When it comes to smoking, eating marijuana-infused foods or using marijuana-based lotions and creams, there is no one-size-fits-all rule — and no guarantees as to how it might affect you.
With California poised to legalize cannabis on Jan. 1, newbies are surely going to want to experiment. Consider that in 2014, a total of 2.5 million persons aged 12 and older had used marijuana for the first time, an average of approximately 7,000 new users each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With the legalization of pot in California, the nation’s most populous state, that number is expected to grow exponentially.
So, what can a first-time user expect? In an informal survey of Coachella Valley pot dispensaries, owners and employees each had a different answer. Seems that when it comes to smoking and/or eating weed, there are numerous variables to consider.
Like any other drug, marijuana’s effects on a person depends on a number of factors, including the person’s previous experience with the drug or other drugs, biology (i.e., genes), gender, how the drug is taken, and how strong it is. It is a mind-altering drug. Your high depends on how much you consume and what type you use.
Everyone agrees that if you are using for the first time – take it slow.
Some say it has a calming effect and leaves you feeling mellow. One person advised: “Make sure you have lots of munchies around.” Some describe a feeling of euphoria. Another said it can make you “jittery and hyper.” Another said it twill make you “giggly” and “giddy.”
Most people who use marijuana smoke it in a joint, which is like a cigarette, or in a bong, which is a water pipe. To avoid inhaling smoke, more people are vaping—using vaporizers that allow the person to inhale vapor and not smoke. Another popular method on the rise is smoking or vaping THC-rich resins taken from the marijuana plant, a practice called dabbing.
Marijuana can be consumed by smoking or inhaling it, eating it in various kinds of products (i.e., edibles such as cookies, candy, brownies), and absorbing it by applying products on the skin or in the mouth.
Buy from a trusted source and know what you’re buying.
If you usually ring in the new year with an adult beverage or two — and you’re considering experimenting with cannabis, you might want to choose one or the other, not both. When people mix marijuana and alcohol together at one time, the results can be unpredictable. For example, when people smoke marijuana and drink alcohol at the same time they can have nausea or vomiting, or they can react with panic, anxiety or paranoia. Mixing cannabis with alcohol can also increase the risk of psychotic symptoms such as seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there (hallucinations) for vulnerable people, according to the CDC. Alcohol and marijuana use combined also appears to increase the risk of motor vehicle crashes more than either substance used on its own.
And, remember: Legal does not necessarily mean it’s good for you. There are serious health risks associated with using cannabis, including poisoning. Smoking also takes a toll on lung health. Heavy users of marijuana can have short-term problems with attention, memory, and learning, which can affect relationships and mood.
Studies have shown smoking marijuana can have a big effect on heart rate and blood pressure, including:
- High heart rate and blood pressure.
- An increase in the report of chest pains when exercising among people with existing chest pain.
A fatal overdose of pot is unlikely, according to the CDC, but that doesn’t mean marijuana is harmless. In fact, the potency—determined by the amount of THC in the marijuana—of current strains may lead to poisonings, particularly when eaten or swallowed. Also, people can and do injure themselves because of marijuana’s effects on judgment, perception, movement, and coordination. If you think you or someone you love has had too much marijuana and is having serious problems, call 911.
If you’re going to experiment or use marijuana, experts say it is best to do it with someone who is experienced and knows his or her way around cannabis.
The cost will vary depending on the strain and type you purchase. An eighth of an ounce can cost as a much as $50.