First Time Smoking Marijuana? Here’s What to Expect

Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi - Content Writer

Nov 12 2021 - 6 min read

If you’ve never smoked marijuana before, you probably have some questions and maybe even slight hesitation. With a few common-sense strategies, smoking marijuana for the first time can be an enjoyable and memorable experience. 

Use this guide as a roadmap to having a positive first experience smoking cannabis. 

How to Prepare 

How can you have the best possible experience smoking marijuana? Put these tips into action to help you prepare for your first weed smoking session.

Find the Right Product

First, realize that smoke of any type can cause damage to the throat and lungs. Although cannabis smoke is different from many other kinds of smoke, there is some risk associated with smoking it, including chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. 

However, some medical conditions respond best to the immediate effect smoking cannabis gives. The potential risks of smoking cannabis can be seen as a “trade off” for the immediate benefits.

Vaporizers diminish the amount of smoke to some extent. Benefits depend upon the quality of the vaporizer and ensuring the right materials are vaped. Many vape juices contain unsavory additives, as well as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which can cause all sorts of health problems. Purchase your vaping materials (and all cannabis products) from a licensed dispensary. 

A high quality vaporizer using well-grown cannabis flower and well-extracted hashish is essential if you wish to go down the vaporizer route. Finally, pick a solid beginner strain to launch your cannabis journey.  

Start Small

Dosing low and slow is the best way to reduce the likelihood of a bad trip. Take a short puff or two and then wait. Wait longer than you think is necessary. And then maybe wait some more. A low, slow experience is an easy safety strategy to ward off negative side effects. It won’t take long to feel the effects of smoking cannabis, so you’ll only need to wait a few minutes before deciding if you need a little more.

Be in the Right Place

It is crucial for you to be in the right place both physically and mentally to facilitate a good first smoke session. Choose a time when you’re feeling well on every level. Then, select a place where you feel totally comfortable. Your home is the obvious choice and the best for legal reasons – smoking in public is illegal. Additionally, you may also enjoy being in the company of trusted companions, particularly if they have experience smoking cannabis. 

Clear Your Schedule

You may feel deeply fatigued after smoking marijuana for the first time. Therefore, refrain from smoking before you need to work, drive or do anything strenuous. Allow your body time to process the experience by indulging in the art of doing nothing until the effects disappear as they naturally will. 

Smoking marijuana

What to Expect While Smoking

After you do your prep work, here is what to expect during the marijuana smoking experience.

Expect Quick, Intense Results

Smoking or vaping cannabis delivers a more immediate effect than most other methods, so be prepared for a quick hit. When cannabinoids are inhaled, they pass through your lungs directly into the bloodstream and straight to the brain. Tinctures and edibles, on the other hand, pass through the liver first which is why their effects take longer to feel.

THC is the main cannabinoid associated with the cannabis high. A suite of other cannabinoids and terpenoids also contribute to the beneficial effects of cannabis through the entourage effect. CBD also helps “modulate” the THC high. 

High THC strains with high amounts of CBD combine for more “tempered” psychoactive effects. High THC strains with little-to-no CBD produce a more potent psychoactive effect. Strains with high CBD and low THC (or equal ratios of the two) still induce ease, calmness, positivity and pain relief, but the user remains clear-headed and focused.

Be Prepared to Cough

Anyone not accustomed to smoking should be prepared to cough the first time they inhale marijuana smoke. Even experienced cannabis consumers tend to cough when smoking blunts or joints. Marijuana – in particular flowers – is plant matter that contains moisture. When combusted, the smoke will be thick and cough-triggering.

The ash produced along with the smoke also makes people cough. Unfortunately, the combination of smoke and hard coughing may cause headaches in some people. These coughing headaches tend to subside quickly, but should be taken into consideration by medical cannabis patients seeking migraine relief.

European cannabis enthusiasts have a habit of mixing their marijuana with tobacco to “smooth out” the harshness (tobacco is drier and helps the cannabis burn) and extend the amount of marijuana they use. But blending cannabis and tobacco doesn’t work for everyone. Tobacco’s dangers are well-known, and advising a cannabis newcomer to mix the two would be irresponsible. Also keep in mind, as a first timer, that blunt papers are made with tobacco; so consumers from the U.S. mix cannabis and tobacco without realizing they’re doing it.

To smoke pure weed, Leafwell recommends smoking extracts through high quality pipes with built in ash catchers. You may find pipes less harsh than blunts. With pipes, there is less burning plant matter, and no papers to contend with. A cannabis newcomer might need to spend a little time getting used to consumption by pipe by smoking cannabis pure over the course of several days.

However you smoke cannabis for the first time, just know that some degree of coughing is an expected side effect. 

Don’t Focus on the High

While many people focus on getting high with marijuana, it’s actually not necessary to get high to receive therapeutic benefits. This is one reason why non-psychoactive CBD has been lauded as a potential treatment for so many ailments, including anxiety disorders. You simply don’t need to get high to derive various health benefits from using marijuana.  

Understand What’s Happening

At the same time, some consumers report CBD producing a mild psychoactive effect. Other users will find that one strain’s effect differs from another strain, even when the THC:CBD ratio is equal. Cannabis products that affect one person one way may not affect another in the same way.

Every strain has different cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations that exert a dramatic influence upon what effects that cannabis strain produces, on top of what it tastes like. For example, taking two strains with equal THC:CBD ratios, but one strain has high amounts of myrcene and cannabigerol (CBG) and the other does not will create a massive difference of effects in each strain.

Cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations have a greater influence than whether a strain is a sativa or indica on the effect a particular strain will have. There are general clues to be found within these broad labels. Indica-dominant strains tend to produce more CBD. Sativa-dominant strains tend to have high amounts of THC and little-to-no-CBD. 

In general, indica strains tend to produce a “couchlock” or stoned, relaxed, sleepy effect. Sativas are valued for a more energetic, chatty, sociable “high.” Both types of strains can induce the phenomenon known as “the munchies,” but sativa strains high in THC have appetite suppressant qualities.

Know What to Do If You Smoke Too Much

One of the best things about cannabis is that, if you overdo it a little, you are not likely to end up in a hospital. Dizziness, loss of balance and forgetfulness are common side effects of overindulgence but don’t usually require medical attention.

In rare instances, newcomers may vomit or succumb to paranoia. But most often, over-indulgers simply fall asleep or recline for a few hours or until the worst of the side effects are over, whichever comes first.

The best way to avoid over-baking is to consume slowly. Take it one puff at a time. 

What to Do After Smoking for the First Time

You may be feeling mellow after your first time smoking marijuana, or you may be experiencing an unusual burst of energy. No one can predict how cannabis will affect you the first time you use it. But some factors, like strain and THC concentration levels, can offer clues.

If you are having a positive experience, enjoy it. But refrain from smoking more until you’re sure that the initial effects have run their course. The effects of inhaled cannabis usually last for 2 to 3 hours, so wait and see if you’re ready for more rather than rushing into a second hit. 

While the effects of inhaled cannabis usually peak at just 10 minutes after smoking, some people still feel high up to 8 hours later. Furthermore, a euphoric high can quickly devolve into a bad trip if you smoke too much cannabis. So, take the motto “go low and slow” seriously the first time you smoke weed. 

Only you know if smoking is the right cannabis consumption method for you. Evaluate your experience and be honest if you liked it. If not, experiment and see if another way to consume cannabis is a better idea for you. For example, if your smoking experience was too intense, opt for sublinguals or topicals instead. 

All-in-all, medical marijuana is one of the most therapeutic medicines yet discovered. If you currently take prescription benzodiazepines or barbiturates, you are already taking far more powerful and dangerous drugs than cannabis. 

Obtain a medical marijuana card and see if cannabis can make a positive change to your life. The physicians at Leafwell are here to guide you through the application process. 

Written by
Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi

Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women's health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero's Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.

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