What to Expect the First Time You Smoke Marijuana

So you’ve got your medical marijuana card and you’re wondering what smoking cannabis is actually going to be like. Here’s the thing: much like many experiences in life, no one can tell you exactly what will happen the first time. Many people are eschewing the act of combustion for vaporizing, edibles, topicals and other ingestion methods. However, for some, smoking the herb is still the best method, whether it’s because other ways of using cannabis don’t work for them or because they just simply enjoy it more.

Should you be one of those people who likes the old-school way of doing weed, here’s what to expect the first time you smoke … (Oh, and as a note, some of these can be applied to the first time you vaporize as well.)

Will smoking cannabis make me cough?

Anyone not used to smoking is very likely to cough the first time they smoke. In fact, many people tend to cough a lot when they smoke blunts or joints, even if they’ve been smoking for years. The reason for this is because marijuana – in particular flowers – is plant matter and still contains some moisture. When combusted, the resultant smoke is going to be quite thick and likely to make you cough. The ash produced by smoke also makes people cough. Unfortunately, the combination of smoke and hard coughing can cause headaches in some people, although these tend to subside quite quickly.

In Europe, people tend to mix their marijuana with tobacco to “smooth out” the harshness (tobacco is drier and helps the cannabis burn) and save on the amount of marijuana they use, but this doesn’t work for everyone and the dangers of tobacco are well-known, so we don’t advise anyone to mix the two together. We must also remember that blunt papers are made with tobacco, so it’s not necessarily uncommon for people from the US to mix the two without realising they are doing so.

Another reason why mixing tobacco in with marijuana might seem to make some people cough less, is because they might have tried smoking it this way several times and have become used to it. Those who want to smoke pure weed (which we recommend, if you are going to smoke cannabis) might have to spend a little time getting used to it as well by smoking it pure over the course of several days. Some people find that smoking extracts through high quality pipes built in with ash catchers to be less harsh, as there is less burning plant matter and no papers to contend with.

smoking medical marijuana

What are the effects of smoking MMJ?

Smoking cannabis tends to have a more immediate effect than most other methods, although vaping has similarly rapid effects. This is because the cannabinoids you are inhaling goes through to your lungs, into the bloodstream and directly to the brain. Tinctures and edibles, on the other hand, go through the liver first, where they turn from delta-9-THC to the more potent and easily-absorbed 11-hydroxy-THC.

THC is the main cannabinoid associated with the cannabis high, but other cannabinoids and terpenoids also contribute to the effects cannabis has (the “Entourage Effect”). CBD also helps “modulate” the high THC gives. This means that high THC strains with high amounts of CBD tend to have more “tempered” psychoactive effects, whereas high THC strains with little-to-no CBD tend to produce a more keen psychoactive effect. Strains with high CBD and low THC or equal ratios of the two still induce ease, calmness, positivity and pain relief, but still clear-headed and focused.

Now, this is not the case for everyone – some people report CBD having some psychoactive effect, and others will find that one strain has a different effect to another strain, even when the THC:CBD ratio is equal. One reason for this is quite simply because everyone’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is different, meaning what affects one person one way may not affect another in the same way.

Another reason is because every different strain (and the phenotypes found within those strains) has different cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations that have a dramatic upon what effects cannabis has, on top of what they taste like. For example, taking two strains with equal THC:CBD ratios, but one strain has high amounts of myrcene and cannabigerol (CBG) and the other does not. This will have a massive effect on the sort of effects each strain will have.

Cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations have more of an influence the effect a particular strain will have rather than whether a strain is a sativa or indica. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some general clues to be found with these broad labels. Indica-dominant strains tend to produce more CBD, whilst sativa-dominant strains tend to have high amounts of THC and little-to-no-CBD. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but it is certainly an interesting phenomenon.

indica sativa cannabis marijuana

In general, indica strains tend to produce a “couchlock” or “stoned”, relaxed, sleepy effect and sativas tend to produce a more energetic, chatty, sociable “high”. Both types of strains can induce the phenomenon known as “the munchies”, but interestingly enough, sativa strains high in THCv have appetite suppressant qualities.

What happens if I smoke too much marijuana?

One of the best things about cannabis for many people is that, even if you overdo it a little, you are not very likely to end up in a hospital getting your stomach pumped. Dizziness, loss of balance and forgetfulness are common side-effects of overindulgence. Sometimes, you may find yourself vomiting or getting paranoid, but this is not necessarily the most common side-effect. In most instances, people just fall asleep or lay down for a few hours until the worst of the side-effects are over. The best way to avoid this from happening is to take it slow, and only take a few puffs at a time. Remember: you can always take more, but you can’t take less!

Is smoking cannabis the best way for me to use it?

The fact is, it is hard to get over the idea that smoking anything can be “medicine”. This is because smoke of any type can cause damage to the throat and lungs. Now, although cannabis smoke is different to many other kinds of smoke, this does not mean there aren’t some dangers associated with smoking it, including chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. However, some people may need the immediate effect smoking cannabis gives in order to treat their condition, so smoking cannabis could be seen as a “trade off”. Vaporizers have helped get rid of smoke to some extent, but this depends very much upon the build quality of the vaporizer and ensuring the right materials are vaped – many vape juices contain some pretty horrible additives, as well as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, that can cause all sorts of health problems. A high quality vaporizer and using well-grown cannabis flower and well-extracted hashish is probably best if you wish to go down the vaporizer route.

All-in-all, medical marijuana is perhaps one of the least frightening anti-inflammatory and painkilling medications out there. If you are currently taking prescription benzodiazepines or barbiturates, then you are already taking drugs that are far more powerful and dangerous than cannabis. The only thing potentially stopping you from trying this – and hopefully using it to replace some nasty pharmaceutical drugs – is fear. So get over that fear by getting yourself a medical marijuana card and seeing if cannabis can make a massive and positive change to your life.


Written by
Dipak Hemraj
Dipak Hemraj

Dipak Hemraj is a published author, grower, product maker, and Leafwell’s resident cannabis expert. From botany & horticulture to culture & economics, he wishes to help educate the public on why cannabis is medicine (or a “pharmacy in a plant”) and how it can be used to treat a plethora of health problems. Dipak wants to unlock the power of the plant, and see if there are specific cannabinoid-terpene-flavonoid profiles suitable for different conditions.

Leafwell medical marijuana card

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