How to help friends or family their first-time using cannabis

Published Mar 30, 2019 01:45 p.m. ET

Marijuana legalization introduced an entirely new reform allowing Canadians to have the chance to access legal cannabis for recreational use. There are now many people who wouldn’t have ever crossed the line of consuming an illegal substance that is now interested are trying weed for the very first time in their lives. For those who have had the opportunity to dapple among different weed strains the alternative which is alcohol is certainly the harsher of two evils with more intense and uncontrollable effects than cannabis. However, most people who grew up in alcohol drinking households tend to feel differently as the fear of the unknown is much more terrifying than sticking to what you already know.

Now that marijuana is legal, we can have open and honest discussions regarding our personal experiences with it while also sharing plenty of scientific facts. As an experienced user, you will likely be one of the first people these newbies to cannabis culture come to for advice or guidance, and it’s important to do your best to help them on their journey into such a new and highly sensationalized substance. To help, we have compiled a list of some of the best ways you can encourage or assist anyone close to you who is either considering marijuana use or want to know how to consume it as safely as possible.

Encouragement

Encouraging someone who is considering using cannabis for the very first time is incredibly easy. You can print out some of the most relevant scientific studies for whoever may be interested and add some of your own experience to help alleviate any fears that they may have.

Medical research- If someone that you know is considering using cannabis then thinks about the potential benefits; they may be able to obtain from experience. Is your friend anxious or stress? Are you facing medical diagnoses? If not, there other things they should consider like the ability to unwind without a hangover the next day. If none of those apply, then try to think of the reasons that you may have for choosing cannabis over other substances. Any potential medical benefits that could be had by the interested person. It can be difficult to keep this kind of information fresh in your mind, so it’s always best to print them off to send home with the curious information seeker.  

Cannabinoid information- Cannabinoids are the most primary active elements that are naturally produced by cannabis plants. They are responsible for the felt effects often referred to as “the high” users will experience from ingesting marijuana. Typically, it is essential particularly for new and hesitant consumers to understand what they are putting into their bodies to comfort any fears they may have. THC is the most active cannabinoid that is found in marijuana plants, and it is responsible for the intense psychoactive properties felt after ingesting cannabis-derived products. CBD is a strictly medicinal ingredient that has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as sugar controlling abilities which can be beneficial for diabetics. Since most marijuana products will be labelled with a THC and or CBD content, this is one of the most important conversations to have with new consumers to help them to understand the potency of what they are buying. This in itself helps to alleviate concerns when browsing through new and unusual products.

Long term effects statistics- For some people, it isn’t the immediate effects, cost, or lack of understanding of the plant itself that makes them nervous about taking that first hit. For them, it’s the potential long-term side effects that are most intimidating. Since smoking marijuana is often compared to smoking cigarettes, the fear is usually that ingesting cannabis will cause some form of cancer or breathing troubles down the road. These few factoids (along with any others you can think of) should help to quell those concerns.

  • Cannabis has been studied for well over a decade, and there has been no evidence whatsoever to show that consuming the plant in any way might cause cancer.
  • Marijuana use does not kill brain cells.
  • Studies that were conducted on long term cannabis consumers showed that while smoking the plant material can irritate the lungs, the effects will be virtually gone after 24 hours of abstaining from use.
  • Weed has none of the added chemicals or toxins that are carcinogens found in cigarettes.

Product information - Though cannabinoids are one of the first things that should be understood by any cannabis consumer, the second most important is touching on the potency and method of ingestion that may be required depending on the type of product being considered. This will help them to confidently make their very first purchases while understanding any additional potential items that may be required.

Guidance

This section is specifically meant to help guide new consumers who are actively trying cannabis for the first time. Though it may not seem like a huge deal to anyone who has used marijuana for ages, a person’s first experience with consumption is often what decides how they choose to proceed in the future. You do not want your best friend to make a rash decision alone and have a bad experience, or you may never get the opportunity to share in a session with them. Here are just a few things you can do to ensure those close to you have the best possible outcome from using marijuana for the very first time.

1. Be present - Most of us shared our first experience of smoking cannabis with at least one or two of our closest friends. A person’s current state of mind can profoundly alter how they feel more than the product itself. Since marijuana simply enhances already felt sensations, those who start anxious, scared, or nervous have the worst chance of enjoying their first experience. Offer to be there for comfort and assistance in case it’s needed. You would be surprised how much a couple of hours of your time might help.

2. Consumption amounts - One of the most important things to remember when you are getting high with a new user is that your tolerance level is going to be much different than theirs will be. The very first time a person consumes marijuana will likely also be the most intense experience regardless of how much they use. Make sure that newbies stick to minimal amounts of bud flower and if possible, help them to choose weed strains that contain lower amounts of THC and higher levels of CBD for the best possible result.

3. Explain the tools - One of the most confusing elements to trying cannabis for the first time is figuring out exactly how you should use it. Options like vaporizers, weed pipes and rolling papers are most often recommended to beginners. Help your friend to thoroughly understand their device of choice before they smoke. This will help to build some level of comfort-ability before they even try it.

4. No pressure - Never put pressure on friends or family members to consume more than they are comfortable with if they tell you last minute that they no longer want to try it that is up to them. You should never make friends or family uncomfortable at all before they use cannabis for the very first time. No means no.

5. Comfort - As mentioned there are many things that may influence how positive a person's first experience using cannabis is. Plan to sit with the beginner in an environment that is familiar and relaxing to them. Lower lighting, quieter music, and a comfortable place to sprawl out and rest are must-haves for the first time.

6. Necessities - Sort of an extension from personal comfort is the necessities that should be kept on hand during a person’s first experience. You will want to keep cold water and healthy snacks ready to help to quell any potentially uncomfortable symptoms like the munchies or cottonmouth. Something else that often helps new consumers is having something to focus on like a movie or favorite show to keep them calm. Another pro tip is to eat a full meal before first trying marijuana products to help slow down the pace at which the body processes the cannabinoids. This will help to control any overwhelming sensations that may be experienced during a first-time using cannabis.

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