Cannabis consumption is steadily gaining steam: The legalization of adult-use marijuana is all but assured in Canada. Meanwhile, there are currently nine states in the U.S. (plus Washington D.C.) where recreational cannabis is legal. And countries like Uruguay, Germany and Portugal have or are moving towards some form of cannabis legalization. What this means is more and more people will likely be experimenting with cannabis in the coming years.
If you’re thinking about trying cannabis, but aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry; we’ve got your back. The cannabis world can be intimidating to the uninitiated, so we’ll go over a few mistakes those new to marijuana tend to make, and how you can avoid them.
1. Consuming too Much Marijuana too Quickly
If you’ve done even a little bit of research on responsible cannabis consumption, the phrase “start low and go slow” has probably come up. This adage, though repetitive, rings true.
Smoking or vaping cannabis is like drinking a glass of fine wine, not shotgunning a beer: Take sips instead of big inhales. It’ll be much easier to temper your dose, and you’ll be less likely to sear your lungs, which probably aren’t used to this method of cannabis consumption.
Good inhalable options for first-time consumers are:
Steer clear of bongs. They tend to hit smoother, which may be tempting to your virgin lungs. But this smoothness backfires: You may take in too much smoke and find yourself uncomfortably high.
Additionally, many cannabis first-timers either inhale too deeply or don’t inhale at all. You want to find a nice medium between the two. Don’t hold smoke or vapor in your lungs for too long, as it can irritate your respiratory system. Plus, there’s no evidence that indicates longer inhales equal more THC into your system.
If you’re using oils, start with half—or even less—of what you think you need. Whether you’re inhaling or consuming oils, give yourself a few minutes to feel cannabis’s effects: Wait at least 5–10 minutes when smoking or vaping and 30–60 minutes when ingesting cannabis.
Remember: You can always take more cannabis, but you can’t take less.
Even if you’re using cannabidiol (CBD) instead of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it still pays to follow the low-and-slow mantra. You want to find the smallest dose to get the best effect, especially when you consider how pricey CBD can get.
2. Improperly Using & Caring for Cannabis Glassware
Glass is the most popular option for cannabis pipes; they don’t get as hot as metal pipes, and they tend to hit cleaner. This makes them a top choice for consuming cannabis flower. There are a few key things you should know when using cannabis glassware.
Glass pipes generally have three holes:
- The bowl, where the cannabis is placed
- The carb, usually located to the side of the bowl
- The hole at the end of the pipe, where you inhale
First-timers often make a mistake when using the carb: They forget to place their thumb over it when inhaling. Covering the carb lets smoke build up in the chamber, and once you let go of it, you can inhale the smoke.
Newbies may also light the bowl incorrectly. It’s easy to go overboard and char the whole thing. If you’re sharing with others, it’s good etiquette to light only on the edge of the bowl to leave some fresh greens for the next person. In the cannabis world, this is called “cornering a bowl.”
If your bowl has a large hole, using a screen is a good option. Screens keep you from inhaling ash and will help keep your pipe clean.
Pipe cleanliness is a big deal, and something that’s often neglected by cannabis newbies. A clean pipe prevents mold and clogging. Plus, a properly cared-for pipe means cleaner, tastier inhales. You can clean your pipe by boiling it, soaking it in rubbing alcohol or using specialized pipe cleaners.
3. Not Storing Cannabis Flower Properly
Properly storing your cannabis flowers is necessary to keep them from drying out or getting moldy. Cannabis flower should be kept in an airtight container; glass is best, or a container that’s specifically designed for cannabis storage.
Keep your flower in a cool, dark place, and pay attention to how moist or dry your cannabis is. Cannabis that’s too wet feels plant-like, is difficult to break up and may not even light when smoking. Conversely, dry cannabis is brittle and crumbles quickly.
If using oils, store them in amber or blue glass bottles. As with flower, avoid sunlight—in fact, keeping oils in the fridge is ideal.
4. Not Investing in a Cannabis Grinder
It’s tempting to skip the grinder when you’re first starting out—why not just use your hands? However, you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Grinders allow you to get your cannabis to a good consistency so that it’ll burn more evenly, and you’ll consume more efficiently.
Grind consistency is important: Fluffier grinds tend to work better for joints and convection vaporizers, while conduction vaporizers usually require a fine grind. You’ll have to experiment to see what works best for your equipment.
As a bonus, some grinders also collect kief at the bottom. Kief is the term used for a collection of cannabis trichomes—the little crystal hairs on the plant that contain THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids and terpenes. You can sprinkle this kief on top of bowls or add them to joints to up their potency. Overall, when it comes to cannabis, using a grinder lets you get the most bang for your buck.
5. Having High Expectations
Amidst all of the anecdotes of marijuana helping children with seizures and weaning folks off opioids, it’s easy to get hyped up on cannabis. But the plant isn’t a silver bullet, so don’t be disappointed if your first experience isn’t all you thought it’d be.
It takes time and experimentation to find the type of cannabis and consumption method that’ll best meet your needs. This is especially true if you’re hoping cannabis will help you with a certain condition, like migraines or anxiety.
Giving up after a bad experience is common, and while it’s true that cannabis isn’t for everyone, newbies may be surprised at the variety of cannabis products on the market. Depending on where it comes from and what’s in it, cannabis can look different, smell different and provide different effects.
Try different types of cannabis, in different forms. And consume in a place where you feel safe and comfortable, and where you can lie down if things go south. In the search for your cannabis soulmate, don’t be surprised if you experience a few hiccups: You may try something you don’t like, and you’ll probably find yourself a little too high at some point.
Don’t worry; it’s all part of the learning process. But before you know it, you’ll be a pro.
Photo credit: Ndispensable