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Mother Knows Best: How Can I Ensure I'll Get High My First Time Using Cannabis?

Losing your marijuana virginity? Our advice columnist has some classic tips and tricks to make sure the experience isn't a total bust.

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Dear Mother,

I haven't smoked pot before, but since it's now legal in my state, I figure it's time to try it, especially since it’s something I've always been curious about. I've heard that I probably won't get high the first time I smoke. Is that true? I don't want my first time to be a total fail. Is there anything I can do to make sure that my first experience actually works?

— First Timer

Dear FT,

Welcome to the weird world of cannabis! That's great that it's now legal in your state and that you've taken the time to think about whether trying it out is right for you. I'm here and happy to help walk you through what a first experience might be like, and can offer all the tips and tricks I know. The one caveat that I'll share before diving in is that everyone reacts to cannabis in their own particular way, and while we can control a number of variables, there is always your own uniqueness that can affect things, so remember that.

There is definitely the notion that folks who smoke cannabis for their first time don't feel high, and that it takes a few times before you really feel the full effects. Let's delve into the science for a second to see why that is, and whether that may happen to you. Cannabis, and particularly THC — the psychoactive compound found in the plant — rely on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. These special receptors bind to the THC and regulate its psychoactive effect, making you feel that "high" that folks talk about.

If there aren't enough cannabinoid receptors (which can happen due to a number of reasons, from medications, dietary supplements, genetics, other drug interactions, etc…), that can contribute to the lack of a high, and it is only with the repeated introduction of THC into your system that will kick your cannabinoid receptors into high gear, so to speak. So yes, there is the chance that your first time will be lackluster, but please don't let that dissuade you from trying!

I would recommend starting by smoking some cannabis and sticking to an Indica-heavy hybrid strain at first. This will ideally prevent any potential anxiety or physical symptoms you might not be prepared for, such as a racing heartbeat — a side-effect that can come with enjoying a strong sativa.

Also, use a bowl for your first time. A joint or bong might cause you to inhale too much, and while I know you're concerned with feeling any effect, going slow is really key when it comes to cannabis. No need to scare you off with your first puff! It can take an average of 5-10 minutes to feel anything after your first puff, so wait a bit before inhaling more.

If you want to try another method that might have a higher (ha!) chance of giving you the impact you're seeking, you might want to try an edible. However, when it comes to edibles, you need to understand your dosage and have patience. Unlike smoking, edibles can take up to an hour or more to kick in, since it works it's way into your system through your digestive tract. It's more likely that you will feel something this way, but it will take longer for things to kick, so don't try to overdose, because you really don't want your first experience to take a dark turn.

Are you over 18?

Some folks might think that using dabs — highly concentrated cannabis — is a surefire way to enjoy a first high, because it will definitely get you going. However, I'd suggest that for now, leave the dabs to the professionals, or at least more experienced cannabis users. Dabs are definitely fun and have their time and place, but might be too much for someone who hasn't used cannabis at all.

So, smoke a bowl, or eat some cannabis chocolate, and enjoy the experience for what it is. While it may be less dazzling the first time, I guarantee that in this case, practice will make perfect, and you'll get that high you're after eventually!

— Mother

Are you over 18?