Friends celebrating with a toast of THC-infused beverages at an outdoor picnic.

A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis-Infused Beverages for Celebrations

Photo: Canva / Denys Gromov

Exploring THC-infused seltzers, sodas, and cocktails for social gatherings

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN

Whether you’re toasting a new year – new you, cheering for your favorite Super Bowl team, or kicking back with friends at a Memorial Day cookout, the odds are greater than ever that cannabis-infused seltzers, sodas, or cocktails might be part of your plan. While THC-infused beverages are modeled after more familiar alcoholic drinks like beer and hard spirits, their effects can be very different than an alcoholic buzz, especially for people who are new to cannabis as well as for casual cannabis users.

Key differences between alcoholic drinks and THC-infused drinks:

  • Psychoactive Effects: THC-infused drinks offer a unique psychoactive experience that’s distinct from an alcohol buzz.
  • Social Effects: Cannabis-infused beverages can bring about a different social dynamic compared to alcoholic drinks.
  • Onset and Duration: The effects of THC-infused beverages may differ significantly in terms of onset time and duration compared to the effects of alcoholic drinks.
  • After-effects: THC-infused beverages offer relaxation and euphoria and in most cases, without the risk of a hangover the next day.

More people are turning to cannabis beverages as a fun no-hangover alternative for celebrations, but is this product the best fit for you? We take a look at the state of THC beverages, including how much to drink and expected effects, so that you can go into your celebrations confident you’re making the best decisions around consumption.

Older man showing his friend a label on a cannabis-infused seltzer.
Photo: Canva / RGStudio

What are THC-infused beverages?

Cannabis-infused beverages contain a unique blend of cannabinoids that deliver a distinctive experience. THC-infused beers, seltzers, and pre-made cocktails offer a novel way to embrace cannabis in social settings, especially in indoor spaces where smoking and vaping may be frowned upon or prohibited. You can also find THC beverage powders and drops that can easily be added to non-alcoholic seltzer, water or juice to craft your own unique mixed drink.

Most cannabis beverages sold today use nanoemulsion technology that allows the THC to be more rapidly absorbed by the body, leading to faster effects that are more in line with smoking cannabis. Your own body’s endocannabinoid system also affects how quickly you’ll feel effects, as well as other factors like whether you’ve recently eaten.

Cannabis dispensary sign, where THC-infused beverages can be legally purchased.
Photo: Canva / A Melnyk

Are THC-infused beverages legal in my area?

Cannabis laws vary from state to state, but if medical cannabis or adult-use recreational cannabis is legal in your state, then THC-infused beverages will likely be available as an option in legal dispensaries.

State laws will also likely limit how much THC you can buy per day. This makes cannabis beverages different from alcohol that can be bought in bulk before a party. Keep the daily cannabis buying limits in mind if you’re planning to share sparkling cannabis beverages with legal-aged friends at a social gathering.

Also, keep in mind that state laws limit where you can consume THC products including cannabis-infused beverages. While a can of THC-infused seltzer may look just like a can of hard seltzer that contains alcohol, the laws are very different on public consumption of these two products.

Wooden letter blocks with the word “Wild” changing to “Mild” indicating different THC beverage strengths
Photo: Canva / Fokusiert

How strong are cannabis beverages?

The answer to this question is tricky. Cannabis beverage potencies are regulated at the state level. This means that depending on where you live, cannabis beverages may be limited to 5 mg THC or 10 mg of THC per serving or per can.

However, some states have much higher limits. For example, California allows the sale of adult-use cannabis beverages containing 100 mg THC per container, while Oklahoma’s medical cannabis laws allow for much more potent drinks that may contain 1000 mg THC per container.
Of course even if you live in a state that allows high-potency cannabis beverages, it’s likely that lower-potency options will be available for sale.
Your best bet is to always check the product label before consuming, checking both the amount of THC per serving, as well as the total milligrams of THC in the container.
As far as how much to partake, our guidance is to always start low and go slow, even if you’re experienced with other forms of cannabis.

Diverse set of friends having a cheerful summer rooftop party which includes THC-infused beverages.
Photo: Canva / Monkey Business Images

How will cannabis beverages make me feel?

THC-infused beverages can bring about a sense of relaxation, euphoria, and enhanced sociability.

However, individual responses can vary based on dosage, personal tolerance, and the social setting. That’s one reason we always recommend starting low and going slow, especially if you’re new to cannabis or trying THC-infused drinks for the first time.

For cannabis beverages, we suggest starting off with about one-quarter of the suggested serving size which should allow you to appreciate the effects while ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Keep in mind, however, the state’s mandated suggested serving size as well. For example, if your state allows 100mg to be the suggested serving size, then drinking one-quarter of that beverage is equivalent to 25mg of THC — this amount would be hard to tolerate unless you are a very seasoned consumer.

How soon will I feel the effects of a cannabis beverage?

When it comes to how cannabis-infused beverages make you feel, many cannabis consumers describe it as being different from smoking or consuming edibles. Fast-acting cannabis drinks made using nanoemulsion or other fast-acting technologies typically deliver rapid, noticeable effects if quickly ingested, while sipping on the drink provides a more gradual build-up of effects. The buzz from fast-acting cannabis beverages also wears off more quickly than a conventional cannabis edible.

While most cannabis beverages on the market today are fast-acting, that’s not always the case. A conventional cannabis beverage will rely on your digestive tract to metabolize the THC, with onset times that can vary from 30 minutes to several hours before effects are felt. Once the effects kick in, they may last up to 8-10 hours.

Cropped close-up image of clock face with minute hand approaching 12 o’clock.
Photo: Canva / STILLFX
Beer flight showing different alcoholic beer samples with cannabis buds scattered on the table, mixing beer and weed
Photo: Canva / Lauri Patterson

Can I mix THC and alcohol?

You may be wondering if you can mix cannabis and alcohol to get the best of both worlds, but most people find the combination falls short of expectations.

Here’s why that is: Cannabis and alcohol affect the body differently. Cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system, leading to relaxation, euphoria, and altered motor skills. On the other hand, alcohol primarily impacts the central nervous system, often causing disinhibition, impaired coordination, and slurred speech.

Combining cannabis and alcohol intensifies the effects of both substances, often in a contradictory way. People often report feeling dulled or “faded” when combining these two substances, or they’ll find themselves dealing with unwanted effects like dizziness, nausea, and increased impairment which affects decision-making and makes it harder to enjoy the moment. Additionally, the THC-alcohol combination can elevate heart rate and blood pressure, raising the risk of adverse health effects and accidents.

Don’t drink and drive — that extends to cannabis drinks, as well!

Never drive under the influence of cannabis, as it can slow your reaction time and reduce your ability to concentrate and perceive distance and time, leading to a higher risk of accidents. Also, many legal states have incorporated cannabis into their impaired driving laws, with costly penalties for anyone caught driving under the influence.

Instead, opt for alternative transportation (public transportation, taxi, or a rideshare service) or a designated driver when consuming cannabis. That way, you can relax and enjoy the festivities without worrying about how long the effects of that cannabis seltzer will last.

Sober designated driver taking keys from man who is consuming a cannabis-infused beverage.
Photo: Canva / Pixelshot
Group of friends around a table, laughing and enjoying cannabis spritzers and pizza.
Photo: Canva / PeopleImages Yuri Arcurs

Cheers to safely celebrating with THC-infused beverages!

Cannabis beverages provide a great alternative to alcohol, bringing a happy, elevated vibe to your celebrations. Understanding how these THC-infused drinks work and how much to use is a great first step to including cannabis sodas, seltzers, or cocktails into your event.

We know you might still have questions, though! Our Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses are knowledgeable about all of the cannabis products on the market today, including THC-infused beverages, and can provide specific guidance on consuming cannabis beverages, effects, or any other concerns you may have. Jump to our home page and click the “Let’s Talk” button to get started with a personal consultation with one of our cannabis nurses!

Hand balancing rocks in front of lake, signifying the best balance of THC and CBD

Understanding the biphasic effect: Why more isn’t always better when it comes to THC and CBD

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN

Have you ever wondered why sometimes a little caffeine can boost your energy levels and focus, but too much can leave you anxious and jittery? This phenomenon is known as the biphasic effect, in which a substance can have different effects at different dosage levels. Similar to caffeine, cannabinoids like THC and CBD found in cannabis also exhibit this biphasic nature.

In other words, when it comes to using cannabis to support your healing and wellness goals, finding your right dose matters. More is not always better!

Understanding the biphasic effect

The biphasic effect can be explained by the interaction of substances within your body’s receptors and systems, including your endocannabinoid system. At lower doses, a substance may stimulate certain receptors, leading to desired effects. However, as the dose increases, the substance may affect those receptors differently, potentially causing different and even adverse effects.

Three coffee mugs, from small to large, signifying different amounts of caffeine

The coffee example: Why more isn’t necessarily better

To grasp the concept of the biphasic effect, let’s take a look at coffee, which contains caffeine. Depending on your tolerance, a cup or two of coffee acts as a stimulant, boosting alertness and energy. You feel more focused, motivated, and ready to tackle tasks. However, if you drink too much coffee, you may experience heightened anxiety, restlessness, and even difficulty sleeping. You can see how even a widely consumed substance like caffeine can have varying effects depending on how much you consume–and those effects even vary from person to person, just like the effects of cannabinoids.

Early sunrise showing the dramatic, different effects of varying amounts of light

What are the biphasic effects of THC?

THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis and is known for its mind-altering effects. However, THC also exhibits the biphasic effect. At your optimal dose (remember–that amount is different for everyone!), THC can help support relaxation, pain relief, and a pleasant sense of euphoria. It may also help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, promote creativity, and enhance sociability.

However, as the dosage increases, the biphasic nature of THC becomes apparent. Higher THC concentrations can lead to increased anxiety and paranoia, especially when large doses of THC are consumed within a short time period. It is important to note that different people may have varying sensitivities and reactions to THC, so it’s important to start with a low dose and increase your consumption slowly to find the right amount for your needs.

Cannabis oil tincture dropper measuring out CBD oil

What are the biphasic effects of CBD?

CBD is non-intoxicating and does not produce the THC “high” typically associated with cannabis. CBD is gaining popularity for its potential therapeutic benefits, including pain relief, reduction of inflammation, and management of anxiety and stress. However, CBD also exhibits a biphasic effect.

At the optimal dose, CBD can help support relaxation and reduce anxiety levels. It may help enhance focus, improve sleep quality, and aid in stress management. Many people have also found CBD to be a helpful tool for reducing inflammation-related aches and pains.

However, when you increase the amount of CBD you take, the biphasic effects may manifest differently. While CBD is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience drowsiness, a decrease in motivation, or mild gastrointestinal discomfort. These effects are typically rare and occur at higher doses.

Also, you may find that at very low doses of CBD, you may experience the opposite effect of high doses which include mind alertness and increased anxiety. This is one reason why low doses may not be ideal for bedtime.

How do you find the right amount of CBD or THC for you?

The biphasic nature of THC and CBD serves as a reminder that “more is not always better.” It highlights the importance of finding your own just-right dose to maximize the benefits and minimize potential adverse effects. Here are a few key considerations to help you determine your optimal dose:

  1. Start low and go slow: Begin with a low dose and gradually increase it over time. If you’re just starting out, you can even split most products (like cannabis gummies) into even smaller pieces. This allows you to assess your body’s response and find the dose that works best for you. Keep in mind, too, that everyone’s optimal dose may be different. What works for your friend or the budtender at the dispensary may not be the right dose for you.
  2. Track your experiences: Keeping a cannabis journal can make this an easy process. Note any positive effects, adverse reactions, or changes in symptom relief as you adjust the amounts CBD or THC or the types of products you use. 

Get help from an expert cannabis nurse: If you’re new to cannabinoids or have specific health concerns, it’s always wise to seek advice from a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about cannabis. Our cannabis-trained RNs at Leaf411 can provide you with personalized guidance and ensure any potential drug interactions or contraindications are taken into consideration.

Our Leaf RNs have completed advanced training on cannabis therapeutics and can help guide you, whether you’re in a state with legal medical cannabis, legal adult-use (recreational) cannabis, or even if you’re in an area where CBD is your only option. We help take the fear and uncertainty out of purchasing and using cannabis and hemp CBD products. Contact us today from our homepage, clicking on the “Let’s Talk” button to schedule your call.

Four diverse young adults on a sandy beach, smiling while balancing on logs, representing the dynamic balance of the endocannabinoid system.

Your Endocannabinoid System on Cannabis: How CBD and THC Help Restore Balance

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN, Founder and CEO of Leaf411

Do you know about your endocannabinoid system, or ECS? This health system helps keep your body in balance as a sort of master regulatory system. While our understanding of the ECS is relatively new, scientists agree it is as important as other more well-known systems like the endocrine system, circulatory system, and nervous system.

Wooden alphabet beads spelling “FACTS” referencing endocannabinoid system facts.

Facts about your body’s endocannabinoid system

The ECS maintains balance (also called homeostasis) using CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout your body and brain. Your body produces chemicals called endocannabinoids that interact with these receptors to maintain balance.

Your ECS regulates a wide range of body functions. For example, the ECS regulates appetite by interacting with CB1 receptors in areas of the brain that control hunger. It also helps modulate pain signals through CB1 receptors in the nerve cells. This regulation depends in large part on the endocannabinoids produced by your body.

Pills and capsules in a wooden bowl surrounded by beneficial herbs that interact with the ECS

How plants and medications work with your ECS

What’s interesting is that some plant compounds and medications can interact with the ECS in beneficial ways. For example, black pepper contains piperine which interacts with CB2 receptors, leading to reduced inflammation. Caffeine and nicotine interact with CB1 receptors in the brain resulting in more focus and alertness while reducing appetite. When it comes to medications, iIbuprofen and aspirin also influence endocannabinoid levels in ways that help reduce pain and inflammation. These are only a few examples you might be familiar with when it comes to how your ECS is affected by different medications and plant compounds.

Cannabis is another plant compound that can support your ECS in many different ways. Cannabis contains cannabinoids like CBD and THC that directly attach to ECS receptors, helping to bring your system back into balance when it’s not functioning properly.

The ECS is like a wooden Jenga tower, with multiple factors impacting the balance of this important system.

What happens when your ECS is out of balance?

Genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors all play a major role in how well your ECS functions. Potential sources of imbalance include chronic stress, poor diet, lack of sleep and aging. Autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation can also overwhelm the ECS.

When your ECS falls out of balance, you might notice issues like:

  • Increased pain or inflammation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety or sadness
  • Problems with memory or concentration

Hemp field with sunlight in background. Hemp CBD contains endocannabinoids that support the ECS.

How CBD and THC support your ECS

Fortunately, you can take simple steps to help bring your ECS back into balance. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and reducing stress through exercise, mindfulness, or other stress-reducing activities may benefit your ECS.

Cannabis can also help restore balance to a struggling ECS. How does this work? The cannabis plant produces chemicals called cannabinoids that are a lot like the natural chemicals your ECS makes. The two most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC, though cannabis plants may contain over 100 different cannabinoids, many in trace amounts. When you use cannabis or hemp products, the CBD, THC and other cannabinoids interact with your ECS to support a return to homeostasis.

CBD and THC work by connecting directly with your ECS receptors:

  • THC attaches mostly to CB1 receptors in your brain and nerves. This can help with pain, nausea, appetite issues and more.
  • CBD interacts more with CB2 receptors throughout your body. This helps reduce inflammation and improves immune system functioning.

Everyone’s ECS is different in this diverse group of women doing yoga in the park, with an older smiling Black woman in the foreground.

Everyone’s ECS is different

Everyone’s ECS is just a little bit different, much like everyone’s metabolism is different. That’s one of many reasons that your experience using cannabis or hemp may differ from your friend’s experience, or even your sibling’s experience.

Finding the right product and the right dose can take some trial and error, which is where our Leaf411 nurses can help. We’ve provided guidance to people who are brand new to cannabis, as well as experienced users, helping them find the best cannabis dosage and product formulations for their needs. If you’re here reading this, we’re guessing you might have some questions. Let us help! Go to our homepage at and click on the “Let’s Talk” button to get started scheduling your guidance call.

Vintage anatomy illustration of man holding arm out, indicating body systems including the endocannabinoid system.

What is the ECS? An Intro to the Endocannabinoid System

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN, Founder and CEO of Leaf411

If you haven’t come across the term “endocannabinoid system” or ECS before, you’re not alone. Many of us didn’t learn about it in school. But it’s a vital part of our body, and it’s especially significant when considering using cannabis and hemp to support wellness or provide relief.

How the ECS was discovered

The ECS was discovered quite recently. In 1988, scientists found special receptors in rats’ brains that responded to THC, a component in cannabis. From there, we learned more:

  • The ECS isn’t just in rats. It is found in all animals with spinal cords, including humans.
  • The main role of the ECS? Maintaining balance in our bodies.
  • The ECS is crucial for aspects like mood, sleep, metabolism, and immunity.

Infographic showing details of where CB1 and CB2 receptors are located throughout the body.

Learning about your CB1 and CB2 Receptors

The human body’s ECS has two main receptors, CB1 and CB2.

  • CB1 receptors are primarily in our brain and spine. They’re linked with memory, behavior, appetite, movement, and pain sensation.
  • CB2 receptors are spread throughout the body and play a role in managing inflammation and immune response.

Our body produces molecules called endocannabinoids that bind to these receptors. This binding signals the ECS to act, maintaining our internal balance. Sometimes, though, the ECS might need support, and that’s where cannabis and CBD hemp might come in.

Gloved hands gently handling a cannabis seedling, also called a cannabis clone.

The role of cannabis in supporting the ECS

If you’re interested in a deeper dive, Dr. Dustin Sulak has created an easy-to-understand video about how cannabis interacts with the ECS.

Think of the relationship between cannabis and the ECS like this: Our body has its natural ways to manage pain. Sometimes, however, we might take additional medicine for relief. In the same way, our body creates endocannabinoids, but there are occasions where it benefits from the cannabinoids in cannabis, due to their similarity.

Modern young Black woman on phone with Leaf411, getting answers to her questions about cannabis and taking notes on paper.

Leaf411 can help answer your questions about cannabis and your endocannabinoid system

If this information feels a bit complex, don’t worry. Our Leaf411 nurses have in-depth knowledge of the ECS and can help guide you on the potential benefits of CBD hemp or cannabis based on your health objectives. Please reach out to us by clicking on the “Let’s Talk” button on our homepage to get started.

Street scene showing the front of a cannabis dispensary which carries cannabis flower, pre-rolls, concentrates, edibles and topicals.

The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Cannabis: Understanding Flower, Concentrates, Edibles, Topicals, and More

Check out our comprehensive breakdown of popular cannabis product types before you head to the dispensary

If you’re new to the world of cannabis, the wide range of options on dispensary shelves can be exciting… and overwhelming! Even with cannabis flower (bud) which is typically smoked in bongs or pipes or rolled into joints, you’ll find all kinds of strains and options available in legal cannabis dispensaries these days.

While exploring new cannabis products can be a lot of fun, it can also be frustrating when you end up with a product that’s way too strong or not a good match for your needs. That’s one reason the Leaf411 hotline exists — to save you money and time by helping you find the best options for your cannabis experience level and wellness goals.

As a first step, though, it can be helpful to see what types of cannabis products are available today. This is easy to do using online dispensary members. Take a look at our fully-vetted Leaf411 Cannabis Dispensary Members list and pick an option in your state, then click through to the dispensary website to find their online menu.

Whether you’re looking at online menus or preparing to visit a dispensary in-person, our guide below can help you understand the potency, pros and cons of various product types:

Cannabis flower, or buds, in a jar and on top of a grinder.

Cannabis flower

Description: Flower is the dried cannabis plant buds that are typically ground up and then smoked in a pipe, bong or rolled joints. This is the most traditional form of cannabis consumption. Cannabis flower can also be consumed using specialized dry herb vape devices which is the route most clinicians would suggest for inhalation since, with some devices, you can control the temperature for optimal results

Average THC: 10-30%

Beginner-friendly: Yes


  • Easy to use
  • Wide variety of strains available
  • Immediate effects


  • Requires additional accessories like a pipe, bong, rolling papers or dry herb vaporizer
  • Smoking may be  irritating to the lungs
  • Smoking may create carcinogenic byproducts as a result of combustion
  • Odor may be strong

Five cannabis pre-rolls. Pre-rolls are convenient, portable and beginner-friendly.

Cannabis pre-rolls

Description: Pre-rolls are pre-packaged, ready-to-smoke joints containing ground cannabis flower, usually rolled in a paper cone. Recently, there’s been a lot of innovation in this category, with live resin or hash added to pre-rolls, offering a higher-potency alternative with more pronounced effects.

Average THC: 10-30%

Beginner-friendly: Yes


  • Convenient and portable
  • No rolling skills required
  • Immediate effects
  • More brands are offering 0.5 gram pre-rolls in addition to the standard 1 gram size. The 0.5 gram pre-rolls are ideally sized for single use


  • Some (but not all) pre-rolls are made from shake, which is lower quality than flower
  • Limited strain selection compared to flower
  • Can be irritating to the lungs
  • Smoking may create carcinogenic byproducts as a result of combustion
  • Infused pre-rolls may be overwhelming for beginners due to higher THC levels
  • Odor may be strong

Cannabis vape cartridge filled with cannabis extract in front of a vape pen with a 510-threaded battery.

Cannabis vape cartridges and specialty pods

Description: Vape cartridges and speciality pods are pre-filled containers of cannabis oil. Most vape cartridges, or “carts,” require a separate battery heating element that the cart or pod attaches to,  making up the parts of the vape pen.

Average THC: 60-90%

Beginner-friendly: Yes (start with a low dose, taking only 1-2 puffs)


  • Discreet and portable
  • Can be less irritating to the lungs than smoking
  • Wide variety of flavors and strains


  • High THC content may be overwhelming for beginners
  • Requires a compatible battery
  • Cartridges can be expensive

Cannabis sugar extract on a dab tool, being lifted out of a clear glass jar. Sugar is one type of cannabis concentrate made by extracting and concentrating plant compounds including THC.

Cannabis concentrates

Description: Concentrates are highly potent extracts of cannabis, such as shatter, wax, sugar, and rosin, which can be consumed through methods like dabbing or vaporizing. Some concentrates can also be added to joints before smoking to boost potency.

Average THC: 60-90%

Beginner-friendly: No


  • Extremely potent
  • Long-lasting effects
  • Variety of textures and consistencies


  • Can be overwhelming for beginners
  • Requires specialized equipment
  • High cost per gram

Cannabis chocolate edibles that contain THC, molded into the shape of a cannabis leaf.

Cannabis edibles

Description: Cannabis edibles are food products infused with THC. These may include gummies, chocolates, baked goods and even popcorn.

Average THC: 5-20 mg per serving

Beginner-friendly: Yes (start with a low dose)


  • Discreet and easy to consume
  • Easy to cut or section into smaller doses (start low, go slow!)
  • Wide variety of flavors and products
  • Most have long-lasting effects
  • Some fast-acting edibles like Wana Quick gummies use nanotechnology to deliver a faster, shorter high that’s similar to smoking cannabis


  • Most have slow onset of effects (30 minutes to 2 hours)
  • Easy to accidentally overconsume
  • Effects may vary widely from person to person. A 5 mg gummy may be just right for one person, but too much for another.

Cannabis topical salve in a metal tin in the foreground, with a man rubbing the salve on sore arm muscles.

Cannabis topicals

Description: Topicals are creams, balms, and lotions infused with cannabis, designed for direct application to the skin.

Average THC: 1-10 mg per application

Beginner-friendly: Yes


  • Targeted relief for localized pain and inflammation
  • Non-psychoactive
  • Discreet and easy to use


  • Limited to external use
  • Can be expensive

Older woman in glasses with creative, arty style looking at her laptop, researching cannabis products.

How to choose the best cannabis product for your needs

Understanding the different kinds of cannabis products is just the beginning when it comes to finding the best option for you. You should also think about things like your tolerance level, what kind of effects you want, and what you personally like. If you’re new to cannabis, always start low, using a small amount, and slowly add more until you get the feeling you want.

Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry! Our friendly, fully licensed, cannabis-trained RNs are here to help you. They can provide guidance on picking the right products, doses, and ways to use cannabis, all based on what you need and like. Also, if you have concerns about how using cannabis might affect your health or if you just want to find relief without lots of trial and error, they can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.

To get started setting up your consultation with one of our cannabis-trained RNs, visit this link.

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

Woman sitting on massage table pointing out the location of her back pain while a physician examines her

How Cannabis May Help with Different Types of Pain

From acute to chronic pain, cannabis can be a path towards restored function

By Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

Much like any other medicine, cannabis is not a magic pill, it is a tool. From the available research and our own experiences working with patients, we have found that the cannabis plant may be an effective alternative or adjunct therapy to potentially lower the doses of opiates or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and acetaminophen that can cause unwanted side effects.

Cannabis Can Be a Powerful Tool For Pain

When it comes to pain, everyone is different. How you experience pain, as well as your pain tolerance level, is shaped by a lot of different factors. In the same way, people respond to medicines differently. 

Cannabis is emerging as a different option, proving to be a powerful new tool for managing pain. The cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, especially cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have been shown to reduce inflammation and pain. Other cannabinoids (CBDa, THCa and CBG) plus plant compounds like terpenes may also play a role in reducing pain.

Federal restrictions in the United States continue to limit research on how cannabis impacts pain. However, other countries such as Israel have completed considerable research on cannabis’s therapeutic benefits.

x-ray image of Broken Clavicle also known as the collarbone

What Are the Different Types of Pain?

Understanding the different types of pain and their sources can help you find the best cannabis options.

  • Acute pain usually comes about as the result of an injury, overuse, or medical procedure. While the initial pain can be mild or severe, it gets better over time as your body heals. Slamming your finger in a door results in acute pain. Post-workout soreness, broken bones and surgery recovery also fit into this category.
  • With chronic pain, “the pain itself becomes the disease,” explains Eduardo Fraifeld, MD. Doctors typically categorize pain lasting over 3-6 months as chronic pain. Chronic pain can be associated with arthritis, migraines, diabetes or multiple sclerosis (MS), among other conditions. It can also be a side effect of chemotherapy or other long-term medical treatments. In addition, when an injury heals yet the pain remains, that fits the description for chronic pain.

Pain can also be broken down into the following categories:

Nociceptive pain shown in red on the knee of a track runner

  • Nociceptive pain: Pain in soft tissues, tendons or joints caused by injury, overuse, stress or illness. Arthritis and other types of inflammatory pain also fit in this category. Nociceptive pain tends to get better over time, except for arthritis. With this type of pain, inflammation triggers nearby nerves, resulting in aching or throbbing pain.

Neuropathic pain from typing on a laptop shown in red on a person's wrist

  • Neuropathic pain: Neuropathic pain, or nerve pain, originates in the nervous system. This type of pain is chronic in nature. It often feels like pins and needles, an electric shock, or a burning sensation. Some common causes of neuropathic pain are carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, diabetes, and chemotherapy.

Nociplastic pain shown in red on a person’s lower back as they grab it with their hands

  • Nociplastic pain: Is a relatively new category for pain that doesn’t fit well into the other two categories. Fibromyalgia, non-specific low back pain and irritable bowel syndrome are a few examples. Also, pain associated with and exacerbated by centralized and peripheral sensitization is an example of nociplastic pain.

THC or CBD? It Depends on the Person and the Type of Pain

Cannabis plant compounds (cannabinoids) work on the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system

Everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different, just like everyone has their own pain tolerance levels. Keep this in mind if a product ends up not working for you, there may be a better product or dose for you. You can always call our registered nurses at Leaf411 for guidance.

CBD: Many people successfully use CBD products to reduce inflammation-based pain. Full spectrum products containing all the plant compounds, including some amount of THC (including CBD hemp that has THC, tend to be the most effective. Primarily because minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids work together to create the “entourage effect.”

By helping to reduce inflammation, CBD may indirectly help reduce pain. However, it doesn’t bind directly to the receptors that control pain like an opioid does. For that, you need a different cannabinoid, THC.

THC: A lot of people immediately rule out products with THC because they’re concerned they will become impaired or “high.”

It’s important to know that small amounts of THC may have little to no impairing effects. At the same time, THC—even small amounts—can be a gamechanger when it comes to pain.

THC can act on the same receptors in your body that opioids do. However, you don’t get some of the problematic side effects that opioids can bring—nausea, constipation, and risk of physical addiction.

Cannabis plant compounds (cannabinoids) work on the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system

Everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different, just like everyone has their own pain tolerance levels. Keep this in mind if a product ends up not working for you, there may be a better product or dose for you. You can always call our registered nurses at Leaf411 for guidance.

CBD: Many people successfully use CBD products to reduce inflammation-based pain. Full spectrum products containing all the plant compounds, including some amount of THC (including CBD hemp that has  THC, tend to be the most effective. Primarily because minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids work together to create the “entourage effect.”

By helping to reduce inflammation, CBD may indirectly help reduce pain. However, it doesn’t bind directly to the receptors that control pain like an opioid does. For that, you need a different cannabinoid, THC.

THC: A lot of people immediately rule out products with THC because they’re concerned they will become  impaired or “high.”

It’s important to know that small amounts of THC may have little to no impairing effects. At the same time, THC—even small amounts—can be a gamechanger when it comes to pain.

THC can act on the same receptors in your body that opioids do. However, you don’t get some of the problematic side effects that opioids can bring—nausea, constipation, and risk of physical addiction.

Open hands holding cannabis flower in one hand and pharmaceutical pills in the other hand

Cannabis Compared to Opiates

Ironically, long-term use of opioids for chronic pain can make you more sensitive to pain—an effect called opioid-induced hyperalgesia. What’s the recommended protocol in response to opioid-induced hyperalgesia? To wean off of opioids(with help from your prescribing physician) and find a safer alternative for managing pain. Interestingly, cannabis has shown promise on this front, based on emerging research.

Cannabis does not cause pain sensitization but in fact can help treat it. THC and other cannabinoids work through the same receptors that opioids do. However, the way that they reduce pain (their chemical process) is different.

Neuropathic pain is difficult to treat even with conventional pharmaceuticals. Generally, opioid use for chronic neuropathic pain is ineffective. One study considered the risk and benefits of opioids for the treatment of neuropathies. It stated that “long-term opioid therapy didn’t improve the functional status but rather was associated with a higher risk of subsequent opioid dependency and overdose.”

People watching sunset in park with pink clouds in blue sky

The Goal: To Restore Function

We wish that we could tell you that CBD or THC products will completely eliminate all pain. However, that is not the case. If there were a magic one-size-fits-all cure for pain, the pharmaceutical companies would have discovered and patented it!

Instead, we always set the goal to reduce pain to a manageable level and restore function. When you restore function, you open the possibility of adding on additional supportive activities such as exercise and relaxation that further promote healing.

Can’t wait to get started? Our Leaf411 quick question hotline and one-on-one scheduled nurse guidance calls are available now to answer your questions about using cannabis to manage pain. Call us at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

Dosing cannabis and CBD oil from dropper bottle into cup of coffee on wooden table

Timing Your Dose: How Different Cannabis Products Reduce Pain

by Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

You have options when it comes to cannabis dosing

Whether you’re looking at CBD hemp or cannabis containing higher levels of THC, you have several different routes of administration to choose between:

  • Inhalation (smoking, vaping): Takes effect immediately and lasts 2-4 hours. This is a great choice for instant relief and for treating breakthrough pain (a flare-up in pain). You can also layer inhaled cannabis with a longer-acting method to help get you through the night.
  • Transdermal (patches, gels): Extended release option that takes effect quickly, since the cannabinoids are absorbed directly into your bloodstream. The time of onset is rapid, sometimes within 20 minutes. Transdermal products provide a consistent dose of medicine for up to 12 hours. The transdermal patch or gel is used on an area where the veins are near the skin’s surface—like the inside of your wrist or on your ankle.
  • Sublingual (placed under the tongue): Sublingual administration can provide rapid relief, however, there are few true oromucosal (sublingual) products on the market. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble and, in their natural state, do not absorb well into the oral mucosa. Moreover, cannabis products are often extracted into oils, and these products are not water-soluble. Patients often expect rapid onset when using tinctures, only to wait 1-3 hours for the dose to take effect. Many products marketed as tinctures will end up being swallowed and absorbed via the digestive system, regardless of how long they are held under the tongue. A true sublingual (a product in which the cannabinoids are formulated to be more water-soluble) absorbs rapidly into the mouth. The effects can be perceived in 15-20 minutes and can last 4-6 hours.
  • Edibles (gummies, capsules): Edibles take effect in between 30 minutes and 2 hours. You’ll feel their effects between 5-8 hours. They provide a discreet, portable long-acting option.
  • Topicals (creams, salves): Topicals provide short-term localized relief. They can take effect within minutes, and may last for up to an hour.

It may take some trial-and-error to determine just which type of product works for you. In fact, you may discover that there are different routes of administration for different symptoms you are experiencing. For assistance identifying what works for you, contact a cannabis-trained nurse at Leaf411

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline, chat and scheduled nurse guidance call services provide education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

Rocks balanced on wood

Cannabis oil in jars with cannabis oil capsules next to cannabis leaf on dark background

How to Dose Cannabis: Start Low and Go Slow

Dose sizing can be complicated

by Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

You may remember when the U.S. government sought to simplify food labeling. This was done to make the connection between serving sizes and calories more clear. Confusion around serving size was causing many people to eat or drink a lot more calories than they realized.

Today, we are at a similar spot when it comes to cannabis products, especially edibles. Some manufacturers put the per-dose strength on the product label and some do not. For example, the package might say “10mg CBD/5mg THC.” However, other manufacturers may put the total amount of THC and/or CBD for the entire package instead. 

Also, laws restricting the amount of THC per edible vary between states that have legalized cannabis. Limits may also be different depending on whether the product is designed for recreational or medical consumer sales. For example, Colorado’s suggested serving size for an edible is 10mg which would be far too much THC to consume for a first time user.

Cupped hands holding green cannabis flower

How to Use Cannabis

From Edibles to Vapes, Leaf411 Has Your Questions Covered

by Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

You have options when using cannabis

When we first started taking calls on the hotline, one of the biggest surprises was hearing how many people thought cannabis has to be smoked to be effective. In fact, we even featured this misconception as our first Question of the Month back in 2019!

Many different types of cannabis and CBD hemp products are available today. These different products are designed to fit a wide variety of needs. You should consider factors such as how quickly a product will take effect, how long the effect will last, and what issues you’re targeting.

Our cannabis-trained registered nurses are always happy to answer your questions. Give us a call at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) or schedule a one on one call through our scheduling link

In our guide below, we provide information on different options for using cannabis and CBD products. You’ll also find tips for getting the right dose of this plant-based medicine.

Cannabis leaf next to molecular structure of CBN molecule with chalkboard in background

What is CBN and Can it Help With Sleep?

by Katherine Golden, RN – Founder and CEO of Leaf411

As sleep research advances, so does the understanding of how various cannabinoids like CBD and THC may support improved rest. Below, we’re sharing a quick primer on sleep. Then we will take a look at CBN, a cannabinoid that’s being widely talked about as beneficial for sleep.

Understanding sleep cycles is important

Sleep should be simple, right? Lay down, close your eyes and naturally drift into restful, rejuvenating sleep. 

Unfortunately, sleep is a battle for many of us. From tossing and turning to experiencing physical discomfort as we settle down for the night. Even once asleep, some people struggle to stay asleep long enough to get the benefits of a good night’s rest.

A basic understanding of major sleep cycles can help when it comes to choosing the best hemp or cannabis products for your needs. 

  • Non-REM sleep: This takes up the first three phases of sleep. Non-REM sleep occurs when you drift into a light sleep then move into deeper rest. 
  • REM sleep: This follows non-REM sleep. Most dreaming occurs at this stage of sleep. However, REM sleep’s importance goes well beyond good dreams. REM sleep is also connected to overall brain health and is believed to boost the immune system.

For treatment, clinicians often start by identifying where a patient is encountering difficulty. Is there difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for the desired length of time? That information can provide valuable clues into the hemp or cannabis product -formulation that may work best. It can also help identify the specific cannabinoids to focus on.

Woman with dark hair lying on her side, sleeping in the clouds with white pillows and a white blanket in a blue sky

So what exactly is CBN?

Cannabinol (CBN) is created from THC that has been exposed to UV light and oxygen. This exposure leads to a chemical breakdown that transforms the THC into CBN. As cannabis flower ages, its THC will slowly and naturally convert to CBN. Cannabis extractors have also created processes for speeding up the conversion of THC into CBN oil.

Recently, consumers have reported CBN is a useful nighttime remedy. This has fuelled its use in more and more products. Now, cannabis and hemp manufacturers are creating new products that feature CBN because of CBN’s potential natural sedative effects. 

But does CBN actually work for sleep?

At Leaf411, we believe the anecdotal research supports many manufacturers’ claims about CBN.

For example, one of our members, Myriam’s Hope Hemp, shared anecdotal data with us based on their customer feedback. Their customers found higher doses of CBN (between 15-40mg) to be helpful for falling and staying asleep. This is just one of many reports Leaf411 has found around CBN’s value.

Composite image of scientists with a microscope, tweezers and blue liquid being poured into a beaker

Tips for finding the right CBN, CBD, or other cannabis product for falling asleep and staying asleep

Falling asleep is one challenge. Staying asleep is another.

Difficulty falling asleep?

Consider using a fast-acting product. You’ll want to use the product about 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. Examples of fast-acting products from our members include Wana Optimals Fast Asleep Gummies with THC, CBD, CBN, CBG and melatonin. Also, Impact Naturals Rest capsules with CBD, CBN and melatonin.

Difficulty staying asleep?

Consider taking a longer-acting product that is not labeled as fast-acting. Elixinol’s Sleep Good Night capsules containing CBD and melatonin are a great example. These hemp capsules are longer lasting with a slower onset. While these products take longer for effects to kick in, those effects also last longer through the night.

Find the combination that works for you

You may find it helpful to layer CBD or CBN with different natural over-the-counter sleep products. In fact, many products like those listed above already stack several different beneficial compounds. 

Always ask your doctor about prescriptions

If you’re already taking prescription medications that make you drowsy as a side effect, talk to your doctor. We strongly recommend you check in with your prescribing clinician before adding CBD or THC products to the mix, to avoid any unwanted effects. This also includes sleep medications like Lunesta (eszopiclone), Sonata (zaleplon), or Ambien (zolpidem).

CBN is only one of several cannabinoids that may help with sleep. Both CBD and THC as well as plant terpenes can also play an important role in your sleep routine. Check out our past blog on THC, CBD and sleep to learn more, as well as our blog on finding the best cannabis product to support sleep goals.

Brown converse shoes on colorful mosaic tile floor

Finding sleep-focused hemp and cannabis products you can trust

Our Leaf411 business members have all been through our vetting process, which includes ensuring their products are fully tested and reliable. We’ve included a list of our members below. Most of them offer products geared toward a good night’s rest, including some who offer products which contain CBN.

Keep in mind that effects may vary due to individual differences in people’s endocannabinoid systems. If you don’t get the result you’re seeking, please reach out to our Leaf411 nurses. Our nurses are knowledgeable about how different cannabinoids may impact sleep onset and duration. You can schedule a guidance call at this link.

Cannabis tincture dropper being filled by a patient with cannabis oil for consumption

Leaf411 can help with your questions about using hemp and cannabis

Our Leaf nurses can guide you to new approaches for improving restfulness and achieving your sleep goals. Whether you’re brand new to hemp or cannabis or an experienced user, we are here to help

Get started by scheduling a low-cost guidance call with one of our Leaf411 nurses at this link. We understand cost may be a barrier for some. That’s why we’ve collaborated with our business supporting members to offer a special code to offset the cost. Just click on any of our Vetted Members’ logos to go to their website and call their customer service number. Then, their agents will provide a special Leaf411 code for you.

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline, chat and scheduled nurse guidance call services provide education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.