As cannabis becomes mainstream, more adults are finding themselves smoking weed for the first time. A recent study indicated that 44 percent of adults had tried cannabis, and the numbers are growing.
If you are only first trying cannabis as an adult, you have likely been exposed to many myths about its use from anti-drug education programs like D.A.R.E and the “Just Say No” campaigns of the Reagan era.
For almost a century, weed use has been demonized in this country, and massive propaganda campaigns have been implemented to discourage use. This includes many anecdotes which have easily been disproven by science and users alike.
Cannabis affects each user differently, and for some first-time smokers, it will not affect them at all. That is completely normal and extremely common. Others will get light-headed, while some may get completely stoned and start tripping. You might get the munchies, or maybe you will just fall asleep. It depends on the strain, the amount you intake, and your mood.
What happens to my body when I smoke weed?
The experience of smoking weed is generally quite subjective, each person will feel and describe it slightly differently, and enjoy it for different reasons. There are, however, several effects that can be attributed to smoking weed for all users.
The first of which is an increase in pulse rate, often immediately after smoking. Blood pressure then falls slightly, which can lead to light-headedness at very high doses. Next, the eyes turn redder, and the muscles in the body become weaker. Appetite is generally heightened. In some cases, hearing and sight are enhanced, and time feels like it slows down.
Most users also experience what is known as “cottonmouth,” or dry mouth. All of these effects should be anticipated and are no reason for alarm or worry.
The physiological effects are quite consistent across users, but the psychological effects vary greatly between users, and between strains of cannabis consumed, as well as the method of consumption. Some people report feeling more open, creative, and connected to others. Alternatively, some users say they feel lazy, paranoid, or more introverted.
Not only is this a factor of individual biology, but it is also a factor of the different types of weed out there. Generally, cannabis is classified as either sativa or indica or a hybrid of the two.
Sativa weed leads to a more energetic high that stimulates the mind, increases creativity, and can be energizing. Indica weed is attributed more towards relaxation, slowing of the mind and body, increasing appetite, and reducing anxiety.
Every user has their preferences or may switch between strains throughout the day (i.e. sativa for the daytime, indica for the night). If it is your first time, it is generally recommended to smoke an indica, as there is less chance of paranoia. Once you know more about how you will react, then try other strains and methods of ingestion such as tinctures or edibles.
Why do first-time smokers not get high?
Often, first-time weed smokers claim not to feel anything and are let down by their expectations. The urban myth is that “your body has never been exposed to THC so does not know how to use it.“
Studies into the endocannabinoid system in the 1980s and 1990s have largely proven this wrong. More likely it is related to technique. According to some studies, in general, less than 10 percent of the THC is absorbed by novice smokers as they do not yet know how to pull the smoke into their lungs and instead, smoke it like a cigar. Comparatively, 28 percent of THC is absorbed by a more experienced smoker. So, if you do not feel anything, try again, but inhale deeper.
If you are having trouble taking deep pulls, try hitting your weed, and before exhaling, inhale again. This double inhale ensures you are actually inhaling smoke and allows the smoke to cool off a little bit in your mouth, making it less harsh to inhale in the second round.
How should I use weed for the first time?
From single pre-rolled joints to decadently branded jars of premium flower, you have many product types and price points from which to choose. When smoking weed for the first time, do not worry so much about the quality of the flower you choose.
That may sound backward, but as long as you are purchasing cannabis from a licensed brand and retailer, you can rest assured it is a quality product that has been tested for microbes, pesticides, and other harmful compounds.
Focus instead on how you would like to consume the strain of your choosing. Are you looking to roll a joint yourself or buy a pre-roll? Do you have a pipe to use or are you looking to try ripping a bong for the first time? Whatever you choose, you will want at least around 1 gram of flower, a basic grinder, and a lighter along with your chosen device.
For your first time smoking weed, pre-rolls are the easiest entry point since all you will need in addition to your pre-roll is a lighter or match. Without the added accessories, they can also be a budget-friendly way to experiment with weed for the first time. Just make sure to avoid pre-rolls that have added kief, extracts, or concentrates since they will likely be too strong for a first experience.
Drink water before you start
Cottonmouth is one of the most common side effects associated with smoking cannabis. It is a good idea to have a bottle of water nearby to rehydrate and keep your mouth moist. It is an even better idea to pre-hydrate before you start smoking.
As it will be your first time smoking weed, you would be wise to smoke a little rather than jumping in the deep end and smoking for hours. So, accordingly, you will not need to drink a ton of water in advance of smoking a reasonable amount.
The cottonmouth caused by cannabis is only temporary and nothing to worry about. The main psychoactive cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is known to bind to cannabinoid receptors in the submandibular glands, whose function is to produce saliva in the mouth.
THC causes the signal for saliva production to be shut off, and that is why we end up with a dry mouth. Once the effects of the THC in our system have worn off, then everything returns to normal and the cottonmouth side effect disappears.
Do not smoke alone
It is not a good idea to try out a mind-altering substance that you have no experience with on your own the first time you use it. With no prior experience, you have no idea how weed will affect you. Having someone there who is sensible and that you know and trust is advisable.
They will help to keep you grounded if you have a bad experience and feel overwhelmed by the effects. Also, they hopefully will be able to tell you when you have had enough so that you do not overindulge your first time.
Down the line, when you have more experience smoking weed and know how it will affect you, you will feel a lot more comfortable smoking a joint on your own. Try to make your first time smoking weed as enjoyable as possible. Having a friend, or a few friends, there to share the experience with you will make it a lot more fun.
Music helps to lift the mood
To truly enjoy your high, you have to be in the right mood. If you are too tired and fall asleep, you are going to miss out on the experience. If you are feeling nervous, you may become paranoid and anxious.
The idea is to chill out and enjoy it. If there is a certain style of music that you like to listen to that can get you in the mood, then go for it. Plus, it will add a whole new dimension to your experience.
As everyone knows, music produces an emotive response in people. Choose some music that you enjoy and that sets the tone nicely for your first time smoking weed. Opt for music that is easy to listen to and is upbeat.
After a few tokes, you may find yourself singing along to whatever music is playing in the background. Music will help to make the experience more enjoyable, particularly when it is in the company of good friends.
Will I get addicted if I try it?
In the old days of such films as Reefer Madness, it was claimed that smoking just one marijuana cigarette would turn you into an addict. This is far from the truth, and in fact, it is very difficult to become physically addicted to cannabis as it does not influence the same dopamine reward circuits in the brain as with nicotine, cocaine, or even sugar.
People can develop a habit of use, but whether or not heavy cannabis use can cause withdrawal symptoms if ceased is still widely up for debate. A 2006 study looked at males and females using cannabis and found that the risk of dependence for males after 1 year of regular use was less than 1 percent.
That number rose to 4 percent after two years of use and then declined. For women, at the end of 1 year of regular use, less than 1 percent were dependent and that number did not change over subsequent years.