North America is no stranger to taking a leading role in cultural revolutions. When it comes to demystifying and taking a pragmatic approach to weed, Canada and the USA are once again the nations that are leading the way. The legalization of recreational cannabis that started in Canada and is now spreading across more and more states in the US has brought openness and regulation to an industry that existed for years below the radar.
But even more significant is the transparency that it has brought to the market for consumers. Buying weed was once a clandestine business, conducted in secrecy. New buyers, in particular, were often at the mercy of the suppliers as to the quality and price of the wares on offer. Compare that to today, when any adult can buy weed online from a choice of outlets and with dozens of varieties available. It’s a whole new world, but for the inexperienced, it can also be a daunting one.
Know Your Strains
An expert chef can walk around a spice market and be in transports of delight, while an amateur looking to make a curry for the first time will feel completely out of his or her depth. That’s the kind of feeling you might have browsing an online weed shop if you’re not entirely sure what you are doing. As the amateur chef will head for the staples like coriander and cumin, it makes sense to start with what you know. You can always get more adventurous with time.
First off, newcomers have to understand the difference between indica and sativa strains. Although increased cannabis hybridization may water down this distinction, most online weed shops use the indica v. sativa system to classify their strains. Plus, most weed connoisseurs agree there are significant differences between these two families.
So, what the heck are sativas and indicas? Scientifically speaking, the Cannabis sativa genus has three subspecies: indica, sativa, and ruderalis. Of these three, the indica and sativa variants have the highest concentration of cannabinoid-rich trichomes, hence they’ve been the most popular with cultivators and consumers.
Interestingly, since indicas and sativas developed in different regions, they evolved unique growing patterns and cannabinoid profiles. Throughout the 20th century, tokers used this indica v. sativa paradigm to get a preview of a given strain’s effects. Generally speaking, indica strains lean on the “stoned” and sedated side, while sativas offer users a euphoric and energizing high. So, anyone who prefers a nighttime toke should go for indicas, while those interested in daytime strains will have better luck with sativas.
While there aren’t as many purebred sativas and indicas on the market, consumers should understand this distinction when shopping for strains. Knowing the typical effects of sativas and indicas could help you find the ideal “high” for your situation.
Instead of reaching for big-name buds like Blue Dream or Acapulco Gold, we’d first recommend examining each cultivar’s sativa-to-indica ratio and cannabinoid percentages. Both of these facts will help you understand the quality and potency of each strain’s high.
If you’re still confused about where to begin your cannabis search, be sure to look into the latest lists of strains recommended for beginners.
Choosing The Best Deal
Today, it is far more of a buyer’s market, and weed purchasers are no longer at the mercy of unscrupulous suppliers. If you are shopping for the most popular blends, you will have plenty of options—but as with any other purchase, remember that “cheapest” does not always equate to “best.” Again, you can compare it to buying spices for that curry. You need to be confident about quality as well as getting the best deal financially.
A reputable seller will be very clear about where the weed has been grown and what tests are performed to ensure purity. Indeed, respected cannabis vendors should supply you with a third-party lab-verified Certificate of Analysis. This lab analysis will reveal the exact cannabinoid and terpene counts in your chosen strain. Professional COAs should also confirm there are no contaminants, herbicides, or pesticides in your weed. This kind of third-party oversight means you can buy with confidence.
As with any other commodity, customers have to balance quality and value when shopping for online weed. Although you may pay extra for assurances like organic farming practices and COAs, you also won’t have to worry as much about the quality of your smoking experience.
In general, it makes sense to select a supplier that has been around for a while and has an established industry presence. Cannabis is a fragile and perishable commodity that can deteriorate dramatically if it is not stored, handled, and transported correctly. You need to feel confident that everyone working for your company has years of experience growing, harvesting, and handling cannabis buds.
You could get a feel for how your company handles its cannabis by asking how long they dry and cure their strains. In general, the longer a company cures their weed, the better the taste and effects will be. Long-term curing helps increase a strain’s potency and will significantly reduce the risk of mold and mildew. Companies that don’t take the time and effort to cure their weed are usually only interested in making a quick buck.
Look For Stealthy Shipping
A well-established online shop will have tried and tested practices to ensure that your purchase is sent legally and securely. Since cannabis remains in a “legal limbo” in many territories, your company should guarantee discreet and stealthy shipping. Over the years, online vendors have come up with many sneaky tricks to reduce confiscation risks. Be sure to ask about your company’s shipping and tracking policies so you could ensure your weed arrives safe and sound.
It’s also important to research an online vendor’s shipping reimbursement policy. Until the US government federally legalizes weed, even the best online cannabis retailers can’t guarantee your package will arrive every time. However, online cannabis companies should offer insurance policies to deal with this common issue.
Test Your Company’s Customer Support
Online reviews are notoriously unreliable. Although you could get a sense of a company’s reputation by perusing review sites, you always have to take e-complaints with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to verify which online reviews are authentic.
Rather than focusing on forums and Internet reviews, it’s more constructive to look into your company’s customer service standards. Does it seem like the vendor is reaching out to customers who have a complaint? If so, that’s a great sign!
Obviously, you want to know there’s someone you could easily connect with if you have a problem with your order. At a minimum, we’d recommend reading about how to contact your company online and over the phone. For extra assurance, go ahead and call your company to gauge how responsive their customer care reps are.