How do cannabis products affect the human body?

In order to answer this question, we must first understand cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and terpenes.


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. THC, CBD, CBN, CBC, CBG and THCa are the most commonly sought after cannabinoids. There are over 100 unique active cannabinoids known to exist in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids produce their effects by interacting with specific receptors, located within different parts of the central nervous system.

Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

The endocannabinoid system exists within the human body, and all vertebrates, to receive, produce, and monitor/control the body’s distribution of two cannabanoid types: Endocannabinoids and Phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are produced by the human body, and Phytocannabinoids are produced by the cannabis plant. The purpose of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis, or a balance and evenness, of the brain and body.


Terpenes are the essential oils of a plant. There are over 20,000 known terpenes, over 100 of which can be found in the cannabis plant. Terpenes found in cannabis are not unique to the plant and can be found in other plant life such as oranges or pine trees. These are what give cannabis its unique aroma. Studies indicate that terpenes are part of the “entourage effect,” working together with cannabinoids to increase potentially therapeutic effects. Terpenes degrade over time when exposed to direct sunlight, air, and heat.

Monthly Purchase Limits:

(3.5g flower = 1g concentrate = 100mg edible)



6 ounces of flower or its equivalent in a rolling 30-day period.



3 ounces of flower or its equivalent per transaction.

Methods of Consumption


When inhaling flower the most common methods are by vape, joint or by using glass. Onset is 1-5 minutes, meaning the most immediate effect. Duration can range from 1 to 6 hours. Always start small with just a few inhales of flower. People with lung issues or people sensitive to smoke should consider other consumption methods. Absorption rate is 15-30%.

Using Concentrates/ Dabbing/ Vaping Oil

Cannabis Concentrates such as oil, shatter, wax or live concentrates are another inhalation method using glass rigs or vape pens. Recommended only for more experienced users, this method can be at times four times stronger than inhaling regular dry flower. Onset is 1-5 minutes, and duration can also be 1-6 hours. Recommended for more subtle consumption.


Onset within 1-2 hours but can sometimes take longer than that, so be patient! Duration can be 4-10 hours. Start with 5mg, which is usually half a single serving but micro-dosed edibles can sometimes be available. Recommended for more subtle consumption. Absorption rate 20-60%

Sublingual absorption is also possible with certain edibles, including tinctures. Absorbed under the tongue and through the tissues of the mouth, onset is 10-45 minutes, making it much faster than regular edibles. Duration can be from 2-8 hours. Absorption rate is also high at 70-90%.

Topical and Transdermal Products

For topical and transdermal products, such as salves, lotions or bath products, onset and duration can vary. For specific pain relief and relaxation, these products do have the highest absorption rate of 90-100%.

  1. Topical products are absorbed through the external layer of skin to provide relief to specific localized pain areas. Generally non-psychoactive as cannabinoids do not cross the blood brain barrier and are only absorbed into skin and muscle tissues.
  2. Transdermal absorption formulations are designed to reach deeper tissues at application, meaning the effects can be felt throughout the body. Some suggest this is the most effective method of delivering cannabis to the body because smoking or ingesting can create a loss of 70% of the cannabis used to air and digestive acids.

Cannabis product consumption method infographic

Once you have purchased a cannabis product, you are responsible for following Missouri state laws

  1. It is illegal to consume cannabis in public areas: A public area is defined as any public or private property, or portion of public or private property, that is open to the general public, including but not limited to, sidewalks, streets, bridges, parks, schools, and businesses.
  2. It is illegal to give or sell cannabis to minors.
  3. It is illegal to drive under the influence.
  4. Marijuana use affects brain functioning, and is likely to cause physical and mental impairment.
  5. Those who consume marijuana should not operate a motor vehicle or other similar equipment.
  6. Women who are or may become pregnant or are breastfeeding should avoid using marijuana as it may cause pregnancy complications, harm your baby’s development, and result in a lower birth weight.
  7. Secondhand smoke from marijuana can have psychoactive effects, and should be avoided for all children.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline is available 24/7/365.
1-800-662-HELP (4357)

St. Louis Addiction Counseling LLC:

Missouri Poison Control:

Department of Health and Senior Services:

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