Ways Pot Has Changed
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12 Things to Know Before Buying Cannabis in States Where It's Legal

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Ways Pot Has Changed
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Whole New Weed

In less than two decades, 33 states have legalized cannabis in some form, indicating that there's been a major shift in public opinion on marijuana use. But as the laws continue to evolve, those who are curious about buying cannabis are likely left with plenty of questions. From different levels of potency (including non-psychoactive options) to various methods of consumption and reasons for trying cannabis products, we've broken down what you need to know before making a purchase.

Related: Why Health Experts Are Talking About CBD

There Are More Options
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There Are More Options

Before marijuana became legal in many states, people had no choice but to accept whatever their supplier had available. Today, there are entire menus of different grades, strengths, and types. Hilary McCain of cannabis beverage company Sweet Reason says, "We have more options...We know more today, so people get better quality ingredients and products."

It's also important to keep in mind that many dispensaries are cash-only as cannabis is still considered illegal under federal law, so sellers may not have access to card processing options.

There Are Different Strains
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There Are Different Strains

The choices today can be overwhelming. Leafly organizes different strains under their common names. Dispensaries have also become a showcase of fine and rare varieties of weed, not unlike boutique wine and spirits shops.

There Are Different Effects
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There Are Different Effects

In addition to the different names, looks, and flavors of each distinct strain, each one is used to achieve different results. There are three distinct types of marijuana, and from those categories strains have been determined to be relaxing, sleep-inducing, and even energizing.

There Is a Non-Psychoactive Choice
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There Are Different Uses
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There Are Different Uses

Medical marijuana is more than just psychoactive weed used to treat and illness or symptoms. There are standards that medical marijuana must meet and often the plant is cultivated for specific healing or symptom relief properties. The regulations surrounding recreational marijuana are less strict.

Edibles Have Been Upgraded
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Edibles Have Been Upgraded

Edibles have taken off as a trend in marijuana — and have even become the focus of several television food shows. There is now a veritable smorgasbord of options beyond the traditional brownies. Candies, gourmet chocolate bars, and butters are all popular ways to eat cannabis treats. The science behind ingesting marijuana confirms that the effects of eating marijuana can be delayed, but can last longer and feel stronger.

It Can Be Imbibed
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It Can Be Imbibed

From CBD drinks and beer alternatives to infused tea bags and canna-butter in coffee, 'edibles' have extended into 'imbibe-ables.' The drinks industry is currently exploding with cannabis as the laws remain ambiguous even for legalized states.

It Can Be Used Externally
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It Can Be Used Externally

Research confirms that when applied topically, cannabis reduces pain and inflammation. Both THC and CBD creams, salves, and lotions are becoming popular ways to administer the plant. There are even versions specifically designed for the lips.

There Is More Information Available
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There Is More Information Available About Production

Cannabis is a plant, and like any agricultural commodity knowing how the plant is grown and processed is important to many consumers. Chemicals in the growing or production process should be considered, especially by those trying to lead a clean lifestyle. "If you're buying CBD products, it's important to ask questions of the company you're buying from," says Hilary McCain of Sweet Reason. "What type of CBD do they use? Where do they get it from? How is it extracted? Is it water-soluble?"

Less is Often More
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Less Is Often More

Some people find today's designer strains to be exceptionally potent, so paying attention to dosage is a key factor in enjoying the effects. When it comes to products infused with THC, figuring out the portion size can be tricky, too. Luckily, there are online guides for beginners.

Side Effects Can Be Stronger
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Side Effects Can Be Stronger

Just because it may be considered safe for adults to use doesn't mean there aren't side effects — a problem in the past that, with stronger strains, can be exacerbated today. Side effects range from relatively innocuous things like increased appetite and sleepiness to potentially more serious and disruptive effects like paranoia and increased heart rate.

There's Big Money to Be Made
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There's Big Money to Be Made

The 21st-century marijuana industry isn't all family farms and small craft companies. There are also very large corporations now invested in cannabis. Like wine and spirits, cannabis will likely grow to the point that those who want a smaller craft product will have to search for it.