The Heylo Cannabis Blog

What to Know Before Trying Cannabis For the First Time

What to Know Before Trying Cannabis For the First Time

September 10, 2019
With a growing number of states legalizing cannabis, the barrier to buying and consuming this plant is weakening. As such, more and more people are open to trying it out, especially as the stigma attached to cannabis consumption also continues to dwindle, though it still persists in many places.

With continued research, we're now discovering more and more about the potential health benefits of cannabis consumption. Pain reduction, anxiety relief, and even nausea relief are just some of the benefits that cannabis consumption can bring. For those who simply want to try cannabis on a recreational basis, there's never been more selection catering to specific experiences. And if you live in a state that has legalized both recreational and medical cannabis, there's little stopping you from trying and using it.

While cannabis is generally regarded as safe it is important to do a little homework considering the potential effects on both the mind and body. Here are a few things to know before trying it for the first time.

Different Cannabinoids Have Different Effects

Many people assume that all cannabis products will get them “high”. While many products will do exactly that, many others can produce little-to-no intoxication. Fortunately, by understanding the science of specific cannabinoids in cannabis you can quickly predict potential effects.

First - what is a cannabinoid? Cannabis produces phytocannabinoids - compounds that mirror endocannabinoids, which your body naturally produces. These phytocannabinoids are major actors in generating the effects of cannabis. If you have ever taken a drug test for cannabis (note this page about Monkey Whizz), these are the compounds they looked for in your urine .

THC - or tetrahydrocannabinol - is one of the two most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis and is the one that has psychoactive effects on those who consume it. CBD - or cannabidiol - on the other hand, does not have any mind-altering effects. Instead, it offers a number of health benefits to the body without altering the mind. Both THC and CBD have been found to be medically beneficial, and even though they are molecularly similar, their biggest difference is how they affect the mind.

When shopping for cannabis products, it's important to keep this in mind and choose a product that has the exact type of cannabinoid you're looking for. Good companies will list the full cannabinoid and terpene profiles of their products directly on their websites.

There Are Vastly Different Types of Cannabis

When you first walk into a cannabis dispensary you are likely to be encountered by "Sativa", "Indica", and "Hybrid" terminology. These terms will be applied to how you might expect to feel.

Generally, budtenders will tell you:

  • Sativa - energizing and uplifting
  • Indica - relaxing and sedative
  • Hybrid - something in between

Unfortunately, the Sativa-Indica construct doesn't hold water. It is, however, a useful tool for understanding that there are different types of cannabis and these different types exhibit different effects.

So - how are you supposed to find what cannabis product will be uplifting for you, or which on will help you sleep? Alas, there is no shortcut here. It will involve you asking questions of the budtenders and sampling products over time, with small doses to start. It's always best to start with products that have a decent amount of CBD - even if you're just looking to feel high. CBD will help counteract potential negative side-effects of THC, like paranoia or anxiety.

There Are Different Modes of Cannabis Consumption

When you think of cannabis consumption, you likely conjure up thoughts of rolling a joint and smoking it. And while that's certainly still a common way to consume cannabis, there are plenty of other ways to get your daily dose of herb.


Vaping cannabis allows consumers to take advantage of the effects of the substance without smoking it. It is discreet, portable, and can be a safe alternative to smoking. Smoking burns the cannabis and can cause irritation in the lungs and airways. But vaping merely heats up the substance just enough to create a smoke that can be inhaled. This typically causes less irritation and is a more pleasant method of consumption, though, more research would be required to determine the level of respiratory irritation that vaping may cause.

You can vape both cannabis flower or cannabis oil. To vape flower, you will need a device such as a PAX 3 or Volcano. You'll add dry "herb" that has been ground, and set a low temperature to begin the experience.

To vape cannabis oil, a pen or other vaping apparatus is needed, along with a cartridge of cannabis (either built into the pen or added). Vaping allows consumers to feel the effects of cannabis just as quickly as smoking it, compared to other modes of consumption.

Wait - isn't vaping dangerous now? Vaping pure cannabis is safe method of consumption when done appropriately. You will want to make sure you're following simple safe vaping guidelines to ensure your health is not jeopardized.

high CBD vape pen
Example of a high-CBD Vape Pen cartridge in its retail packaging


You may have heard of "pot brownies," which is a type of cannabis edible. These days, you can find cannabis edibles in many other formats, including cookies, muffins, gummy bears, chewing gum, and candy. There are also cannabis-infused beverages now available on the market, including water, beer, wine, and sodas. 

Different products may come with THC, CBD, or a combination of both. Cannabis edibles may take a while to feel the effects of the cannabinoids within, but their effects tend to last quite a while and get stronger over time before they plateau.

Considering this, it's important to consume only a small amount of a cannabis edible and allow some time to pass until the full effects are felt before consuming more. Many first-timers make the mistake of consuming more than necessary until they feel the effects, only to experience a stronger impact than they'd care to once the cannabinoids kick in. Starting small is always key when you are just starting out.

Cannabis Tinctures

Those who prefer a simpler way to consume cannabis may find tinctures useful. Cannabis tinctures are administered under the tongue via a dropper. They're a popular way to consume cannabis - especially CBD - and provide an easy way to dose accordingly. The cannabinoids enter the bloodstream more directly through the mucous membranes in the mouth, so the effects can be felt more quickly. Tinctures are especially popular among medical patients and those who require very high doses of THC and/or CBD.

THC and CBD Topicals 

Anyone who seeks the consumption of cannabinoids to treat pain may find topicals useful and effective. CBD and THC have been found to help alleviate pain, and by rubbing a cannabis-infused cream onto a specific part of the body, localized pain relief can be experienced. 

Of course, pain relief may also be experienced by using cannabis orally, but cannabis topicals might be more useful for those who prefer not to ingest cannabis and instead apply it topically to treat pain at specific points on the body. 

General Reminder: Start Low and Slow

As already mentioned, it's important to start with very low does when you're just starting out with cannabis. Considering the potential for strong effects, you want to make sure you don't overwhelm your body and mind by using too much cannabis in one dose. That said, start with very small amounts, and gradually work your way up until you find the dose that works the way you want it to.

Final Thoughts for First Timers

With so much buzz surrounding the health and medical benefits of consuming cannabis, you may be tempted to try it. And with the continued legalization of cannabis across the country, accessing it is easier now more than ever before. But before you try your first dose, be sure to educate yourself a little on the consumption of cannabis in order to ensure you're experiencing the effects you seek. Lastly, remember that set and setting will affect your experience, so choose wisely!

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