Beginner’s guide to cannabis

Marijuana has always intimidated me. The very mention of it has me flashing back to the older boys in high school who were always trying to get me into trouble—not to mention innumerable deadbeat stoner ex-boyfriends, including one who made me take him to the emergency room because he got *too* high. (Yeah, good times.) Though many, many people have recommended I test it out to ease my chronic insomnia, I’ve never really been able to get comfortable with reaching for cannabis, albeit for a medicinal reason.

Now that it’s legal here in Los Angeles, however, I’m starting to see the plant in a new light. On my maiden visit to MedMen—billed as “the Apple store of dispensaries”—I couldn’t believe how user-friendly the industry has become. The store’s minimalist shelves are stocked with cannabis-based products such as tinctures, balms, and ediblesin addition to well-labeled plants marketed towards the treatment of specific issues (e.g. my aforementioned insomnia) or goals, such as enhanced creativity.

Despite this newfound accessibility, however, I still find myself hesitant to try products without any real knowledge of the plant. How much is 2.5 mg of THCWill I feel pleasantly relaxed or paranoid? So, to answer this and more burning questions, I’ve enlisted a little (okay, a lot) of help from some heavy hitters in the cannabis world: Sean Akhavan, MedMen’s head research scientist; Jessica Asaf, The Cannabis Feminist; Jeff Chen, Director of UCLA’s Cannabis Research Initiative; and Hamp J. Atkinson, MD, co-director of the Center for Medical Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of San Diego. If you, too, live in a legalized state, share in my newfound knowledge below.

Keep reading for a little cannabis 101.

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