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What To Expect The First Time You Smoke: Beginner’s Guide to Consuming Cannabis

Lauren Valentine

by Lauren Valentine

April 16, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Fact checked by Kymberly Drapcho
What To Expect The First Time You Smoke: Beginner’s Guide to Consuming Cannabis

Curious about cannabis? Whether you’ve been thinking about it for a while or just decided to start smoking, there are a few things you should know before you begin. 

What To Expect The First Time You Smoke

First and foremost, you should find out if cannabis is legal in your area for medical or recreational use. If you’re looking for medicinal use, make sure you check out our main site for your medical cannabis card. Select the state you live in to ensure you’re up-to-date on local state laws before you begin. 

Once you’re on the legal side, let’s go through what you’re going to smoke. If you need help figuring out where to start, try your local dispensary and let your budtender know it’s your first time. You can also research good beginner strains if you’re one of those who like to read the menu before you get to the restaurant. 

You also need to decide how you’re going to smoke – pre-rolls, a vape, a pipe, a bong, joints, blunts – the list could go on. The first time, pre-rolls are probably the most accessible entry point since all you’ll need is a lighter. A pre-roll is an already packed joint for you, so you won’t need to grind and pack your own flower. 

If you want the complete experience of rolling your first joint, have a grinder, papers, a tip, and a flower before you start. 

Not a fan of smoking? You can also try another way to ingest cannabis by trying edibles. While smoking cannabis is inhaled and goes straight to your brain and bloodstream, the cannabis in edibles is digested, metabolized, and then absorbed. This process takes longer, so most edible effects take 30-60 minutes to begin. Edibles also last longer and have a higher variance of impact. Starting with a low dose is imperative with edibles and may not be the first experience you want to try. 

Now that you’ve got your cannabis and gear to use it, next is finding a calm and safe space to enjoy. We suggest somewhere you feel comfortable with friends or family. Also, you’ll need a selection of snacks, something to drink (cottonmouth is annoying), and something to do – coloring books, video games, something fun to watch/listen to, etc. You’ll never know how you’ll react the first time, so it’s best to be prepared for anything. 

Tips for Beginners

Start Slow

When smoking for the first time, you’ll want to start slow and build from there. We suggest a few puffs and then waiting about 15-20 minutes before smoking more. You will usually begin to feel the effects within a few minutes and hit peak effects after about 30 minutes. 

Why You Should Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

Veriheal has satisfied millions of patients nationwide by giving them access to these benefits

  • Larger purchase limits
  • Peace of mind
  • Enhanced legal protection
  • Access to higher potency strains
  • Save up to 25% on cannabis purchases
  • Skip the line at the dispensary

While effects might peak after 30 minutes, they can last up to 3-6 hours after smoking (longer for edibles). So, hold off on activities you can’t don’t want to be impaired for – like driving or working. These times can vary and can change over time or with your tolerance. 

Also, make sure you’re inhaling correctly when you begin. Many first-time cannabis users won’t feel high, but you definitely won’t feel it if you don’t inhale. You’ll inhale most of the THC within the first few seconds of inhaling, so you won’t need to pull too deep or hold for long, either. 

Prepare for The Effects 

Don’t worry if you cough. You will. Even experienced smokers sometimes cough when inhaling cannabis. Remember, the first time you try cannabis, you’ll have the lowest tolerance, and the coughing will decrease once your body gets used to inhaling the smoke.

The other effects will vary from person to person and change depending on what strain you smoke and how you smoke it. You might be giggly, hungry, or even tingly. These are all normal effects and why you prepared your safe place (with snacks!). 

If you’re beginning not to like the effects you’re experiencing, you can try a few tips to bring you back down. It might help if you started hydrating, eating, breathing deeply, and maybe showering. It’s also smart to have some CBD on hand to help mellow your high. 

These unintended effects are also why it’s best to start slow and ramp up smoking at a steady pace. It’s always easier to smoke more than it is to become “unhigh.” 

Enjoy & Reflect

Take a few minutes to reflect on how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing while smoking. Many people even discover their thoughts and opinions change or open, especially about art, movies, and music. Astronomer Carl Sagan notes in an essay on his experience, “The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before.” (His essay is a long but enlightening read.) 

Once you’ve started your cannabis journey, make sure you allow yourself time to enjoy the experience. Each high will be a little different, and as you explore more ways to smoke, remember to let the effects come to you. Don’t stress if it’s working or if you’re doing it wrong; relax and enjoy the ride. 

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