Information for First-Time Cannabis Users

How To Use Just Enough, But Not Too Much

If you've never consumed cannabis before, it's normal to be a bit wary your first time. Maybe you've never smoked anything and don't want to, in which case you'll be glad to know that cannabis comes in many non-smokable varieties. Maybe you want to try edibles, but have no idea how much to eat. This is where a knowledgeable budtender or sales associate comes in. The more you know about what you'd like to try, the better they can help you, so it pays to educate yourself before walking into a dispensary or shop.

When most people think of cannabis, they think of the dried flowers of the female cannabis plant. These ground-up flowers, or buds, of the female cannabis plant are what you roll into joints. Before you roll them, though, you need to remove the stems and grind the buds, so if you plan to consume cannabis by smoking, pick up a grinder on your first visit to the dispensary or shop. If you've never rolled a joint before, you can ask someone there to show you how – or, if they're too busy, there are plenty of tutorial videos on YouTube.

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Do I need cannabis accessories?

You'll also need something to smoke from, and joints aren't your only option. Many people prefer glass pipes -- particularly bongs, which are water pipes. Smoking from a pipe entails a bit more of a learning curve than smoking a joint, but you don't have to roll anything, so it all evens out. If you want to make your first time smoking as simple as possible, just purchase a pre-rolled joint, which is called a pre-roll or a cone. They're more expensive than rolling your own, but more convenient, and you'll see jars of them at most dispensaries and shops.

Which cannabis products are right for me?

Choosing your cannabis will be easier if you know the difference between indica and sativa strains. In a nutshell, indica strains are sedating, sativa strains are uplifting, and hybrid strains have properties of both, depending on which is dominant. For example, the popular strain Blue Dream is a hybrid of the indica Blueberry and the sativa Haze. Each hybrid strain carries the genetics of its parents, which means they all have different qualities.

Cannabinoid content is important as well. THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the two main cannabinoids; the former is the one that gets you high. If you prefer not to get high, look for CBD-only products, such as topical formulations you can rub on your skin. As a general rule, the higher the percentage of THC in a plant, the higher you'll be after consuming it. Cannabis products in dispensaries and stores will be labeled with the amount of THC and CBD they contain. However, due to the entourage effect (how the CBD, THC, and terpenes, the plant's essential oils, work synergistically), THC doesn't tell the whole story.

The best way to control how high you get is to control how much you ingest. If you've never tried cannabis before, you might choose to start with an edible, a food item made with cannabis-infused oil.

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Are cannabis edibles right for me?

Consume enough of the edible to constitute a 5mg dose; the dosage will be on the package. If you don't feel anything, wait an hour or two before consuming another 5 mg. Edibles have a much slower onset than smoked cannabis, which makes it easy to eat too much. Have tasty snacks on hand so you're not tempted to eat the whole edible just because it tastes good. Vaping is another popular way of consuming cannabis, but the paraphernalia is more expensive than rolling papers or pipes. A vaporizer can be as big as a small box, or as little and discreet as a pen. It heats the cannabis via an internal heating coil, and what you inhale is vapor, not smoke. If you're new to vaping, a disposable pen with a pre-filled cartridge is the cheapest and easiest way to start.

Cannabis Concentrates

Concentrates such as hash oil and wax are very popular. If you've heard people mention "dabbing," they're talking about a particular way of consuming concentrates. A dab rig looks similar to a bong, except that it has a piece of metal called a nail where a bong has a glass bowl. The nail has to be heated with a torch, and the concentrate applied to it with a piece of metal called a dab tool. Because of the high potency of concentrates and the complicated paraphernalia needed to consume them, they're best left to more experienced smokers with a higher tolerance to cannabis. Once you're aware of how smoked or vaporized cannabis flowers affect you, you can make a more informed choice about trying concentrates later.

Remember the adage "start low and go slow," and enjoy your cannabis journey!