What First Time Users Should Know About Cannabis
If you’re thinking about trying cannabis for the first time, thanks for getting educated first! Knowledge is power and there’s a reason 50% of Americans are curious about it. This simple guide will help make sure your first time is a good time, because what’s cannabis about?
Having a good time!
It’s also being safe, please so read our article about how to stay safe while enjoying cannabis either before continuing or between reading this article and trying weed.
Preparing for the Experience
First, know that you can always get more high later. While experts debate about whether there’s such a thing as getting “too high,” the rest of us agree that you can definitely get “higher than you wanted to be,” and it’s not a good time. It’s important to start small so you can get a feel for the effects and how you react to marijuana before experimenting with higher doses. Think about it like cooking, it’s easier to add than subtract. If you do end up feeling too high, we legit wrote an article about what to do when you are too high.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Think about how long it will be until you have to drive somewhere, interact with people professionally, or do something that requires your prolonged, undivided attention, e.g., going to work, looking after kids, or serving on a jury. Remember to take the four stages of being high into account. If you have less than four hours before real-world responsibilities, you might want to postpone your first joint or dab until you’re finished with your obligations for the day. Plan for longer, just to be safe.
Edibles can last even longer, with effects that can stretch up to ten hours after ingestion. The first time you try edibles should be a day when you don’t have any external expectations, you won’t be expected to drive, and you won’t be directly responsible for anyone else’s health or safety.
Set and Setting
The first time you try cannabis, choose someplace comfortable and familiar, with a convenient bathroom. Better yet, just go to the bathroom beforehand. The last thing you need to worry about for your first time is how to get past your flatmates without looking awkward.
Try to set up your future self to have a good time by filling a water bottle, collecting some of your favorite snacks, and putting on some music that you like. The full course of a cannabis high can last around four hours if inhaled,—or about two movies. We recommend Pixar or Marvel. Definitely nothing from the horror genre.
The people you’re with can have an effect too. Try inviting just one or two close friends to partake, people you already trust and who have your best interests at heart. Avoid crowds of strangers who might make you feel paranoid.
Making a Purchase
Go to a Store
Visiting a real, live, legal marijuana dispensary for the first time is a magical experience. There are rows of glass jars containing a range of different strains, wire racks with clones growing under a bright lights, coolers full of cannabis-infused refreshments, and a wide selection of pre-packaged vaporizers, snacks, and pre-rolls. The selection is staggering, so don’t feel bad if it’s overwhelming.
First, know the laws of your state concerning the purchase and use of recreational or medicinal cannabis. They’re your best resource for where you’re allowed to buy weed, how much you can legally have on your person, where you’re allowed to consume it, and other things you may want to know about. As of January 2021, marijuana is still a Schedule I Controlled Substance in the United States, so make sure you’re aware of the risks before you go in! Also make sure to bring your photo ID since dispensaries don’t allow underage people on the premises. See our frequently asked questions about cannabis laws here in Oregon for quick information.
The people who work there are just great. They’re the most experienced with their shop’s selection, and they want to make sure you’re happy with your purchase, so feel free to ask questions! Tell them what you like, what you’re looking for, and they’ll offer helpful recommendations to find it.
Sometimes, there are some pretty compelling reasons to keep you from wanting to go into a physical store. Mobility, discretionary, and even public health concerns (have you read our response to COVID-19?) are enough to make people look for other options. Fortunately, there are now online cannabis delivery services (like Pot Mates!) that allow you to make your selection from the comfort of your own home and have it hand-delivered to your door.
Methods of Consumption
There are about a million different ways to consume cannabis (if you round up), but let’s just focus on three for now: flower, concentrates, and edibles. We wrote a pretty detailed article about the different ways to consume cannabis if you are curious.
You can picture it now: green, five-pointed leaves, sparkling crystals, little orange hairs, the smell of skunk and fuel…all of which you can put in a pipe or roll into a joint to smoke it the old-fashioned way. You can even buy pre-rolled joints right in the store!
If you have sensitive lungs, you might benefit from a bong or a bubbler. These pieces are designed with a water chamber for the smoke to go through, cooling it before it reaches your mouth and lungs. Bongs often have ice chambers that let you cool the smoke even further.
To start with, take one hit, exhale fully, then wait about five minutes before deciding to take another. Breathe normally. You may experience lightheadedness, some tingling in your arms and legs, and a gentle tension around your crown. These sensations mean that the high is starting to “come on,” and it can take up to thirty minutes for you to feel the full effects.
While flower is one of the cheapest ways to purchase cannabis, combusting has its costs. Every time you inhale burning plant matter, you’re inhaling carcinogens that have been linked to the development of lung, throat, and mouth cancer, which is why vaporizing and concentrates have become much more popular methods.
Cannabis concentrates are made by extracting the active chemicals in cannabis—like THC, CBD, and terpenes—from the raw plant matter. “Dabbing” is applying a small amount of marijuana concentrate to a super-heated bowl or “nail,” so that it turns instantly into vapor. Due to the high temperatures involved, it is highly recommended that you use a bong or bubbler, the purchase of which can make your initial investment pretty costly.
A cheaper and more convenient alternative is the vaporizer cartridge. These come as either a single disposable unit like an electronic cigarette with a built-in battery, or as separate rechargeable batteries and cartridges. These vaporizers are great for managing your dose and keeping your home clean from the sour smell of stale smoke.
The first rule of edibles is start small. Only eat or drink the recommended amount until you know what to expect from it at that level, otherwise you might get too high, and if you get too high, you might have a bad time. Check the label every time, because edibles come in many varieties and their effective dose can be as small as a single gummy cube or as large as a bar of chocolate. Other forms of edibles include sodas, cannabis-infused coffee, and small bottles of cannabis extract, like energy shots.
Edibles can take up to three hours to come on, so try to do something else to occupy your mind while you wait for the effects. If you don’t feel anything after four hours, don’t be discouraged! Just increase your dose by one half the next time until you find the dose that works for you.
Choosing a Strain
The main question to ask yourself is, “What kind of experience do I want to have?” Do you want to chill out and relax, or get stuff done? The strain you choose has the greatest impact on whether you’ll have an uplifting, cerebral high or a heavy body high. See our article on how to choose a cannabis strain for in-depth evaluation of the brief guidelines below.
High THC — Relaxation Supreme
High THC strains are great if you want to feel relaxed all the way down through your fingers and toes, you love the taste of delicious food, or you just want to spend the day playing video games and watching movies. Look for something with greater than 15% THC for a nearly psychedelic experience. Forbidden Fruit, Blue Dream, and Banana Split are some notable strains to try. Watch out for the couch-lock and make sure you drink plenty of water!
High CBD — Get Up and Go!
Some people like to get up and do stuff, so if you’re planning a day of creative writing or hiking through the mountains, choose something more on the CBD side, like Harlequin, Pennywise, or Cannatonic. CBD counteracts some of the narcotic effects of THC, so it’s also great for doing chores around the house,—but don’t let its subtlety fool you into thinking you can drive! Short-term memory loss and slow reaction times are common side effects of any strain.
Balanced — Best of Both Worlds
Want our advice? Strike the balance. Look for something with at least 5% THC and 5% CBD. The presence of both cannabinoids means you can indulge your senses with the stimulation of THC without having to worry about the paranoia and anxiety that sometimes comes with it, enjoying the balance of CBD. If you’re the type of person who wants to ease into a hot bath instead of doing a cannonball into a cold pool, a balanced strain will give you the whole spectrum of cannabis’s effects, making it easy for you to learn what you like and don’t like.
One More Thing
The last thing you should know before you try cannabis is that it is non-toxic and no one has ever died from an overdose. Even if you make a mistake the first time around, you’ll survive to learn from the experience and that will help you have a better time next time. And what’s cannabis about? Having a good time! As long as you remember to stay safe, start small, and obey your local laws, everything will be totally manageable, and we wish you the best of luck.