How to Read a Cannabis Label
12.22.20 - 4 min read
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In Gina Gault’s experience, there are two types of cannabis purchasers: those who pore over the packaging to learn everything they can about the product, and those who might quickly glance at the strain name or THC content before selecting an item.
“There are people who read everything on labels—food, toiletries, cosmetics—because they are generally interested in what they put in their bodies,” says Gault, a community outreach specialist for RISE Dispensaries. “And some people just want to eat the entire sleeve of Oreos and have a good time. Cannabis is the same way.”
You might also be both these customers, depending on the day: “If you just want to go home and relax, you might just dive right in to what you’ve got,” Gault says. “But if you’re going to make butter or share it with your 90-year-old grandmother, you’ll want to know more.”
Both approaches are more than welcome at RISE Dispensaries. Customers don’t have to have any prior knowledge of cannabis to come in and make a purchase because our cannabis consultants and patient care specialists are there to help.
For those who want to develop some basic knowledge about cannabis, learning to read a label can be a good start. Remember: You can always ask a cannabis consultant or patient care specialist to review the label with you; at RISE, our passion is helping our guests and patients become more informed consumers.
Cannabis product labels vary, but there are common items you’ll tend to see on dispensary label packaging:
● Product name/strain: This one’s straightforward: If you try the Citradelic Sunset flower or the Mile High Mint chocolate bar and love it, you can ask for it by name next time.
● Weight: This tells you the mass or concentration of the cannabis. Over time, this will be helpful information to figure out which dose works best for you. But you won’t go it alone; a cannabis consultant or patient care specialist can help you figure out how much to buy.
● Cultivator: This is the name of the company that grew and processed the cannabis. This can be helpful information if you discover you like a product made by a certain cultivator that is sometimes branded with a different package. Basically, you can still recognize your favorite cannabis product even if it changes outfits.
● Cannabinoid content: Cannabinoids are compounds in cannabis that interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system to cause various effects. Depending on the product, cannabinoid strength typically is displayed in either percentage (flower, vape cartridges and extracts) or milligrams (edibles, tinctures, topicals and disposable vapes).
● Terpenes: Terpenes are the organic compounds that give many foods and plants, including cannabis, their smell and flavor. (Think of the flavor notes you see on some craft beer cans.) Terpenes are the best way to dial in on what works for you because they’re the ingredient that most correlates with effect. Some cultivators list terpenes on their packaging; if not, a cannabis consultant or patient care specialist can help.
● Harvest date, test date, packaging date and use by date: The takeaway to all these dates is that your product will last for a while, but don’t forget about it—cannabis is most effective and enjoyable within a year of production. (As if you’d let it linger, right?)
● Batch number: Batch numbers help dispensaries keep track of which cannabis products were made at the same time. Just as with food and medicine, this helps to ensure quality and keep track of the products.
● Testing lab: This is the name of the licensed, independent testing lab that checked the cannabis for harmful materials and confirmed the active ingredients. This testing step is how you can be confident that your cannabis product is safe and good quality.
● Ingredients: Some products, including edibles and tinctures, have ingredients other than cannabis in them, such as the carrier oils, flavoring or sugar. If you have any allergies or sensitivities, be sure to check.
Knowing these basics is not required to buy cannabis, but it can help you become a more informed consumer. It’s also useful information if you’re keeping a cannabis journal, which RISE recommends to track dosage and effects. This informal record—what you took, when, how much and how it felt—can help you make a smarter purchase each time, with the help of a RISE cannabis consultant or patient care specialist who can answer any questions you have.
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