Cannabis Flower 101: Everything You Need to Know

As more states continue to legalize marijuana, both medicinally or recreationally, new products and different forms of consumption are making their debut. While this can certainly be new and exciting, in order to properly understand cannabis and its benefits, it’s better to start with the basics: the flower. 

While every type of cannabis product, including CBD and Delta varieties, comes from the dried flowering tops, leaves, stems, and seeds of the Cannabis sativa (hemp) plant itself, they all offer different effects for users. Some of the ingredients in cannabis are psychoactive (mind-altering), but others are not. The potency and balance of the ingredients vary, depending on how the manufacturer grows and processes the plant.

Whether you are a consumer or a brand looking to educate your customers, here is everything you need to know about cannabis flower.

What is Cannabis Flower?

Probably one of the most well-known ways of consuming cannabis is by smoking or vaping flower, also referred to as a bud or nug. Especially after it has been dried and cured, smoking flower can provide a fast-acting high and/or pain relief, depending on what you want cannabis to do for your body. 

According to Jessica Baker, CEO of Baker Botanica, in most medical and recreational markets, flower makes up about half of all cannabis sales. Filip Luneski, a senior marketing professional with extensive international experience at some of the world’s most renowned companies including Coca-Cola, Molson Coors, and Anheuser Busch InBev, agrees with Baker. At Lucid Green, the current company he works at, the company’s sell-out data reporting proves that flower is still the most popular product.

How to Smoke Cannabis Flower

When smoking flower, the effects kick in almost instantaneously and can last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the dose and person. Most weed smokers consume cannabis flower using one or more of the following methods:

  • Joint: the joint, sometimes called a cannabis cigarette, consists of ground flower rolled in smokable rolling paper.
  • Blunt: similar to joints, blunts involve rolling ground flower in a blunt wrap or emptied cigar.
  • Pipe: one of the most common stoner tools, the pipe allows weed smokers to smoke on the go without additional materials beyond their flower, pipe, and lighter or match. 
  • Bong: the bong, or water pipe, allows cannabis consumers to filter weed smoke through water.

Beginners should take a cautious approach to cannabis consumption. David Charles, the co-founder, CEO, and COO of Mood, suggests using a vaporizer for flower as it can be a gentler option compared to smoking, ultimately minimizing potential respiratory irritants.

Lauren Fontein, Co-Founder at The Artist Tree, notes that smoking out of a bong can also minimize potential respiratory irritants due to the water and/or ice inside. “I find I really like vapes. At the end of the day, I’m not looking to get really high, so I can have one or two hits and it won’t last as long. It’s a very good entryway product for people,” Fontein said.

How to Know if Cannabis Flower is Right For You

For those who are new to marijuana or just looking for something different, it’s important to understand the contrasting effects it can offer before making a purchase. According to Ashley Jelks, Founder of HIGH PRIESTESS, the effects of flower tend to have a quicker onset and comedown period, meaning that smoking or vaping flower typically causes the consumer to experience the ‘high’ more quickly compared to other methods. But the ‘high’ doesn’t last as long. 

Jelks suggests asking yourself the following questions to know if flower is the right option for you:

  • How do I want to feel?
  • What’s my primary reason for consuming?
  • How long do I potentially want to be feeling these effects?

Pro Tip: “Be careful because a lot of brands are trying to include a high amount of THC in their products because they’re finding that it sells,” Heidi Urness, Co-Chair, Cannabis Practice Group at McGlinchey Stafford, said. “For newer users, make sure you go for something with a lower THC percentage. You can enjoy cannabis without taking it to the extreme, so find something that works with your body. And I would find that with lower THC.”

How to Dose Cannabis Flower

Cannabis strains vary widely in potency, cannabinoid content, and terpene content — all of which can affect your cannabis experience. Flower potency is measured by the total concentration of cannabinoids—chemical compounds that act on our endocannabinoid system to stimulate psychoactive and physical effects—and is expressed in a percentage. 

For example, the label on a jar of OG Kush flower might read 18% THC, which indicates there are 180 milligrams (mg) of THC per gram of flower.

  • 10% THC or less: flower in this range is considered mild 
  • 10% – 20% THC: strong for beginners and often just right for casual consumers
  • 20% THC and above: some of the strongest weed you’ll find

“Understanding which cannabis product is right for you depends on your personal preferences and desired effects. Flower, tinctures, and edibles offer different consumption methods and effects. It’s essential for consumers to consider factors such as their experience with cannabis, desired onset time, and dosage control when making a choice. Researching and experimenting with each product type can help consumers find what suits them best,” Charles said.