Ever since legalization, there has been an uptick in consumers looking to purchase cannabis online. In fact, nearly half (43 percent) of Canadian cannabis consumers prefer to shop online rather than in-store, according to a study commissioned by Figr, a Canadian cannabis company that produces high-quality, local cannabis products.
The shift to buying cannabis online might mean you lose out on getting recommendations directly from a budtender–something those of us just starting out in cannabis rely on when looking to try new products. That’s why we’ve partnered with Figr to ensure you come to your next online purchase armed with the right intel.
“When it comes to buying cannabis, it’s important to have transparent information so you can select a product that you can trust,” says Zack Grossman, vice president of marketing for Figr. “This way, you’ll feel confident that you’re receiving high-quality, reliable cannabis.”
With that in mind, here’s a list of handy tips to help you better navigate your next online cannabis shopping trip.
The four basic steps of selecting cannabis online
When you first land on a cannabis retail site, there are a wide variety of products you can choose from. To ensure you’re narrowing your focus on the right product, start by considering a few basic criteria:
1. Choose your format: How you want to consume cannabis? Here’s a quick breakdown on some of the more common uses:
Dried flower allows you to have a more hands-on experience and roll on your own.
Pre-rolled joints means no prep work required–the product will be ready for you to consume the moment you receive it.
Vapes typically require both a device and cartridges and are often considered a more convenient way to consume.
Extracts and oils are a concentrate of cannabis without the leaves or stems of the plant and open up a variety of consumption methods.
Edibles involve consuming cannabis-infused items like drinks, chocolate and gummies.
2. Pick your cannabinoid profile: Cannabis comes in a few distinct profiles; THC (the active ingredient that produces a high), CBD (often associated with relaxation absent of a high) or balanced 1:1 (a combination of both). Selecting a profile is often based on the experience you’re looking for.
3. Select the potency best for you: Once you select your desired profile, are you looking for that high to be mild or strong? Here’s a general reference of the percentages for flower products:
Mild: <10 percent THC
Medium: 10-20 percent THC
Strong: 20 percent THC
4. Pick your strain: With a clearer understanding what you’re after, it’s time to pick your strain. When exploring your options, sites like Leafly.ca, CannCentral, and Lift.co can be helpful, providing company and product profiles alongside reviews from real consumers to help you better understand what to expect from a strain.
This process makes the experience much more pointed, which may seem quite different than simply browsing in a store. However, having a clear understanding of what you want ahead of time can help you easily seek out products that you’ll be interested in.
Bonus Step: Terpenes–the key to further defining your cannabis preferences
Once you’ve found a combination of the above criteria that you like, Figr suggests adding a fourth step to really fine-tune your selection; looking at the terpene profile of a strain. Terpenes are organic compounds of a cannabis plant that are responsible for things like smell and taste, like citrus or pine. They also play an important role in how you find yourself feeling, with some promoting relaxation and others helping you feel more focused.
“With time, you’ll notice patterns of which terpenes you like and don’t like, which will help you identify the cannabis products that work for you,” Grossman says. “For example, if strains heavy in limonene make you feel great, you can use that information to help you pick your next strain, one that is limonene dominant.”
To help you understand your terpene preferences, Figr has created an interactive educational tool called the Figr Budtender App. Powered by SENTRISM–a one-of-a-kind traceability platform–the app provides in-depth information about where and how Figr’s cannabis is produced. By scanning the label on Figr’s packages with the app, consumers can find detailed info on the cannabis, including terpene profiles, ratios of THC and CBD, where it was grown, how long it was cured and much more. You can download the Figr Budtender app here.
Is it a Match? Getting to know cannabis companies before you buy
The final step you may want to consider before purchasing is doing a bit of research on the companies themselves. Today, more than ever, people like to know they’re supporting companies that share similar values to their own. This additional research can help you learn more about the values of the businesses that you’re thinking about supporting so you can feel confident about your next purchase.
While online cannabis retailers provide a lot of helpful knowledge right on the product pages, you can find supplementary information by visiting cannabis companies’ websites. Let’s use our friends at Figr again as an example–their profile on the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) website provides information about the company’s beginnings in Prince Edward Island, their roots in five generations of farming and their commitment to traceability. But Figr’s website contains more comprehensive information and even highlights its newest initiative–The Figr Fund–which is focused on supporting the success and development of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) small business owners, innovators, entrepreneurs and community leaders.
Now you’re ready to buy
While cannabis retail websites do a tremendous job at providing useful information on products and companies, getting better in tune with what you’re looking for and doing a little extra research upfront can help you find exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to your next online purchase. This way, you can ensure that there are no surprises when your package arrives at your doorstep.