Smoking cannabis for the first time can be a transformative experience that will forever change your life. Also, nothing can happen. You wait around for hours for that ethereal moment, only to find yourself sober as a judge with a variety of unopened snack foods staring back at you. Either way, I highly recommend making an attempt.
With the number of recreational states possibly expanding this fall, millions of Americans could find themselves with the option to legally get high for the first time. As someone with almost two decades of experience, here are a few tips on how to smoke weed and make the most of those first tokes.
Funny, but prohibition never stopped me from buying weed as a kid living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Still, you will need to purchase it through some means and, according to our legal department, I cannot advocate you break the law. Places NOT to buy marijuana: Craigslist (and the internet in general), a head shop, the guy who is always at the park.
Have a Consumption Method
You can spend hours watching joint-rolling tutorials on YouTube — but like giving yourself a haircut or making jorts, it’s going to take some practice. Fortunately, most dispensaries sell prerolled joints that’ll shame whatever Frankenstein’s monster you twisted up. They’ll usually include a “crutch” at the end — to prevent weed from entering your mouth — that you definitely should not smoke.
If you’re thinking about glass, avoid dropping big bucks on a giant glass pirate ship and stick to something simple like a one-hitter or a spoon. Either one is a staple of your future glass collection and will be easy to operate, as well as durable and portable.
If you buy a spoon, make sure to look for a “carb.” This is a tiny hole you should cover when lighting and release after a few seconds to let the chamber spill into your lungs. Not covering the carb will result in you futilely burning your thumb. You may also want to add a screen, as a fresh piece is prone to having bits of weed suck through, leaving the back of your throat a fiery, ash-filled wasteland of terrible. Finally, you can give your new piece a name before the maiden voyage — or wait until your mind is blown.
Get Some Supplies
I’ll list a variety of supply options in just a minute. But first, a warning: You will not want to drive while high. Even public transportation or an Uber can be a daunting task, as your concept of things like money and commerce in general may become foreign to you. Strangers might freak you out. Stock up on supplies and get ready.
Be Aware of Your Set and Setting
An idea coined by psychoanalyst Norman Zinberg, your “set” (a person’s mindset or attitude) and “setting” (your physical environment) determine a lot about how your high is going to transpire. If you’re exhausted from a long workday and stressed about an upcoming bill, you’re probably in for a negative experience. The same would be true if you ate a handful of mushrooms before sitting on a plane for four hours. Give yourself the best opportunity to enjoy being high and if something feels wrong, don’t be afraid to change it up.
Consume It, Already
It’s time. You’ve ground up your bud and placed it in your bowl (or lit your joint) and the moment of truth is here. You’ll want to make sure you’re inhaling deeply, taking in additional air after your hit so you’re not just rolling the smoke around your mouth, wasting all that herb like a real rookie. There’s a reason that Method Man calls himself “Iron Lung,” ya dig? That being said, holding in your hits doesn’t make a huge difference other than depriving your brain of oxygen — another perfectly legal high — so feel free to exhale in a reasonable amount of time. Feel free to stop after a couple hits, as weed is like salt in that you can always add more, but too much and you’ve ruined the soup.
Have Entertainment Lined Up
Never underestimate the ability of weed to make your favorite album or movie even better, so have a few entertainment options available, depending on your mood. If your favorite movie is “A Clockwork Orange,” feel free to skip that for something lighter. Regardless, stick to something familiar, as you may find something new hard to follow. Weed can make a flick as straightforward as “The Fast and The Furious” seem like you’re trying to decipher “Inception.” As for music, a curated Pandora station or Spotify list of your jams can be fun, but be prepared to go down some serious YouTube holes when you hear your old jam and need to hear every song that artist has created.
Eat Your Favorite Food
Pot legitimately makes food taste better, something I put to good use for years as a struggling writer living on PB&J sandwiches and discount brand mac and cheese. Cooking while high can be baffling, so consider making something ahead of time or treating yourself to some junk food that requires zero effort. I’ve been so high that eating an entire jar of Nutella seemed like an appropriate, if not brilliant, idea. Have some snacks handy, no matter what, as the munchies struggle is very real.
Be With People You Love
Cannabis is ultimately a social drug, so be with people you love and trust — or run the risk of people messing with you for their own twisted enjoyment. Like the guy who thinks it’s hilarious to yell “COPS!” every five minutes. It’s especially helpful to have friends with you who have smoked pot a few times themselves and can help you navigate through the possible anxiety that may come on. And while it’s fun to be around people, too large of a crowd can cause paranoia. Particularly if everyone is looking at you because you just messed everything up. Kidding. You’re fine.
Have an Orgasm
Your brain is basically having one already. While most of the advice on this list involves group activities, this one is completely acceptable to do all by your lonesome. Don’t buy into the urban legend that it’ll feel so great you’ll never be able to have another: Trust me, you will. Keep in mind, though, that your judgment will be impaired, so don’t hook up for the sake of getting your rocks off while high. Cannabis-infused lube is totally optional.
Be in Nature
Generally not to be combined with the previous suggestion. As a fan of the great indoors, I’m loathe to admit that being outside is far more pleasurable when you’re stoned. I’ve taken one hike in Colorado since moving here in 2001 and you better believe I got high before, during and after. While bike riding isn’t always advisable, it’s tremendously fun, and even getting out and walking your dog around the neighborhood can be a great way to take in a ton of stimuli and get a little exercise.
Take stock of yourself throughout the high. Consuming a psychoactive substance can have unexpected effects for a first-timer. It’s not unheard of for there to be negative interactions with an existing mental condition or other drugs in the system, and allergic reactions to cannabis are also possible — don’t deny yourself medical attention when it’s warranted. That said, if you find yourself excessively anxious or paranoid, or are feeling tightness in your chest and are fighting to breathe, you’re likely having a scary but ultimately harmless panic attack. Focus on breathing and have a friend nearby to reassure you. There are some home remedies for combatting high anxiety — musician Neil Young swears by chewing a few peppercorns, former NFL player Ricky Williams says eating sugar helps. Again, concentrate on your breathing to avoid hyperventilating. If it’s anxiety that’s to blame, the best an emergency room is going to do is give you a Xanax or Valium to calm you down, along with a hefty bill that’ll make your first time getting high something you’ll never forget.
Originally published by The Cannabist.