Shopping Tips Pt. 1 (pre-legalization)

Tune in weekly while we explore frequently asked cannabis questions!

Now is the time of transition. There is a good deal of unknown around legalization and what it means for businesses, such as us at FARM, and for our members, such as yourselves! This What’s Your Normal blog campaign continues to evolve so that we can provide the most relevant information that we have access to.

FARM’s has always focused on compliance. Up until recently, the only regulations we were offered to base our business decisions off of was the MMRU program Vancouver pioneered (more of a background on this can be found in our previous blog post New User’s Guide). Moving forward, with a whole plethora of new regulations, including the application process for non-medical cannabis retailers, we want to ensure that our business operations (both in relation to cannabis compliance and standard HR compliance) are fully in line with government standards. We believe that it is important to work with what we’ve been given and abide by all regulations as they continue to evolve and become known. This industry has come so far and it may not be perfect, but it’s progress!

This blog entry is titled Shopping Tips Part I. It will be the first of a two-part series outlining (1) tips for consumers at this current time of transition and (2) tips for consumers after October 17, 2018 when cannabis is made legal across Canada and new regulations fully come into effect. For those of us who’ve been purchasing in Vancouver’s boisterous cannabis culture, this will surely be quite the change!

Sales, sales, sales!

If you’re an avid cannabis purchaser, whether with us at FARM or at another local dispensary, you may notice an increase in sales. Wondering why? Well, one of the biggest changes during this transition towards legalization is a brand new supply chain.

Currently, products come from a range of distributors whose details retail storefronts are pretty private about. Moving forward, all provincially-licensed non-medical cannabis retailers will purchase products through the BC Liquor Distribution Board (BC LDB). The BC LDB will purchase all of its stock from various licensed producers, regulated at a federal level by Health Canada. For more information on the LDB and new supply chain check out the following link http://www.bcldb.com/cannabis. For those of us who are compliance-focused, we are winding down our current range in products in order to make space for products that will be allowed within the new regulations as of October 17th.

Everything must go! Fire sales are the way FARM is preparing to move out all current products for the new supply chain, but it’s also a point of entry to engage with our members about why we’re having these sales and to discuss how legalization may affect them. Come by our shop to check out our sales, talk to our service staff or stay tuned by following us on instagram @visit.farm.

Coming changes to how you purchase

Alongside changes in our product supply chain, there will be other regulatory changes that influence how consumers purchase their cannabis in BC. Some of these include:

  • No children on premises even with adult accompaniment.
  • A primary and secondary form of ID is required for proof of age (19+) similar to liquor regulations.
  • The government will provide us with information to inform customers of the risks of cannabis use that will appear around the shop (“Social Responsibility Materials”).
  • Intoxicated patrons (by cannabis, liquor or another substance) will not be allowed to enter or remain on the premises and it is the retailer’s responsibility to enforce this should they wish to remain in good standing with their license.
  • Samples are not allowed to be given to employees or customers.
  • Customers will only be able to purchase and carry 30g at any time.
  • Edibles and concentrates (such as shatter or budder) will be unavailable for up to 12 months after legalization.
  • There are new legal implications and a budget for enforcement coming into effect October 17th for those who choose to sell, buy or use cannabis products outside of the new regulations.
  • Regulations continue to unfold regarding how retail employees will be allowed to engage with customers when it comes to providing information regarding products
    • There is a regulatory divide between “medical” and “non-medical” cannabis which will influence the type of language and recommendations that cannabis service staff will be able to offer customers
    • This could be a bit awkward as we come to terms with regulatory limitations, but know that FARM is actively monitoring training options for our team to best meet customer needs!

Interview with a Budtender (ZOE)

At this time of significant transition, we are providing our leadership team and our budtenders with access to information so that they can help our members navigate the process that is legalization. But not everyone’s questions are the same and sometimes knowing the right questions to ask can be really beneficial in finding an understanding of how your own unique cannabis practice may be impacted.

Though we wish we could field all questions we’re asked, some don’t have a concise response yet. Some questions without clear answers as of the publishing of this blog are:

  • How many strains will you have available after legalization October 17?
  • What will the price range look like / what will the average price per gram be?
  • When will you have concentrates or edibles in stock?
  • Where else can I go if I don’t meet your requirements for ID, cost of cannabis, etc?

Below we conducted an interview with one of our passionate budtenders, Zoe. Zoe has been with FARM for about a year and her compassion for our members and her engagement within the industry never ceases to impress us! We invited her to speak with us about her experiences with customers at this time- what are they asking? What are their concerns? How do we navigate so much unknown together, ensuring that our strong connections don’t fragment at such an important time? Read on!

What’s your favourite part about budtending?

“I really like being the point of contact for everyday people who are looking to develop their own best cannabis practice. Also, given the nature of our community there are those who use cannabis informally for harm reduction and nothing makes me happier in my job than hearing from someone that cannabis has saved their life from fentanyl.”

What questions are members regularly asking you during this time of transition?

  • “Will you still be open?”
  • “Will concentrates still be available?”
  • “How much is weed going to cost?”
  • “What’s the quality going to be like in comparison to what I have access to now?”

How do you find customers are receiving the information we’re offering regarding the coming changes?

“People are really shocked. It is clear there is a lot of misinformation going around. They’re surprised by how little we know at this point and there’s only about a month left until legalization. People have shown signs of being upset, confused or even feeling blindsided. They want answers we can’t offer yet.”

What about legalization excites you?

“For me, my biggest excitement is that legalization will open doors for greater scientific research. Also, legalization may entice those who wouldn’t have otherwise tried cannabis, especially those from an older generation who can benefit from developing their own cannabis practice with the fear of doing something illegal. I’m also excited to have more access to consistent information on terpene profiles!”

What about legalization concerns you the most?

“Accessibility! I’m worried for our community. For those who want to purchase less than a gram, or who use cannabis for harm reduction, for those who come in intoxicated because of their personal circumstances, or for parents without regular daycare who can’t bring their children in with them. I’m worried about what the lowest gram price will be and that they’re letting lower income individuals slip through the cracks. I’m also very concerned about C-46 and information I’ve heard about roadside testing and what constitutes impairment, but that’s a whole other story.”

What do customers seem most concerned about?

“Price and accessibility are top concerns. Quality is also up there because they lack trust in the quality of products that will be immediately available. And of course, concentrates.”

What are your thoughts about the sales transaction and changes to language due to the medical and non-medical divide?

“Budtenders are going to have to get their point across in a groovy and above-board manner. Customers are going to have to get use to more vague answers to their questions if they’re medically related. We’ll all have to learn a new language to navigate these regulations. For example, maybe you cannot say “this is good for muscle relaxation” but you can say “this is good for after the gym”. We might have to sacrifice clear recommendations to our customers in order to remain compliant. Information sharing and experiential information is what we rely on now- so it will be key for people to talk to their friends and build their communities until regulations make space for budtenders and consumers to freely share information as they please.”

If you had the ability to decide, what vision would you have for legalization from a retail perspective?

“I would want to see accessible, high-quality bulk product (I’m talking as low as $4 per gram) as well as concentrates and edibles. I’d like to see a retail shop that could be more than just a place to express purchase your products but that could also include information sharing, workshops and resources. Maybe there could be cannabis consultants to help you customize your own practice in order to build relationships with community members beyond the basics of a transaction. More than a ‘dispensary’ but also a community space. On a side note, I’d like legalization to mean amnesty for anyone convicted of minor cannabis-related charges!”

What’s one thing the public might not know about being a budtender that you wish to share?

“I LOVE answering your questions!! You are not an inconvenience, I am here to serve you. I love my job, come here, I will take you under my wing and I will find you what you need! You are not expected to know everything, talk to us, it’s what we’re here for! Also, THC percentages aren’t everything, there are so many factors that influence how a strain affects you specifically including environmental context, mental states and body chemistry.”

Farm is interested in educating the public on “the new normal”

What IS normal?

We want to find out and that includes YOU!

It’s not often that we experience a cultural shift like the legalization of cannabis.  Guiding the public to understand how this will affect them requires cannabis leaders to be ambassadors to “a new normal”.  For reference, think about all the bad etiquette that came with cell phones and social media. Now imagine legal and unregulated public cannabis consumption – yikes!

What can we do?

We can agree upon a shared Code of Conduct and produce a culture that is balanced across our Four Pillars of Wellness.  This offers us as a team (as well as the public!) a foundation to reference for what legal, recreational cannabis could look like.  On top of this, we can continue to develop our unique and special cannabis practises knowing that we are grounded in a shared set of values.


Next Post coming soon

New Users Guide

Tune in weekly while we explore frequently asked cannabis questions!

As cannabis becomes more accessible, it is important to acknowledge that it’s okay for the public to feel fears and to have concerns. For new or inexperienced cannabis consumers, asking questions and doing your research is an important step towards cultivating a safe, responsible and enjoyable personal practise.

Here at FARM, we offer a comfortable and welcome experience for new users to ask questions in house. However, knowing what questions to ask is as important part of the process! Here we aim to answer some frequently asked questions and provide some best practices to help new users set themselves up for success in determining what their normal is when it comes to cannabis consumption.

How much should I consume?

Start low and go slow! Cannabis folklore often claims that someone who tries cannabis the first time, or even first couple times, may not experience many effects. Because of this, first timers may indulge too much and experience adverse side effects such as nausea or paranoia.

Everyone is different and cannabis is regulated in the body by the endocannabinoid system (see our Culture page for more information on this) which is a very subjective and individualized system. Its best to ask advice from a seasoned consumer or informed budtender on dosage and method of consumption will play a large role in this.

Try a little to start, see how your body and mind feel and leave ample time for the cannabis to take effect (particularly for edibles which take much longer to feel than smoking cannabis).

How do I consume it? What products can I choose from?

There are many products currently available with varying effects and strengths, including:

Dried Flower – the most traditional form. Often rolled into a joint or used in a pipe or bong and smoked.

Edibles – food items made with cannabis that has been heated to a temperature that allows the active ingredients in the cannabis to release when consumed. There is a large range in products and dosages; many have undetermined dosages or very high dosages which makes controlling your high challenging.

Infusions – cannabis extracted and infused in a variety of products. Capsules mixed with MCT oil, tinctures with a solvent such as grapeseed oil, and even honey are common forms of infusions.

Concentrates – including hash, shatter, budder, live resin, rosin, oil, wax, distillate and more! These are not typically recommend to new users due to their powerful strength and often the requirement of a specific device in order to consume the product.

Topicals – cannabis infused lotions, balms and oils that are absorbed through the skin often for pain relief.

Suppositories and more – cannabis products inserted rectally or vaginally for those who cannot or prefer to not ingest or smoke cannabis.

*The Canadian government has only built the coming framework to regulate dried flower and infused oils for the first year after legalization. A wider range in products can be explored within the medical framework and regulation of other products will come with time.

How long does it last? How long does it stay in my system?

How long cannabis effects last depends on a lot of factors, including by not limited to: how much you consumed, how strong the product was, how quickly your body metabolizes cannabinoids, and even how much you ate or hydrated beforehand.

There is no clear window of detection for how long cannabis can be found in your system. Conventional wisdom claims approximately 30 days but this is often contested and quite subjective to the type of test used and your unique body chemistry.

What are the risks of cannabis use?

Due to such a prolonged period of prohibition, clear scientific studies are lacking when it comes to the risks of cannabis use. Youth and young adults who are still developing are more at risk of negative effects of cannabis. Research is rapidly gaining momentum on adverse health effects.

Short term risks include:

  • Over-consumption leading to “greening out”: a period of dizziness and nausea or vomiting
  • Impairment of ability to drive safely
  • Lessened short term memory function
  • Changes in mood
  • Mental health reactions

Long term risks include:

  • Strain on your lungs from smoking (newly found to be reversible with discontinued use)
  • Development of a dependency
  • Mental health consequences

What is CBD? What’s the difference between whole plant/full-spectrum and isolate?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis compound with many medical and therapeutic benefits but without the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD can help with inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures and so on. More and more research is being done on the potential of CBD and various CBD products have come to market. Some of these products are made with CBD isolate while others use CBD whole plant, or full-spectrum.

CBD isolate is a pure, isolated CBD compound all by itself with no other active compounds. Full-spectrum CBD contains CBD alongside minor amounts of other cannabinoids such as CBN, CBL, and trace amounts of THC, as well as cannabis terpenes (aromatic flavonoids found in cannabis). Recent research has shown that CBD full-spectrum has a range of benefits not consistently found in CBD isolate. This is believes to be due to the “entourage effect”, aka CBD works better with it’s chemical buddies than on its own. However, for those who know their exact dosage and require accurate measurements, CBD isolate may be preferred.

Is Cannabis Legal?

Currently, in Canada, cannabis is not legal unless you are a medical patient with a valid cannabis prescription from your healthcare provider. The federal government has officially announced that cannabis will become legal for non-medical (otherwise called recreational) users on October 17th, 2018. During this transition period, cannabis consumers are taking the risk of participating in what is still deemed an illegal activity.

Recreational or Medical: what’s the difference?

The difference between recreational and medical cannabis is a blurry and unclear divide. Many people with a doctor prescription and medical cannabis also enjoy it for recreation and many recreational consumers are using cannabis as a tool for self-care or treatment. Medical cannabis is legal if you have a prescription and comes from a licensed producer (someone legally allowed to grow and sell cannabis) who ensures set quality control standards and lab testing. Recreational cannabis, as mentioned above, is yet to be federally legal in Canada, however many storefront dispensaries have begun to identify as recreational in anticipation of this transition. This cannabis may not be lab tested or held to any set standard for quality control.

Where can I buy it?

The City of Vancouver, in an effort to get a handle on the passionate cannabis culture overwhelming the city and to provide options for safe access to cannabis, decided in June of 2015 that they would regulate this influx by offering the ability to apply for a municipal Medical Marijuana-Related Use (MMRU) license for retail shops. To date, 18 dispensaries in Vancouver have been issued a municipal business license within this program and many more are in the earlier stages of the process. FARM was #15 to be licensed in early 2018. Over 50 dispensaries continue to operate outside of this municipal framework.

In order to purchase cannabis, dispensaries require a range of qualifying steps. Some ask only for proof of ID stating you are 19 years of age or older, some require doctor notes or an in-house consultation or application form. Call us, or your dispensary of choice, for more information!

Should you wish to go through the medical system, talk to your doctor about applying to the ACMPR program (more information to come in our next blog post!).

Where can I smoke it?

Until cannabis becomes federally legal in October, smoking cannabis in public is a risk and should be done with discretion. At that time, Bill 30 – the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act for BC will come into effect and has specified that there is to be no smoking cannabis near schools, public parks, in cars (whether in motion or not), at transit stops, or at work. Municipal bylaws will also play a role in the specifics of where you can and cannot smoke.

Vancouver has a variety of cannabis lounges where you can provide ID and a small fee to partake indoors, however these are not legal operations and the government has not yet developed a plan for legalizing smoke lounges.

How much can I buy at once?

Bill C-45: the Cannabis Act of Canada has specific that as of October 17, 2018 adults are able to purchase and carry up to 30g of dried cannabis on their person at any one time. This implies that the purchasing limit will be 30g (which is just over one ounce).

Dispensaries in operation now have varying limits on purchasing dried flower or other cannabis products and a quick call or visit will get you this information.

What if I don’t know how to roll a joint?

You can purchase a little pipe, an inexpensive joint roller, a pre-rolled joint, or ask your friendly budtender if they mind rolling one for you! It takes some time to get the hang of but you can also always learn from a friend or by watching tutorials online.

What is the lab testing process? Is a higher percent better?

Lab testing allows consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on strength and composition of cannabis products. THC and CBD content are predominantly measured, as well as terpene profiles. Products will often come with a THC percentage, however higher does not always mean better! Sometimes it doesn’t even mean stronger, as effects can range depending on other cannabinoid content and terpene influence. We recommend new users try lower percentages to start.

What does it feel like?

Effects vary wildly across consumers. It can make you feel euphoric, silly and giggly, or creative and motivated, or sleepy and hungry. It can also cause nervousness, paranoia or nausea. Dose, method of consumption and type of product all play a large role in the effects as well as one’s individual body chemistry, surrounding environment and mental state at the time of use. Experience is very subjective to one’s unique cannabis practice and over time can be designed to fit you.

What if I get too high?

Try to anticipate your limits by starting slow. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel too high, don’t panic. Hydrate by drinking water. Try getting some fresh air by going for a walk or lay down and do some breathing exercises. Distract yourself by listening to soothing music or meditating. Know that this situation is a pretty common one in cannabis consumers and it will pass. If you need to, seek medical advice.

General Best Practices:

Peer-to-peer advice on how to safely cultivate your own unique cannabis practice:

  1. Start low and go slow.
  2. Don’t consume cannabis and drive.
  3. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should refrain from consuming cannabis.
  4. Consume cannabis in a safe and comfortable environment.
  5. Do your research and ask for advice – take both with a grain of salt.
  6. Stay hydrated.
  7. Find out what works specifically for YOU.
  8. Learn your limits.
  9. Know your rights and stay up to date on policy changes that may affect you as a consumer.
  10. Engage in the cannabis community and find your people!
  11. Be safe, be responsible, and have fun!

Farm is interested in educating the public on “the new normal”

What IS normal?

We want to find out and that includes YOU!

It’s not often that we experience a cultural shift like the legalization of cannabis.  Guiding the public to understand how this will affect them requires cannabis leaders to be ambassadors to “a new normal”.  For reference, think about all the bad etiquette that came with cell phones and social media. Now imagine legal and unregulated public cannabis consumption – yikes!

What can we do?

We can agree upon a shared Code of Conduct and produce a culture that is balanced across our Four Pillars of Wellness.  This offers us as a team (as well as the public!) a foundation to reference for what legal, recreational cannabis could look like.  On top of this, we can continue to develop our unique and special cannabis practises knowing that we are grounded in a shared set of values.


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