What First Time Users Should Know About Cannabis
The first thing you should know about trying cannabis is that it’s only awesome if you know what you’re doing. There’s a reason 50% of Americans are curious about it, but only 20% of Americans consume it! Now that it’s legal in more many states, you’ve got the will, you’ve got the way, and there are just a few things you should know before you go. This simple guide will help make sure your first time is a good time, because what’s cannabis about?
Having a good time!
Bur also being safe, so read our article about how to stay safe while enjoying cannabis. Please.
Preparing for the Experience
Look, 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 be “higher than you want to be,” and it’s not a good time. That’s why 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 are already too high, we legit wrote an article about what to do when you are too high called what to do when you are too high.
How Much Time Do You Have?
Think about how long you have until you have to drive somewhere, interact with strangers, 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, you might want to postpone your first joint or dab until you’re finished with your obligations for the day. Plan for longer to be safe.
Edibles last even longer, with effects that can stretch up to twelve 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, you might end up higher than you thought you’d be, so 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.
Think about ways you can set your future self up to have a good time by filling a water bottle, collecting some of your favorite snacks, and putting on some music that you like. A cannabis high can last around four hours if inhaled,—that’s about two movies if you do the math. We recommend Pixar or Marvel. Definitely nothing from the horror genre.
The people you’re with can have an effect too. Try inviting 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 just like being a kid in a candy store. There are rows of glass jars containing a range of different strains, wire racks with clones growing under a warm light, 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 2018, cannabis was 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 and cash, since most dispensaries don’t take cards. See our frequently asked questions about cannabis laws here in Oregon for quick information.
Once inside, the staff is there to help. 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.
Of course, some people have physical reasons that prevent them from going in person and others simply prefer not to display their marijuana use in public. 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.
This is probably what you think of when you think of marijuana. Green, five-pointed leaves, sparkling crystals, and little orange hairs, 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 your lungs are sensitive, or you’re not a regular smoker, you’ll 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.
To start with, take one hit, then exhale fully and wait about five minutes before deciding to take another. Breath normally. You may experience lightheadedness, some tingling in your arms and legs, and a gentle tension in your chest. 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 own 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.
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 water pipe, the purchase of which can make your initial investment pretty costly.
A cheaper and more convenient alternative is the vape pen. These come as either a single disposable unit like an electronic cigarette, 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 to start small. Only eat or drink the recommended amount until you know what to expect from it at that level, otherwise you’ll 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 bear 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 next time until you find the dose that works for you.
Choosing a Strain
The next thing you have 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 full details, the quick version is below.
High THC – Relaxation Supreme
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. Master Kush, Blue Dream, and Jack Herer 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 whether 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 it 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? Shoot for a balanced strain, 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. If you’re the type of person who wants to ease into a hot bath instead of doing a cannonball, 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.
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.