There’s a first time for everything, so they say. Cannabis is one of the most common drugs in the entire world, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s tried it. Yet.
If you’re of age and are considering trying cannabis for the first time, we’re genuinely excited for you, and we’re already anticipating the heightened and delightful sensations it’s going to inspire. Being high is a strange and wondrous experience, a special kind of euphoria that can make ordinary experiences like gazing at the sky an ecstatic occasion.
But like anything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. We want your first experience of being high to be a positive one and to help you avoid the pitfalls that can come with inexperience. So take a trip with us—um, no, not that kind of a trip—and we’ll share our wealth of knowledge about the effects of cannabis, how to best enjoy them, and how to stay safe and happy while getting high for the first time!
Set and Setting
One of the most important concepts in psychoactive drug experiences is “Set and Setting.” In this case, “set” refers to your mindset and “setting” refers to the physical space in which your experience occurs.
Let’s start with the “setting” part of the equation first. All it means is that for your first time getting high, you should choose a comfortable, familiar place to situate yourself (no, we’re not suggesting the couch in front of the television, though that might happen a bit later!).
Being high will probably be a bit disorienting at first, so anything you can do to remind yourself that you’re on firm ground—with everything you need close at hand—will help make your experience more positive and predictable.
Many people—ourselves included!—love to roam the great outdoors while high. If you’re a nature lover, by all means, plant yourself (no pun intended) outside and take in the awe-inspiring splendor of Mother Earth.
But at the same time, be smart. Don’t set up camp in an area with a lot of hazards, like sharp drops, treacherous rapids, or poison ivy-choked trails. Be sure you have weather-appropriate clothing and basic supplies such as beverages and snacks (more on this last point later, trust us).
For many first-timers, home may turn out to be the best place to begin.
What about the “set” part? Cannabis tends to heighten whatever emotions you’re feeling; happiness can quickly blossom into joy, but any fears you’re having can suddenly loom larger and become more threatening than they normally might. What’s more, it’s not uncommon for cannabis to provoke feelings of anxiety or paranoia in certain individuals. Is there a way to guarantee this won’t happen to you? No. But before you put down the vape pen and back away in terror, take a deep breath.
Here are some things to remember: Cannabis is an inherently safe drug. So far as we know, no one has ever suffered a fatal overdose.
Even if you feel disoriented or confused after getting high for the first time, it’s helpful to remember that you’re not in danger. You’re not going to get in trouble. Wait a moment, take a few deep and cleansing breaths, and feel yourself come back into your body. There; that’s what we’re talking about.
Alternately, a warm shower and—believe it or not—a taste or even a good sniff of ground black pepper does wonders for bringing you back from the sensation that you’ve simply had too much cannabis.
Gearing Up: How to Get Cannabis Inside Your Body
For your very first time getting high, we recommend smoking or vaping. Other methods are just as wonderful and bring different characteristics to the party, but smoking cannabis flower or extract—or using an unbelievably convenient vape pen—have one significant advantage: They take effect almost immediately. Let’s check them out side by side.
For those of us looking for the “classic” pot-smoking experience, smoking cannabis flower just can’t be beat. However, it is harder on your lungs—even if the old scare tactics telling us “cannabis is 20 times more carcinogenic than tobacco” have largely been debunked—and just as importantly, it’s harder to regulate the amount you’re inhaling compared with a vaporizer.
If you’d like to try smoking for your first cannabis outing, we recommend having a seasoned veteran on hand. Go slowly and gently, don’t be afraid to cough, and be prepared to feel a little foolish the first time around! We’re confident you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly!
Upsides: It’s a sheer pleasure to roll joints or roll out and break apart cannabis flower to use in a pipe or bong. You learn—quickly—how to regulate the amount of smoke entering your lungs to prevent coughing and hold it a reasonably long time (try counting to ten slowly in your head).
Downsides: For those unaccustomed to (or uninterested in) rolling joints, it’s a nightmare. And the first few times you inhale cannabis smoke, you will probably cough and feel a bit uncomfortable. Or if you’re in a crowd, mildly embarrassed.
While it lacks the mystique of sparking up a joint or taking a healthy rip from a bong, vaping is a fascinating technological advance on the truly ancient art of smoking pot. Rather than burning cannabis flower, vape pens (or more elaborate tabletop vaporizers) heat either cannabis flower or highly potent cannabis extract to the point at which the cannabinoid-rich volatile oils in the plant become vaporized but not to the point that they actually burn. This spares you the harsh and bitter flavors associated with inhaling burning plant matter. Will you feel a bit like you’re having your temperature taken with one of those techno-wands at the doctor’s office? Possibly. Will you receive a predictable dose of smooth and non-irritating cannabis vapor? Definitely.
Upsides: Vaping is dead easy. As Lauren Bacall once said, “You just put your lips together and blow.” (Actually you inhale, but who are we to argue?) And—this is very important for first-timers such as yourself—compared with smoking, with vaping it’s far easier to regulate the amount of cannabis you’re inhaling. More advanced vape pens even have features such as a gentle finger-shaking buzz to announce that you’ve inhaled a perfectly modulated dose.
Downsides: You will lose some of the outlaw cool associated with smoking. But hey, less smoke can be a good thing too.
What You’ll Feel the First Time You’re High
Finally, we’re getting to the good part! Cannabis intoxication is a blissful, time-bending, and befuddling experience all in one, and your senses will feel a little unsteady as they acclimate to this new mental environment. Depending on how much you’ve imbibed—and we recommend you “start low and go slow” to allow the cannabis to take effect gently—you’ll feel the effects for about two hours.
One of the most interesting things about cannabis is that, while there’s a reasonably predictable range of outcomes, it’s impossible to know exactly how any one person will react. Some of the sensations you can expect include:
Euphoria: A feeling of bliss, inexplicable joyfulness, even a floaty sensation in your body as well as your mind. Do not fight this feeling; embrace it!
Time and Distance Warp: Cannabis changes our sense of time, typically making us think things are taking longer than they really are. Don’t try to speed yourself up, or keep checking your phone. Enjoy the sensation and go with the flow here.
Spatial Perception Changes: For some people—particularly females, interestingly enough—cannabis can alter perceptions of spatial relations. So especially when you’re new to the sensations of being high, move a bit more slowly and carefully than you might otherwise.
Surrounded by Sound: One of cannabis’ most potent effects is on our perception of sounds and music. Without getting too deep in the science behind it, we’ll cut to the chase by stating: Pot makes music sound AWESOME. The first time you get high, make sure you have access to some of your favorite tunes close at hand. It really doesn’t matter what genre it is, although it’s true some aficionados gravitate towards chill, downbeat music to accompany their high. Bonus points for having good-quality headphones on hand. You will appreciate them like never before.
The Munchies: We promised we’d include this all-important topic, and we’re delivering. The first time you’re high, you will be floored by how good food can taste. There are a host of possible reasons this happens; Smithsonian magazine published an in-depth article on the subject but—because it contains terms like “olfactory habituation” and “nucleus accumbens”—we can only recommend you read it when not high.
Here’s a word to the wise: Have some of your favorite treats close at hand, but don’t go overboard. It’s easy to overeat when you’re high, and trust us, it’s not worth the tummyache. Choose a couple of simple, salty items—a little bag of salty roast nuts, or a sensible amount of potato chips, for instance—and a couple of sweet ones. Perhaps a crisp, ripe apple or a juicy orange, plus one moderate piece of chocolate or a (non-cannabis) cookie. As you get more acclimated to the sensation of being high, feel free to add on more complex foods.
Extracurricular Activities: By all means, try out some of your favorite activities, so long as you’re confident you can stay safe. This is NOT the time to take up bungee-jumping, archery, or carpentry.
And it’s so obvious it (almost) doesn’t need to be said, but: Don’t plan on doing any driving till you’ve completely come down. There’s no need to tempt fate with your altered perception of time and space, is there? But once you’ve gotten your “weed legs,” there’s no reason not to engage in bike riding, yoga, jogging, meditation or any other restorative activities! And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that sex on weed will help you understand the phrase “blow your mind” as you never have before!
Anxiety and Paranoia: Try as we might to avoid them, these feelings are a fairly common side-effect of getting high. Our advice? As we pointed out earlier, it helps to remember that you’re in a safe and comfy setting and that any uncomfortable feelings you’re experiencing are just that: Feelings. They’re not going to hurt you, and you’re not going to feel this way forever. In most cases, these sensations will pass relatively quickly.
The Kinds of Cannabis
This brings up an important point about cannabis. Just as everyone reacts to cannabis a bit differently, there’s also not just one kind of cannabis to react to! We do our very best to source the freshest, most carefully handled, and carefully processed cannabis products, but at the end of the day, cannabis is still a plant, and as such it occurs in a dizzying variety of subtypes, or strains.
This is part of the cannabis plant’s mystery and wonder! Many cannabis enthusiasts divide the plant into two major botanical groupings: Sativa and indica. Some strains—particularly sativa-dominant ones—tend to produce a buzzier, more stimulating and cerebral high; indica-dominant strains produce the deep relaxation (and wonderful and/or stupefying “couch lock”) and blissed-out inertia often associated with cannabis. As you grow more experienced with cannabis, you’ll naturally begin to gravitate towards strains that suit you best or for different types of activity.
There are far too many strains and hybrids to describe here. Especially if you’re new to cannabis, we invite you to come in anytime to chat with one of our friendly budtenders. In addition to getting you set up with any gear you might need, we’ll help steer you towards cannabis strains best suited to your goals and desires.
Tying It All Up
Speaking of goals and desires, we know that people try cannabis for all sorts of reasons, both recreational and medical. Our stance is that we want to make it easy, fun, and safe for you, no matter what those reasons are.
That said, cannabis is a drug, and like any other drug, there are risks involved. It’s estimated that roughly 9% of those who use cannabis develop a dependence upon it. The baseline criteria is: Do you feel the need to be dishonest about your cannabis use, either to yourself or to others? If so, we respectfully suggest stepping away for a head-clearing break of a week or more, and assessing whether or not cannabis is the best choice for you.
Fortunately, for the large majority of cannabis users, it’s a safe, stimulating, relaxing and inspiring part of a healthy and active life. And whether you’re getting high for the first time or an old pro, we want to help. You know how to reach us!