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10 Tips for First-Time Cannabis Smokers to Keep in Mind: What to Expect When You Get High for the First Time

Congratulations, you’ve decided that you’re finally ready to take that leap towards trying cannabis. Perfect. Beautiful. Let me be the first to welcome you to the family. But before you take that first toke, I’d like to offer you a few pieces of advice so you know what you’re getting into. Why? Because there are a number of things you should know about before you smoke weed for the first time.

Be Prepared to Not Get High

Can you get high your first time smoking weed? Absolutely. But you should be prepared for the fact that you might not.

The first time I smoked, I didn’t get high. Maybe I didn’t do it right. Maybe I was all wrong. But I didn’t. And I’ve heard this as the case for so many people, so just know it’s a possibility. But don’t let it deter you from getting to where you’re going. If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. Yes, I did just quote Aaliyah.

Make Sure to Inhale

You can’t get high if you aren’t inhaling. I still remember the first time I properly did it. Ooooohweeee. My eyes got low, lights got bright, and my soul left my body. It was epic—no, scratch that—it was euphoric. Everything and everyone made me soooo happy and my body felt soooo good.

If you don’t feel like you’re getting high, maybe you just aren’t inhaling properly. Let that smoke fill your lungs and carry you to infinity and beyond.

Hydrate Like an Athlete

If I had a nickel for every morning I woke up completely dehydrated from getting stoned out of my mind the night before, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. Probably enough to buy 17 gallons of water, which is the exact amount you’ll need after a solid smoke sesh unless you want to end up looking like Spongebob when he visited Sandy’s house for the first time. If you’re going to indulge in the arts of cannabis, make sure to chug a bunch of water before the occasion like you’re about to play in a high school state championship game.

Choose Your Piece Wisely

I’ve been smoking blunts since Day One so that’s just how I get down. But if it’s your first time, I suggest easing into it. You don’t run a marathon without first doing a one mile test, and the same principle applies to smoking. Don’t jump into heavy bong rips, dabs, and things of that nature until you take a few baby steps.

For beginners, I suggest smoking with a little bowl and working your way up that ladder until you’re ready to take on more advanced consumption methods like the dab rip, also known as the M. Bison of the cannabis world. Also: beware of the gravity bong. They’re little, but boyyyy do they pack a punch. My first time hitting one resulted in hours of paranoia and discomfort. Don’t do that. You’ve been warned.

Download a Food Courier App

The worst thing possible when high is having to go somewhere and do something, even if the task is just getting food. When I delivered food for Postmates, 95% of the houses I delivered to reeked of cannabis. Coincidence? I think not. It’s because those people were smart enough to make the experience convenient for them. You are, too.

Preparation is key for first time weed smokers looking to head off the munchies. Make sure to download your preferred courier app (Postmates, DoorDash, Favor, etc.) beforehand so you won’t entertain the possibility of going out and driving under the influence (or wandering around outside when you’re not feeling particularly social or comfortable).

Clear Your Schedule

If you’re about to get high for the first time, you’ll probably pass out at some point. Don’t even say “No I won’t,” because you’ll be forced to come apologize to me once you wake up eight hours after taking your first bong hit. It’s like a rollercoaster: you go alllll the way to the top just to drop alllll the way to the bottom.

Even if you don’t fall asleep (which you probably will), you may end up feeling heavy-bodied, so if you’re about to smoke weed for the first time, make sure you’re in a comfortable environment that encourages absolute relaxation. I suggest a living room with a 65” flat screen and a sectional couch (the crease of the L is the sweet spot).

Never Smoke With Sketchy People

This pretty much applies to anything in life, but especially when it comes to cannabis consumption. If you’re smoking for the first time, it should be with some friends you trust. But on the off chance that it’s with some sketchy-ass strangers, make sure to abide by Rule #1 of the Bruh, I’m Just Tryna Get High code of conduct: If you didn’t see it rolled or packed, don’t smoke it. You do not want to get hit with a case of the shenanigans around people you don’t know in an unfamiliar environment.

Know (or Learn) Your Limits

If you’re stoned out of your mind after one hit, feel free to pass on the joint in rotation. Your mission was to get high for the first time, not melt your entire face off. Know your limits and act accordingly.

Develop a Tribe

Once you start smoking, you’ll want to have a group of friends that you can smoke with. I like to call this my tribe. These are the people that you hit up for a group sesh. You also want to have a tribe because, if I can keep it funky, smoking solo can get extremely boring. But when you have friends, who knows what type of adventures y’all might get high enough to go on? Or even if it’s not an adventure, you might end up having a dope/deep-ass conversation, which may turn out to be a therapeutic experience. So make sure to find friends who enjoy the same activity then build with them.

Be Prepared to Fall in Love

For me, cannabis was love at first pipe. When I took that first hit and felt that buzz in my eyelids I instantly knew that I was smitten. You might be, too. Prepare to embark on a new, groundbreaking relationship. (But much like any relationship, things can get expensive. So before you go into this, just know this love may leave your pockets taxed.)

Before you smoke marijuana for the first time, here's some advice so you know what you’re getting into and can plan for a comfortable first experience.

At What Age Do Children Generally Start Smoking Pot?

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Andrea Rice is an award-winning journalist and a freelance writer, editor, and fact checker specializing in health and wellness.

A hallmark of being a teen is the drive to experiment and push boundaries. Sometimes, that means trying drugs. When it comes to marijuana, on average, kids who smoke pot tend to start between the ages of 12 and 16.  

Smoking Pot by the Numbers

It isn’t surprising that many teens try pot as it is popularly considered less dangerous than “harder” drugs (like cocaine or heroin), and marijuana is used recreationally by many adults. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that pot is one of the most commonly used drugs by Americans.   And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 2.5% of the world’s population uses the substance.  

So how many teens are smoking pot? The National Institute of Drug Abuse study, Monitoring the Future, found that 6.6% of eighth-graders had smoked marijuana or hashish in the past month, while 11.8% had smoked in the past year. By 10th grade, those numbers jump to 18.4% and 28.8%, respectfully. By senior year, 22.3% reported marijuana use in the past month, while 35.7% had smoked pot in the past year.  

According to a 2018 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study, about 3.1 million teens, aged 12 to 17, which adds up to 12.5% of all teens (or 1 in 8 teens), had smoked pot in the prior year. These numbers have held steady over the past few years.  

The Influence of Others

The marked increase in use between 8th and 10th grade teens (from nearly 12% to almost 30%) is significant, because research tells us that peer usage is one of the main reasons that teens begin to smoke marijuana.   Teens who have siblings, other relatives, or friends who do drugs are more likely to try drugs themselves than adolescents who do not have drug-using friends.

The transition between middle school and high school also leads to new disruptions and stressors for kids that can make drug experimentation more likely. These changes include new schools, new friends, new pressures, the desire to fit in, and different expectations.

The influence that others have on teen substance use is not limited to their peers in school. Teens whose parents drink, smoke cigarettes, or smoke marijuana are also more likely to try those behaviors.  

Availability of Pot Is a Key Factor

Children who live in neighborhoods where drugs are sold openly or who go to schools where their peers sell drugs are significantly more likely to begin smoking pot at an earlier age.   Researchers have also found that if teens believe that their peers approve of drug use, they will be more likely to use drugs themselves at an early age. This is because that positive perception tends to “normalize” recreational drug use.  

Additionally, many states have now made recreational marijuana use legal for those 21 and over, making use among adults (as well as the many pot storefronts and ads) much more noticeable, which garners unspoken acceptability.

A double-whammy of cultural permissiveness and easy access to drugs also contribute to earlier initiation ages and a larger proportion of kids using drugs.

Other Reasons Kids Use Drugs

In his book, How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can’t, Dr. Neil I. Bernstein identifies more reasons, beyond mere availability, peer pressure, and acceptability, that kids try drugs and alcohol:  

  • Popular media
  • Escape and self-medication
  • Boredom
  • Rebellion
  • Instant gratification
  • Lack of confidence
  • Misinformation

Consequences of Early-Onset Drug Use

Experts—and even many marijuana legalization proponents—agree that the later teens begin using marijuana, the better.   This is because teenage brains are still developing, a process that isn’t complete until around age 25. Smoking pot before all the brain’s pathways have matured can inhibit the development of executive function. The earlier kids begin to smoke pot, the more likely they are to experience cognitive problems.  

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, children who engaged in weekly marijuana use before age 18 displayed lasting harm to their intelligence, attention, and memory compared with those who began using marijuana after age 18.  

Research has suggested that quitting or reducing marijuana use was not able to restore cognitive function that was damaged by regular marijuana use.  

What’s more, a comprehensive review during 2011 found that people who started smoking pot before adulthood experienced significant damage to their cognitive function, impacting many areas including memory, response time, language skills, and executive function.  

Additionally, studies have shown a strong link between marijuana use and the development of psychological conditions.   Research has also confirmed that, despite popular opinion, smoking pot can be addictive.  

A Word From Verywell

While the numbers on teen pot use may seem unsettling, it’s important to note that the majority of kids aren’t smoking marijuana. But if your child is experimenting, don’t despair. While the health risks of sustained pot use, particularly early in life, are substantial, if your child tries it once, twice, or even occasionally, the damage is likely minimal—though studies have shown that even occasional use can still potentially impair decision-making, concentration, attention, and memory.  

The key is to talk to your child. Discuss your concerns and the very real brain health risks—and listen to what they have to say. If you feel the situation requires additional intervention, consult with your child’s doctor, a drug counselor, or other experts to access resources that can help.

On average, kids start smoking pot at age 16, but recent surveys point to the transition between middle school and high school as an inflection point.