What to Expect the First Time You Smoke Marijuana

So you’ve taken the therapeutic cannabis plunge and obtained your medical marijuana card. You’re eager to reap all the symptom relief that medical cannabis will provide. There’s only one obstacle between you and a better life with medical marijuana. You’re wondering what smoking cannabis will actually be like.

Here’s the thing: Like so many experiences in life, no one can tell you exactly what will happen the first time you smoke marijuana. Many medical cannabis proponents are bypassing the act of combustion and opting for flame-free vaporizing, edibles, topicals and other ingestion methods. However, for medical cannabis users who desire fast acting, full power effects, smoking the herb is still the favored method. whether it’s due to unsurpassed efficacy of smoked flower or because other methods of cannabis consumption are simply less enjoyable.

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If you feel that you may be one of those people who’s drawn to the old-school way of weed therapy, let’s give you some sense of what to expect the first time you smoke … (As a side note, some of these expectations apply to the first time you vaporize as well.)

Table of Contents

  1. Will Smoking Cannabis Make me Cough?
  2. What are the Effects of Smoking Cannabis?
  3. What Happens if I Smoke too much Marijuana?
  4. Is Smoking Cannabis the Best Way for me to use it?

Will Smoking Cannabis Make me Cough?

Anyone not accustomed to smoking should be prepared to cough the first time they inhale marijuana smoke. Even experienced cannabis consumers tend to cough when smoking blunts or joints. Marijuana – in particular flowers – is plant matter that contains moisture. When combusted, the smoke will be thick and cough triggering.

The ash produced along with the smoke also makes people cough. Unfortunately, the combination of smoke and hard coughing may cause headaches in some people. These coughing headaches tend to subside quickly, but should be taken into consideration by medical cannabis patients seeking migraine relief.

European cannabis enthusiasts have a habit of mixing their marijuana with tobacco to “smooth out” the harshness (tobacco is drier and helps the cannabis burn) and extend the amount of marijuana they use. Blending cannabis and tobacco doesn’t work for everyone. Tobacco’s dangers are well-known, and advising a cannabis newcomer to mix the two would be irresponsible. Also keep in mind, as a first timer, that blunt papers are made with tobacco; so consumers from the U.S. mix cannabis and tobacco without realising they’re doing it.

In Europe, mixing tobacco with marijuana might seem to make people cough less, only because they have become used to smoking it this way. To smoke pure weed Leafwell recommends smoking extracts through high quality pipes with built in ash catchers. You may find pipes less harsh than blunts. With pipes, there is less burning plant matter, and no papers to contend with. A cannabis newcomer might need to spend a little time getting used to consumption by pipe by smoking cannabis pure over the course of several days.

smoking medical marijuana

What are the Effects of Smoking Cannabis?

Smoking cannabis delivers a more immediate effect than most other methods (vaping produces similar rapid effects). When cannabinoids are inhaled, they pass through your lungs directly into the bloodstream and straight  to the brain. Tinctures and edibles on the route to the brain pass  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. A suite of other cannabinoids and terpenoids also contribute to the beneficial effects of cannabis  (the “Entourage Effect”). CBD also helps “modulate” the THC high. High THC strains with high amounts of CBD combine for more “tempered” psychoactive effects. High THC strains with little-to-no CBD produce a keener psychoactive effect. Strains with high CBD and low THC (or equal ratios of the two) still induce ease, calmness, positivity and pain relief, but the user remains clear-headed and focused.

Free Cannabinoid and Terpene Guide

Now, these effects are not universal. Some consumers report CBD producing  some psychoactive effect. Other users will find that one strain’s effect differs from  another strain, even when the THC:CBD ratio is equal. Simply put, everyone’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is different. Cannabis products that affect one person one way may not affect another in the same way.

Every strain (and the phenotypes found within those strains) has different cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations that exert a dramatic influence upon what effects that cannabis strain produces, on top of what it tastes 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 will create a massive difference of effects in each strain.

Cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations have a greater influence than whether a strain is a sativa or indica on the effect a particular strain will have..

There are general clues to be found within these broad labels. Indica-dominant strains tend to produce more CBD. Sativa-dominant strains tend to have high amounts of THC and little-to-no-CBD. There are exceptions to this interesting phenomenon.

indica sativa cannabis marijuana

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

What Happens if I Smoke too much Marijuana?

One of the best things about cannabis is that, if you overdo it a little, you are not likely to end up in a hospital getting your stomach pumped. Dizziness, loss of balance and forgetfulness are common side-effects of overindulgence.

In rare instances, newcomers may vomit or succumb to paranoia. These are not necessarily common distressing side-effects. In most instances, over-indulgers simply fall asleep or recline for a few hours or until the worst of the side-effects are over, whichever comes first.

The best way to avoid over-baking is to consume slowly, Only take a few puffs at a time.

You can always take more, but you can’t take less!

Download Our Tips For Minimizing Negative Effects

Is Smoking Cannabis the Best Way for me to use it?

It’s hard to get over the prejudice that any smoked substance can be “medicine.” Smoke of any type can cause damage to the throat and lungs. Although cannabis smoke is different to many other kinds of smoke, there is some risk associated with smoking it, including chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. However, some conditions respond best to the immediate effect smoking cannabis gives. The potential risks of smoking cannabis can be seen as a “trade off” for the immediate benefits.

Vaporizers diminish the amount of  smoke to some extent. Benefits depend upon the build quality of the vaporizer and ensuring the right materials are vaped. Many vape juices contain unsavory additives, as well as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which can cause all sorts of health problems. A high quality vaporizer using well-grown cannabis flower and well-extracted hashish is essential if you wish to go down the vaporizer route.

Download 5 Tips For Choosing A Medical Marijuana Product

All-in-all, medical marijuana is  one of the least frightening anti-inflammatory and painkilling medications yet discovered. If you currently take prescription benzodiazepines or barbiturates, you are already taking far more powerful and dangerous drugs than cannabis. The only thing potentially stopping you from trying this – and hopefully using it to replace some nasty pharmaceutical drugs – is a hesitating anxiety. Leave that fear behind. Obtain a medical marijuana card and see if cannabis can make a massive 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.

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