LEE, Mass. — Meg Sanders is the CEO of Canna Provisions, an adult-use cannabis dispensary with two locations in Massachusetts: at 220 Housatonic Street in Lee and at 380 Dwight Street in Holyoke. The stores’ mission is to “better everyone’s journey in cannabis with the best selection of cannabis products available to Massachusetts consumers, with the highest level of thoughtful customer service in retail cannabis.”
We asked Sanders some questions about cannabis, its use and what consumers may wonder about the product but are too afraid to ask.
Berkshire Eagle: People have many questions about using recreational cannabis for the first time. A lot of them are still confused about THC versus CBD, and the effects that each of them have. What’s the difference?
Canna Provisions: Well, understanding the THC content of cannabis is one of the most challenging things to work through because people try to equate it to something they already know. They think it works like alcohol content by volume, like one beer has 4.5% ABV or another has 7% ABV.
Except it doesn’t work that way. There are a number of different factors, including THC, CBD and other cannabinoids, which give each person a different effect.
We recently came across a study that looked at the different THC levels of cannabis and its effect. The study found that, from a chemical standpoint, there was no difference in effect once the cannabis flower reached 17% THC. So it didn’t matter if you had a 17%, 24% or 28%, the user felt the same high in all levels after 17%.
BE: So just like some of the vitamins people take. Like, your body can only absorb so much vitamin C before it expels the rest.
CP: It’s very similar. You only have so many receptors in your body, and once those are full, it just doesn’t matter anymore. It won’t have an effect.
Unfortunately, consumers are shopping by how much THC is in a product, and it’s one of the most misleading things ever. We’re constantly trying to educate them, letting them know that so many more parts of the plant can affect your high.
Even then, the effect that the product will have on a person also depends on the different factors in the plant as well as the makeup of the person. There are so many other cannabinoids besides THC and CBD that the industry is still studying, and it’s learning a lot of new cool things every day.
BE: You mentioned the “percentage of flower” earlier. What exactly is the flower?
CP: The flower is the actual flower that the plant produces, and then we trim it, dry it, cure it and package it so that you can smoke it or vape it. While other products are available, like edibles and tinctures, the most popular product we sell is for the flower.
BE: So what’s the difference in effect between an edible (i.e. gummy) versus smoking?
CP: That’s a great question, because this is where consumers need to be careful. When you consume cannabis through a combustible or vaporization of a flower, it goes right to your blood-brain barrier through your lungs, so the impact is almost immediate. And it also wears off fairly quickly, too.
Compare that to an edible, like a gummy. Its effect doesn’t really hit your bloodstream until your liver processes that. When that happens, it exponentially increases the psychoanalytic effects. And because it goes through your liver, it can build up. So you could be fine having a five-milligram gummy on the first five days, but on the sixth day, you could have a really different effect because you’ve had different chemical components in your liver.
Another thing to be careful of is that some people can take two hours or more before they feel the effect of an edible. Some people will make the mistake of thinking they should take another since they didn’t feel anything the first time. All of a sudden, the effect of two gummies takes hold, and it’s not the desired effect they were hoping for.
So you need to be very careful when consuming an edible. Now, we are required by law — but I also think it’s very helpful — that we sell edibles in five milligram doses, which helps prevent people from having a bad experience.
BE: What can a consumer expect when they enter a cannabis dispensary for the first time?
CP: The first thing you should expect is that you should be comfortable arriving. Is the location comfortable to you? Are the parking lots comfortable? When you walk in, you should feel secure and thoughtfully cared for. Those are just the starting points.
Next, the dispensary should have a diverse menu and can provide different types of products to try for various things that you might want to use cannabis for, whether that be from a health and wellness standpoint, for recreation, or sleep.
You should also expect that the products are thoughtfully curated so you can be assured you’re choosing high-quality vendors and high-quality products. And you should feel comfortable in speaking with the staff and knowing that they’re well-educated about the products and the effects. There are a lot of options for interaction and the ability to ask questions, so you should never feel rushed. At Canna Provisions, we invest heavily in our dispensaries to make sure the staff is smart, attentive and ready to go to work.
BE: And how should customers select their first products?
CP: In our store, our guides’ job is to help uncover what consumers are looking for in terms of experience, health and wellness issues they want to address, or what effect they’re looking for. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, because it’s important that you feel knowledgeable about what you’re trying and what you can expect. The more questions you ask, the better our guides can help provide you with a thoughtful and respected journey.
BE: What are some of the myths you’re still fighting?
CP: Probably one of the biggest myths is that if we open a regulated dispensary, it will increase access for children. That absolutely does not happen — there have been many studies that refute this belief. Not only do we card people when they make their purchase, there is even age verification on our website. Everyone has to be over 21 to visit a dispensary, buy from us or even just look at our website.
BE: Finally, what are you doing for holiday giving this year?
CP: We have had a successful relationship with the Boys & Girls Club here in the area, as well as the local food pantry here in Lee. We’re also trying to feed 30 families this year for Thanksgiving here in Lee, so we’re doing food drives at both of our stores. And there are other smaller, community-based organizations that we love to support.
We’ll take up smaller causes as well. For example, our beloved police chief here in Lee, Jeff Roosa, passed away this year from ALS. And Chief Roosa has a scholarship fund at the high school, and we collected money for the scholarship program, and everyone in the community was super excited about it. We were happy to support the community and the chief. You couldn’t find a more standup guy, and we absolutely loved him. So we were able to participate in that and show our support for him.