I'm going for my first tattoo in a couple of weeks and was wondering if it's OK to smoke cannabis beforehand. My artist told me to stay away from blood thinners like alcohol and aspirin before I come in, but didn't mention anything about smoking. Can I bring my vape pen with me or will it be more harmful than anything?
— Tattoo Virgin
How exciting! Getting a tattoo can be a real journey, so it's good that you're thinking about everything beforehand. My first suggestion would be to be upfront and just ask your tattoo artist. They're about to put their permanent artwork on your body, so asking them about cannabis should be the least of your concerns at this point! But, as always, I'm here to help just in case you're still looking for more information.
Keep in mind that some tattoo shops may have you sign something that says you're not under the influence of any substances before you get inked up. However, if that's not an issue, read on. If you've already decided upon your design, and have had a consultation with your artist (meaning, you've solidified the design concept and are sure that being high won't make you paranoid or antsy that you're making a bad decision or spelling something incorrectly!), cannabis could be beneficial, but there's a few things to know.
If you are going to smoke, go for an indica-heavy strain. That will help relax your mind and body. A sativa-heavy one might make you too jittery or bouncy, which is never a good thing when somebody is trying to decorate your skin with a bunch of ink using sharp needles. You don't want to make it harder on your artist to get the straight lines you're hoping for.
That said, I've spoken with a few folks who have smoked before getting a tattoo and at least half of them reported that they felt being high made them focus on the pain rather than kept them distracted from it. Yikes! If you're worried that could happen to you, maybe hold off on smoking until after the tattoo is done.
Another way that cannabis could benefit your tattoo experience would be with a high-CBD strain. These impact your body differently and can actually help with pain. You could vape some CBD oil or even munch on a high-CBD edible before you sit down for a few straight hours of tattooing. It will kick in while you are getting your tattoo, meaning you have already had a bit of time to acclimate to the experience and the pain. With a high CBD percentage, you could also ease the pain and inflammation, possibly helping with healing. (Also, look into CBD salve/balm as a possible aid in helping your tattoo heal. Definitely clear that with your artist first, though).
The one thing I will caution against when it comes to pot and tattoos (beyond your question of being high while getting one done) is to think long and hard if you ever consider getting a pot-themed tattoo. I'm not saying a good one can't be done, but… just be savvy!
Good luck and happy tattooing!