With cannabis legalization moving full-speed ahead, you might find yourself becoming curious about trying it for the first time (or for the first time in a long time). Or maybe you have a friend or family member asking about cannabis as they flirt with the idea of partaking. As a first-timer, you likely have lots of questions you want answered before you pick up a product to try, such as:
- What’s an indica and sativa?
- What’s CBD?
- How do you use a vape pen?
- What’s cannabis oil?
- How do edibles feel?
To help you better understand what you should buy if you’re using cannabis for the first time, allow us be your virtual budtender before you even step foot in a dispensary. Each product delivers a unique experience, so let’s review a few different product types based on common concerns of cannabis beginners.
‘I want to try cannabis, but I’m afraid of getting too high’
Product Recommendation: Vape pens
The first thing I typically recommend to first-time cannabis consumers are portable pen vapes with a cannabis oil cartridge. These pens require no setup beyond attaching the cartridge, and activating one can be as easy as pressing a button and inhaling. The vapor is easy on the lungs, and it’s easy to dose conservatively (simply take small puffs). In addition to being inconspicuous in design, these pens don’t leave much in the way of lingering aroma.
Pro-tip: I always ask for cartridges without PG (or propylene glycol). This is an additive used to make the oil more viscous, but I’ve found that it carries a harsh chemical flavor and may cause stomachaches and headaches. Many stores have pivoted away from PG products for health and safety reasons, but you may want to ask to be sure.
‘I don’t like to smoke and edibles are scary’
Product Recommendation: Tinctures
Tinctures are a cannabis extract that uses alcohol to pull THC and other compounds from the plant, resulting in a liquid that can be dropped under the tongue. The effects kick in quicker than an edible, making them easier to dose. Simply put a drop on your tongue and wait for the slight buzz to kick in. Add another drop if you’d like a more noticeable effect.
Looking for purely medicinal effects without the high? Find a non-intoxicating tincture high in CBD to help with pain, anxiety, inflammation, and other conditions. Or try a low-potency THC tincture for a subtle and functional buzz.
‘I like the idea of edibles, but I don’t want to be that high for that long’
Product Recommendation: Low-dose edibles (5mg or less)
Not all edibles will send you to the cosmos. A “standard dose” is considered 10 mg, but even that can be a bit too much for novices and first-timers. Try instead an edible with a minimal amount of THC–as few as a couple milligrams. I’ve managed to find edibles with as little as 2.5 mg of THC, and while the euphoric effects are undetectable for heavier, long-time consumers, it can be the perfect amount for the cannabis-timid.
This practice of using small doses is called “microdosing,” and more consumers every day are learning that this is the most enjoyable way to consume cannabis. While many enjoy the dizzying euphoria that comes with high-potency cannabis, others may prefer subdued effects that promote calm relaxation over anxiety, functionality over couchlock, and focus over brain-haze.
For novices and new users, look for edibles with a small amount of THC–we’re talking 5 mg or less–and see if that’s the preferred experience for you.
‘I want to harness the medical effects of cannabis without the smoke or high’
Here’s a game-changer for many people treating symptoms and medical conditions: you don’t have to smoke it, and you don’t have to get high. This is how so many cannabis consumers have convinced their parents and grandparents to give it a try, especially if they’re suffering from aches, pains, arthritis, or other aging-related discomforts.
CBD is a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis that can be isolated to treat a myriad of conditions without any noticeable high. It can be rendered into a variety of forms, like tinctures, ingestible capsules, or topical creams.
Cannabis-infused balms, lotions, and gels are particularly useful for treating pain and inflammation, and they provide an easy route of introduction to cannabis skeptics; they can be incredibly effective and completely non-intoxicating in effect.
‘I like smoking, but I hear the cannabis is much stronger these days’
It’s true that cannabis today can be quite potent, sometimes pushing the 30% watermark in THC. However, as legalization rolls in with a new demographic of consumers, so does the demand for lower potency flower.
If you’re nostalgic for the low-torque cannabis of yesteryear, it’s a good idea to look for cannabis with a balanced THC-to-CBD ratio. It can be hard to find cannabis that’s just low in THC; for instance, you don’t see many folks advertising a 7% THC strain, but what you will find is products with, let’s say, 7% THC and 7% CBD.
These THC/CBD mixed strains are mellow in effect, and perfect for individuals looking to jump back into cannabis after a decades-long hiatus. Some popular mixed strains to look for include Harlequin, ACDC, Sour Tsunami, and Pennywise. Note that CBD:THC ratios may vary between producers, so always check the product’s tested cannabinoid contents before purchasing.
Which specific strains, products, and brands would you recommend to a first-timer? Let’s hear your suggestions in the comments section below.