By Miguel Ordoñez

There’s no better time to be a cannabis lover than the present. The world has taken a softer stance on recreational use, and with that society is changing in a major way.

But even with the popularity of cannabis culture, misinformation surrounding the herb and its use is still rife. Many of these misconceptions are left over from the pre-legalization era, and work to blockade society's smooth transition to enjoying cannabis and its benefits.

With that in mind, we have taken it upon ourselves to break down some of the major mistakes weed smokers make. Some of these are more applicable to beginners, while others are relevant to stoners of all experience levels. Regardless, we’ll provide some helpful tips to make every weed smoking session a successful one.

Cannabis Mistakes Part 1: General Cannabis Education and Debunking Myths

To start, let’s discuss some of the most common myths and inconsistencies surrounding general information on cannabis and its effects. With many decades of latent anti-weed propaganda still looming, there’s a lack of clarity on many of the basic features of this long-used herb.

So, whether you are new to buying cannabis or unsure of what to expect from the so-called “high”, read on as we debunk some major myths and shed light on what cannabis is really all about.

  • Thinking Smoking and Eating Weed Are the Same

You’d be surprised at the number of people who see eating weed and smoking weed as the same. They’re the folks who believe that “cannabis is cannabis, and it will get you high”.

While this is true to some degree, the route of ingestion changes the effects of cannabis significantly. Whereas smoking delivers THC into the bloodstream through the alveoli of the lungs for a rapid onset of effects, edibles take much longer to “hit”, and when they do, the effect is significantly more potent by comparison.

This is due to the fact that the THC must first travel through the digestive system and liver before reaching systemic circulation. As this occurs, THC is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC, a significantly more powerful metabolite of THC[1].

Bottom line: always remember that smokeables and edibles are two different animals.

Mixing Weed and Alcohol
  • Not Knowing What You Are Smoking

Cannabis strains have names and product descriptions for a reason. Although they’re not always reliable, this information is there to give you a general idea of what to expect. Each variety features a specific cannabinoid and terpene profile, which greatly influences the overall effect of the strain, and contributes to the entourage effect theory[2].

As such, knowing the general composition of different strains, or chemovars, can help you find the ones that inspire positive experiences and avoid the ones that produce unwelcome effects. For example, if you know that high-THC strains tend to make you feel uneasy, consider trying out a 1:1 THC:CBD strain, or one without THC at all.

Regardless of your preferences, it always pays to know what you’re smoking.

  • Not Knowing the Difference Between Good vs Bad Weed

This is more of a rookie mistake, but still an avoidable one at that. Below are a few telltale signs you can use to determine the quality of your weed:

Colour Weed that’s gone bad bears a darker, more brownish hue. You’re looking for shades of vibrant green, potentially with flecks of other hues, such as purple.
Smell If you don’t get that skunky, earthy, slightly sweet aroma when smelling your buds, that means the weed is probably old or of poor quality. Even worse is if it smells like ammonia or mould. If this is the case, throw it away. You want the smell to be strong, but not unappealing.
Smoke Bad weed also tends to be harsher on the throat. Moreover, as cannabis ages, the terpenes and cannabinoids will degrade and change, making for a less-pleasant and less-potent smoke.
Seeds Seeds in your bud mean the cannabis was not grown to its full potential, and is likely less potent than it could be.
  • Thinking You Won’t Get High the First Time

You’d be surprised at the number of people who downplay the effects of marijuana. There is somewhat of a myth in the cannabis community that first-time smokers won’t get high. While there are potential reasons why someone wouldn’t get as high on their first outing—such as not inhaling deep into the lungs, or a general lack of understanding of its effects—there is still a great likelihood of getting super stoned. Never underestimate the herb!

Save yourself the discomfort and disappointment of overdoing it on your first smoking session. At the end of the day, you’re still dealing with a psychotropic substance. Proceed with caution, and take one hit at a time.

  • Dosing Issues: Too Much, Too Fast

Dosing cannabis is something that takes time and experience. Just like when learning to ride a bike, you’ll need some practice to get the balance right.

However, one mistake that many people tend to commit is to consume a little too much, a little too fast. The result: an uncomfortable experience that, at best, ruins their evening, and at worst turns them off from ever trying weed again. As it is with every challenging endeavour, start low and slow. Familiarise yourself with cannabis by cautiously seeing how different amounts affect you.

Also note that it’s much easier to overdo it with edibles than smoked cannabis, as the effects of the latter will wear off in a couple of hours, whereas the former can linger for up to 8 hours or so.

  • Mixing Weed and Alcohol

Marijuana isn’t the gateway to harder drugs; alcohol is. Given its legality, it’s the first substance that lowers inhibitions and makes us “feel good”.

The idea of mixing alcohol and cannabis may be okay for some, especially if you can handle your drink. However, studies suggest[3] that combining the two could potentially increase existing THC levels in the body. The combination isn’t lethal, but it could lead to a very uncomfortable situation.

Mixing Weed and Alcohol
  • Thinking You Can Get High From Eating Raw Cannabis

Adding raw cannabis leaves to salads or smoothies can be a healthy food option. But don’t expect to get high from it.

For the cannabinoids to take effect, they need to be activated through decarboxylation. In a nutshell, it’s a process that involves heating your buds. This happens automatically when you light a bowl, ignite a joint, or inhale through a vaporiser. For edibles, however, the weed should be heated in an oven at a temperature of 110°C (230°F) for around 30 minutes to become sufficiently “activated”.

  • Expecting “Magic”

Pop culture is most people’s introduction to cannabis. Weed is often portrayed as some magical substance, for better or for worse. But for some, the initial experience can either be underwhelming or overpowering, which creates a not-so-pleasant first impression.

Like every first experience in life, approach it as it is. Be in the moment and just enjoy. Don’t expect it to be an instant cure for insomnia or depression, because that’s not how this wonderful, versatile herb works.

  • Generalising the Effects

This is a worthwhile tip for both new and experienced weed smokers: don’t generalise the effects. Everyone’s experience with the herb is different, so don’t go around telling others that cannabis is “bad” just because you had a bad experience. On that same note, it’s not helpful to tell people that they will never experience any side effects or uncomfortable thoughts or sensations when smoking weed, as this isn’t necessarily true either.

In general, don’t rely on other people’s experiences too much. As an old adage goes: different strokes for different folks. Create your own experience and relationship with marijuana.

  • Freaking Out

A bit of anxiety is normal for newbie cannabis users. You’re experiencing these effects for the first time, and your body and mind do not know how to react appropriately. But with that said, it’s important not to give in to the fear and freak out. This will establish a fearful relationship with weed, and will likely cut your relationship short.

It’s all about a shift in mindset. Remember that all of these anxious and uneasy feelings are temporary, and they will pass. If you’re just smoking weed, without any other substances, you’ll be just fine. Just give it some time, and let the anxious thoughts come and go. This is actually a good technique to apply to everyday life, and will only make your bond with marijuana more worthwhile.

Cannabis Mistakes Part 2: Mistakes People Make While Smoking Weed

Now that we’ve examined some of the general myths and misinformation surrounding cannabis, let’s go further down this rabbit hole and take a look at some mistakes people make during their smoking sessions.

  • Not Having Water or Sugar Nearby

Among its many positives, cannabis also has its downsides. The most common that people encounter are coughing, dry eyes, and the dreaded cotton mouth (dry mouth).

For dry eyes, you’ll need to momentarily step away from the smoke to remedy that. But for coughing and cotton mouth, a glass of water or some sweets will do the trick. And you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not having them around.

So, for your sake, have a glass of water or some juice during your next smoking session. Smoking weed doesn’t always have to be harsh.

  • Not Knowing the “Good Side” of the Paper

One of the many mistakes beginners make when rolling joints is not knowing the “good side” of the paper. By good side, we mean the side of the paper with the glue on it. This is the part you’ll moisten and fasten onto the other end of the paper to seal your joint.

Rolling a joint takes practice, and it’s okay to make some mistakes during your first few tries. But make sure to be mindful of the good side the next time you roll—it’ll prevent you from looking like a perpetual amateur, and it’ll save paper.

Now, if you’re skilled enough, you can actually take off the glue and roll using the “bad side” of the paper. But that’s a topic for another time.

Not Knowing the “Good Side” of the Paper
  • Using Too Little or Too Much Weed

Packing in too much herb, too tightly, will make it difficult to inhale. On the other hand, using too little will allow for excessive airflow, making the joint or bowl burn way too quickly for your, or anyone’s, liking.

If you ask any veteran smoker, they’ll tell you that the happy medium is around the half-gram mark. This should give you the regular-sized joint you’re accustomed to seeing.

  • Adding Tobacco to the Mix

Thanks to the great Bob Marley and Jamaican culture, the concept of the spliff was born. However, the term originally described a “marijuana cigarette” containing no tobacco. Once this idea reached Europe, the term came to mean a joint with some sprinkles of tobacco mixed in.

What’s great about spliffs is that they give you that extra head buzz from the nicotine. However, the downsides are a bit heftier. Not only can you get addicted to nicotine, but as a substance, it is also more hazardous to one’s health.

If you want to keep your smoking on a wholesome level, skip the tobacco.

  • Smoking Stems and Seedy Weed

If you’ve seen top-shelf buds, you’ll notice that they’re devoid of seeds. Furthermore, the bud you buy won’t be weighed down with excess stems. Instead, you’ll get nothing but nug—exactly what you’re paying for.

On the contrary, low-quality weed will be seedy and filled with stems. You’ll have to go through the extra effort of extracting these smoking non-essentials, as they produce a harsher smoke. Not only is the experience less pleasant, but you’re paying more for it to boot, as those seeds and stems add some serious weight to a bag.

If you want to ensure a quality smoke, always go with a trusted, legitimate source, even if that means growing your own.

  • Throwing Out the Stems

Although you don’t want to smoke your stems, they can certainly be put to good use. Indeed, they still contain small concentrations of cannabinoids, and when extracted, can combine to create some potent products.

You can use them to make cannabutter, infuse them in tea, or even make tinctures out of them. If you take the time to do some research, you’ll be met with many different possibilities.

So remember: don’t throw out those stems just yet. You’ll thank yourself later.

Throwing Out the Stems
  • Not Owning a Grinder

If you smoke weed, you need a grinder. Whether you enjoy blunts, bongs, or spoon pipes as your vessel for THC intake, you want your herb to have a consistent, fine grind to allow for an even burn.

Some of you may ask, “Why do I need a grinder? I can use a pair of scissors or even my hands”. While that’s all true, a grinder maximises the surface area of your bud and simply makes for a much more consistent and enjoyable smoke. That’s a luxury that no other method can deliver.

  • Torching With a Crappy Lighter

You don’t need to buy an expensive lighter to get the job done. But there’s nothing worse than a crappy, unreliable torch, especially when smoking outside.

If you prioritise a wind-proof flame or other special features, you’ll have to invest a little more, but you can also buy suitable devices for the price of a candy bar. To avoid burning your fingers, choose a lighter with sufficient firepower.

  • Burning Without Care

Yes, there is a proper way to light a joint. You’ll need to rotate the tip as you apply the flame from several centimetres away to ensure an even burn. It’s a slightly different strategy to the light and puff approach to a cigarette.

Lighting a joint in your mouth and puffing away without rotating can cause one side to burn faster than the other, resulting in the dreaded “canoeing”. In turn, that can affect the taste and overall enjoyment of the smoke.

  • Not Passing the Joint

One of the fundamental principles of weed-smoking etiquette is to pass the joint. You take two puffs before handing it over to the next person. Hence the term “puff, puff, pass”.

Some people end up smoking half the joint before passing it. The worst ones are those who don’t pass at all. If you’re either of these deplorable types, consider yourself perpetually uninvited to future smoking sessions. No one likes a joint hogger.

Not Passing the Joint
  • Inhaling Too Deep or Too Shallow

Inhaling too deep is harsh on the lungs and a waste of smoke. On the flip side, inhaling too shallow won’t get you sufficiently high. Think of it like sipping on a drink through a straw. You don’t need to sip too much to enjoy the beverage, but you also need to take in enough to get a taste.

Admittedly, it takes several smoking sessions to find that right puff. This mistake is excusable for the first few times, but if it persists, the problem may be on you.

  • Holding the Weed Hit in Your Lungs

Many have the impression that holding a hit of weed in your lungs will get you higher. Unfortunately, this myth has been debunked. The reason some people may perceive the hit as “more potent” is the lightheaded feeling they experience after doing this practice.

But you’re only depriving yourself of oxygen. That buzz you think you’re feeling is your body warning you about low oxygen levels, which is never a good sign. So if you’re still holding your hits, maybe let this useless practice go.

Cannabis Mistakes Part 3: Mistakes People Make After Smoking

The last section of this article is all about post-smoking mistakes. Have you or any of your smoking mates committed these blunders?

  • Storing Your Weed in Bad Conditions

Top-quality cannabis needs to be stored in a clean, airtight glass container to avoid oxygen damage. Likewise, it should be stowed away somewhere dark—as light can also damage your buds—and the room temperature should be moderate, with 25.5°C (75°C) being optimal to avoid mould development.

Storing weed in bad conditions won’t only lead to mould, but it can also cause the herb to lose flavour and some THC. Now you’re left with subpar weed, which no one wants.

  • Forgetting to Cover Your Tracks

You may enjoy the occasional smoke, but not everyone around you does. Especially if you’re living with conservative family members, the sign of cannabis use could be an instant irritant.

As long as it’s legal where you are, no one will stop you from smoking your favourite herb. But also, show respect for other people by covering your tracks. Keep odours at bay to the best of your ability, and be sure to leave your surroundings clean.

Forgetting to Cover Your Tracks
  • Carelessly Stashing Your Weed

Just like forgetting to cover your tracks, stashing your weed carelessly is a sin. Seeing your baggie filled with herb may not sit well with your mom or grandmother. And just like that, you’ve gotten yourself into trouble.

If you’re living at home or with anyone who isn’t a fan of recreational marijuana, keep your stash out of sight. You can keep it in a drawer you only have access to, or in an unlikely location, like a hollowed-out book.

  • Misinterpreting Your Coughs

Coughing is your body’s way of getting rid of irritants in the lungs and throat. If you find yourself doing so during smoking sessions, you’re probably okay. That’s nothing a sip of water can’t fix.

But if you find yourself dealing with a bad cough for weeks on end, you may be dealing with a serious problem. Consider seeking medical help or taking a smoke break for a while.

  • Letting Your Tolerance Build Too Much

We mentioned taking a smoke break in the section above, and that also applies here. Letting your tolerance build too much will make you want to smoke more weed to get comparably high. Not only will that burn through your bank account, but the constant smoke inhalation can do damage to the body.

Too much of a good thing can also be bad. Tolerance breaks will enable you to enjoy the smoking experience without potential dependence. You ought to try it from time to time.

  • Driving

Some people believe they drive better under the influence of cannabis. They say it makes them more focused and chilled out to avoid road rage.

Don’t autumn into this line of thinking. At the end of it all, you’re still impaired and compromised—and that’s not a person who should be behind the wheel of a car.

  • Forgetting to Wash Your Paraphernalia

Many cannabis smokers are guilty of this mistake. They smoke one night, get high, and forget to clean their pipe or bong. Days, even weeks pass by, and their paraphernalia remains to be in a filthy state of affairs.

Always clean your devices. If you can, do so right after your smoking sessions to avoid forgetting about it.

Avoid Committing These Common Weed Mistakes

We all make mistakes from time to time, especially with something as poorly understood as cannabis. Hopefully, with the help of this article, your cannabis journey will only grow more fruitful as the years go on. We covered a lot of ground on this subject, so keep this article bookmarked to look back on as needed.

External Resources:
  1. Comparative pharmacology of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and its metabolite, 11-OH-Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol - PubMed
  2. The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders
  3. Marihuana attenuates the rise in plasma ethanol levels in human subjects - PubMed
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

Are you aged 18 or over?

The content on is only suitable for adults and is reserved for those of legal age.

Ensure you are aware of the laws of your country.

By clicking ENTER, you confirm
you are
18 years or older