Here's What To Expect When Trying Weed For The First Time & How To Pick The Right Cannabis

New to the bud? 🌲

Someone measuring out cannabis flower.

Someone measuring out cannabis flower.

Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. Reefer. Cannabis goes by many names, some dating back to the early 20th century. But for many Canadians, our experience with the substance might not go quite so far back.

Legal marijuana is still fairly new in Canada, and there are plenty of people who are only just getting canna-curious about it. What's it like to smoke weed? What does the high feel like? And how do I try it without going overboard and having a bad time?

To give Canadians the low down on what it means to use the sweet leaf in 2023, Narcity sat down with a cannabis connoisseur to help guide you through your first time trying it.

Jacob Bergsma is a Marketing Director for Garden City Cannabis Co. in Ontario's Niagara region, and he works with cannabis and its consumers every day.

From what to get to what to ask, Bergsma gave us the lowdown on everything you need to know as a first-timer.

Of course, neither he nor Narcity is qualified to give medical advice, so if you have any questions about the effects or how it might impact your health, it's probably best to talk to your doctor before giving cannabis a try.

Also, only those of the legal age to consume should be buying it for many, many reasons, so be sure to check out the age limit where you live.

With all that out of the way, here's your guide to trying cannabis for the first time.

How should I try marijuana for the first time?

While the classic image of cannabis consumption in media seems to be a joint or, maybe in a stoner comedy from the '90s, some sort of pipe. If it's your first time, Bergsma recommends a different method of consumption.

One thing he recommends is "edibles," meaning things you can eat that contain cannabis.

Bergsma explained that because of the rules put in place by the government on dosage limits — an edible can only be 10mg of psychoactive THC per unit — it allows for more control.

"If you are somebody inexperienced," explained Bergsma, "it's not likely you're going to be out of your mind [after taking them].

"It's a little bit more scientifically calculated and lab proven."

How much marijuana should I use the first time? 

According to Bergsma, an old adage regarding cannabis — or nearly anything — is to "start low and go slow."

"Basically, what we're saying is start with a low dosage," said Bergsma, "Give it forty-five minutes to an hour and see where you stand."

"Don't go smoking a two-gram blunt out the gate," laughed Bergsma.

During that time, listen to your body and how it’s reacting to things. If an hour or so has passed and you’re still not feeling the effects, Bergsma says to “go for it,” stressing that spacing out consumption is key.

“You don't want to put yourself into a position where you've gone too far.”

What is the difference between cannabis varieties?

Many people who walk into a cannabis dispensary for the first time are likely to feel overwhelmed by just how many varieties there are to choose from.

And while each "strain" of cannabis usually has its own individual properties — flavour and more — on the whole, cannabis products can be slotted into three main categories: indica, sativa and hybrid.

"The old adage was 'indica? you're going to be in-da-couch,'" said Bergsma. "It's more of a downer versus an upper."

And while that isn't the best way to predict the effects, Bergsma still uses it as a guide for helping his customers.

"[If someone says] they're going for a hike or sitting down to write something creative or do anything where you're supposed to be pushing yourself, generally speaking, sativa is the answer," he explained, illustrating that a sativa is more "cerebral."

"If you're just looking to relax or it's a pain management thing, it's likely that indica is the answer," he continued, explaining that it's great for "removing yourself from your body."

And then, hybrids are exactly what you would guess. They're strains of cannabis that don't fall fully into one of the two categories, with endless combinations and options possible.

How do I pick the right weed strain?

The next steps might seem hard, but like many things in life, Bergsma recommends communication, with both yourself and your resident budtender — the person who works at the dispensary.

Figure out what you like and don't be afraid to mention that to the person in the dispensary.

"What's really neat about the industry as it sits right now is for every product there's a polar opposite," he explained.

So, if you liked the effect of one, you'll know what to avoid and vice versa.

"If maybe you got a little anxiety from it, or maybe it's something that you didn't particularly love, first I'd ask 'Why are you back here?'" laughed Bergsma. "Then I'd suggest 'let's try the opposite.'"

But with this variety comes a whole lot of options, which can lead people to feel indecisive. Nevertheless, trust your budtender, and they will guide you.

"As far as the budtenders are concerned, those are the tools of the trade," said Bergsma.

"So when people do ask, [budtenders] have the products to support their [customer's needs]."

In other words, don't be afraid to advocate for yourself, communicate what you like and allow the budtender's experience to guide you.

"Everyone in the industry, from the most discerning legacy market curmudgeon to your corporate budtender, all of us want to see that stigma go away as fast as possible," said Bergsma — meaning that they'll do what they can to give you the best experience possible.

And with that, we have the rundown of advice for the newbie cannabis user.

Of course, as the market gets bigger and bigger and more producers and dispensaries start popping up, your options will only grow. However, when in doubt, just take Bergsma's advice and "start low and go slow" — which might actually have applications for life in general, not just cannabis.

Narcity does not condone the overconsumption of alcohol or other substances. If you're going to drink alcohol or consume cannabis, please do so responsibly and only if you're of legal age.

Tristan Wheeler
Tristan Wheeler was a Creator for Narcity Media focused on money and budgets and is based in Toronto, Ontario.