(This article is sponsored by Karuna Health Foundation.)
Karuna Health Foundation cannabis-dispensary staff say their primary objective is to help people feel better. At its two locations—3636 West 4th Avenue and 4510 Victoria Drive—they put a premium on offering the best variety of sativas, hybrids, and indicas for all their members’ needs.
“Over here, we try to be very compassionate,” says Karuna’s Victoria Drive manager, Kaitlyn McQueen. “Our number one rule is to always have compassion for all of our members. We’re here to help people. As long as you’ve helped people, you’ve done your job.”
It’s why Karuna stocks at least 15 blends in each category at all times. Many are produced under its in-house flagship brands: Sunset and Highly Concentrated Labs.
Sunset is a broad category of flowers that includes sativas, indicas, and hybrid cannabis blends. The Highly Concentrated Labs brand, also known as HCL, includes distillates, Phoenix Tears, shatters, live resins, and rosins.
Situated conveniently along the Number 4, 7, 44, and 84 bus routes—at the stop on West 4th Avenue near Alma Street—Karuna Health Foundation + Metta Lounge is fully wheelchair-accessible. There’s plenty of free parking in its Jericho neighbourhood. The dispensary on Victoria Drive is situated on the Number 19 and 20 bus routes and has free parking.
Below, McQueen explains how some of the Sunset-branded and HCL-branded products differ from one another.
Sunset Jack Herer
McQueen describes this as “almost a full sativa”, which means it’s an uplifting strain for those engaged in physical or creative activities. “It does make you more happy, more uplifted, more energetic,” she says. It includes 21 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive agent in cannabis, and one percent cannabinol (CBN), offering a measure of pain relief, anti-insomnia benefits, appetite stimulation, and anticonvulsive properties. There’s very little cannabidiol (CBD), which is associated with relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions. McQueen says it’s not recommended for people with epilepsy.
Sunset Red Congolese
Another sativa, this strain contains 18 to 20 percent THC, which will leave people feeling a little more clear-headed than if they smoke the Jack Herer. It also includes about one percent CBD, which is helpful for those suffering from muscle pain. “It’s perfect for someone who would have depression,” McQueen advises.
Sunset Blue Dream
This is a hybrid strain with 60 percent sativa and 40 percent indica, which is more sedating and therefore more suitable during evenings. “The CBD on that is about two percent, whereas the THC is about 17 to 24 percent,” McQueen explains. “There are slight traces of CBN there—about one percent. It’s really good for ADHD and chronic pain.”
Sunset Special Reserve
Also known as FI—for Fucking Incredible—this hybrid has 26 percent THC and three percent CBD. According to McQueen, this can benefit those suffering from really bad insomnia. “It can also help people who have a loss of appetite because it increases your metabolism.”
Similar to Special Reserve in THC content, the Wi-Fi hybrid, also known as Wild Fire, has a far lower CBD percentage. “Some people don’t like the CBD,” McQueen explains. “They just want straight THC.”
Sunset Halley’s Comet
This is a low THC hybrid—only seven percent—and comes with 13 percent CBD. It also includes 1.9 percent cannabigerol (CBG), which is a nonpsychoactive parent of both THC and CBD, and eight percent cannabichromene (CBC), which has been linked to pain relief and nausea suppression. “Our three CBD strains that we usually have in stock are Halley’s Comet, Afghani Bullrider, and Charlotte’s Web.”
Sunset Pink Kush
All of Karuna’s pink kushes are indicas high in CBN, which helps people sleep. “It controls pain, it slows inflammation, and it suppresses muscle aches and convulsions,” McQueen says. “So someone who has seizures or is epileptic would prefer to take something that is higher in CBN.” All of Karuna’s strains are hand-trimmed, hang dried and then tested before being put on display, according to store owner Sacha Canow.
Karuna recently began making cannabis distillate concentrates, which can be dabbed or consumed in vape pens. They are between 80 to 90 percent THC, and rich in flavourful terpenes. “They’re very popular,” McQueen says.
HCL Phoenix Tears
Billed by cannabis advocate Rick Simpson as “nature’s answer for cancer”, Phoenix Tears are very high in CBD and THC, according to McQueen. “I’ve got a lot of members who do 60-day cycles of the Phoenix Tears to try to get their cancer into remission,” she says. “That really helps them with sleep, too. It puts people in bed right away.” However, McQueen cautions users to be aware that they only need a dose as big as “a grain of rice at the most” to help because the THC content is so high.
HCL CBD Tincture
Sometimes referred to as the green or golden dragon, tinctures are alcohol-based extracts from the cannabis plant and were linked to medicinal benefits long before the war on drugs began in the 20th century. Because it’s an indica, McQueen says, it helps people sleep.
HCL Live Resin and Shatter
Both are concentrates and McQueen points out that the only difference between a live resin and a shatter is that live resin is made from live plant matter that is flash frozen, while shatter is made from a dried plant. Some prefer live resin for its rich terpene profile and taste, which is said to be enhanced because of the use of live plants. She recommends live resin and shatter for people who have a high tolerance—perhaps if they suffer from scoliosis or a slipped disc in their back—because these products are between 40 to 80 percent THC. People should also seek advice on how to consume these concentrates.