Most of the details from my first cannabis experience are lost in the recesses of my subconscious, but I will never forget the gnawing sense of fear and guilt I felt the first time I lit up. It was New Years Eve. I was in my early 20s and I was with three friends at one of their parents’ house. Their parents were gone and I would be too after just a few inhalations. I can’t imagine how much worse my experience would have been if I was with strangers.

Fast-forward a few years later and I’m aware of the nuances of consuming cannabis. Everyone experiences different effects. Sometimes the effects can be uncomfortable like paranoia, anxiety, fatigue, dry mouth, red eyes, increased heart rate, difficulty concentrating, and dizziness. After much trial-and-error, here are a few cannabis consumptions tips I’ve learned along the way.

Start Small

There are so many cannabis strains and cannabis-infused products to choose from. No matter what product you choose, start off with a very low dose on your first time. Weed can amplify any positive or negative emotions you’re feeling. Ask a budtender or check the product packaging for THC and other cannabinoid milligram content. Also, don’t combine cannabis with alcohol, since the combination can lead to increased THC effects like anxiety and confusion.

Build Up Gradually

With smoking or vaping, it can be hard to determine an exact dosage. Start off with a puff or two and wait an hour to gauge the effects. Edibles should contain cannabinoid content in milligrams, which can be used to split the product into small dosages. For milligram-based products like edibles and tinctures, begin with one milligram or less and wait an hour or two for the effects to kick in. You can add one or two milligrams on your next dosage and continue adding more milligrams to your dosage to achieve the desired effects.

Edibles Can Be More Intense

When consuming edibles, THC is metabolized in the liver converting THC into a metabolite called 11-OH-THC. 11-OH-THC has been known to increase the mental and physical effects of THC. For first-time edible consumers, the effects may be overwhelming, especially if taken on an empty stomach. Edibles can take an hour or two to take effect, so don’t get eager and consume more to feel something. The effects can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.

Understand Ratios

Some cannabis-infused products like edibles and tinctures contain varying ratios of different cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBN, and more. In general, CBD can mitigate the effects of THC like paranoia and anxiety.  A balanced ratio of THC and CBD can provide a user with a less sedative and hallucinogenic experience and more clear-headed effects. Ratios high in CBD can have a more calm and relaxing cannabis experience. If all else, take pure CBD without THC to get all the benefits of cannabis without the high.

You May Not Feel Any Effects

There’s no definitive research on this topic, but some users may not experience any cannabis-induced effects the first few times. It’s unclear what the cause of this, but it’s likely due to a variety of factors including a lack of cannabinoid cell receptors, genetics, medication or supplements being taken, environment, etc. If you want to reap the effects of cannabinoids, don’t let a lack of effects detract you from using it. It may take your body a few times for it to catch on to the effects of THC.

Ideally, the best way to have a satisfying first-time experience with cannabis is to be in the company of trusted friends in a tranquil environment. If you’re with a friend who’s having a bad trip, it’s important to reassure them that the effects will subside in a few hours. If you’re the one having a bad trip, listen to your favorite song, watch a good movie, or just lay down and sleep and wait for the effects to wear off.

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