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Wednesday June 16, 2021

By Paul Barach

420 Culture

If you’re curious about trying cannabis for the first time, you are in good company. New states are legalizing constantly. Plenty of millennials are having the odd experience of being asked by their parents or older relatives to help them buy weed for the first time. Besides parents, plenty of people entering their early 20’s have had enough negative experiences with alcohol to want to give cannabis a try, or are simply curious if they might enjoy it regardless. Plus, there are constantly new people suffering from pain, sleep disorders, stress, or PTSD that want to avoid pharmaceuticals and seek alternate relief.

However, not everyone has a well-versed, understanding friend or loved one to hold their hand through their first cannabis experience. It can be intimidating to walk into a dispensary, glance over the shelves brimming with cannabis flower and brightly packaged products, then ask the stranger behind the counter, “Is one enough?”

Whether you’re looking for a new experience, or to aid with a health issue, PotGuide is here with some cannabis product suggestions for first-time consumers.

Advice for First-Timers

A couple of pieces of advice before you consume any cannabis:

  1. You can always take more, you can never take less. Repeat that a couple of times, then repeat it again when you get home with your product. If you’re inhaling marijuana, you don’t have to start with the biggest rip you can take. If you’re taking an edible, just start with one, even if it seems like it’s taking a while to kick in. Ease your way into marijuana. Barely feeling any different your first time can be disappointing, but it’s much better than being too high without any prior experience.
  2. Go in with a positive attitude. Trying an intoxicating substance for the first time can be a little scary. You’re consuming something that might change how you behave or think. However, as long as you start slow and approach the experience as a positive one, you’re much more likely to have a good time. Keep an open mind and let the experience come to you. 
  3. Have an idea of what experience you’re looking for. Budtenders want you to walk out of the door with the right product. It will make finding that product much easier if you know what type of experience or benefit you’d like to have. You won’t be the first novice that has approached their counter, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

By following these simple rules, you’re much more likely to have a smooth sailing experience. However, once you’re mentally prepared, what should you start with first?

Cannabis Products for First-Timers

Below, we’ll run through some of the best cannabis products for new consumers to try out cannabis. However, whichever preparation you choose, remember that starting out with low-potency products is always a good introductory option. Most dispensaries will have a range of products in different potencies to try.

Vape Pens

If you’d like to know what being stoned can do for you as fast as possible, vape pens are your best bet. If you’ve never inhaled anything besides fresh air (or as fresh as the air gets in some cities), you will most likely cough much less with vaporized cannabis oil than filling your lungs with burnt plant matter. There are a variety of cartridges and strains to choose from, but if you’re just looking for a first-time experience, you can’t go wrong with a hybrid. All you have to do is push a button on the battery, which means no messing around with fire or wasting product.

Burning cannabis also releases a lot of other cannabinoids and terpenes that can come on a lot stronger than a vape pen. This can affect your experience both positively and negatively. Your hit off a vape pen probably won’t make you as giggly and happily “stoned” as a joint, but you are also more likely to avoid the paranoia, hunger, and drowsiness that can also occur.

Someone hitting a vape pen
Vapes are a quick and effective way to consume cannabis. photo credit

Another benefit of a vape pen (or a joint) is that the effects of inhaled cannabis come on within minutes. This means a faster take-off for you to experience cruising altitude, whether your cruising altitude is for enjoyment, or treating a health issue. If you like where the plane is heading, stay the course. If you would like to change destinations, you can take another hit. If you’d like the plane to land, you’ll be on the ground in an hour or two. 

Recommended for: Quick onset experience, sudden onset health issues such as migraines, pain flare-ups, stress. Indica strains are good for sleep/relaxation, sativa strains are more uplifting and good for being active.

Pre-rolled Joints

If you’d like to wade into deeper waters than a vape pen, a pre-rolled joint will be your least expensive entry into the world of cannabis. The benefits of a pre-roll are that you have everything you need in your hand for your first toke of cannabis. Flick your lighter, touch the flame to the tip, and inhale through the cardboard crutch. Unless you’ve spent some time with cigarettes, you’ll probably cough a lot more, but will soon be enjoying the full experience that has made marijuana so popular for most of recorded history.

Just remember, you don’t need to smoke the entire pre-roll all at once. If you’re feeling good after a hit or two, stub out the lit end and slide it back into its tube for later.

Recommended for: Quick onset experience, sudden onset health issues such as migraines, pain flare-ups, stress, stomach troubles. Better than a vape for relieving more intense pain. 


When it comes to edibles, gummies are the best pick for beginners. They’re easy to cut in half if you are just looking to dip your toe into the experience, they store well if you only keep them around for special occasions, and you have enough on hand to adjust your dose as you prefer. Just pop one (or half of one) into your mouth, chew it up, then wait for an hour (and if you don’t feel anything, wait a half hour or so longer), and enjoy the ride.

3 packages of cannabis gummies
We cannot stress enough how critical it is to start slow and low with cannabis edibles, especially for your first time. photo credit

Edibles can be a lot stronger than inhaled cannabis due to how they break down in your liver, and will also last for anywhere from 4-6 hours. That’s why it’s important to start at a low dose and ease your way in. Also, you probably should leave your day open for your first experience with edibles, and it’s wise to choose a comfortable setting. Since edibles last longer, they’re excellent for treating ongoing stress or long-term health issues, like nerve or joint pain.

Recommended for: Long-term experience, chronic pain issues, joint/muscle/nerve pain, frequent/ongoing stress, sleep disruption.


If you don’t want to inhale anything, would like a faster onset, or want more control over dosing, tinctures are your way to go. Simply open your mouth and squeeze the cannabis under your tongue using the eyedropper, then hold it there. You’re able to give yourself the smallest dose possible for your first time to feel it out and work your way up from there. Another benefit is that some of the tincture will be absorbed through the tiny vessels under your tongue directly into the bloodstream, which means a faster onset than with an edible (typically 20-40 minutes).

Recommended for: Stress relief, mild discomfort.

The Wrap Up

As the old saying goes, there’s a first time for everything. Whether you are looking for pain relief, stress relief, or simply a new and fun experience, there’s no time like the present to visit your local dispensary and give marijuana a try. If you feel a vape pen, a joint, a gummy, or a tincture is right for you, or you’re looking for something else, don’t be afraid to talk to your budtender. They’ll help make sure that you walk out of their shop with the right product to make your introduction to cannabis a positive one.

What products did you choose for your first-time consuming? Share your experiences in the comments section!

Photo Credit: Kampus Production (license)


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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