If You've Never Tried Cannabis Before, Here's How To Start

Woman with cannabis.

Woman holding a cannabis.

A guide for your first-time cannabis experience

Cannabis is joining the ranks of wine, beer, cigars and other adult indulgences worldwide. Newcomers often feel overwhelmed by the choices involved with purchasing and consuming cannabis products.

However, there are many considerations that every new marijuana user should be aware of to ensure safe use. If you are considering trying medical or recreational cannabis, here’s everything you should know about before you start.



Not all types of cannabis have the same effect

Different types of cannabis have different effects on the body and mind, and are used for different purposes. Indica and sativa are the two main strains of marijuana.

Indicas, short and stocky with dense buds, are native to the chilly mountains of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. “Purple strains” of cannabis often refer to products made with the Indica plant. It is known for its deep colours, and is said to have a stronger effect on your body than your head. Indicas are rich in CBD which has proven medical benefits, meaning many people prefer the strain for medical purposes, such as pain relief, insomnia and stress.

Sativas, tall and lanky with spindly buds, come from warm places like Thailand, Colombia, and Mexico. The effects of sativa are generally different to those of Indica and the variety contains large amounts of THC, which tends to give the trademark “high” feeling.


Difference between Indica and Sativa
Source

Finally there are hybrids, a blend of Indica and Sativa which are mixed for varied effects. Depending on the dominance of Indica or Sativa, hybrid strains can have a range of psychological and physiological effects. For beginners, it’s a good idea to start with a marijuana strain that contains less THC.



What do most people feel when they try cannabis?

The impact of marijuana on individual users largely depends on the type of cannabis used, method of use, and the dose. The user’s surroundings and mindset also play a role in the experience.

Common short-term psychological effects:

  • Euphoria, relaxation, and contentedness
  • Change in sensory perception, like taste, visuals, and hearing
  • Heightened libido
  • Changed way of thinking
  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Short-term memory loss

Common short-term physiological effects:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased appetite
Effects of smoking or vaporising marijuana are usually felt within 30 minutes and often last a few hours. The effects of edible cannabis generally take much longer to “kick in”, but usually last much longer, too. Edibles are not a good choice for your first experience with cannabis.



Ways to consume cannabis

There are several different ways to consume and enjoy cannabis:

Smoking: This traditional method is the go-to of marijuana consumption. Consumers can buy cannabis flowers and use a pipe, or purchase “pre-rolls” – a packaged cannabis cigarette. It’s important to start small. Smoking cannabis generally shows its effects in the first 10 minutes and lasts for one to three hours.

VaporisingVape pens are smoke-free e-cigarettes. The marijuana is heated to make it hot enough to extract THC, CBD and other active ingredients. Vaping is easier on the lungs and is less conspicuous, with quick effects.

Edibles: Edibles are usually cannabis-infused cookies, chocolate bars, fruit chews, gummy bears and many other types of food. They show effects slowly and diminish gradually. Choose edibles with 5 mg or less of cannabis.

Topical: Balms, lotions and gels only work on muscle tissue without entering your bloodstream. You will feel medicinal effects without getting high.

Concentrates: Cannabis extracts contain THC levels ranging from 50 to 80 percent. Experts don’t recommend them for beginners.



What are the risks?

First-time cannabis users may face mental and physical health issues, which may occur due to one-time or occasional use. Certain factors can reduce or increase a marijuana user’s risk of being negatively affected:

  • Use of marijuana once a week or more may increase the risk of health problems.
  • Products with higher THC are more harmful.
  • Adolescent cannabis use has increased risks of negative effects.
  • Smoking cannabis is more harmful than other methods of use. Poisoning from cannabis edibles is common among inexperienced users.



How to stay safe with your first cannabis experience?

First, check the laws of your jurisdiction regarding cannabis use and be clear on potential consequences. In most areas, cannabis use can still result in legal consequences. Make sure you don’t have any professional duties, or you don’t drive a vehicle or use machinery under the influence of marijuana.

If this is your first time, you may experience some strange auditory sensations, hallucinatory effects, or imagine seeing things in your peripheral vision. Don’t panic and stay calm until the high passes away.

As cannabis use moves towards legalisation and is increasingly prescribed for medical conditions, the number of first-time users will increase. While cannabis use is never completely risk-free, a few simple precautions can be taken to ensure maximum safety and the greatest benefits to these new users.