How To Save Money on Cannabis
- Marijuana is expensive whether you buy it on the street or at dispensaries nationwide.
- High-CBD hemp flower looks, smells, and smokes just like marijuana but costs quite a bit less in most cases.
- Buying the most potent marijuana available and then mixing it with hemp flower can help cannabis users save money while being better for their health.
Let’s face it. Weed isn’t cheap. It doesn’t matter whether you buy it on the street or you buy it at dispensaries nationwide. Daily medical or recreational use can easily cost $5 to $20 a day. That’s $1,800 to $7,300 a year — a lot of green.
What if you could put one-third of that in the bank instead of up the chimney? If you were to only spend $200 a month instead of $300, then put $100 a month into an account bearing 6% interest, at the end of 30 years, you would have almost $100,000 in your savings account. On top of that, you could also put that in an IRA and save upwards of $250 a year on taxes.
Now, what if you could do that while NOT cutting your consumption? It would be like getting paid $100,000 to smoke weed. The only thing that changes is you end up with $100,000 at the end of 30 years. But is this possible?
Actually, there is something that might have to change. To fully understand the money-saving strategy outlined below, we need to understand what it is we’re really buying.
A bit about cannabis flower
First, understand that marijuana is not a plant. Marijuana is a product that comes from the cannabis plant, like corn is a product that comes from the maize plant. Cannabis is the plant. And the product of the crop is its sticky flower clusters. Also very commonly referred to as “marijuana.”
To use another farming analogy, marijuana comes in a wide array of types. All tomatoes are tomatoes. However, there are myriad types of tomatoes — big red ones, little yellow ones, pear-shared, grape-shaped, and so on. They are all the same species of plant but with different genetic breeding.
The difference between various marijuana strains comes down to three basic categories. There’s the form, if you will — bud density, shape, etc. Then there’s the all-important cannabinoids — THC, CBD, and others. And then there are the terpenes. Let’s look at each of these.
The form of the buds is a matter of personal taste but it also affects how fast the bud burns. Some people like their buds hard, some like them soft. And depending on the device used for smoking, the density and form factors mean that not all buds burn at the same rate. Moreover, not all people take the same size “hits.”
- Next, we have cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids could easily be the topic of an entire book. The correct technical term for cannabinoids produced in plants (as opposed to those produced by our own bodies) is phytocannabinoids. The two most common cannabinoids found in marijuana are THC and CBD. THC is the one that causes intoxication. And CBD is non-intoxicating, but relaxing for most people.
Also, some additional minor cannabinoids are found in cannabis flower including CBN, CBC, CBG, and others. We’ll touch on that more in a moment.
For now, let it suffice to say that each cannabinoid when used in moderation provides various physiological and psychological effects and health benefits to both medical marijuana patients and recreational users alike.
Cannabinoids are odorless, flavorless oils. At room temperature purified cannabinoids — aka isolates — crystalize into white or amber granules. You can oftentimes see the crystals on potent buds. Cannabinoids make up as much a third of some modern strains of cannabis flower.
- The next important factor in both the qualities and effects of cannabis flower is a class of compounds called terpenes.
These are the oils in cannabis flower that give each strain its distinctive aroma. Some terpenes smell like pine, some smell like citrus, some like flowers or spices or hops or fruits and so forth.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that terpenes are actually far more powerful than cannabinoids. The amount of terpenes in a bud is a very tiny fraction of the amount of cannabinoids. Moreover, each individual terpene — and there are scores of them — produces its own medicinal and psychological effects.
Terpenes are so powerful that just the mere scent of a particular terpene can cause changes in physiology making you more awake, more relaxed, more hungry, etc. In fact, terpenes have been used for eons in a healing modality known as aromatherapy.
If you were to ingest 100 milligrams of CBD you might feel extremely relaxed and maybe even lethargic. But in the vast majority of cases, you’d be back to your old self in a matter of hours.
But if you were to ingest 100 milligrams of certain terpenes, you might end up locked into your couch or even a hospital bed — especially if you’re allergic to that particular terpene. (Cannabinoids are hypoallergenic.)
Why are terpenes so powerful? It’s because they evolved in plants as a method of attracting pollinators and thwarting pests. In order to attract bees, for instance, flowers need to be detectable perhaps miles away. All it takes is for the bee to detect a single microscopic molecule. Whereas cannabinoids are measured in milligrams and grams, terpenes are measured in PPM (parts per million).
If the buds you’re smoking have the wrong terpenes for the desired effect, you might end up smoking more bud. Also, certain terpenes make some people cough thereby wasting some of the smoke. A terpene called caryophyllene is famous for this. If weed makes you cough, try using strains that don’t contain this terpene.
The bottom line on terpenes is that by learning all about terpenes and their effects, you might save yourself some money. If you buy strains that have high levels of terpenes that provide the effects you want, then you can smoke less and get the same effects.
Using only high-THC marijuana is bad for your health
Most cannabis users — recreational users especially — think the higher the THC, the better. While this might be true if you just want to get blitzed, limiting your cannabinoid content to only THC can be bad for your health.
THC is known to cause loss of motor control, memory loss, paranoia, and potentially even long-term mental health issues. Moreover, constant bombardment with THC can produce a serious imbalance in your endocannabinoid system and weaken your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis resulting in other health issues that can cost good money to treat.
- To offset these potentially expensive problems, pot smokers should be smoking cannabis strains that contain significant levels of CBD or CBG in addition to THC.
Both CBD and CBG offer powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antioxylitic effects. That means that these cannabinoids help protect neurons in the brain from damage. They also help to reduce the anxiety and paranoia that often come with excessive doses of THC. They also have a wide array of additional health benefits.
Another point to interject here is that it’s not good to go to sleep with your bloodstream teeming with THC. THC can disrupt REM sleep which is super-important for mental health. Enjoying some high-CBD or CBG hemp flower before retiring can help offset this.
Save money by mixing strains and concentrates
As we mentioned, every strain of cannabis has its own ratio of cannabinoids. Many strains of marijuana contain mostly THC and very little CBD and other cannabinoids. Some are quite the opposite.
In fact, there are strains of cannabis that produce negligible amounts of THC or none at all. Collectively these are referred to as “hemp.” Any strain of cannabis that produces less than 0.3 percent THC is considered to be hemp. And hemp, unlike marijuana, is perfectly legal at the U.S. federal level.
There are two major categories of hemp. There’s industrial hemp which is cultivated for seeds for food and fibers for textiles — not flowers. And then there are strains of phytocannabinoid-rich hemp or PCR hemp which are indistinguishable from marijuana.
PCR hemp is grown like marijuana, it looks like marijuana, it smells like marijuana, and it tastes like marijuana. It can be used in the say ways as marijuana – smoked, vaped, and cooked.
Marijuana is one of the most, if not the most highly regulated crop in the country. That’s why it’s so expensive. Because PCR hemp is legal nationwide, and because growers have far fewer red tape hoops to jump through, it can be produced for much less money. And therefore, it’s less expensive than marijuana. In fact, hemp flower can typically be bought for anywhere from half to two-thirds of the price of marijuana.
There are hemp strains that are high in CBD, but there are also hemp strains that are high in another non-intoxicating cannabinoid called CBG.
The problem is, at marijuana dispensaries, strains that have both THC and CBD cost no less than strains that are super-high in THC. And strains that contain both THC and CBG are pretty much non-existent.
The reasons are a bit complicated, but understand that neither marijuana nor high-CBD hemp generally contains much if any CBG. That’s because the CBG is the precursor to other cannabinoids. In order to make a strain that’s high in CBG, it has to be bred to produces limited amounts of enzymes that convert the CBG into CBD or THC as the plant matures.
- So here’s the money-saving trick we promised you:
Buy the most potent marijuana you can find that has the highest levels of THC. It can have zero CBD in it. Then go out or online and get some CBD- or CBG-rich hemp and mix that with your super-high THC weed. Anyone can buy CBD or CBG flower online without a medical marijuana card.
Mixing marijuana and hemp not only costs less than buying a marijuana strain with both THC and CBD/CBG, it also lets you easily adjust the amount of THC and CBD/CBG in your batch. You can smoke bud with only THC if you want the heavy high. And you can smoke hemp flower with no THC at other times.
For example, when you’re at school or work, and you want to enjoy a puff, then break out the hemp. But when you’re down for the night enjoying some Netflix and pizza, break out the marijuana. And when you’re playing softball, maybe use a half-and-half mix. Whatever serves you.
By mixing hemp and marijuana you can also enjoy cannabinoid mixes that aren’t available in any single strain. For example, there are no strains of marijuana that produce 1:1 ratios of THC to CBG. But you can create that ratio by mixing strains.
Another way to approach this is to purchase some top-quality, CBD-rich hemp and some super-potent marijuana concentrates — hash or kief are best — and then sprinkle that into your hemp to add some THC when you want it. Whether or not this is more or less expensive than mixing flower strains depends on your local market.
How you smoke matters
This point is up for debate, but smoking joints can be far more efficient than smoking marijuana in a pipe — especially when you’re smoking alone.
Thinking that joints are wasteful can be an easy assumption when you’re watching the smoke drift away between hits. However, that’s not what’s happening.
When you use a vaporizer to vape flower, the heating element produces heat that is pulled through the flower that vaporizes the cannabinoids and terpenes.
But when you smoke a joint, the hot head of the joint acts as the heating element. When you take a hit, the heat from the head vaporizes the cannabinoids and terpenes farther down in the joint.
After you take a hit, the smoke you see coming off the end of the joint is coming mostly from the plant matter burning. That’s why joints go out, the oils (cannabinoids and terpenes) in the head are used up.
What this comes down to is how many people are smoking together. If a joint is being passed around and constantly being hit on, then a one-hit water pipe might be a better choice.
However, if you’re smoking alone, you can take a nice cannabinoid-and-terpene-rich hit and then let the plant matter burn off. Once the smoke tapers off, take the next hit. You can easily get 20 hits off a good joint. But if you take the same amount of weed and push it into a bowl, you might get half as many while inhaling far more combusted plant matter than you would when smoking a joint.
This is just a brief overview of some ideas that might help you save money on weed. The basic advice is to buy some super-high-THC marijuana, and some high-potency CBD- or CBG-rich hemp flower, then mix them together. Enjoy different mixtures of cannabinoids depending on the situation. Also, try different mixtures of hemp flower and add cannabis concentrates such as hash or kief.
Finally, how you smoke your flower matters. Some experimentation can help you find which smoking or vaping method saves you the most money. You can compare a ½-gram joint to smoking a ½ gram in a pipe, for example. Well-rolled joints or single-hit pipes are usually the most economical method when you’re alone and patient.
As they say, “put that in your pipe and smoke it.”