first time Are you considering using medicinal cannabis and you’re not sure of the best conditions under which to self-medicate? Are you just curious and you want to find out for yourself what effects cannabis will have on you? Read our top 11 things to consider before trying cannabis for the first time!
Are you thinking of ‘getting high’ or ‘getting stoned’ for the first time, in order to experience the altered state of perception this brings? Are you suffering from a condition or ailment that has been shown to be alleviated or helped by using medicinal cannabis, but you have never used it before and you’re not sure of the best conditions under which to self-medicate for the first time? Are you just curious as to what all the fuss is about and you want to find out for yourself what effects cannabis will have on you?
Prepare yourself for your initial venture into the world of cannabis with our top eleven things you should consider before your first cannabis experience!
1. Is this a good time for your first cannabis experience?
Are you feeling generally good about yourself? Are you rested, fed, and in good company? Do you have some good cannabis that you’re confident is a strain you want to try? Then yes, this is probably a good time. Do you have something to do later? Are you feeling stressed, sad or anxious? Are you drunk, or otherwise intoxicated? Is a relative due to phone you? Then no, you should probably reschedule.
2. Is this a good place to try cannabis for the first time?
Set and setting are vitally important. Are you at home, or somewhere else that feels secure and comfortable? Is there somewhere you can lie down for a bit if you feel like it? Is there something to eat and drink? Can you choose the music and the lighting? Are you with people you trust? This sounds like the best place to try cannabis for the first time.
Are you in a strange place with people you don’t know? Do you have to maintain the impression that you are not in an altered state for any reason? Is there a good chance that you will have to leave before you’re ready to? Are you going to have to negotiate unfamiliar stairs? Is there a lack of fruit or other munchies? Again, you should probably rethink your plans.
3. You might not feel anything
Unlike many other drugs, which make their effects felt quite drastically, cannabis can creep up on you gently and the effects of small doses can be subtle. If you’re being smart and taking it easy for your first time, you might not notice anything!
Renowned cannabis expert Lester Grinspoon wrote his ground-breaking book Marijuana Reconsidered before ever trying cannabis himself, and the first time he did, he didn’t really notice any effects. However, he continued trying. At the point when he was standing in a friend’s kitchen, talking, laughing and devouring a pizza which was better than any pizza he’d ever eaten, he suddenly realized he was high for the first time.
4. Don’t mix your drugs
Although cannabis is safer than most other recreational drugs, deciding to try it for the first time when you’re already in an altered state is a bad idea. Alcohol is the most common and possibly worst culprit. If you’re not used to the effects of cannabis, the effects of alcohol will blur your perception of how it is affecting you and you are more likely to become disoriented and throw up than to enjoy a new and pleasant experience. Prescribed drugs can also interact with cannabis (see point 9).
5. Your perception may alter in ways you are not expecting
Our perceptions of time, colour, sound, taste, pattern recognition and spatial awareness are all altered by cannabis. Depending on the strength and amount of cannabis you consume, you may experience this to a greater or lesser extent. You may also notice these effects more distinctly depending on what you’re doing. If you’re not sure whether you’re feeling them or not, try listening to a favourite piece of music, looking at art, playing a game, having a snack or even just putting a cover on a double duvet. You may also experience the oft-mocked short term memory loss, although this is really just the same as walking from one room to another and then wondering what you went in there for, or losing your train of thought because something distracts you.
6. Your perception may not alter in ways you Are expecting
Thanks to almost a century of misinformation about cannabis, and the way its effects have been portrayed in popular media, you might be expecting far more pronounced alterations of your consciousness than can be achieved with cannabis alone. On an appropriate dose, you will not believe that you can fly, you will not experience vivid hallucinations of things that are not there, and you will not be seized with a sudden desire to run naked down the street. Equally, you will not fail to see things that are there, such as your friends and surroundings; in fact, you may find you notice things about them that you’ve never consciously seen before.
7. How do I know when I’ve had too much cannabis?
You may start to feel dizzy and nauseous, and experience a vertigo-like sensation. Feeling cold, sweating and shaking are common. Blood drains from the face leaving you extremely pale, from which the names ‘having a whitey’ or ‘whiting out’ are drawn. Sometimes, a form of tunnel vision, or sound seeming to distort into white noise, or both, can occur. If this happens then vomiting is usually the next step. Don’t panic. It is impossible to die from a cannabis overdose, but it is possible to overdose on cannabis. Start slowly. You can always get higher. Getting less high is trickier. When you first suspect you are experiencing the effects, stop consuming for 15-20 minutes to see how they develop, and if you like the feeling.
8. Nobody is talking about you and you’re not going to die, you just need to eat a banana
The two side effects of cannabis that are probably best known and most feared are paranoia and ‘having a whitey’. Paranoia can stem from the heightened perception of your surroundings and the people around you. If you’re in a society where cannabis is illegal and being in an altered state is not usually acceptable (unless it’s caused by alcohol), these factors alone can be enough to cause feelings of discomfort and the impression that everyone is looking at you or talking about you. If you’ve picked a good setting for your experience then things which may cause paranoia or distress should be minimized. Firmly telling yourself “Everybody is far too busy wondering what everyone else is thinking about them to think about me” can be surprisingly effective. For the effects of having a whitey, see point 7. The best way to deal with this is to have some sugar and carbohydrates. The humble banana is ideal for sorting you out if you start to feel wobbly. Lying down and staying warm is also very helpful.
9. Consider any medical or psychological conditions that you have
Are you diabetic? Is there a history of mental illness in your family? Are you suffering from depression? Are you already on any medication? Do you have any problems with your lungs? Since cannabis is a legitimate medicine as well as a recreational substance, its interaction with other medications and conditions should not be underestimated. Consult your physician if you know or suspect that there is any factor that could preclude your safe and healthy use of cannabis.
10. Research and decide upon the best way for you to use cannabis for the first time
Smoking cannabis, although still the most common way of consuming it, is actually one of the least healthy methods. Its advantage for first time cannabis users is that the dose is easier to control, and can be increased in increments until the desired effect is reached.
Eating it obviously won’t irritate your lungs, but judging the dose is far harder, the effects take longer to manifest and also longer to wear off. A common error with edibles is eating too much because you think it’s not working, and then two hours later it all kicks in at once. Vaporizers offer the best way for many people, and are easier to obtain than ever before.
11. Provide entertainment for your altered state self
Games, big coffee table books with beautiful photographs, a selection of music, snacks that require assembly (try making your own pizza! Just be careful around the oven), making a collage – all of these things take on a new dimension when you’re high. When you try cannabis for the first time, you may feel like sitting in quiet introspection, in which case you’ll just need a cushion. However, if cannabis takes you in a creative direction, you will appreciate having some activities to hand.
We hope you find these tips useful. Please share your own with us in the comments, and tell us if there is anything you had wished you had known before trying cannabis for the first time! And if you’re already an experienced cannabis user and you have friends who are thinking of experimenting with cannabis for the first time, be sure to share this post with them; it could save you from having to deal with a whitey!