A First Timer’s Guide to Legal Weed in Canada
If legalization is the push you were waiting for to give weed a try, you probably have a few questions about how to go about buying your first gram of lab-tested, legal product, and what to expect after you smoke it.
Since it’s often compared to liquor, you might be imagining the pot-buying experience as similar to a trip to the beer and wine store—but buying weed will be a little (read: a lot) more cumbersome than buying booze. You won’t be able to walk into the store and pick your favourite off the shelf. You won’t be permitted to take your kids inside with you, no matter their age. You can bet ID checks will be militant, and there definitely won’t be any sampling.
If your only experience with cannabis is standing around awkwardly while your friends partake, let this be a guide to both your inaugural purchase and your first time getting high.
Before you make your first purchase, try answering the following question: How do you want to feel after consuming? Uplifted or relaxed? Balanced or focused? Positively floating, or not the slightest bit intoxicated?
All the Places in Canada You Can Get Legal Cannabis on Weed Day
Cannabis jargon may seem intimidating, but knowing about the quantity and variety of cannabinoids and terpenes in a given strain will help you determine what you’re looking for. Together, these groups of chemical compounds create the different effects you experience from one variety of cannabis to the next. THC is the most common cannabinoid in cannabis, and is thought to be largely responsible for the “high” users experience. CBD is the slightly less common (but much-buzzed about) cannabinoid that can deliver some of the same therapeutic effects as THC, like relaxation and pain relief, without making you feel stoned.
Cannabinoids work in synergy with terpenes, the aromatic compounds in cannabis that give it its unique smell. When it comes to choosing strains of dried flower for smoking or vaporizing, the best advice I’ve ever gotten from a budtender was to “follow your nose”: If you smell a strain and you enjoy it, you’re likely to enjoy yourself after consuming it, too; but if you recoil, it’s probably not for you. (Depending on where you live, this may be more challenging, as not all jurisdictions are using sniff jars that will allow shoppers to take a whiff before making a purchase.) Here’s a tip: try keeping track of the terpenes in the strains you’re using so you can watch out for them the next time you buy.
You may have also heard the terms “indica” and “sativa” from your stoner-savvy friends, with indica strains described as heavier or more sedating, and sativa strains as more energizing. Most licensed producers still use these terms to describe their products, and you might find in-store displays speaking to these hotly debated classifications, but the truth is most strains on the market today are considered hybrids.
As a newbie, you’ll definitely want to avoid getting too high, and that starts with selecting the right product. If you’re buying dried flower to smoke or heat in a vaporizer, you’ll probably want to stick with a strain that’s lower in THC (under 15 percent) and higher in CBD.
A low-THC product will deliver a bit of the euphoria you might be looking for, while the CBD will help keep negative side effects like paranoia at bay. If you’d rather avoid the smoke, ingestible oils and capsules will be available—just be sure to start with low-THC products, especially because when digested, the effects of cannabis can last much longer than from smoking.
Once you’ve bought your dried flower, you’ll have to decide how to smoke it. I’d advise all first-timers to avoid a bong or pipe and opt instead for the tried-and-true joint, which you can buy pre-rolled. (Nice glass is an investment I’d put off until you’ve at least learned whether or not you like getting stoned—plus a bong rip could spell disaster if you’ve never smoked at all before.) If you want to reduce the number of carcinogens you’re inhaling, you might invest in a vaporizer, but be prepared to spend a few bills.
If you somehow waited until legalization to try cannabis, here’s what you need to know.
So, It’s Your First Time Trying Weed This 4/20
April 20 is the biggest weed holiday of the year, celebrating all things cannabis. This global movement is a call to arms for cannabis activists across the world to gather in public at (or before, if you’re so inclined) 4:20 p.m. to smoke up. Gatherings crop up in state parks, college campuses, city parks, and public squares.
It is a holiday of advocating for drug liberalization in non-legal states as well as a celebration for the legalization that has passed. Each year, activists protest against the war on drugs in hopes that eventually cannabis prohibition will end.
In this spirit of activism, deals on legal cannabis purchases can be found everywhere! Not only that, but events happen in every major city and town across the world. Festivals, public gatherings, concerts, yoga, infused dinners, and lavish parties are just some of the ways people celebrate together.
The occasion is also an enticing setting for first-time cannabis users who want to join in on the festivities. So whether you will be grabbing cannabis and celebrating with the locals or heading home into the comfort of your own home, we will be guiding you through your first time trying weed this 4/20.
How to Make Your Purchase
There are three essential ways to purchase weed in legal areas: retailers, dispensaries, and delivery services. Weedmaps simplifies this process by showing you the options at our fingertips. Choose whichever option you think will lead to the most comfortable experience for you. Just know that all three options are completely safe and mainly offer the consumer different ways to purchase cannabis in the legal market.
Dispensary: This is a legal storefront that is regulated by its local government. Cannabis purchased on this premises can be medical marijuana, retail marijuana, or both. If you obtain your medical recommendation, then you would be purchasing cannabis for medical reasons. Essentially, all products are on display and you can talk to a budtender about which products you are interested in buying.
Retail: Essentially the same as a dispensary, except they only sell recreational cannabis. Therefore, edibles will have a lower milligram dosage and there will be a limit on how much flower you can buy. You will also end up paying higher taxes, however, this gets funneled right back into the community.
Delivery: This is for people who don’t want to go into a store setting and buy cannabis in front of prying eyes. Discreet, fast, and affordable – this is the best option for quick and direct service.
Method of Consumption
As a first time cannabis user, you may be confused on which route of consumption and products are best for you.Thankfully, today’s market features a plethora of options from which you can choose: topicals, flower, prerolls, concentrates, edibles, sublinguals, cannabidiol (CBD) products or transdermals. The following methods of consumption are outlined so that you can make an informed decision on the merchandise you want to try for the first time.
Topicals: These items are best for medical purposes such as relieving pain in the body by applying them on skin. They can come in the form of lotions, sprays, salves and creams. Topicals with low THC levels are great if you don’t want the intoxicating effects of cannabis but would like pain relieving effects on joints and muscles. These products are basically cannabis liniments and work very similar to over-the-counter liniment products.
Flower: While there are many strains abound and the exact categorization is hotly debated , cannabis flower can be categorized as sativa , indica , or hybrid .
Strains that are marketed as “sativas” are recommended for daytime use and supposed to be euphoric, uplifting, and energetic. Strains marketed as “Indicas” are recommended for nighttime use and are supposed to be relaxing, calming, and sleep inducing. “Hybrids” are marketed as a strain that strikes a balance between both worlds, generate an uplifting and energetic effect before easing into a relaxed laid back state.
However, it is important to note that not all hybrids are “true hybrids,” or a 50/50 split, and not everybody experiences the same effects. The strain classifications is imperfect, but it should give you a general idea of what to ask for or what to expect. Just know that your experience might be entirely unique.
Prerolls: The joint is the most iconic way in which to consume cannabis. Dispensaries, recreational outlets, and delivery companies have these joints rolled and ready for you, so you don’t have to fiddle with papers and ground flower. These are most recommended to people who are interested in smoking cannabis for the first time, as it is an easy way to consume. Plus it is relatively inconspicuous, as it can be mistaken for a cigarette and it can be easily disposed of.
Concentrates: These potent beauties are not for the faint of heart, so a cannabis novice may want to wait before jumping into this category. Concentrates are essentially extracted properties of cannabis flowers such as THC and/or CBD. This concentrated form of cannabis is typically highly potent and will produce very strong effects. They are made using either solvents or solvent-less methods of extraction. Alcohol, propane, carbon dioxide (CO20, and butane are common solvents that are used to make concentrates. Solventless methods included water, sifting, a heated metal press, and freeze drying. The following are a few types of concentrates you will be able to find:
- Dry sift
- Ice hash (also called bubble hash or wet sift)
- Live resin
- Hash oil ( butane , ethanol , or propane )
- Honey oil
- Budder (also spelled badder or batter)
- Full melt
Sound intimidating? It is best to master the art of smoking cannabis before venturing into the world of concentrates.
Edibles: Cannabis edibles are a delicious way to reap both medicinal and recreational effects in the body. These treats, whether in the form of food or drink, cover a wide range of savory and sweet items. They also come in gluten-free, vegan, and allergen-free options.
Cannabis in its raw form contains the cannabinoid Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA) , but it is not intoxicating in this form. Edibles, however, pass through the transformation of decarboxylation, which convert THCA to THC within the product. The effects produced by edibles is much more powerful than the high produced by inhalation.
When edibles are consumed, THC transforms to the metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC in the liver after it has passed through the stomach. This produces a more powerful and longer high in the body when compared to inhalation. Therefore it is recommended to start at the lowest dose, 1 to 5 milligrams of THC, before working your way up. Edibles can generally be felt in as little as 30 minutes or as long as 2 to 3 hours. So it is very important to be patient and not overconsume the edible you are trying. The effects can stay within your system anywhere from 3 to 8 hours. There are many factors that can play into the length of the effect such as:
- How much food you ate
- Your body chemistry
- How the product was infused, and
- How fast your liver metabolizes THC.
Sublinguals: Cannabis sublinguals, or products applied underneath the tongue, can come in the form of tinctures (infused alcohol), breath strips, fast-dissolving mints, and mouth sprays. Unlike cannabis edibles, however, sublinguals can enter your bloodstream within 15-20 minutes upon application depending on dosage and rate of absorption. These are ideal options for someone who wants to medicate discreetly and have the ability to titrate their effects more efficiently.
Cannabidiol (CBD): For people who want to try cannabis products without the intoxicating effects of THC, cannabidiol is for you. CBD is a naturally occurring compound found within the cannabis plant that has many numerous positive effects on the body. It can decrease inflammation and pain, seizures, and anxiety related disorders. CBD products are found as edibles, topicals, sublinguals, and concentrates. There are also high-CBD strains available on the market from breeders that aim to relax the consumer without that euphoric THC buzz.
Transdermal: These little gems of modern cannabis science usually come in the form of patches. All you do is just slap on a patch in an area with exposed veins, such as your wrists or the underside of your forearms. Then just sit back and relax, letting your transdermal product do all the work for you. The cannabinoids will enter your bloodstream and produce long-lasting effects in and on your body.
These products are usually broken down into isolated cannabinoids and split into ratios. THC, THCA, CBD, and CBN are popular choices that manufactures produce to meet the demands of the markets. Products containing ratios such as 1:1 THC:CBD, are very popular and are for people looking for a balanced but not overly pronounced cannabis effects.
Tips on Consumption
So now that you have sorted through the vast sea of cannabis products and made an informed purchase of what products best suit your lifestyle, it is time to consume. It is very important to know, no matter what items you have decided to scoop up, to start at the lowest recommended dose and work your way up.
If you are smoking, vaping, using sublinguals or concentrates, it is easy to manage the effects by taking single doses over a span of time. Whereas with edibles, it is recommended to wait at least 2-3 hours before trying more. If you consumed 5 milligrams and felt no effects, consume another 5 milligrams in 2 to 3 hours. Do not take a higher dose of 10 or 20 milligrams. With topicals, you can re-apply as needed but be aware of any other ingredients that may be a contraindication for this. Lastly, when using transdermals, follow the edible rule as their effects can last just as long in the body.
Smoking for the first time? Inhale, but don’t hold the smoke in your lungs thinking you are going to get higher. THC can only saturate your lungs so much. Holding your breath longer does not make you higher. That’s just called oxygen deprivation.
What to Expect
Keep in mind that you may not get high the first time. Some people never get high until the second time another day. So do not stress or try to overconsume yourself with edibles or smoking trying to compensate. Also, start with small doses and work your way up to stronger doses.
Head High : Any product with high enough THC levels is capable of producing what is known as a “heady” high. This feeling can be described as a presence of happiness, creativeness, and energy. It is a productive feeling that is best used during the daytime for work or play.
Body High : Any product high in THC can conversely produce somewhat of a body high. It can be described as a “buzzed” or “narcotic” feeling within the body. Feelings of relaxation, comfort, sedation, and calm will wash over the body as the THC begins to take effect. This high is best reserved for nighttime, use as it can be impairing during the day for many.
The Munchies : A term for endless jokes. However, the “munchies” are very real . Certain products tend to create the munchies over others, but it really just boils down to body chemistry and plant chemistry. Unfamiliar with the term? All it means is that your appetite becomes stimulated after consuming cannabis. For cancer patients, this is extremely helpful as it helps them to counter the ill effects of chemotherapy and give them the ability to eat. However, for some people who are struggling with their weight, this could pose a problem. Thankfully, you can keep the munchies at bay by doing these tricks:
- Trying a different strain
- Eating a large meal before consuming cannabis
- Keeping yourself distracted or occupied, or
- Opting to munch on healthier foods.
What To Do If You Get Too High
There is a very real possibility that you may get too high the first time if you miscalculate your dosage. However, there are many ways to counteract this problem.
The first is to stay hydrated. It may seem like a painfully obvious reason to many, but when you are high as a kite, doing simple things like drinking water can easily be forgotten. Ever get so sucked into a work project that you forgot to drink or eat? The same concept applies here. It is also very important to have juice on hand as cannabis can lower blood sugar. If you get too woozy or light headed, reach for a glass of chilled orange juice and sit down.
Whole or ground black peppercorn is another common household item that can help lessen the effects of overconsumption. Take a whiff or liberally sprinkle fresh cracked pepper on any food of your choice and consume as necessary. Lastly, you can purchase pure CBD oil or edibles and keep it in your medicine cabinet. When you have had too much, follow the dosage directions and go lay down with some juice and water. Always remember the old adage: This too shall pass.
Know Local Laws
You should also learn the laws for where you live. There are several things you should know right off the bat when it comes to buying legal cannabis.
The first is that you cannot sell the cannabis products you just bought. Second, do not consume cannabis and drive. You run the risk of getting charged with intoxicated driving. Unlike with alcohol, marijuana does not have a similar impairment standard and depends more on the judgment of law enforcement officers in the field. Lastly, when you buy cannabis, ask the budtender what the rules of transporting cannabis in vehicles is.
So, It’s Your First Time Trying Weed This 4/20 April 20 is the biggest weed holiday of the year, celebrating all things cannabis. This global movement is a call to arms for cannabis activists