High expectations: the best ways to enjoy legal weed

A semi-serious guide to first-time cannabis use

Safety should come first when using cannabis.
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With all of its strains, concentrates and taboos, trying cannabis—the term for weed or marijuana used by the Canadian government—for the first time can be daunting. Canada’s legalization of recreational cannabis use is here to stay, but that doesn’t make everyone an expert on its use. While each person has a different preference when it comes to cannabis, there are some things all users should keep in mind when experimenting with the substance.
 

Figure out the kind of high you want

There are countless kinds of cannabis strains, so, depending on the effects you’re looking for, you might want to consume certain kinds of weed in certain ways.
 
Let’s look at how cannabis is classified. The four terms you’ll probably seen thrown around the most are indica, sativa, THC, and CBD. Indica strains are known to be calming and physically relaxing, while sativa is supposed to improve your mood and energy level. However, cannabis affects each user differently, and it can be hard to know how a certain strain will make you feel without trying it first.
 
A better scale to keep in mind when buying weed is the amount of THC and CBD in a strain. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid molecule in cannabis, which causes the feeling of being high. This means weed higher in THC might make you feel tingly, hungry, and intoxicated. On the other hand, weed higher in the compound CBD, or cannabidiol, is more likely to make you feel calm and mellow without the more extreme psychoactive elements of THC.
 
Cannabis is usually sold in hybrid strains that have different combinations of THC and CBD in them, so you can look for the ratio that makes you feel the best. 
 

Get the goods

In Ontario, cannabis products are available both online and in brick-and-mortar stores authorized by the provincial government for customers aged 19 and over. Cannabis is currently available as dried herbs, oils, oral sprays, or capsules, and you can expect to see edibles, beverages, topicals, and extracts hitting shelves in the fall. 
 
The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is the government's cannabis retailer in Ontario. It has ample information on its website about different cannabis strains and the products it carries, so you have all the resources you need to find the cannabis that works for you. You can even filter the products by strain, brand, and THC-to-CBD ratio. 
 

Prepare your arsenal (of munchies)

After you’ve made your purchase, the most vital step in enjoying any experience with cannabis is stocking up on supplies. 
 
If you plan on smoking, water is your best friend. Even the most seasoned cannabis smoker can fall victim to lung-burning coughing fits, and the only thing that seems to help is chugging a Nalgene’s weight in water. Learning how to inhale cannabis properly can be a challenge—you should inhale the smoke and then push it down with fresh air in the same breath—and you don’t want to be caught without your handy H2O.
 
The second thing to prepare before experiencing your first high is a given: munchies. It’s hard to predict what your stoned self is going to urgently crave when hunger hits, or whether you’ll even get the munchies at all, but you can cover all your bases by buying the basics ahead of time. High-THC strains are more likely to give you food cravings than high-CBD ones, but there’s no harm in stocking up on snacks either way. Get one salty, one sweet, and one savoury snack ready to go, so that when you’re relaxing on the couch, a bag of chips or a tray of cookies is already waiting for you.
 

Enjoy weed safely—and don’t forget to breathe.

While you might be excited to try your newly-purchased cannabis with gusto, don’t forget to be cautious about how much weed you consume. The phrase you’ll hear the most when experimenting with cannabis is to “start low” and “go slow.” 
 
This means that no matter which product you’re trying, you should start by consuming a small amount of it and waiting around 15 minutes to see how it affects you. Making or buying edibles for a first-time weed experience is not recommended, because the potency of your final product can often be unpredictable and ingested cannabis takes longer to induce a high. Instead, stick with dried herb or oils and see how you feel after a small sample. 
 
Once you start feeling high, try to relax with a low-stress activity like watching TV, playing a video game, or chatting with friends. Sip on some water and enjoy those munchies you bought earlier.
 
If you find yourself experiencing any anxiety, sit down and remember to take deep breaths. You might be freaked out by the way weed makes your body or mind feel, but it’s important to remind yourself that nothing will go wrong. Despite what your high mind might think, you won’t die. Try to ride the wave of your high instead of resisting its effects, and you’ll probably find the experience gets better right away.
  
Ultimately, just like with alcohol, cannabis is a product that each user will experience differently. It’s vital that you listen to your body, whether that means opening a second bag of chips or slowing down and taking a break. Cannabis can be a great product to help you relax, but it isn’t for everybody. 
 
With this information at your disposal, you can rest easy knowing your first cannabis experience won’t be half-baked.
 

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