin problems is inflammation, whether it’s acne or signs of aging. Cannabis oil also moisturizes, so it’s a potential problem solver for chronically dry skin as well. 

Many traditional skincare and beauty companies are getting in on the game and adding cannabis-derived ingredients to their products. Some companies that have previously focused on THC-containing products are now adding skincare lines as well. A good example of this is Mary’s Medicinals. Their core products are tinctures, muscle balms, capsules, and vaporizer cartridges that all contain some level of THC. However, they’ve recently launched a new product line called Mary’s Methods that is solely dedicated to skincare products. There’s a Dead Sea Salt Scrub, Face Moisturizer, Eye Cream, and more, all including hemp-derived CBD as an ingredient. While we don’t sell skincare products at Lightshade, we appreciate this new and interesting use of the cannabis plant.

Mary's Nutritionals Skincare

Getting High and Dropping the Booze

We get it- you like to enjoy a glass of wine or two after a long day. Maybe it’s comforting, or provides you some temporary stress relief, or simply tastes good! However, the science is pretty clear that alcohol, especially in excess, is not healthy for you. It’s loaded with empty calories, lots of sugar (depending on the drink), can actually increase anxiety, and inhibits healthy sleep. Over time, there’s long-term problems associated with alcohol like obesity, cirrhosis of the liver, and worse. In fact, a 26-year study from the Lancet Medical Journal point to alcohol as one of the leading causes of a global health decline, directly contributing to 2.6 million annual deaths worldwide. Now, don’t mistake our intentions, we certainly aren’t trying to demonize the responsible use of alcohol. But if you’re focused on your health, wellness, and a balanced lifestyle, substituting cannabis for alcohol, at least occasionally, might be a healthier choice.

Let’s look at a few of the facts:

  • It is not possible to die from a cannabis overdose; the DEA has not reported a single death related to the consumption of cannabis. 
  • The American Journal of Public Health has concluded cannabis consumption has no effect on premature fatality rates when compared to non-cannabis consumers. In other words, cannabis does not correlate to a likelihood of a premature death. 
  • Studies have concluded that alcohol consumption does more harm to the brain than cannabis, can lead to obesity, and of course, a killer hangover. 
  • Cannabis, when smoked or vaped, is calorie free!
Wine vs. Cannabis

We ran a 30-day challenge for women to gradually swap out alcohol for cannabis two days per week. Even that small change contributed to a significant impact on the participant’s lives. They reported feeling better rested, less anxious, more energetic, less-stressed, and an overall-improved sense of well-being. We issue the same challenge to you! Gather a group of friends and try it together. For weeks 1 and 2, replace alcohol just one evening per week with cannabis. For weeks 3 and 4, try replacing alcohol two evenings per week with cannabis. We’d love to hear your personal results, so please get in touch when you’ve completed the challenge.

One of the hurdles some women face isn’t so much the replacement of alcohol, but it’s about finding a substitution for the ritual of drinking. As adult women, it’s simply what many of us do when we gather with friends. You have your girlfriends or fellow moms over, put out some appetizers or tasty treats, and enjoy the evening drinking wine and talking. On the surface, wine may seem to be the focal point of the evening, but for most women it’s actually the company and conversation with their friends that is the real purpose.

Well, you can still create a similar ritual with cannabis products. Consider taking a joint-rolling class with your friends so you can try a new ritual. Or, if beverages are going to be tough to substitute, why not drink cannabis-infused beverages rather than alcoholic beverages? Most cannabis beverages on the market today container 5mg of THC or more, and as a beginner you likely won’t want to drink more than one of them in a sitting. However, we recommend making your own cannabis-infused beverages with a water-soluble cannabis powder like Stillwater’s Ripple. It’s odorless, tasteless, and fast-acting, and can be added to any liquid.

Try this recipe for a pitcher of cannabis-infused margaritas:

  • 2 cups limeade
  • 1 cup lime-flavored sparkling water
  • 1 cup lemon-flavored sparkling water
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • Ice
  • Salt & lime for garnish
  • 2 x packets Ripple Balanced 5 (5mg THC / 5mg CBD)

Pour the limeade, lemon and lime sparkling water and orange juice into a pitcher and mix. Add the 2 packets of Ripple Balanced 5 and mix again, thoroughly. Salt the rim of 4 margarita glasses and fill 2/3 of the way with ice. Pour the drink evenly into all four glasses, garnish with a lime, and serve. Each 10 ounce drink will will contain approximately 2.5mg THC and 2.5mg CBD. A beginner dose would be approximately 2 margaritas containing a total of 5mg THC and 5mg CBD. Sounds like a great substitute for a traditional tequila margarita!

Cooking with Cannabis

We’ve already discussed edibles as a consumption method in an above section. What we describe in this section goes well beyond pre-packaged edibles; we’re not talking about box-mix brownies that taste like weed. Cooking with cannabis has now become a legit culinary specialty on its own, complete with its own celebrity chefs, cookbooks, and 5-course meals. If you enjoy time in the kitchen, this is something you should consider giving a try! It’s not just about the finished product, but the process that gets you there. A couple important things to note: 

  1. Sprinkling dried cannabis flower into your food is NOT the way to do this. It will only make your meal taste bad and will not produce any psychoactive effects. 
  2. Most (but certainly not all) cannabis cooking is made with cannabis-infused oil or cannabis-infused butter. 

Before dried cannabis will produce any psychoactive effects, the THC in it has to be “activated” by a process called decarboxylation. Without getting too science-y, decarboxylation occurs when the cannabis is heated to a certain temperature, beginning at around 220 degrees Fahrenheit. So in other words, when cannabis is smoked, the burning action causes almost instant decarboxylation, producing psychoactive effects when the smoke or vapor is then inhaled. If you were to eat a bag of raw or dry cannabis, you wouldn’t feel those same effects, although you might end up with a nasty stomach ache. The point of this explanation is because when you cook with cannabis, the plant material you’re going to use needs to be heated up to a certain temperature prior to including it in your recipe, to decarboxylate the cannabis and “activate” the THC. This recently-decarbed cannabis (if you’re in the know you might say decarbed rather than the longer decarboxylated), is infused into oil or butter. This oil or butter is then ready to be used in your cooking or baking. 

A common question is why can’t you just sprinkle the dried cannabis into the meal before cooking, since it will probably be heated when you cook it. Two reasons. One is that it might not reach the correct temperature for a long enough time for decarboxylation to occur, depending on your recipe and cooking method. The other is that it will ruin the desired taste of your cooking. So if you’re going to cook with cannabis, you’ll want to create cannabis-infused butter or oil to use in your recipe. It’s as simple as that. Below are directions to make your own cannabis-infused butter or oil at home. Keep in mind that there’s no benefit to purchasing expensive or high-end flower for this type of cannabis product. The best and most affordable product would be “shake”, which is leftover flower pieces. Shake still has significant amounts of cannabinoids. It’s cheap, and available at most Lightshade locations. 

Cannabis Butter

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup (approximately) of ground cannabis
  • Grinder
  • Cheesecloth
  • Jar or similar container
  • Cookie sheet
  • Funnel

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Spread out your cannabis shake or flower evenly onto non-stick cookie sheet. Put the sheet in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Every ten minutes give the cannabis a mix to ensure the surface is heated evenly. 
  • After 30-40 minutes you’ll remove the cannabis from the oven. Grind the now-decarboxylated flower or shake coarsely (you do NOT want a fine powder, as you want the cheesecloth to catch the plant material). 
  • Add a cup of water and the cup of butter into a saucepan. Simmer on low temperature until the butter is melted, making sure it does not burn. 
  • Once the butter is melted, add your coarsely ground cannabis and mix. 
  • Simmer on low heat for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. 
  • Set a funnel on top of a jar or similar container. Once the butter mixture has cooled slightly (but not hardened), pour it into the funnel and allow it to strain into the jar. TIP: If you squeeze the cheesecloth, you may push more or the plant material through, and your butter might not taste quite as good. 
  • Refrigerate your jar or container of cannabutter. You may notice excess water forming at the bottom of the jar. Drain the water out if this happens. 
  • Use your fresh cannabutter in any recipe that uses butter to create a home-made cannabis-infused sweet treat or meal!
cannabis-butter

Cannabis-infused oil

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of ground cannabis flower or shake
  • 1 cup of the cooking oil of your choice (like olive oil or coconut oil)
  • Strainer or cheesecloth
  • Grinder 
  • Double-boiler, saucepan, or slow cooker

Directions:

  • Grind the now-decarboxylated flower or shake coarsely. Combine the oil and cannabis in your slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. You’ll need a minimum of 3 hours in a saucepan, or longer in a double-boiler. Stir occasionally, or frequently if using a saucepan. You can add a small amount of water to avoid burning. Whichever method you prefer, do not allow the temperature of the oil to exceed 245 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Strain and bottle the oil. The shelf life is at least two months, or longer with refrigeration. The remaining plant material that has been strained out can be discarded. 
  • You can now use this oil in any recipe to make a cannabis-infused dish.

If this all seems too tedious, you can purchase a Magical Butter machine that does all the heavy lifting for you at https://magicalbutter.com/ 

For more detailed instructions and some cannabis-cooking inspiration, check out a few of our favorite cookbooks. There’s the very popular Bong Apetit from the editors of Munchies, or Wake and Bake by Corinne Tobias, where you can find recipes for any type of diet, whether you’re gluten-free or vegan. Prefer the sweet treats? Check out Edibles: Small Bites for the Cannabis Kitchen by Stephanie Hua. This delicious collection contains over 25 bite-sized, starter-dose recipes for bakers of any skill level.

Key points:

  • The starting point of virtually all cannabis cooking is cannabis-infused butter or oil.
  • No need to buy premium flower for cannabis cooking, go for the economy selection or “shake.”
  • Accurate dosing of homemade edibles and cannabis cooking is difficult, so start low and go slow.

The Lightshade Balance System

We mentioned the different species of cannabis in the introduction, but for the purposes of cannabis use they are sativa, indica, or a hybrid of the two. The traditional thinking was that indica was more sedative and relaxing while sativa was more energetic and uplifting. Hybrid strains then fell somewhere in the middle. But that is an oversimplified view of cannabis and isn’t an accurate description of the effects of a particular strain. Another important thing to note is that terpenes found in cannabis actually have more impact on the effects each strain have on the consumer than the species. We didn’t cover the fascinating topic of terpenes in this guide, but check out the link above to learn more. 

At Lightshade, we wanted to cut through the confusion and make it easier for cannabis users to pick the proper strain for their needs, while also looking deeper into the genetics of the strains to better categorize them. That’s why we created the Lightshade Balance system. It contains four categories:

Recreational Dispensary Denver - Lightshade

Enliven

Strains in this category are most commonly used to promote euphoric feeling, focus or stimulate energy.

Enliven Strains

Inspire

Strains in the Inspire category are a good choice to spark creativity, bliss, or as an appetite stimulant.

Inspire Strains

Calm

Cannabis strains labeled with the Calm category are often used to elevate your mood, general pain relief, or for relaxation.

Calm Strains

Rest

Calm-labeled strains are typically used as a sleep aid, for general head and neck pain, and for tension relief.

Rest Strains
Marijuana Eighths Lightshade Dispensary Denver

While some women that are newcomers to the cannabis world choose not to smoke, for some it quickly becomes their preferred consumption method. The Lightshade Balance scale is generally applied to dried flower, so this tool is only intended for those that have opted to smoke. When visiting a Lightshade dispensary, you can simply ask the budtender to show you options from the Balance Scale category that represents your cannabis goals the best.

Learn More

Your First Trip to the Dispensary

Lightshade dispensaries have been designed to provide the most comfortable, inviting, and friendly environment possible to our customers, both new and old. But we get it, your first trip to a dispensary might still be intimidating! In this section we’ll walk you through exactly what to expect from your first trip to a Lightshade.

  1. When you walk in the doors you’ll be greeted by the friendly receptionist at the front desk. They’ll ask you if you’ve been to a Lightshade before. Make sure you answer honestly and tell them no! If you’d prefer to see a female budtender, that’s no problem! Just mention it to the receptionist and they’ll match you appropriately. They’ll make sure you understand the process and check your ID (bring a state-issued driver’s license or passport). 
  2. The receptionist will then point you to the lounge-inspired waiting room where you can relax. There’s lots of comfy chairs to make you feel at home. Most of the time you’ll only be in the waiting room for a few minutes. While you’re there, check out the interesting literature and have a look at the scrolling digital menus and signage that feature the current promotions. 
  3. A budtender will come out and call your name. They’ll introduce themselves and lead you back to the showroom. That’s where you’ll see the “bud bays,” which are similar to kiosks in a mall. 
  4. Your budtender will lead you to one of the bud bays. Each bud bay has glass display cases where you’ll see a variety of products from dried flower to vape pens to edibles to concentrates. Your bud bay is like your personal cannabis shopping mall, and it’s here that the most important part of your Lightshade experience will happen. 
  5. Make sure to tell your budtender that it’s your first time in a dispensary. Lightshade budtenders have extensive product education and are experts on all things cannabis. Tell them your reason for coming in, and what sparked your interest in cannabis. If you have any specific type of cannabis product you’re interested in, be sure to let them know. Your Lightshade budtender will ask a variety of questions about your goals and make lots of suggestions for products might be a good fit. Even if you aren’t interested in smoking, we still recommend asking to smell a few of the various types of dried flower on display. You’ll be amazed by the diversity of aromas!
  6. Remember that your budtender is there to provide you an exceptional 1 to 1 customer experience. Educating others about cannabis is part of what makes their jobs enjoyable. So ask lots of questions, they like it, we promise! There is never any rush, and certainly no pressure to purchase anything. Lightshade is one of the only dispensaries in Colorado to offer out-the-door pricing, which means the prices you see include all taxes. Once you and your budtender have decided on the products for you to try, they will ring you up right there at your bud bay. 
  7. When you’ve completed your purchase, your budtender will thank you and lead you to the product counter. That’s where the stock clerks will be pulling all the product from your purchase and packaging it up for you. They’ll give you your Lightshade bag and you’ll be on your way. Not as scary or intimidating as you thought, right?!

Not all dispensaries operate like Lightshade, and many simply have an open showroom. But at Lightshade, we’re committed to educating our customers and providing a personalized shopping experience, and we believe that our thoughtfully designed store process is the best way to do that.

Still feeling a little nervous about your first time? You’re always welcome and encouraged to bring a friend with you, so bring one that has prior experience with cannabis and cannabis dispensaries. After all, shopping is more fun with friends, and you and your friend can shop together at the same time with the same budtender.  

When you’ve decided you’re ready for a visit, remember that Lightshade has 8 locations across the Denver-metro area. Find the location most convenient for you.

You’ll never forget the first time! 

As a thank you for allowing Lightshade to provide you your first cannabis dispensary experience, screen capture this coupon for 10% off products purchased on your first visit.  

Recreational Dispensary Aurora - Lightshade Iliff Marijuana
Recreational Dispensary Aurora - Lightshade Iliff Marijuana
Recreational Dispensary Denver - Lightshade 6th Ave Capitol Hill Weed
Recreational Dispensary Denver - Lightshade 6th Ave Capitol Hill Weed
Recreational & Medical Dispensary Denver - Lightshade Sheridan Near Lakewood

Key points:

  • Don’t want to smoke? You don’t have to! There are many smoke-free consumption methods available. 
  • Different consumption methods produce different effects and time of onset.
  • Edibles require more patience: start low and go slow!
  • Extracts and concentrates are not suggested for first timers.
  • Our recommendation for a first timer is a microdosed dissolvable or disposable vape pen.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that the female cannabis plants are the sex that carry the cannabinoids like THC and CBD? We don’t. There’s an undeniable special connection between women and cannabis. It’s difficult to explain unless you’ve tried it, but it’s tangible. Unfortunately that connection has been sullied by over 80 years of misinformation, stigma, and restricted access. But now the tides are changing, and more and more women and discovering the possibilities and opportunities presented by this incredible plant. We hope you take material presented in this guide as the starting point for your personal cannabis journey. We’ve covered a lot of topics, but that’s part of what makes this process so enjoyable; it never ends! There is always something new to learn and something new to experience. There’s no better time to start your exploration than now. Just walk into a Lightshade and say hello. It’s that simple!

FIND A LOCATION

Need a little more guidance to get started? Just send an email to Krista, one of our in-house cannabis specialists. She’ll be happy to answer questions, provide you with starter tips, or even suggest a product or two.