Dear Mother,

I'm a grown-up who has never tried marijuana, but I am interested in experimenting. What do you suggest?

— 40-Year-Old Weed Virgin


Dear Virgin,

Thank you for writing in. You are definitely not alone! For a long time, marijuana got an awful rep and was stigmatized greatly, which caused many curious folks to abstain. However, now that laws are changing and more states are legalizing medical marijuana and some have even legalized recreational pot, more and more people are starting to experiment for the first time.

The awesome part of marijuana becoming legal and more mainstream is that there are a lot more wonderful ways in which to experience the plant. If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, gone are the days of meeting up with some rando for what turns out to be a bag of the driest, shwagiest weed possible. However, now—if you're able to pop into a dispensary—you have access to folks who know what they're talking about, quality product, and an entire variety of options to choose from.

As someone who hasn't had any experience with marijuana before, I would suggest either vaping with flower or oil cartridges. Both are much smoother and mellower experiences than heading straight for a bong hit or joint. A vaporizer (or "vape") allows you to inhale marijuana flower that has been heated with an element that doesn't burn it like fire does. This produces a cleaner, more mellow high. All you need to do is break up your flower (a grinder is excellent for this. You can either buy a special one for marijuana or use a regular old dried herb grinder from Bed, Bath & Beyond… don't forget to use a coupon!), pack it into the vape, turn it on, and go for it!

Oil cartridges are another great option. You would use them in conjunction with a vaporizer, most likely in pen form. The oil is made from the marijuana and you just screw in the cartridge to your pen and inhale. You can even charge your pen via a USB port! This is probably the easiest and most user-friendly method for a beginner. Buy a pen (usually fairly inexpensive, ranging from $10-$50), buy an oil cartridge (anywhere from $40-$80), screw it in and puff away. Like vaping flower, this will be a smooth entry into the world of marijuana consumption.

And, of course, there are edibles, but let's save that for when you're a bit more familiar with marijuana and how it affects you! Also, for now, steer clear of anything marked "shatter, wax, or dabs."

Once you've figured out how you'll smoke, you need to figure out what you'll smoke. Now it's time to suss out what strain might be right for you. One of the wonderful aspects of marijuana is the different strains that offer up different benefits.

There are three categories of marijuana that you should get familiar with: Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid.

Sativa strains will get your energy up, your heart pumping, and your mind popping with creativity. It's a very cerebral high. Indica strains affect your body more, are effective at pain relief, and can help with issues like sleep. Hybrid strains combine sativa and indica for a high that can be mellow, but also a great daytime strain.

For a first timer, I would highly suggest going for either a hybrid or indica strain to start. Both of these will give you a tamer high mentally, and will allow you to avoid any potentially unwanted side effects like anxiety.

Go slow! If you're vaping, take a puff or two and wait a bit. It could take a few minutes for you to feel anything. If, after 15 minutes or so you don't feel anything, take another puff or two. You can always smoke more, but you can never reverse what you smoke in the moment. So, don't overdo it. You'll find your sweet spot soon enough.

Final tips: Make sure the first time you smoke you're with folks who you trust, who will get you a glass of water or some snacks if you need them, and perhaps even have a friend with experience on hand (i.e. your stoner friend Bradley). Relax and enjoy yourself. This could just be the start of a whole new, fun phase of your life!

— Mother