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Review: ‘The Leafly Guide to Cannabis’

Leafly.com is a fantastic online search engine for finding marijuana strains and dispensaries. You probably know Leafly’s colorful guides for strains, reminiscent of the periodic table of elements. They also post quality news stories.

You can find a few of their iconic strain reviews in The Leafly Guide to Cannabis: A Handbook for the Modern Consumer (Twelve Books) The value of this book, however, is its focus on the consumer’s experience. From the young person who has come of age in a world of medical and legal marijuana to the older pot smoker who knows what a three-finger lid is, it covers everything you need to know if you plan on smoking, vaporizing, eating or using cannabis products in any way.

The “Cannabis 101” chapter establishes the basics about marijuana, such as the differences in types (sativa, indica, hybrid), and the numerous cannabinoids and terpenes. This is followed by an overview of strains (“A Definitive Guide”).

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The “Smoking” chapter asks if it’s bad for you. You may not like the answer: “Cannabis smoke exposure is associated with negative cardiovascular effects and lung-function abnormalities.” This section is all about smoking devices: joints, blunts, spliffs, pipes, bongs and grinders. Obligatory how-to-roll illustrations are provided. You’ll even learn the ground rules of stoner etiquette (like who gets the “greens”) and some toking history (“the first recorded use of a joint was in Mexico in 1856”).

The next four chapters dig into the various ways to use cannabis, from “Vaporization” and “Edibles” to “Topicals” and “Oils and Concentrates.” Each one offers tips for beginners and advanced users. The “Vaporization” chapter compares pens with portables and tabletop models like the legendary Volcano, which earns its own sidebar. Whether to vape flower or concentrate is a major discussion point.

“Edibles,” which are often misunderstood, starts out with some basic rules to follow (“Lesson #1: It Takes Time”). There are recipes for cannabutter, oil and tinctures, and basics such as granola, brownies and smoothies. However, take notice that “it’s nearly impossible to calculate potency” of homemade cannabis edibles.

EXCERPT: “‘Blasting dabs’ has become a dividing point within the community, both because of the intense high that it produces and for the image that it presents to outsiders.”

While the “Topicals” chapter is slim (just six pages), plenty of space is devoted to dabbing in “Concentrates and Oils.» The chapter also answers the hot-button question, “What is rosin and how can I make it at home?”

More advice can be found in the “Better Buying and Consumption Tips” and “Troubleshooting” chapters. Rather than shy away from the fact that some people, especially new users, can have bad reactions to marijuana, the latter chapter devotes five pages to “What to Do If You Get Too High” (“Lesson #1: Don’t Panic”).

The Leafly Guide to Cannabis is for people who want to be competent and informed consumers. Its textbook style is probably better suited for older adults who are investigating a return to cannabis consumption in a legal or medical state. However, younger consumers who’ve grown up in semi-legal cannabis cultures may find most of it too basic.

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