From Weed News
People consume cannabis for the first time for many reasons. I frequently get contacted by people asking for tips about consuming cannabis for the first time and in recent years it seems like the percentage of those people being 40 years old or older has spiked dramatically, which I think is a great thing. Cannabis consumption by middle-aged and older people can provide a lot of wellness benefits and can also help boost cannabis reform efforts since people tend to vote more as they age.
Some older newbies are not necessarily consuming cannabis for the first time since they did so in decades past when they were younger, but coming back after a long layoff is basically like consuming cannabis for the first time all over again. So much has changed in recent years due to reform victories and the emergence of a robust regulated cannabis industry in many states.
The increased access to legal cannabis and the continued erosion of the stigma that has surrounded the plant has helped nudge some consumers that were curious about cannabis into the ‘I want to try it’ category. But consuming cannabis for the first time can be an intimidating thing for many older consumers. Part of that likely comes from not knowing enough about the cannabis plant and the options that are out there, and part of that probably comes with not knowing what is fact and what is reefer madness myth from a legality standpoint.
Yes, cannabis is legal at the state level in many areas but it remains illegal at the federal level. For veteran consumers, we know that the likelihood of a cannabis consumer being persecuted by the feds when the consumer is not on federal property is very slim. But to someone that is new to cannabis, the federal threat is much scarier from people I have talked to.
Also scaring would-be cannabis consumers is the enormous amount of false or misleading information that is on the internet and/or has been taught to people over the several decades since cannabis was originally prohibited. If a would-be cannabis consumer asked a cannabis opponent what they thought of trying the giggle bush, they would likely be met with claims of deteriorating brain power, debunked statements about cannabis being a gateway drug, and who knows what else.
I would say that the first thing that a would-be cannabis consumer should do is educate themselves on the facts. Yes, there are studies out there that are cited by opponents as reasons to not try cannabis, but for every one of those studies, there are several other studies completely debunking it. If someone does not want to consume cannabis because they just don’t prefer to do so, that’s fine, but would-be consumers should not let the false doomsday health claims of opponents get in the way of their desire to consume cannabis.
Cannabis is not a gateway drug. Cannabis has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol. Not only does cannabis not rot your brain, a number of studies have found cannabis to be good for brain health. A laundry list of extremely successful people consume cannabis on a regular basis. Tens of millions of people in America consume cannabis regularly, so would-be cannabis consumers are definitely not alone.
64% of U.S. voters support nationwide legalization, and that number will no doubt increase in the coming years. A majority of Republicans now support full legalization, so cannabis reform is far from a one-party issue. In these tense political times, cannabis reform is one thing that most people can agree on. I say all of this because it’s vital that would-be cannabis consumers know that what they are doing is not wrong and that they should feel zero shame in consuming cannabis if they are doing so responsibly.
When it comes to cannabis consumption, the risks that would-be consumers should really be concerned about are the ones associated with prohibition. Obviously, in some states people can still be arrested and/or incarcerated for cannabis. Even in legal states, people can still lose their jobs or other things such as housing due to cannabis consumption. Before you consume cannabis make sure to evaluate if the risk is worth it. Do not operate a vehicle after consuming, do not consume around children, do not operate heavy machinery.
Trying to figure out how to consume and what to consume can be overwhelming for cannabis newbies since there is so much variety at dispensaries now. I have found that a really big reason that a lot of people are hesitant to try cannabis is that they are opposed to smoking. Fortunately for them, cannabis is now sold in a number of smoke-less forms from transdermal patches to hot sauce.
I personally recommend that people find a high-CBD/low-THC edible that suits their taste buds to start with, with infused gummies being my top recommendation since most are OK with eating one gummy square the size of a postage stamp. If someone can’t eat sugar or doesn’t want to, similar products are made that are high-CBD/low-THC. In Oregon, and other legal states, the dosage info is specified on the label as required by law, so consumers can measure exactly what they want to consume.
Human biology is a funky thing and thus makes it hard to know exactly what a person’s tolerance is. The first few times I consumed cannabis I didn’t feel a thing. My friends who were much larger than me consumed the same amount and were as high as a kite. Even today when I consume cannabis with other veterans, what one edible will do to me will not necessarily do the same to someone that consumes at the same rate.
Newbie cannabis consumers do not need to know the full science behind cannabis but they do need to have a basic understanding of the different forms of cannabis consumption, the different cannabinoids that make up the cannabis plant and what they do, indica versus sativa versus hybrid strains, and other basic factors. Those are discussed below. They are simplified for newbies so veteran cannabis consumers bare with me and if you see anything that can be added, by all means, add it in the comments section.
Smoking, eating, vaping, and topical forms of cannabis
There’s are big differences in the ways cannabis can be consumed. When someone smokes cannabis or vaporizes it, the effects come on really quickly and they start to wear off fairly quickly, at least compared to eating cannabis. Eating cannabis results in effects not starting until about an hour after consumption, and the effects can last for many hours. That’s why many people say to stay away from edibles if you are new to cannabis, but that can be tough since edibles are a logical alternative to smoking cannabis.
The best advice I can give would-be cannabis consumers is to start with high-CBD products, only consume a small amount, and wait an hour before consuming more. From there you can transition to products that have equal parts of CBD and THC, and then on to high-CBD products. But go very slow. You can always consume more cannabis when you are ramping up the effects, but once you consume too much about the only thing that you can do is wait it out which usually ends up being an undesirable experience.
Different cannabinoids do different things
The cannabis plant is made up of various cannabinoids, with the two most well-known ones being CBD and THC. CBD itself does not cause the ‘high’ that some people associate with consuming cannabis, and as such, CBD-only products provide no euphoria. THC, on the other hand, induces euphoria, and with new cannabis consumers, can often provide too much euphoria than is desired for a first time experience.
Products that have some THC and a lot of CBD can provide some euphoric effects to brand-new cannabis consumers. Eventually, tolerance will build up and a new cannabis consumer can then branch out to high-THC strains. Cannabinoids are being isolated these days in some cases, with each cannabinoid providing its own level of wellness benefits. I encourage newbies to research them if they have time, but they should all have a basic understanding of what CBD and THC are, what they do, and how they interact.
Indica, sativa, and hybrids
If you are new to cannabis and have done some topical research, you have likely heard about indica, sativa, and hybrid cannabis strains. It’s a categorization system that has existed for a long time, with indica cannabis strains being associated with naps and relaxation, sativa being associated with more mental euphoria and often induced laughter, and hybrid strains being some combination of the two.
Newbies don’t necessarily need to stick with one particular type since some strains effect people differently, and indica can provide sativa effect traits and sativa can provide indica effect traits. Take indica, sativa, and hybrid with a grain of salt. While it can indicate what effects to expect, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee it. Newbies should proceed slowly with whatever strain or product they are using and find what they prefer best.
Know your consumption goal ahead of time
Many people that have a bad cannabis experience did not put much thought ahead of time as to what their consumption goal was. By that, I mean did the consumer want to just feel more relaxed, did they want to get totally wrecked, etc? I have found that most people that are new to cannabis just want to dip their toe in a little bit, and if they like it, they will go farther down the euphoria rabbit hole the next time.
That’s why I always recommend high-CBD/low-THC edibles first because at worst they will just make a person a little more relaxed and not have a lot of effects. Compare that to a newbie consuming too much of a high-THC edible and ending up like Maureen Dowd and hating the experience. Less is more if you want to relax and ease into cannabis consumption. Of course, if you want to go zero to hero and get really high, that can be accommodated, but I find far fewer newbies that want to go that route than those that just want a gentle introduction to cannabis use.
Plan ahead and block out time
Your first cannabis experience is much more likely to be enjoyable if you plan it out ahead of time. Have water and other preferred beverages handy to combat dry mouth. Have snacks that you prefer close to you and keep in mind what level of nutrition you want to maintain. It’s not exactly a secret that cannabis can induce the munchies, and waking up with a stomach ache is never any fun.
If you like music, have your favorite music ready to go when the effects hit. If you like movies, find one that you enjoy and watch it as the effects settle in. I would recommend avoiding crowds for your first time since you will likely be more comfortable in an intimate setting. Some say to have at least one sober person present but I always found consuming with other responsible newbies to be more fun when I started consuming cannabis since it was new to everyone and the one sober person wasn’t weirding everyone out (due to no fault of their own!).
Seriously, start with a low dosage
I have said it throughout this article, but seriously, go slow on the consumption. I do not always like comparing alcohol to cannabis since cannabis is so much safer, but I have found that many newbies relate to an alcohol analogy since alcohol is more commonplace in society compared to cannabis, for better or worse. If a person wanted to consume alcohol for the first they shouldn’t start out by taking multiple shots of the strongest liquor that the liquor store has to offer.
A responsible first-time consumer would start with something that has a low alcohol percentage and go slow. The same strategy should be followed with cannabis. I don’t know what the low-alcohol percentage wine cooler equivalent is for cannabis, but that’s the aim. If you are a newbie, some jerks will try to get you as high as possible the first time and in doing so likely making it to where you never want to consume again. A good friend will not pressure you into consuming any more than you are comfortable with. Stand your ground.
What to do if you get too high
There are a number of anecdotal tips on the internet as to what to do if you are too high. Some of them work in some instances and others do not. When I have a friend that consumed more than they should have I always give them a lot of cold water, CBD if it’s around, and lots of time. Nothing works better than a nap from what I have found in my experience. All of the research I have suggested will help people too.
Too much THC has never killed anyone in the history of mankind. Legal cannabis is lab tested so there are no concerns about foreign substances. If you have consumed too much cannabis, relax, breathe, and know that the effects will go away. Surround yourself with positive vibes and something to occupy your mind. If you like video games, play them. If you have a song or TV show that you love, turn it on. It will all be OK, trust me!
In summary, deciding to consume cannabis is not a big deal in many ways and can be a big decision in other ways. It all depends on the person and their current situation. Take everything into account to decide if cannabis is truly right for you, and have a solid strategy in place to help ensure that you have the best experience possible. Cannabis can absolutely be a life enhancer and provide a significant amount of wellness benefits.
Cannabis consumption is not for everyone, but it could help a lot of people if they just give it a chance and consume responsibly. Good luck to you if you are going to take the plunge.
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