How to find your THC tolerance if you're new to cannabis

Published May 20, 2019 09:11 a.m. ET
Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

For those of us with plenty of experience from experimenting with different marijuana strains and products, a good smoking session is something that we look forward to and tend to complete with confidence. Anyone who has little to no experience may feel a little bit differently to start with, when there are almost no guideline recommendations for beginners outside of the typical 10 grams of THC that is often suggested to new consumers whether you are looking to use medical marijuana to soothe uncomfortable or painful symptoms or might prefer vaping weed. This how-to guide is meant for you.

Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to help you to gauge your tolerance to THC as comfortably and safely as possible.

1. Begin with smoking or vaping dry herb

Now that marijuana legalization is spreading across the globe, there is a much wider selection of cannabis infused products to choose from, but don’t let the options overwhelm you. Stick to some good quality dry marijuana flowers for your first time. This is for several very important reasons. The first is that most other cannabis products are going to be condensed, which means they will have much larger amounts of THC within them. The second is that smoking marijuana will directly inject the cannabinoids into your system. As the THC enters the lungs, it is immediately absorbed and directed to the bloodstream. Since this delivery is so fast and efficient, it also wears off just as fast which can be helpful if the sensations get a little intimidating. This results in an almost instant high that is already being processed by the body.  Whether you are into vaping weed or different smoking options, it’s always safest to start with a less potent choice.

2. Choose marijuana strains that contain lower amounts of THC

Once you get used to smoking cannabis, you will understand just how broad of a range of sensations can be offered from any one particular strain. Though it is most definitely true, that some marijuana strains will affect you more strongly than others. It is still the active ingredient THC that creates most of those sensations. Start with a type that holds a 16% or less THC content for the mildest effects while you learn where exactly your limits are.

3. Start with a joint, vaporizer, or other measurable or small dose smoking device

Yes, the big wide world of marijuana paraphernalia is incredibly exciting and enticing, but that doesn’t mean that you need any special tools to get an effective high. Bongs, pipes, and other devices might look cool, but they are much harsher on the lungs and expensive. This way, if you don’t end up liking the way that weed makes you feel, then you aren’t too far invested. It’s also a lot easier to take small measured puffs from a joint or vaporizer than any other method out there. One of the side effects of increased blood pressure while getting stoned is that it will make the effects hit you faster and harder than they would have otherwise. It might be best to avoid coughing for your first run. The old saying “you have to cough to get off” is nowhere near true.

5. You only need one hit

The media portrays pot as a social gathering that requires a constant hitting of tokes to stay involved. Though more experienced cannabis users might get more out of partaking this way, a brand-new consumer should take at most one or two hits and wait one full hour for the effects to kick in before even considering trying anymore. This helps you to be aware of how much you have consumed, and safeguards against any potential over-consumption as you figure out how smoking weed is going to affect you.

6. Always remember that different marijuana strains will provide a range of various effects


As we mentioned a little bit earlier, there are thousands of different marijuana strains, and each one comes with its unique profile and list of potential effects. For your very first time with cannabis, it is always safest to stick with a lighter more uplifting sativa strain that isn’t going to put you to sleep. Another good starting point is selecting the terpenes that you find to be calming so that you are as relaxed as possible throughout the entire experience. Even a lower THC indica might be enough to keep you couch bound, so watch out for the lighter and more energetic marijuana strains for your first few times.

7. Have a trusted friend help you.

Sometimes, something as simple as having a trusted family member or friend around can make all the difference in the world as you gauge your tolerance to THC, and this works in a few ways. It will help to keep you safe and comfortable throughout the experience and assist in guiding you in the right direction as far as the why’s and how’s of smoking cannabis.

8. Slowly increase THC dosing.

This one is very important since most people aren’t just looking for the bare minimum amount that they can take. Instead, they are looking to get as high as possible without feeling an adverse effect. To find your real limits which is necessary to properly gauge your tolerance levels, you will need to very slowly increase your dosing. Start with 10mg of THC which is the equivalent of half of a pinner joint, and slowly work your way up. Do not double the amount, instead increase it by 0.5 grams each time you get high until you find the ideal amount for your body.

9. Keep track on paper

Most people know about the stereotype that points to stoners being incredibly absent minded. While marijuana use is not going to affect your long-term memory, it is notorious for interrupting and or erasing our short-term ones. Also, for this to work correctly, you will need to continue to experiment over an extended period. Remembering different amounts of dry herm for days on end would get difficult even more someone with an excellent memory and no pot, so write it down alongside the date and any other pertinent information that you can think of as you go along on this journey of self-discovery.  

10. Know your source

As we mentioned earlier, it can be incredibly difficult to judge how any marijuana strains might affect you until you try them out for yourself. Because of this, it is incredibly important to not only know your source as well as possible but also to research their third-party testing stats to ensure a consistent level of quality. Some black market cannabis dispensaries will label the product with completely wrong strain names which can send you on a difficult trip if you take too much of one that you aren’t used to or affects you differently than you had expected. Always choose marijuana dispensaries with the most transparency and out of office verification for the best sources.



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