Top Five Tips For Trying Cannabis For The First Time

Emily Robertson August 13, 2018 0 comments

Every new thing we try has a learning curve. Cannabis is expensive, so use these tips to maximize your experience and your budget.

Medicating with cannabis introduces a big learning curve for first time cannabis patients. A first session can take many first time consumers by surprise. Further, first time cannabis patients generally have a lot of questions. For example, how much do you take? What’s the best way to consume? What happens if you take too much? Isn’t all cannabis the same? So many questions and so little guidance, it seems. Sometimes it’s just nice to have some starter tips.

Well, those questions are tough to answer, generally, but can be solved on a case by case basis and a little experimentation. Cannabis is a personalized medicine because the strain that works for your neighbor might not work for you, or the strain may work but the dose does not. This is not unlike pharmaceuticals, but the missing piece for cannabis medicine, at this time, is that there is very little guidance for treatment and dosage. That will change as cannabis becomes more mainstream.

The good news is that certain rules,when applied, can help first time consumers navigate things until they are comfortable.  So, if you’re thinking about embarking on your cannabis journey, congratulations! You will not regret this choice for your health. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started:

Every Strain is Different, But Recreational Has the Same Effect as Medicinal

First thing to keep in mind is that all cannabis has healing properties, but NOT all cannabis is of the same quality. Medical grade is a term you’ll see bandied about in reference to good quality bud. It will be rich in aroma (dank) and visually, you will see that the flower is dense and not dried out. Another visual cue to look for are visible trichomes. These are crystal-like resin glands that cover the bud, making it look frosty. The more trichomes, the more medicine.

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In a dispensary, quality cannabis is found on the top shelf, hence the name, ‘top shelf.’ Reggie is in the middle and the bottom shelf has lowest quality/potency.

If it’s your first time, you’ll want to be careful of the most potent strains. These may be what’s required for your pain or spasticity, but be aware that it could knock you on your bottom. The golden rule for new cannabis patients is: Start Low and Go Slow.

Close up of Glass Bong

The Effects of Cannabis May Be A Lot Different Than Expected

There are many factors involved in how high you get while consuming, and sometimes it’s unpredictable. While you certainly want to know your limits to help control the effects a bit better, sometimes getting a head high when you only wanted pain relief is unavoidable. Even a couple puffs may be enough. So, let the effects sink in before you consume more. The amount of time it takes for the medicine to hit depends on the way you consume. Edibles can take up to two hours to reach maximum effect, while inhalation is just a couple of minutes.

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Also important to note is that every strain is unique in its medicine.  Certain strains are will relax, while others will give you a boost of energy and focus to get through a tough day at work. It’s good to know what you’re consuming before you consume it so that you can buy for the desired effects. Insider tip: it’s the terpenes that matter. Don’t go in for the indica versus sativa, learn about terpenes.

First Time Cannabis Patients: Grind Your Green

You need to break the flower into tiny bits before it can be used. This applies whether you are smoking it, using a bong, vape pen, or activating via cooking. Some cannabis consumers prefer to break their cannabis up with their fingers. It can be an awesome sensory experience, but also messy. Invest in a good grinder that has a kief catcher at the bottom.

Grinding your green is pretty easy, but if you’re with an experienced friend, it’s best to learn how to do it properly. Once you have your own grinder, you learn about the joy of opening the kief catcher when you need a re-up…magic. This is the most pleasing of the tips.

Man's hands opening grinder filled with cannabis

Cannabis Joints Are Not The Same as Cigarettes 

Smoking cannabis isn’t quite the same as smoking a cigarette or even a cigar. For the latter, you do not inhale. Cigar consumers use a technique called ‘retrohale’ (where you puff on the cigar and blow it out your nose). For a cigarette, you take long hauls which are made possible by chemical additives that lower the temperature of the smoke. These additives are not in cannabis. So know that a bunch of hot smoke coming into your lungs can hurt a bit. It’s never a bad idea to have a glass of water nearby when you’re smoking.

So, there is a little technique to help you have a pleasant experience when smoking cannabis, and this will also maximize the medicinal exposure of cannabis to your lungs.

The folks over at have broken it down to these easy steps:

  1. Inhale fresh air.
  2. Slowing haul on the joint until your lungs feel almost full.
  3. Top off with a short intake of fresh air. This extra, deliberate breath drives the cannabis smoke into your lungs.
  4. Wait a few seconds.
  5. Exhale.

You should then wait several minutes between puffs to determine the status of your state of mind and body.

Sign that reads: inhale. hold it. exhale. smile

First Time Cannabis Patients: Try Vaping Instead of Smoking

Vaping is safer in that it does not expose you, or the people around you, to incompletely combusted plant material, which contains carcinogens.  It’s also easier on the lungs and a smoother smoke experience.  Even better, you can go incognito as the smoke has very little scent. This is unlike joints that are very aromatic.

Some vape pens and vaporizers come with temperature control which will allow you to burn at the optimal temperature for your health needs. Terpenes combust at different temperatures and you want to avoid that.

The key to a successful medicinal experience is to ask questions. People will give you lots of tips, some good and some not so good, but the most important thing for you is to ASK. Also, if the strain you try doesn’t work, don’t give up.

Please feel free to ask anything you want to know in the comment section or private message us:

Author avatar

Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.

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