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Cannabinoids are the active compound in cannabis, and terpenes are the chemicals responsible for that dank aroma. Some people will tell you that a strain is strong because of its high levels of THC, but balancing cannabinoids and terpenes is more useful for measuring the type of high. The first time you buy, Greenhand recommends purchasing as little as possible.

“If you don’t want to smoke a lot, don’t buy a lot,” he says. “Your first time you shouldn’t need more than a gram. Just remember that cannabis can take some time to reach its full effect so take your time and you should be fine.” Even for the pros, there’s such a thing as too much weed. If you’ve just been offered a hit of something by a friend, ask what strain you’re dealing with. If it’s an indica, take it easy unless you’re comfortable turning into a puddle where you stand. If it’s a sativa, make sure you don’t need to operate heavy machinery or sign any legal documents for a few hours.

Now that you’ve acquired the weed, it’s time to smoke it. Both Greenhand and Wyatt stress that it's best to pick a familiar, private location for your first time. "Don't be somewhere that's going to cause you paranoia," says Wyatt. Surround yourself with people you know and feel comfortable around. Going to concerts, theme parks, and festivals stoned can be fun, but best to avoid the first go around. The same goes for mixing alcohol, cigs, and other drugs with weed. Let yourself learn what a cannabis high feels like on its own. Greenhand suggests first-timers use a small pipe, since they’re cheap, easy to find, and easy to use. Most gas stations and smoke shops throughout the country have them regardless of cannabis laws, though glass pipes are illegal in some states. In a pinch, you can make a pipe out of just about anything, but Greenhand recommends avoiding DIY at first. Greenhand says vaping the flower is also a good method for first-timers. It’s more expensive and may require ordering the rig online, but the experience is gentler since the cannabis doesn’t combust. Others argue that the humble joint is the best way to smoke, but if you’re inexperienced it can be difficult to roll one. Bongs, dab rigs, and edibles should be avoided by first-timers, our experts say, until you build up a bit of resistance and start to understand your limits. “When you try weed the first few times you have little to no tolerance to it,” Greenhand says. “Over-indulging without building a tolerance can result in anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks.” If you’ve had enough, clearly communicate that you’re good. Give yourself time to feel how high you are before continuing. There are also some techniques that are downright dangerous. Certain off-brand vape pens have been known to explode mid-use, and there have been documented deaths due to “fake weed.” Triple check that your sources are trustworthy. Location can be the difference between a great experience and an awful one. Even seasoned cannabis users can get lost in the mountains or ground an aircraft by getting high in the wrong place or at the wrong time.

"You can be hit with a DUI, whether you're a recreational or medical cannabis user. A lot of minorities fall victim to that because of how our community policing is done. Even if the smell is on your clothes during a random stop, that can get you in a lot of trouble." Also, don’t give weed to your dog.

If you’ve gotten too stoned, you may experience hallucinations, nausea, paranoia. Greenhand’s strategies for lessening an overpowering high are eating a big meal, exercising, and if all else fails, crawling into bed and going to sleep.

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