In many instances, a bad first experience may be enough for someone to tragically banish cannabis from his or her life forever. Typically the reason for doing so has to do with the anxious, paranoid side effects associated with THC, but what first-timers might not realize is there are a few ways to minimize those unpleasant feelings. For those beginners and low-tolerance consumers, we’ve compiled three basic tips, tricks, and recommendations for finding that perfect first-time experience.
Find a low-THC, high-CBD cannabis strain
Unlike THC, CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid with relaxing properties. CBD can help counteract the anxiety associated with THC, so it’s a perfect starting point for new consumers. You’ll often find strains with equal parts THC and CBD, but some contain almost no THC at all. Here are some of the most commonly found and widely embraced CBD varieties.
CBD-dominant strains are easy to find on Leafly—simply look for the strain flowers composed of circles. Balanced CBD/THC strains are made up of both circles and diamonds.
Delivering a balance of THC and CBD, Harlequin is an even-keel strain with only gently euphoric effects. The CBD acts as training wheels for the THC, allowing you to cruise without fear or anxiety.
It’s okay that you don’t want to get high. A CBD-dominant strain like Sour Tsunami delivers only trace levels of THC, meaning you won’t feel high like you would if smoking traditional high-THC varieties. Washing away stress, tension, and anxiety doesn’t mean you have to get stoney baloney.
Pennywise is a balanced strain that delivers an approachable dose of THC wrapped in CBD. With balanced levels of both cannabinoids, you can ease into a euphoric experience slowly and with extra control.
ACDC is another great cannabis strain for new consumers who are THC-shy. Let CBD be your parachute into deep relaxation as peace and clarity fall lightly on the mind.
Start slow with THC-dominant cannabis strains
Let’s start with the first and most obvious piece of advice: slowly ease into a THC-dominant cannabis strain, as they’re more likely to cause anxiety and paranoia. Settle yourself into a comfortable place and start with a low dose, maybe even just a single small hit if it’s your first time.
While many strains today tend to stretch toward a THC ceiling of 20-25%, those with less than 15% THC typically provide a less overwhelming experience. Keep in mind you’ll need lab-tested cannabis to know how much THC a flower contains, as amounts can vary between strains and even individual harvests.
What works for one beginner may not be the best for the next, but the below recommendations are meant to be starting points for those looking for a more balanced and mellow experience. These strains tend to deliver a more gentle euphoric experience, but once again, check the testing information specific to the item you’re interested in buying. If it has a THC content that exceeds 20%, chances are that strain may be too potent for your purposes.
To find THC-dominant strains on Leafly, look for strain flowers composed of diamonds. Longer diamonds mean more THC, so try to find strains with shorter diamonds (for less THC).
In the unspoken popularity contest of cannabis, Blue Dream is the undisputed champ. This strain leads you into a mellow experience with the sweet taste of mixed berries, and leaves you smiling contently as tranquil effects wash over the mind and body.
If you’re looking for a gentle lift of the mood, Jack Herer may be the strain for you. Its warm, invigorating euphoria settles in with ease, and allows you to delight in your own sharpened senses without overstimulation.
Cinex is a bright and colorful strain that brings sunny-day vibes to every exhale. Few strains make better companions in social circles than Cinex, whose lighthearted qualities bring out laughter and curiosity with ease.
God’s Gift is best known for bestowing dreamy, meditative effects that allow you to sink deeply into relaxation. With the exhale, you can feel stress and tension melting away. Take plenty of time to let these effects fully settle before breathing in more of God’s Gift; too much THC can derail a pleasant, blissful state of mind.
Cannabis delivery methods for beginners
Our parting advice to you aspiring cannabis champions: be mindful of the delivery method. The strain is only half of the story; smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting can all affect your overall experience. There’s no right or wrong choice here for beginners, but there are nuances between them that should be considered.
Most people begin cannabis with smoking, which has its benefits and drawbacks. One advantage smoking offers is dose-control–it’s easy to take a small amount, and the acute effects usually subside after 20 to 30 minutes. But if you can recall the burning sensation in your throat the first time you took a hit, you can imagine that smoking may also turn some folks off entirely.
Vaporizing may be the most ideal delivery method for newbies. It’s easy on the throat and lungs, dosing is easy, and the flower’s flavors are usually better preserved. Portable oil-filled vaporizer pens are also a great place to begin since you can take a hit as needed, and there’s no complicated assembly involved.
Edibles are a fantastic way to get around smoking cannabis. However, if you’re new to the game, start slow and dose low; the effects can take up to an hour or two to kick in, and they tend to be a lot more intense and long-lasting than inhaled cannabis. Novice consumers should start with a small dose–maybe just 5mg–and work their way up to the standard 10-20mg doses.
Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions and balms that absorb transdermally for relief of pain, inflammation, and other localized symptoms. Most of them won’t get you high at all, so topicals are highly recommended to patients who want to try medical cannabis without all the cerebral hassle.