By

Gwynne Ann Unruh is a former award winning reporter at the Alamosa Valley Courier, an independent paper in southern Colorado. She covers the environment for The Paper.

100% of reader revenue goes to the local. independent journalists bringing you the news.

Recent News

Recent reports show that there are a lot of new and returning cannabis users who aren’t educated about some basic ways to keep themselves and others from having overwhelming and unpleasant experiences. Countless people are familiar with the effects of cannabis because of the black/gray market; however, there are a lot of people that are about to get their first taste of cannabis now that it’s not going to land them in jail. For those about to smoke, eat, vape, drink or absorb cannabis for the first time, it’s hard to know what to expect.

You could find really valuable insights about yourself in the experience, as it unlocks unexpected feelings or sensations and could give you a new perspective on just about anything. If you previously smoked and didn’t like it, maybe a tincture or edible would work better.

When using cannabis for the first time, get educated about what you’re putting in your body and the effects it may have. People all over the country are experiencing miraculous benefits by adding cannabis into their daily regimens. There can be many potential health benefits from cannabis, and if you suffer from anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, glaucoma, seizures, Azheimer’s or are seeking pain relief, you can qualify for a medical marijuana card.

Your first experience with cannabis that contains THC will be unique to you. THC can heighten your awareness at the same time it relaxes you. For thousands of years, it has been used to relax, to find one’s “inner self” and in spiritual and sacred practices. Native Americans use it in ceremonies and for its anti-inflammatory properties.

The general effects of cannabis are unique to your body’s chemistry. Your environment, and even your mood, alters the way cannabis affects you. You can expect the uplifting feeling of euphoria, and you may, depending on the strain, have an overall body relaxation effect. This is why marijuana is so popular for recreational use.

Due to a heightened awareness of yourself and your surroundings, you might suddenly start exploring your ego or the ego of someone else in minute detail. You might find yourself giggling like a maniac until you have tears running down your face. For other folks the colors of the painting on the wall might never have seemed so vivid, or you may spend an hour or more watching your goldfish swim around in circles.

There is often an increased appetite, and the “munchies” can set in, so have some snacks ready. You could have dry eyes and “cotton mouth,” so remember to consume liquids. You can expect drowsiness, which is great for sleeping—however, what may be a sleep aid or cause relaxation for some may cause anxiety for someone else. Some strains of cannabis can be very cerebral, and the overthinking can cause nervousness.

Plan ahead and be prepared, so your first experience is a positive one. Your cannabis experience isn’t the time to hang out with someone new for the first time. Stick with people you know and trust. Your environment should be a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Your home or a friends’ house. But wherever you are, make sure you don’t have to drive. Studies have shown that cannabinoids actually help protect brain cells. However, you might be more forgetful while you’re under the influence. You could find really valuable insights about yourself in that experience.

There are a number of ways to enjoy cannabis that are becoming more popular and accessible. Do your research before smoking or ingesting any sort of cannabis-infused goods, and find out about what type of experience to expect from each different product. Being intellectually prepared will make a difference. Remember this is supposed to feel good.

Regardless of your consumption method, Dr. Jordan Tishler, president and CEO of inhaleMD, says, “The key is dose. If cannabis provokes discomfort or anxiety, the dose is simply too high.” Different strains of cannabis can have very different effects. Factors such as dosing, strain and quality make the difference between a therapeutic, enjoyable experience and one you never want again.

Indica creates a body high effect and is more relaxing and sedative. Sativa creates a head-high effect and is uplifting and energizing. As a result, sativas can be anxiety-inducing for some. Hybrid cannabis is physically relaxing but not overly sedative and could be a happy medium. Talk to the budtender at the dispensary where you shop for advice before choosing. They may suggest a vape pipe, THC tincture drops or edibles instead of smoking the leaf.

If you are going to smoke the leaf, you will need a pipe, a vaporizer or bong—available at the dispensary or your local smoke shop. Grind the bud into even-sized particles, which will burn more consistently. If you want to mask the smell from your neighbors, burn candles or incense.

Most “newbies” to the legal cannabis market tend to beeline for the edible section. It will take longer for you to feel an effect if you eat cannabis instead of smoking it. The amount of food present in your stomach will impact how quickly you feel it. 

Edibles have a much different effect on the body than smoking cannabis. Ingesting THC can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to feel the effects. Don’t get impatient and down more pieces or by the time all that THC does kick in, you’ll be flying high.

It is physically impossible to fatally overdose from cannabis. Drinking water and taking a nap are the best ways to dilute the THC and slow the absorption. Everyone’s different. Having some CBD drops or candies handy can prove beneficial, as CBD suppresses the psychoactive effects of THC. If you start to feel uncomfortable, the effects will pass. The golden rule of cannabis dosing: Start low, go slow.

For some people, smoking produces a more enjoyable effect than eating edibles or vice versa. Take your time, take the safety measures, and then take a toke.

For more information on the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program, visit nmhealth.org. For information on recreational cannabis and the New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act, please visit rld.state.nm.us.

Like this story? Hate it? Share it and add your comments.