The first time one takes cannabis can be an impactful experience. Many users have vivid memories of the first time they realised how weed feels. It is often remembered as a profound moment—the discovery of their love for marijuana. Or, it can have a mild impact where you don't really feel anything. Some people might really take to it, while others will find it makes them uncomfortable. You may end up overwhelmed or underwhelmed.

Your reaction to cannabis will depend on your own taste and constitution. It is wise to approach your first time cautiously, so that you may learn at what pace to proceed. There are general things to keep in mind if you are curious enough to finally try cannabis. These should help ensure your first time is at the very least a safe and responsible experience.

WHAT IS CANNABIS?

So, you know cannabis is smoked to get people high. But how does getting high feel? And where does cannabis even come from?

As for cannabis, it is a plant that is believed to have first grown in the wild around Central Asia. From there, different landraces spread around the world. Humans prized the plant for its therapeutic and culinary applications. Modern science has uncovered that cannabis contains dozens upon dozens of chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Some have psychoactive effects because they stimulate cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system. The effects of this are felt in alterations in mood and perception. This is the experience of getting high.

This heightened state of sensory awareness has long been used to soothe people with anxiety and even more serious health problems. It can stimulate the mind in such a way that reasoning becomes more efficient and one's mood becomes calmer. It can also invigorate and uplift those who feel down or unfocussed. Or, depending on the strength, make them feel really sleepy.

Sativa vs Indica Effects

VARIETIES OF CANNABIS

There are actually more factors at play than strength when gauging what effect cannabis will have on you. There are different varieties of cannabis plants called strains, each with their own effects, aroma, flavour, and appearance. They could be compared to different types of coffee bean—some are of better quality than others. An increasingly common comparison is with the world of wine. Just as red and white are the two major categories of wine, there are two dominant categories of cannabis.

An indica strain of cannabis will bring a relaxing sensation to the mind and body. Indicas are widely used to relieve anxiety, muscle tension, chronic pain, nausea, and restlessness. If the effect you are looking for is more of an uplifting one, you’ll want to try a sativa. Sativa strains are the ones that get people energetic, giddy, even giggling.

A handy way to remember the difference is that indicas are for staying "in" and sativas are better-suited to going out. You can also get a hybrid that strikes a balance between the properties. There are also CBD-rich strains of cannabis that won't get you high. They have low THC content, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets people high. The anxiolytic effects of CBD strains offer a mellow calm, much milder than a psychoactive high.

METHODS OF TAKING CANNABIS

If you have found cannabis that sounds appealing to you, find a safe, discreet place to take it. You will want somewhere comfortable to sit and a method of taking cannabis that works for you. There are a number of ways you can experience cannabis. Weed refers to the (usually) green buds that bloom from the cannabis plant. Grind it up and wrap it in rolling paper and it can be smoked like a cigarette. This is called a joint. It may also contain hashish, usually just called hash. This doesn't burn as well by itself, but has a higher concentration of psychoactive THC. The short explanation for where hash comes from is that it is the compressed residue of potent trichomes from the buds of the cannabis plant.

There is some debate over whether smoking cannabis is less harmful to the lungs than smoking tobacco. What is clear is that it still carries some of the health risks of combusting any substance and breathing the smoke into your lungs. Vaporising is an increasingly popular alternative. Inhaling vapour is arguably safer and delivers cannabinoids in a purer, more potent form. This is why bong hits are popular as well. Fill a bong with water, light your cannabis flower, and breathe in the smoke bubbling through the water. You will get a strong high that feels dizzier and more lethargic than what you would experience from a joint.

Vaporizer

HEALTHIER ON THE LUNGS

Inhalation methods typically deliver a high that begins within 1–15 minutes and subsides after 2–3 hours. If you fear the risk of infection or other health issues, you can avoid getting your lungs involved entirely. You can take drops of concentrated cannabis oil under your tongue. With a potent strain, this can bring on a strong high lasting 3–6 hours. There are also topical lotions, balms, and creams that don’t deliver a high, yet offer local relief for over 6 hours.

You may also consider trying an edible for your first experience. We would strongly advise you to get as much information as possible on how it was prepared. Edibles can come with very high doses of THC that aren't recommended for beginners. The high creeps up on you over the course of an hour or two. And then, the effects can take anywhere from 4–6 hours to subside. Edibles could be a good way to try out the sensation of being high. Just make sure you have some time set aside for it. And remember that if you feel unusual or paranoid at any point: the high will pass and you will be fine.

AVOID THE FOLLOWING

All that remains is to flag some common pitfalls of newcomers to cannabis:

DO NOT forget to check what the laws of your country and workplace are regarding cannabis use. Be clear on potential consequences.

DO NOT have any professional or caregiving duties during your first time taking cannabis.

DO NOT operate machinery or vehicles under the influence of cannabis. If you just smoked a joint, for example, you should wait at least two hours before attempting to drive. Be conscious that you may be stopped and tested.

DO NOT use cannabis in a vehicle. That smell can linger and land you in trouble, and anyway, we said no driving.

DO NOT disturb others with your cannabis use through odour, noise, or otherwise. Altruistic reason? Be considerate towards your neighbours. Selfish reason? Your snitch neighbours will rat you out.

Finally, DO NOT panic if there are mild hallucinatory effects your first time. If you have never taken cannabis before, you may experience some strange auditory sensations, or imagine seeing something in your peripheral vision. This is your brain adjusting to cannabis for the first time. The high will always pass, so stay calm and remember you never have to take it again if you really don't want to. Regular cannabis use typically does not create hallucinations. It heightens aspects of sensory perception and emotional processing, sometimes with a dulling of other faculties. For example, there may be a temporary clumsiness ill-suited to physical activity.

If you relax during your first time and enjoy it, then there will be good times ahead.

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