An estimated 7,000 people try cannabis for the first time in the United States every day, according to one study.
Consuming cannabis for the first time is a very big decision and one that people should not take lightly.
It is true that cannabis is safer than other common substances including alcohol and many pharmaceutical drugs, however this doesn't mean that someone should jump into consuming the herb without some important considerations.
Cannabis requires a bit of practice, and with a few tips, newcomers are more likely to have a positive experience.
Having an undesirable experience with cannabis may not cause any lasting harm, yet it is still something that should be mitigated as much as possible.
Below are some of the most important things to keep in mind when consuming cannabis for the first time or helping someone else with their first time.
#1) Start low, go slow
If there is one thing that newbie cannabis consumers need to keep in mind at all times it's to regulate the amount of cannabis consumed.
Do not let yourself be peer pressured into consuming too much cannabis at once, and don't think that just because you can handle other substances that you will have no issues at all with cannabis.
Cannabis is considered a biphasic drug, which means that once you pass a certain dosing threshold, you'll start to experience the opposite effect.
For example, a light dose might make you feel relaxed or creative, while a heavy dose could lead to mind-racing, anxiety or unwanted fatigue.
So what does starting slow look like?
If you're vaping or smoking, it could mean one or two puffs and then waiting 15 minutes to see how you feel.
With edibles, it means starting with 2.5 to 5 mg THC maximum and waiting at least two hours, maybe even another day, before redosing or upping the dose.
Think about how each dose or product makes you feel, and consider what effects you're looking for in the first place.
Keeping a cannabis journal can also help you better track what works and what doesn't.
#2) Know what you're consuming
Cannabis comes in many forms and potencies these days, so always be mindful of what you are consuming.
Where did the product come from? Was it screened for potential contaminants?
Also, will this cannabis sample make you sleepy or energized?
It helps if you can find a reputable dispensary with a well-trained staff, where they can help determine what is best for your needs.
You can also teach yourself about the effects of different cannabinoid and terpene profiles to faster discover which products work best for you.
#3) Get clear on why you're consuming
This is an important factor for all cannabis consumers, new and experienced.
Why are you consuming in the first place?
People use this plant for all sorts of reasons:
- To relax
- To get creative
- To problem solve
- To enhance focus
- To address medical challenges (physical and mental)
- To be more present with friends and family
- To boost sex life
- To sleep
- To avoid other substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, opiates, and many pharmaceuticals
The more practice you get with cannabis, the easier it will be for you to achieve the effects you're looking for.
#4) Edibles versus smoking versus vaping
New cannabis consumers typically gravitate towards edibles since eating something is an easier form of consumption than smoking or vaporizing.
However, that can lead to issues due to the fact that the effects from an edible require more time to take effect and can be more intense compared to the inhalation method.
The effects of an edible typically last much longer as well, which can be unpleasant if you take too much.
If possible, it's best to start with vaping, which is considered to be one of the most efficient ways to consume cannabis.
Smoking, meanwhile, is oftentimes the most accessible option for many people, however, the smoke can be a bit harsh on the throat and is also a wasteful way to consume.
#5) Prepare ahead of time
Part of the cannabis consuming experience is the euphoric effects and how it makes you feel. However, it also involves how you see and interact with your surroundings.
The right setting and mood can go a really long way towards ensuring a positive experience.
Choose a time and place where you're comfortable.
Getting all the right foods, beverages, and possible activities/entertainment lined up ahead of time is a really good way to help first-time consumers enjoy their experience.
Although you might want to avoid alcohol because it can intensify the effects of the cannabis.
#6) Be around people whom you are comfortable with
Consuming cannabis involves a psychoactive experience, something you always want to take seriously.
Part of being a responsible consumer is putting yourself in a place to have fun and not have your experience ruined by others or ruining others' experience.
Always be in an environment with people whom you can trust and who are comfortable with you expanding and exploring your mind in a safe and peaceful way.
#7) If you consume too much...
If you do consume too much cannabis, don't panic. Nothing bad will happen to you as long you're in a safe place.
Any unpleasant thoughts or sensations will pass.
If you've consumed an edible, the effects could last six hours or more.
Usually you just have to wait the effects out, however there are a few things you can do that might help:
a.) Stay hydrated.
b.) Turn down any loud music or get to a quiet place.
c.) Maybe distract yourself with a favorite movie.
d.) Keep a CBD product on-hand as it can help mitigate the effects of too much THC.
e.) Gnawing on a few peppercorn balls can also help bring down THC-induced anxiety.
And remember that next time, you can have a much better, more beneficial experience by taking a smaller dose.
#8) Know what the laws are in your area
Unfortunately, when you consume cannabis in certain parts of the United States or other countries you can literally lose your freedom for doing so even though cannabis is safer than alcohol and even aspirin.
In a perfect world, all responsible adults and patients would be able to consume cannabis without fear.
With so many states having legalized cannabis for adult use, and a majority of states with medical cannabis programs, more people than ever have safe access, but we still have a lot of work to do.
To find out what the status is in your state the Green Flower team suggests checking out NORML's state cannabis laws database.
The database is always being updated to reflect the current laws in every state.
If you live in a state that has not legalized cannabis for adult and/or medical use, consider joining NORML to help fight for freedom!
#9) Avoid Cannabis Shame
Cannabis shame is more common than most people realize.
In regions where cannabis is still heavily stigmatized, many people feel a sense of shame about using it, despite any benefits they may experience.
This comes from decades of reefer madness propaganda, and the people we trusted most telling us cannabis was bad.
Now we know this is simply not true. In fact, cannabis compounds such as THC and CBD mimic compounds that the body is supposed to produce naturally.
And cannabis is nothing new. People have been using it to help improve their lives for thousands of years.
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