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Doing it right: a guide for novice weed smokers

For whatever reason, you have decided that you would like to experiment with cannabis. Perhaps you have heard about the advancements in medicinal research, or maybe you want to get back in touch with your youth by indulging in the herb that brought you so much fun back in the 1960s.

Whether you’ve tried cannabis before or are a complete newbie, the potency of some of today’s recreational strains may be overwhelming. Therefore, to ensure that your first experience with marijuana is a positive one, we’ve put together some guidelines. Let’s start by looking at the effects of cannabis.

Effects of cannabis

Cannabis, and THC specifically, is a mind-altering substance that can take a little bit of preparing for. Before taking that first hit, beginners should be aware that their perception of reality is likely to change somewhat. The effects of this psychoactive plant vary from person to person, strain to strain, environment to environment and so on and so forth. Furthermore, if you go into a cannabis session with negative thoughts, the likelihood of a negative trip is increased.

The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects, however non-psychoactive and anti-psychotic cannabidiol (CBD) influences THC, and therefore influences your overall high – the concentrations of these two cannabinoids go a long way to determining the effects of a particular strain.

Cannabis has a calming effect on the body and the mind, and much of this is thanks to non-psychoactive CBD. The majority of medicinal cannabis strains are high in CBD products and are often used for their analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

The psychoactive experience from cannabis, or the ‘high’ as it’s more commonly referred as, comes from THC, a cannabinoid which mimics an endocannabinoid called anandamide. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is thought of as a ‘human THC’. After taking cannabis, THC binds to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors control co-ordination, unconscious muscle movements, problem-solving, short-term memory and more. THC interferes with the natural neurotransmitters which are responsible for ensuring these functions work as they should.

THC inhibits anandamide, throwing the chemistry in the ECS off-balance – this induces a pleasurable euphoria. The sensations of euphoria combined with relaxation can be a wonderful mix. On a bad trip, feelings of anxiety and perhaps paranoia are more likely. Cannabis increases heart rate, boosts appetite and can cause dry mouth. The last two are better-known by marijuana smokers as getting the “munchies” and “drinkies.”

You can have influence on the kind of high you experience by picking between indica and sativa strains of cannabis. An indica-dominant strain produces a relaxing body high and may prompt you to sleep. Such strains are excellent at combatting anxiety, relieving pain and tackling insomnia. Conversely, a sativa-dominant strain brings about a more psychological high, and tends to energize the user and increase their creativity.

How much cannabis should I take?

The ideal cannabis dose varies in each person, although new users should certainly err on the side of caution. For vapers and smokers, take it one draw or puff at a time and then give yourself a chance to become aware of the effects before toking more. First-time users should spread their hits out to ensure they aren’t overwhelmed – try once every 15 minutes.

However, if you are using edibles, then prepare for a totally different experiences. It can take upwards of an hour for edibles to thoroughly kick in, and it’s key to resist the temptation to eat more while you wait. For your first edible, try half a brownie and then wait for at least two hours before deciding if you want the other half. Edibles can be very strong, even for experienced cannabis smokers, so don’t overdo it!

Prior to smoking your first joint or chomping on your edible, it’s vital to be comfortable with the high that you’re likely to experience. This allows you to get into the correct mindset and dose at a sensible rate. Take your time – there’s no rush.

Should I smoke, vape or eat?

Those with cannabis curiosity are sometimes undecided about how they want to enjoy cannabis. While there are several methods, we’ll concentrate on the three primary ones, certainly for recreational users anyway: smoking, vaping and eating.

Smoking

Smoking is the way you are probably most familiar with – kicking back with a joint or enjoying hits on the bong. A pipe is also a good way for first-timers to get to grips with marijuana. The cannabinoids from marijuana enter the nervous system via the lungs when cannabis is smoked. The reactions begin very rapidly – between two to 10 minutes – and the ‘high’ is rather intense for those not used to it. Non-smokers may find the hit hard on their lungs, although cannabis smoke is not as harsh as tobacco smoke. Keep your puffs short and sweet.

Vaping

The vaping revolution has expanded beyond cigarette smokers and is now charming the cannabis community too. This method allows smokers to still get a similar high, but without as many health risks. All the cannabinoids can be utilized when marijuana is vaped, since the lower heating temperatures doesn’t burn off the compounds with lower burning points. Medical marijuana patients find vaping an efficient and economical way of getting their treatment.

Edibles

Foodies love edibles and for good reason – the cannabis industry is always innovating, and there have never been more marijuana-infused treats on the market. When taking an edible, cannabis enters the blood stream via the digestive system, which is why the effects take longer to be felt. Indeed, for around 30 minutes to an hour after eating, you probably won’t feel anything at all and may be left wondering if the edibles are even legitimate! But bide your time and you’ll be rewarded with a powerful mind and body high that lasts much longer than when you smoke.

Tips for newbies

Newbies may want to avoid smoking joints if they haven’t smoked before. It’s an unnecessary risk to expose your lungs to any kind of smoke – of course, do so if you wish, but don’t feel compelled. If you are smoking, then prepare for the intense effects and keep to small puffs. It’s not a race and there’s no benefit in trying to outdo your mates. Just focus on your own experience. Only use high-quality rolling papers, as cheap ones often contain nasty chemicals that you don’t want in your system.

Where can I buy marijuana?

Anybody over the age of 21 is legally permitted to purchase cannabis in the states of Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Washington D.C., California, Nevada, Oregon and Massachusetts. Cannabis dispensaries can be found in those states selling marijuana flower and other cannabis products. Residents in legalized states are allowed to be in possession of 1oz of cannabis – most states do not permit the purchase and sale of cannabis between individuals. Non-residents are still able to buy cannabis, but only up to 7 grams. Patients with medical marijuana cards are allowed to buy cannabis at any medical cannabis dispensary they choose. For specific rules and regulation, look up your home state’s guidelines.

Final thoughts

This advice should give you the tools to have a memorable first cannabis trip for the right reasons. When used responsibly, marijuana is a wonderful plant to enjoy on your own or with friends – many have found that cannabis has given them enlightening experiences.

Do you remember the first time that you used marijuana? Share your story in the comments.

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