Disclaimer: This post is meant to further educate and inform people about recreational cannabis. As I write this, recreational cannabis is legal throughout Canada. I wanted to write this post right after legalization, as many newbie cannabis consumers will rightfully have many questions about the basics.
Remember when Michelle Obama famously said about Republicans: “When they go low, we go high!” Well… Canada might be going just a little higher!
It’s a historic time for Canada, as we become the second country (and first major economy) to legalize the sale and possession of recreational cannabis. It’s a long time coming for Canada, as Canadians have been (illegally) consuming cannabis for many years. In 2017, Statistics Canada found that 18% of Canadians consume cannabis; of course, it’s widely believed that this number is closer to 30% – 35%, as many people might not disclose their activity.
I find the outlook on cannabis very interesting, especially because it varies depending on your geographic location. I know that people in the U.K. are a lot less friendly towards recreational cannabis than Canadians (I have no source for this, just experience from speaking to my friends). Regardless of the location, it’s a fact that cannabis is far less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol, when looking at its effect on responsible adults.
While I may not be a cannabis pro, I do enjoy consuming cannabis in a responsible manner. This includes consuming in my apartment, after I’ve completed my work, with no intention to operate any motor vehicles, or make any important decisions. I treat cannabis the same way another Canadian might look at a glass of wine or scotch.
Now, there are a few things I wish I knew about cannabis before I started. It would have taken away a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around it!
1. You may feel NOTHING the first time you consume
Yep! As you may have heard, it’s surprisingly common to not actually get high the first time you try cannabis. What’s even more surprising is that no one’s quite sure why!
There are theories, of course: firstly, you probably didn’t consume cannabis 100% properly the first time, which is totally understandable. But those beginner’s mistakes don’t necessarily account for everything. Some experts also think there’s a “sensitization period” during which you won’t feel high. That’s because THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, can cause your brain to increase its amount of cannabinoid receptors. You’ll have to wait for your body to create enough receptors in order to feel high, which might take a couple of tries.
Remember, cannabis is not (and should not) be compared to drugs like heroine. Don’t feel that you’re going to lose control of your body and inhibitions just because you consumed some cannabis. The main feelings you’ll get are relaxation, laughter, followed by a bit of the munchies!
NOTE: If you’re someone who experiences mild to severe anxiety, please consume cannabis slowly. Start with a very small amount, and work your way up!
2. INDICA vs. SATIVA vs. HYBRID : Which do I choose?!
Cannabis has three strains: indica, sativa, and hybrid (both combined).
Sativa grow taller and thinner than Indica strains. Sativa strains originated in the equatorial countries of Columbia, Mexico, Thailand, and South East Asia and thrive in warmer weather. The leaves of Sativa are much more narrow than those of Indica, and are typically a lighter shade of green. Think of Sativa cannabis sort of like products with 25% less salt. It’s still cannabis, but the psychoactive effects are more muted, and don’t last as long as indica. This is why most people tend to smoke Sativa during the day!
Indica are short and stout in composure (2-4 feet tall), and typically yield smaller (1.5 to 2.5 ounces per plant), higher quality crops (~18% THC) than Cannabis Sativa. The plants are believed to have originated in the Middle East (Pakistan & Afghanistan), and thrive in cooler environments. Indica strains are typically darker green than sativa and have shorter, fatter leaves. When you’re thinking of Indica, think of in-da-couch; when you consume Indica cannabis, you’ll be sinking into your couch, feeling much more relaxed, lethargic, and hungry.
Hybrid cannabis has a few different categories: Sativa-dominant, Indica-dominant, and 50/50. I think those are self-explanatory? Basically, one has more sativa, one has more indica, and one has an equal share of the two! If you’re a beginner, I’d stay away from hybrids; it’s best to go for an indica or a sativa, as you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
3. Edibles 101
For this section, I have to already assume that you’ve found someone to bake and sell cannabis edibles to you. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips for sourcing edibles, as they’re very difficult to regulate and sell in a safe manner. When you bake an edible, you have to merge cannabis’ THC into a fat, like butter or oil; because of this, it can be difficult to measure each edible’s individual THC %. If you bake a tray of “weed brownies,” it’s very likely that some brownies might be more potent than others.
Regardless, the main rule for consuming cannabis edibles are to TAKE THINGS REALLY SLOW. In my personal experience, it takes about 1.5 – 3 hours to fully feel the THC effects of cannabis edibles. This is due largely because the food product needs to make it to your liver, in order to process the THC.
Please don’t consume edibles by yourself! Have a friend or family member nearby, incase you accidentally consumed too much THC. DON’T WORRY: you’re not going to “overdose,” but rather, your brain’s cannabinoid receptors will get overloaded with THC. Your body will need to filter out the THC over the course of a few hours, so having someone nearby never hurts.
4. How much cannabis should I buy?
Whenever I walk into my local dispensary and see a new customer (they usually state that it’s their first time), I always hear them struggling with how much cannabis to buy.
Cannabis is sold by gram, but you might hear buyers using terms such as quarter ounce (7g), half ounce (14g), and ounce (28g). If it’s your first time purchasing cannabis, stick to 1 gram! While it might sound and look like too little, you only need to consume a pinch of ground cannabis at a time.
In regards to pricing, these can vary depending on the strain. Just like there’s various kinds of vodka (Smirnoff vs. Greygoose), there’s different levels of cannabis. In my experience, cannabis ranges from $8 CAD – 18 CAD per gram, with some exceptions. This is pretty self-explanatory, as the cheaper cannabis has less THC, and the expensive cannabis has more THC.
All in all, head to a legal dispensary or legal online store and spend $8 – $10 on 1 gram of cannabis for your first time.
5. What are some tips for smoking cannabis in a safer way?
Overall, cannabis consumption is quite safe for adults, although there are questions surrounding its safety for those under the age of 25 (with developing brains). However, there are some things to keep in mind, in order to make your cannabis consumption as safe as possible!
Tip #1: Buy hemp twine! By using your lighter to light hemp twine, you won’t be inhaling the small amounts of butane that transfer from lighters. Once your hemp twine is lit, you can use it just like you would with a conventional lighter.
Tip #2: Try vaping! Instead of smoking joints, or buying a bong, try investing in a vaporizer. Vaporizers are devices that heat cannabis flowers or oils at temperatures low enough to melt fatty cannabis resins and oils without burning plant material. Once melted, these resins transform from their solid form to a type of steam. This steam is the vapor you exhale after using a vaporizer. Heating at lower temperatures has several benefits. However, when purchasing a vaporizer, it is important to opt for a device that allows for temperature customization.
Tip #3: DRINK WATER! If you’re going to indulge in the arts of cannabis, make sure to chug a bunch of water before the occasion like you’re about to play in a high school state championship game.
Tip #4: Know your limits, and never apologize for turning down cannabis from your friends. If you’re stoned out of your mind after one hit, feel free to pass on the joint in rotation. Your mission was to get high for the first time, not melt your entire face off. Know your limits and act accordingly.
Tip #5: Never, ever, under any circumstance, smoke cannabis & drive. You’re endangering the lives of others, and your own.
Happy 420, and consume responsibly!