Consuming cannabis for the first time can be overwhelming. With so many ways to use it, so many types, and so many messages from the media, it is easy to avoid the plant altogether. While some people choose to not engage with it at all, a lot of people might be deterred by what they hear about using it. There are a lot of opinions out there, but using cannabis can be a great experience, especially when you know how to go about using it for the first time.
What to Know
There are a few factors that go into using cannabis: what type you are using, how you are using it, and your own personal situation. The first and most important thing you need to know is what you are consuming and where it came from. If you’re a first time user, you might have gotten your product from a friend or someone you know who uses cannabis; make sure they are transparent with you about it.
It’s also heavily recommended to start out with a small dose. With smoking, it is difficult to accurately measure out the dosage you are consuming, but the easiest way to control your experience is to start out slow, take a hit or two and wait to see how you feel. With edibles, it is easier to know the exact amount you are taking. Jackie Bryant from Healthline suggests to “aim for a dose of 5 milligrams.” She also says, because edibles take longer to metabolize, you should wait “at least an hour or two before trying more.”
That’s the other thing: there are a bunch of different ways to use cannabis. The most popular ways, though, seem to be flower or bud, through a bowl, a bong, vaporizers, or joints and blunts. While these vessels are all different, they generally don’t affect your high too much. Still, it is important to know what you are and are not comfortable with.
The last big thing you should consider is that everyone will have a different experience. If it is your first time using the plant, your tolerance is probably a lot lower than someone who has been using it for a while, so you should keep this in mind when you’re using it.
What to Expect
Next, there are some things you want to be prepared to expect. There are two main strains of cannabis: indica and sativa. Tina Magrabi at Leafwell explains that indica “tend[s] to produce a “couchlock or stoned, relaxed, sleepy effect” while sativa has a “more energetic, chatty, sociable “high”.” In general, though, you shouldn’t focus too much on the strain because, again, it will have a different effect on everyone.
Regardless of how you are consuming it, cannabis does have effects on your body. You can expect to experience coughing, an itchy throat, red eye (it’s exactly as it sounds-your eyes get red), a heightened appetite, racing heartbeat, and “cottonmouth,” or a dry mouth. You have probably seen depictions of smoking in movies and TV as something that “opens up your mind,” so maybe you’ll even discover some “secrets of the universe.”
The “come down” just refers to your body coming back to itself from the high. If it’s your first time using it, you probably won’t realize it until you’re already sober again.
Necessary Behavior kindly made a chart with what to expect with the onset, the peak, and total duration of your use. The onset with smoking or vaping is within minutes, peaks around 20 to 30 minutes, and typically lasts about 2-3 hours. With edibles, the onset occurs within 30-90 minutes, the peak roughly 3 hours, and the total duration can be around 24 hours. All of this to say: start small and work your way up.
What to Look Out For and Safety
Safety is one of the most important parts of using anything for the first time. Aside from knowing where your product is coming from, you should also be in a safe place with people you trust. Using cannabis for the first time at a party is probably not the best place to be. Instead, you should be in a familiar, comfortable environment with people you trust. You also should not mix cannabis with alcohol or other drugs during your first use.
Anxiety is probably the most common effect of cannabis use- even the most experienced users experience this. Other reported effects include headaches and paranoia, but these can be remedied by collecting yourself or sleeping it off.
Like any drug, you should absolutely not drive while you are high. Not only is this, first and foremost, extremely dangerous, you can get in serious legal trouble if you get pulled over and drug tested.
How to Enjoy Yourself
With all of that out of the way, enjoy yourself! Cannabis can be a great time, especially when you are with the right people in the right environment. Take note of how you feel while high, and try not to overthink what is going on.
Go out into nature! Throw on a silly TV show or movie, whatever you think will make it the best experience for your first time. You’ll probably experience the “munchies” (that’s your heightened appetite). Keep your favorite snacks handy, or order way too much food from Taco Bell.
Go forth with this wisdom, and enjoy your first time!
Written by Spencer Gialanella