Why not everyone gets high their first time smoking marijuana

Published Mar 18, 2019 01:43 p.m. ET

It may come as a surprise to those who have heard incredulous tales about friends and family members first trips after smoking marijuana or consuming edibles. For most people, the very first time they smoke pot will be the most intense experience they will ever get, but for many others, their first attempt ends up being terribly disappointing. It’s quite common to experience nothing during the first interaction with THC. Approximately 1 in every 6 cannabis consumers reporting just such a dilemma. So why are so many experiencing this strange reaction? Well, there are a few different theories that may help to answer that question.

The Theories

Since so far no one has been able to prove precisely why this lack of sensations happens, it is important to focus on what we do know. We can confirm that there are likely several different contributing factors that influence the number of consumers who are reporting a lack of euphoric effect during their first interaction with endocannabinoids and cannabinoids which are the primary active elements in cannabis. The five most significant are listed include:


When a consumer has no prior experience smoking marijuana than there is a possibility that they simply did it wrong. Lighting and smoking a joint seems like a relatively simple task, but inhaling any kind of smoke is something that takes times to get used to and perfect so it would make complete sense if some just weren’t inhaling or burning their product correctly. In the case of edibles, many people assume that adding raw cannabis to a recipe will get them high when in reality it must be decarboxylated first to activate the THC, which results in a disappointing lack of buzz.

Lack of CB Receptors

Cannabinoids rely on the consumer’s internal endocannabinoids system to react to the introduction of cannabis to work. Some people just have less CB Receptors, to begin with and will need to ingest THC several times to allow their body to produce enough receptors to process the cannabinoid effectively.

Bad Product

Since inexperienced users are not always the most educated on what quality marijuana or edibles look like it is assumed that some people who don’t get high have purchased either another material entirely or a low-quality product with small amounts of THC.


Ever wonder why you enjoy certain edibles and marijuana strains while others around you feel entirely different about them? That is because every person will experience the effects of a particular concoction of cannabinoids differently. This is most often due to a person’s family history of cannabis use. Prolonged or frequent marijuana use in parents often results in an increased sensitivity to smoking marijuana or ingesting THC in any way. The opposite is true for non-users who will most often lack receptors and therefore susceptibility to the effects of marijuana.

Lack of awareness

Another factor that many don’t ever consider is that perhaps the person who reported a lack of sensation really was high and didn’t know it. It may sound strange, but as a newbie to smoking marijuana, it would make sense that you might not know what to expect to be able to recognize that they were in fact stoned. This is especially true for cannabis strains that are less potent and more body focused.

How to successfully get high the first time

Though no one truly knows why there are so many people who experience nothing their first time smoking marijuana or eating edibles, there are some things you can do to have the best chance at a full experience when using cannabis.

Buy quality marijuana products- The most important thing to be sure of when you first try smoking marijuana is that the quality of the product you are using is fair. This means that there are no contaminants and that the bud is fresh and properly cured. Aged and moldy cannabis will degrade the cannabinoids within the product resulting in a useless plant material that might not get you high.

Pay attention to potency- If the storefront you go to can’t tell you what sort of cannabinoids that you should expect to find in their products then you might want to look elsewhere. A fair amount of THC for recreational use is generally around 20% which is a good starting point for beginners who won’t be ingesting more than .5 grams at a time.

Inhale properly- Smoking marijuana requires drawing a cloud of smoke deep into the depths of the lungs so that the body can absorb the cannabinoids and begin to process them. This can be challenging especially for non-smokers who aren’t used to inhaling anything at all. When you first try cannabis remember to take a deep breath in and out before you draw the toke and try your best to let it linger in the lungs for a moment before slowly exhaling. For the best experience, you may want to take small puffs, so that it isn’t cough inducing which can make proper inhalation and absorption of the necessary cannabinoids like THC difficult.



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