What Should I Tell My Relative Who Wants to Try Cannabis?
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Q: One of my relatives wants to get into cannabis (which is legal in their home state, of course). Should I tell them to smoke weed or do edibles?
A: Ah, the joys and terrors of exploring cannabis. We’ve all heard tales about overdoing it—maybe like me you once stood in line at an ice cream shop dumbfounded by the exchange of goods and services for money. But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can guide your relative as Virgil guided Dante, only without all the nightmares.
It may be “just” a plant, but cannabis is an extraordinarily complicated drug that science is just beginning to understand. It demands respect and takes practice. The first thing to know when helping your relative decide between edibles or the smoking route is that the human body processes THC—the psychoactive compound in cannabis—differently for each. Smoke (or vape) cannabis and it goes to your bloodstream and makes its way immediately into your brain. Eat it, and the liver gets first dibs at processing the THC, turning it into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is five times as potent. The high will be delayed, but the effects last much longer.
Edibles might seem convenient and innocent enough (yay brownies!), but you need to be very careful with dosing. When you buy an edible at a dispensary, more than likely the dose is going to be 10 milligrams of THC. Which can be too much for a beginner.
So follow the most important rule for cannabis, and for edibles in particular: Start low and go slow. You probably want to begin with a dose closer to 2 or 3 milligrams. You might not feel anything from it, but you’re going to prefer that to overdoing it and descending into paranoia. Wait an hour, if not longer to be safe (we metabolize things differently on different days, after all), and try a bit more. Low and slow.
Smoking or vaping weed is a bit easier to dose because the effects are much quicker and milder. Newbies might want to take a hit and wait 10 minutes or so and repeat as needed. Again, this isn’t a race.
What about tinctures?
Whether your relative decides to smoke or do edibles, I’ll give you a little secret to pass along: Before doing either, start with a CBD tincture. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis. And it is insanely popular right now: Manufacturers have been putting it in face creams and claiming it can cure pretty much any ailment a human can suffer. Science has yet to confirm almost every single one of those claims, though CBD does seem to at least have anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties.
Science has also been exploring how CBD interacts with THC. For years, anecdotal evidence has suggested that CBD dampens the psychoactive high of THC. And increasingly, researchers are putting hard data to this. Patients taking the synthetic THC drug Marinol for nausea, for instance, often report nasty psychoactive side effects like paranoia. But they tend to handle the drug Sativex, which combines CBD and THC, much better.
Problem is, cultivators have over the years neglected CBD in favor of breeding high-THC strains—smoke standard cannabis flower these days and it’s likely to have only a tiny amount of cannabidiol, if any. (Some special strains like ACDC, though, are loaded with CBD.) That and if you’re buying an edible, it probably only contains THC isolated from flower. If CBD isn’t there to put a check on THC, you’re more likely to have a bad time. So a few drops of pure CBD tincture under the tongue taken before THC might make the high much more manageable.Make sure they know the difference between THC and CDB, and remember: Low and slow
How to Smoke Weed: A Beginner’s Guide
It’s never too late to learn the basics.
The decidedly uphill battle to legalize marijuana, medical or otherwise, is likely to be with us for decades to come. Legislating morality in our country has always been fraught. As we have seen, even if marijuana is legal in some states, that doesn’t mean the federal government won’t get involved, as I discovered woefully a few years back when the owners of my own dear collective in Malibu, California, were forced to pack up and flee after receiving a threatening letter from Obama’s U.S. Attorney General’s office. And under Trump and Jeff Sessions, the feds are no friend of the pro-pot crowd.
Meanwhile, glassy eyes around the nation are turned toward the nine states (plus D.C.) where pot is now legal for a sign as to where this is all going.
Given the choice between a drunk (and impaired) asshole and a pleasant stoner. Well, put it this way: If my college-bound kid was to ask my advice on the subject, I’d tell him I prefer he smoked weed in lieu of drinking. Watch one episode of Real World. That’s what our kids are emulating, people. (Of course, I’d also tell him to watch his butt—people still get busted for simple marijuana possession every day in America.)
There’s not a lot to know to get you started, and I am not here advocating the use of illegal substances. But if you happen to be interested, here’s what to know about marijuana.
1. Indica vs. Sativa
Learn the difference. Indica makes you sleepy; it’s more of a body high, good for pain, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping—you’ll likely nod out a couple hours after smoking. Sativa is a more upbeat, artistic, and cerebral high. It sparks the imagination and energizes you directly after smoking, and will keep you awake if you smoke too close to bedtime. Most stoners remember the difference in a somewhat anti-intuitive way. Sativa starts with an S = NOT sleepy.
2. Just Say No to Blunts
The hip-hop generation has popularized the use of tobacco leaf rolling papers or hollowed-out/re-rolled Swisher Sweets as the delivery device of choice for weed. Not only can this lead to an addiction to nicotine, it also kills the taste of the myriad delicious strains now on the market. Nobody would ever mix a shot of red wine in a glass with ice and Coke, would they?
3. Know Your Equipment
Some people swear by vaporizers, which eliminate the intense skunky smell (good for dorm rooms and public spots) and the inhalation of smoke (possibly but not medically proven to adversely affect the lungs). However, the vape high is considerably less intense and shorter lasting. While a bong can be unruly and downright disgusting, a small water pipe can fulfill the same purpose, filtering the more noxious elements of combustion. For cleaning, isopropyl alcohol cuts resin nicely. Remember the container full of combs soaking in blue liquid on the barber’s counter? I do the same with my glass pipes.
4. Giggling Gets Old
The first time you smoke, feel free to giggle your ass off, munch down on Double Stuf Oreos and barbecue potato chips, and marvel at the newfound intensity of movies, music, sex, et al. The primary effect of weed is to enhance the sensory enjoyment of everything around you. But please, if you continue to smoke, learn some dignity. Conquer the munchies and the giggles. Concentrate instead on these newly opened doors of perception.
If pot makes you feel paranoid, it’s because it affords the user a slightly different view of him or herself. When you’re high, your words echo discreetly in your own coconut, and your point of view is slightly off center from normal, affording you a kind of fleeting glimpse of yourself and your actions that you might not ordinarily have. Weed invites self-observation, which is not for everyone. Even though it should be.There's not a lot to know to get you started, and I am not here advocating the use of illegal substances. But if you happen to be interested, here's everything you need to know about smoking marijuana. ]]>