Things You Should Know Before You Smoke Weed for the First Time

March 3rd 2016

Kyle Jaeger

About 44 percent of American adults have tried marijuana, and that percentage is bound to increase as the legalization movement continues to spread across the country. But if you haven't experimented before, there are some things you should know before smoking marijuana for the first time.


First time experiences tend to be either disappointing or excessively intense. That's partly because there's no official guideline to marijuana use and every person responds to the plant differently. If approached in the right way, however, you can strike that perfect balance and have a safe, enjoyable introduction to marijuana.

Here are 5 things you need to know before smoking marijuana for the first time.

1. Learn your strains.

Assuming you have access to a legal marijuana dispensary, the first thing you should know is how to choose your strain. There are two main types of marijuana: indica and sativa. Consult your local budtender and inform them that you haven't smoked before so they can recommend a strain that best suits your individual needs.

Generally, you want something with an average THC potency (around 18 percent) — that's the main psychoactive ingredient — and depending upon whether you would prefer a high that makes you feel physically relaxed or mentally stimulated, pick an indica or sativa, respectively. Some people have adverse responses (anxiety, paranoia) to sativas, so indicas are often the preferred route for first timers. Also see Leafly for specific information on the effects of each strain.

2. Slow and steady wins the race.

A lot of people report not feeling high when they smoke for the first time. That's normal. Humans have an endocannabinoid system that naturally responds to components of marijuana known as cannabinoids. It's been theorized that, at first, your body blocks abundant cannabinoids, preventing you from having the full experience until you build up a partial tolerance. Take it slow and be patient. If it doesn't work the first time, then it will certainly work the second time around.

If you haven't smoked anything before, then it's also possible that you are not properly inhaling. Here's one California budtender's advice for you:

"If you want to make sure that you are doing this correctly, just pretend your mouth is a vacuum as soon as the joint hits your lips... Don't capture any of the smoke in your mouth, making your cheeks look like balloons! Just breathe in the hit like like you would air. Then, go ahead and hold that hit in as deeply as you possibly can, and then exhale only when you can not stand it anymore."

3. Know your method of consumption.

I'd generally advise against using any kind of bong or edible for the first time. It's more difficult to control the experience when you're inhaling giant plumes of smoke, and edibles can catch even the most experienced stoner off guard. Joints are a classic choice that offer solid control over inhalation. That said, vaporizers are another popular, easily controlled option that have the added benefit of being less harsh on your lungs.

For a full list of the pros and cons of different methods of cannabis consumption, here's a list compiled by ATTN:.

4. Context matters.

Your first time smoking should take place in a comfortable, safe environment — ideally with people who you know and who have experienced smoking cannabis before. If your first time is at a party with a bunch of strangers, you could be inviting a negative experience. That's not always the case, of course, but the best practice for first timers is usually to do it at home, where you can test the waters in a relaxed environment.

5. What to do if you feel too high.

It's happened to all of us, for the most part: You start coughing — a lot — and suddenly you're hurtling toward a new dimension. Anxiety and paranoia tend to set in at this point, and you inevitably wonder if this will last forever. (Rest assured, it won't — and for the record, nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose.)

There's really not much you can do to stop the high in its tracks, but it definitely helps to drink water and get some food in your stomach. If you can, find a bed and try to sleep it off. As long as you follow this advice and avoid edibles, your high will only last for about one to four hours.

Be responsible and have fun.

cat cannabis

Compared to other recreational substances such as alcohol, marijuana is a relatively safe product that is increasingly popular in the U.S. But operate with caution and take the necessary steps to ensure that you have a good time. As noted above, however, every person is different and it's important to remember that not everybody has the same first time experience.

RELATED: How to Know if You're Smoking Weed the Right Way