Lighting up a cannabis for the first time can be an exciting yet scary experience. Having a solid grasp on what to expect and avoid encourages a potentially beautiful, life-long affair with the herb. On the other hand, mishaps due to naivety could end what could be an epic adventure before it even begins. The good news is, by bearing in mind a few simple but crucial pointers, riding the first high right isn’t at all difficult.
Smoking Cannabis 101
More than the controversies, cannabis has sparked mass interest and curiosity with its gradual legalization in different states and countries. The approving reception attests to the herb’s many recreational and medicinal benefits. However, due to its psychoactive properties, caution is required in its use. And, there is no better way in showing prudence than by getting familiar with the plant and its characteristics.
What Is Cannabis
Cannabis, from the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants, has three known species – Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. Each one thrives in distinct climates and settings, but are all broadly cultivated indoors. In general, these plants are called in various names including marijuana, weed, pot, and hemp among many others.
Although famous for recreational use, cannabis is also highly therapeutic. It has at least 113 cannabinoids that induces wide-ranging effects. The two most notable is the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and the mind-altering tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD is better known for the many medical benefits it provides. On the other hand, THC is responsible for the psychedelic effects. Even so, it also offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits as well. And, if consumed appropriately, it can turn a recreational journey into a remedial experience as well.
How It Affects The Mind And Body
Unknown to many, even humans have cannabinoids. An entire network of these endogenous neurotransmitters, called Endocannabinoid System (ECS), binds with receptors to regulate bodily functions such as sleep, pain, appetite, and mood among others. Due to the similarity of cannabis phytocannabinoids with the endocannabinoids, the plant-based compounds can mimic the ECS’s activities and roles, and thus could help maintain balance when the human body experiences cannabinoid deficit.
One of the effects of THC is activating the brain’s reward system that responds to pleasures brought about by stimulants like sex and food. The stimulation releases dopamine (a.k.a., the happy hormone) that causes the enjoyable high. However, some people prefer to reap therapeutic benefits without the psychedelic effects. In this case, canna-products high in CBD are the best choice. Here are the two cannabinoids’ most known benefits:
|Relieves Pains and Aches||Yes||Yes|
Terpenes, the aromatic hydrocarbons of the plant, also carry potent recreational and therapeutic properties. Here are the most studied fragrant oils in the flora and their known effects:
|Terpene||Scent/Flavor||Recreational Effects||Medical Benefits|
|Limonene||citrus, lemon||stress-relief, elevated mood||anti-anxiety, anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-fungal, aids in acid reflux, inhibits cancer cell growth|
|Myrcene||musky, earthy||sedation, relaxation, body high||analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, insomnia|
|Linalool||floral, sweet, spicy||calming, relaxation||anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, insomnia|
|Pinene||pine, woody, nutty||boosts alertness, aids memory||anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, bronchodilator|
|B-Caryophyllene||woody, spicy, peppery||anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, analgesic|
Apart from distinct effects, cannabinoids and terpenes also collaborate to give each other’s effects. Known as the Entourage Effect, this chemical dynamics explains why strains with similar cannabinoid percentage can have varying upshots.
The consumption of cannabis generates various mind and body reactions, some beneficial, others quite alarming. Apart from those previously mentioned, these effects may also be expected especially if the herb is used in excessive amounts:
- Heightened sensory perception (colors more vivid, sounds louder)
- Loss of coordination
- Parched mouth and throat
- Dry, bloodshot eyes
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
To avert these potential ramifications, avoid overconsumption. Also consider going for a less potent cannabis variant should the adverse effects persist.
Different Ways To Smoke Cannabis
Each delivery method presents a distinct cannabis experience. Besides, the ways of consumption have a direct sway on the amount of cannabinoid ingested and, therefore, the intensity of the physiological and mental effects. Smoking continues to be the most popular approach, and there are numerous mediums available, some of which are healthier than others.
Vaporizers. These apparatus produces vapor from plant matter or concentrates without combustion or charring. As such, it does not produce carcinogens such as benzene, toluene, and naphthalene, while other toxins such as carbon monoxide are reduced.
Although an initial investment is required, the cost is well worth it as vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking. Beginners should be wary especially when using extracts as these are insanely potent.
Pipes. These smoking paraphernalia are made with materials such as glass, metal, silicone, wood, or clay. It can also be made at home with everyday materials such as water bottles, soda cans, and even an apple. Apart from versatility, convenience is another reason that makes it attractive to many people – it is simple to use, easy to bring anywhere, and effortless to clean.
Joints. The most typical initiation piece in the entire catalog of canna-products is the joint. It is ground cannabis rolled in wood pulp, hemp, or rice wrapping paper with a crutch.
Its potency solely depends on the variety used. Meanwhile, the rolling sheet used may contribute a bit of taste.
Blunts. Named after the cigar brand Phillies Blunt, this is a hollowed-out tobacco filled with ground cannabis. It is similar to joints but contains more weed as cig shells are typically larger than regular rolling papers. The tobacco wraps’ thick material also allows longer burn time. With the tobacco content of the of the wrappers, however, smoking blunts may include the risk of nicotine addiction.
Bongs. Known as the king of smoking paraphernalia, only joints can rival the bong’s popularity. Its principal feature is the utilization of water to cool the smoke for a much smoother hit. Made of materials such as glass, metal, plastic, or wood, it also comes in various designs including gravity bongs, carburetor bongs, straight-tube bongs, beaker-shaped bongs, round-base bongs, multi-chamber bongs, and percolator bongs among others. Because of indiscreet appearance and size, it is often utilized indoors.
Spliffs. A hybrid of tobacco and cannabis, spliffs produce the effects of both materials. The initial head rush is from the nicotine-rich leaves, while the cannabinoid-heavy herb provides the succeeding mental and physical buzz. To ensure the even distribution of both plant matters, the ingredients are either mixed or layered together before being placed on the rolling paper.
Dab or Oil Rigs. Dabbing is the act vaporizing concentrates through a bong-like apparatus called dab rig. It entails the use of a heating element called nail. Once heated, extract is placed directly on the sizzling surface to produce vapor. It is less harmful than other modes of smoking as it does not char any plant matter that could result in the formation of toxic by-products. Similar to vaping, dabbing requires a bit of experience as the oils used are incredibly potent. In addition, the rig is more expensive than bongs and pipes and thus requires a bit more initial investment.
Smoking has always been the consumption method most associated with cannabis. However, the weed experience can also be enjoyed through other means that does not come with the adverse effects of inhaling smoke. Alternatives such as edibles, topicals, tinctures, and even suppositories pose zero risks of lung problems.
11 Tips For First-Time Smokers
First-time cannabis use is best paired with adequate knowledge and preparation. To lessen its associated risks and increase the likelihood of a pleasurable, safe experience, here are important guidelines to bear in mind:
1. Learn The Local Laws And The Consequences
The initial must-do step before purchasing or using cannabis is knowing the laws regarding the plant as local regulations vary from state to state. Moreover, decriminalization of cannabis use does not mean free rein in possessing, growing, and trading the herb. For example, in the Netherlands, leisure consumption of cannabis is not legal, but the use and sale are tolerated in licensed ‘coffee shops.’ Meanwhile, in the US, recreational use is only allowed in 10 states, decriminalized in 13, but remains unlawful at the federal level.
To prevent problems with the authorities, get familiar with the law and do not try to circumvent it. Do the same if planning to travel as some countries that allow recreational use require proof of residency.
2. Know The Specifics And Potential Effects
Before the apogee of hybridization, cannabis varieties were simply classified between the profoundly relaxing Indica and the invigorating Sativa. However, due to widespread crossbreeding as well as the recent scientific breakthroughs, cannabinoid and terpene profiles are now given more importance than strain percentage.
To find the best-suited strain for individual preferences and needs, it is best to do thorough research of its chemical content and known effects, including the adverse ones.
3. Choose A Beginner-Friendly Strain And Paraphernalia
With an array of delivery methods, it can be hard to choose the best one to start with. A good rule of thumb, though, is to stick with low-THC strains for recreational use and high-CBD for medicinal.
Joints come highly recommended as there is no need to purchase any equipment just yet and pre-rolls can be as cheap as $5. Pipes are also good introductory paraphernalia due to its ease-of-use and relatively more affordable price tag. Meanwhile, if willing to shed some cash, a vaporizer is an excellent choice as it requires smaller hits and does not produce harmful chemicals from combustion.
4. Inhale Properly
Although inhaling smoke or vapor may seem simple, many do not get it right, especially for the first few times. It is unlike smoking cigarette as it requires diaphragmatic breathing to ensure that the cannabinoids and terpenes reach the lungs and subsequently enter the bloodstream through small air sacs called alveoli.
Follow these steps while in erect posture to smoke:
- Pull in the smoke or vapor but don’t fill the mouth
- Move the canna-product away from the lips and take in a bit of fresh air. There should be two-thirds of cannabis smoke and one-third clean air.
- Inhale as deeply as possible to push both smoke and oxygen into the lungs, allowing for a smooth hit while reducing risks of throat irritation.
- Exhale just as slow.
A simple practice of 4-2-4 count may help with the experience. Inhale for 4 seconds, pause for 2, exhale for the remaining 4 seconds. Do not hold a hit too long; it’s an age-old myth that does not result in a stronger hit.
5. Smoke In A Safe Place And With Trusted Friends
Getting high for the first time in clubs, concerts, and festivals may sound fun, but not as much when the mind goes off-course. Settings like those mentioned provide too much stimuli that can overwhelm, distress, confuse, or even cause loss of consciousness instead of pleasure. To prevent such unfavorable initial response and assure safety, it is wise to do it in a secure place.
Moreover, it is more enjoyable to talk and laugh away the giddiness stage with pals. Also, seasoned friends can guide through the entire experience, especially when the THC and other compounds go on full throttle, producing effects and sensations that are still unfamiliar.
6. Go Gradual
The amount of cannabis recommended for consumption largely depends on factors such as age, gender, weight, and metabolism. Regardless, though, one good rule to follow is to start low and go slow. Test the waters by starting with least potent strains and only take in a modest dosage or tiny hit. Before taking another small toke, always wait for its effects to fully kick in, which may take around 30 minutes to an hour. By gradually building up or extending the high, overconsumption and its adverse effects can be prevented.
7. Expect And Prep For Dry Mouth
As its name suggests, ‘cotton mouth’ is an offshoot that feels similar to having cotton balls stuffed in the mouth. Although this discomfort is often associated with smoking cannabis, other forms of consumption such as edibles, still produce this side effect, proving that it is the herb’s content that is causing the issue and not the delivery method.
While most deliberately ignore dry mouth until it goes away, there are simple ways to stimulate the glands and relieve the unpleasant feeling. Apart from drinking ample amounts of water, chewing gums and sucking candies or lollipops increase saliva production. Meanwhile, sipping herbal tea with a squeeze or two of lemon soothes the sore, arid mouth.
8. Have Food Ready
One of the most typical effects of cannabis is the notorious munchies or that insatiable desire for food. Like in most cases, THC has something to do with this offshoot. Through its interaction with the different receptors in the brain, the cannabinoid arouses the sense of smell and taste, as well as activate the release of ghrelin, the hormone that conveys hunger. Such combination of effects increases appetite and makes edibles exceptionally irresistible.
To prepare for this scenario, whip up easy recipes, stock up some snacks, or install a food ordering application before taking that first taste of weed. Doing so avoids the possibility of going out while stoned or suffering from hunger while couchlocked.
9. Clear The Calendar
While cannabis produces euphoric and uplifting effects, other potential reactions also include increased levels of paranoia or blackouts. Because the duration of these out-turns cannot be determined beforehand, only arrange the psychedelic activity when the schedule is clear. There should be no pending tasks, prior commitments, or obligations that require looking after someone, getting behind the wheels, or operating heavy machinery within the day or for at least many hours.
Proper planning eliminates the risks of troubling personal relationships, work, as well as getting into accidents. It is also the backbone of balancing professional life and smoking cannabis.
10. Puff And Pass
When having a group session, it is proper etiquette to contribute some buds for sharing. Once the sesh starts, take a hit and pass it on to the rest of the crew. Specifically, when smoking from pipes, pass it after a single hit. With blunts or joints, two puffs are acceptable, but first-timers should stick with just one as to not get overwhelmed.
11. Be Prepared For A New Relationship
Cannabis smoking is either be fun and pleasurable or the other way around. If it is the former, then be prepared to take on this new-found relationship together with its accompanying responsibilities.
Apart from the herb which can be grown or purchased, spending on some paraphernalia such as rolling papers, bongs, pipes, and oil rigs is also part of the pursuit. Moreover, there are do’s and don’ts to follow to ensure that the endeavor does not negatively affect the other areas of life. If the activity is done right, it can improve daily living. On the other hand, irresponsible use could result in damaging consequences.
Simply put, to make sure that the plant remains beneficial and the relationship stays enjoyable, use but don’t abuse.
Preparation is critical when embarking on a fantastic cannabis journey. It ensures a smooth ride and prevents possible misadventures down the road. Gearing up for the adventure includes finding the right strain, knowing its effects, and choosing the most suitable delivery method, among others. While these details can be learned by just sticking around long enough, starting right means pleasure comes sooner rather than later.