Things can be weird the first time. From the Big Nothing to Too Much, and everything in between.
Today, there are eleven states in the U.S with legal recreational cannabis, and a few more coming up to the ballet in the coming months. There are also at least 46 states with some form of access to medical cannabis. Not to mention the fact that Canada has just launched the largest recreational market on the planet. It seems that public approval for cannabis has never been higher.
Cannabis’s move into the mainstream, means more people than ever before are lighting up for the first time. And it’s not who you might expect. Seniors and baby boomers are turning (returning?) to cannabis in record numbers. According to an opinion piece in the New Yorker, these smokers generally fall into two categories: cannabis virgins and those who smoked weed in the 1960s but gave it up when they became professionals and had families.
For many people, the lead up to their first inhale comes with a host of emotions, ranging from fear to excitement to pure giddiness. But, following the exhale, and maybe even the second or third exhale, these emotions are often replaced with disappointment. First-time smokers are frequently shocked to feel nothing. No euphoria, no giggles, no-nothing. The Nothingness is common among first-time tokers.
With the influx of so many newbies into the world of weed, the issue of first experiences that are disappointing is now openly discussed. Why aren’t you getting high when you take your first tokes?
Challenges of Smoking For the First Time
Ask most cannabis enthusiasts about their first time smoking a joint, and you’ll hear the same story again and again. They inhaled, held their breath, and nothing happened. Whether they wanted to benefit medicinally, or enjoy the experience recreationally, more often or not seemingly nothing happens during the first few attempts.
You Don’t Know How to Draw
There are a few reasons why you might feel nothing after your first sessions, and it mostly boils down to a lack of experience. First and foremost, people often assume smoking a joint works like smoking a cigarette, but the action is drastically different. Instead of inhaling, and holding the smoke in the back of your throat, cannabis smoke needs to flow through the respiratory tract to properly take effect. Your lungs need a chance to absorb the molecules (THC, CBD and the like), in order for these to have any impact.
First timers have trouble perfecting the inhale. Even if your huffing and puffing, and smokes swirls around you, you might not actually be drawing it down into your respiratory system. The same holds true for vaping cannabis. It all comes down to full, deep inhales.
You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For
You also might not know if you are feeling the effects o not. This is a brand new experience and one which can come on slowly, subtly. Cannabis might not hit you like a brick wall, or have dramatically noticeable effects in the beginning. Your mind and body may need a few attempts to appreciate the nuances of the experience. There’s a bit of a learning curve, so to speak.
The Challenge of Learning to Dose Properly
Toking and Vaping
Cannabis is notoriously difficult to dose, and especially if you are new to ingesting it. Everyone has a different tolerance, which varies depending on physiology, age, health issues, and a host of other factors. In the medical cannabis realm, experts tend to advise patients to start with a low dose and slowly increase over time. Aiming for 3 mg of THC per dose is a safe starting point, although challenging to pinpoint when smoking or vaping cannabis. This low dose gives you time to adjust; to determine if you are enjoying the experience, or if you need more.
If you are a first-timer, smoking and vaping are your safest bets. Taking small inhales from a joint, or pulls from a vape pen, give you control over the experience. If and when you do start feeling the effects, they should be gentle enough to feel pleasant, and manageable. The effects of inhaling cannabis also come on rather quickly, only lasting between one to four hours.
Try one or two puffs, wait 10 minutes, and if you’ve felt nothing, try another couple.
Ingesting Oils and Edibles
The other conventional method of consuming cannabis is in an infused edible. These are challenging even for experienced users, and they make poor choices for newbies. The cannabinoids in an edible take a long time to absorb into the bloodstream because you need to digest them before they take effect. It can take one to two hours for the effects to come on, and by that point, you may realize you’ve taken too much.
Even those well versed in consuming cannabis make the mistake of thinking the edible didn’t work, and re-dosing, only to find out they’ve double dosed and have now overdone it. You may feel like you are going to die, but you are definitely not. There are some things you can do to help rebalance yourself: eat peppercorns, chug a sugary drink, take a walk, have a bath, or distract yourself with some great tunes.
If you’ve never tried cannabis before, it’s a good idea to start with a more controllable experience. For smoking and vaping, you will be better able to gauge how high you are before it’s too late. If nothing happened, try, try, try again.