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A great philosopher once said, “I want to get high, so high.” Without question he went on to do just that, like a pro. If you’ve been saying the same thing to yourself but haven’t gotten around to trying cannabis for the first time, keep reading my friend. This guide is for you to learn the basics of getting high, a sort of cannabis 101 so-to-speak.

Setting the stage: You’re not alone!

More Americans are now turning to cannabis for recreational and/or medicinal reasons than ever before. Baby boomers who grew up in the counterculture of the 60s when cannabis first became popular are returning for a puff during their golden years.

But cannabis is not just growing in popularity among older generations. The findings of a massive Goldman Sachs survey of 1,800 Gen Z interns are quite telling: 85% favored cannabis legalization for medicinal use and nearly half favored legalization for recreational use.

With a public (irrespective of age!) growing more favorable, know that you’re not the only soon-to-be first-time cannabis user wondering what it’s like to get high. Cheers and welcome to the party!

How does cannabis get you high?

You’ve probably heard the acronyms CBD and THC before, but what exactly are they?

Here’s the quick-and-dirty: they’re cannabinoids, chemical compounds that the cannabis plant produces. Despite some cannabis strains having over 100 cannabinoids, CBD and THC are by far the most popular and studied by researchers. While CBD is widely known for its therapeutic benefits, THC is commonly known for psychoactive effects – it’s what gets you high!

So how does THC work?

To answer this question, we first need to briefly say a little something about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is a complex cell-signalling system within the body that helps control a wide range of internal functions and processes, such as sleep, mood, appetite, memory, chronic pain, and inflammation.

In short, the ECS has three main components – endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are molecules (AEA and 2-AG) made by your body, which keep internal functions running smoothly. They do this by binding to endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) located throughout your body. Once the job is done, enzymes help break them down.

As research has shown, THC binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain and activates its reward circuitry, which is what produces the feeling of euphoria.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s time to talk about how getting high actually feels.

“How would you like your high: Sativa or Indica?”

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Before diving in, we first need to provide a brief sketch of the cannabis plant. Without getting into the classification of the cannabis species controversy, what’s important to know is that growers and dispensaries use two broad terms to classify cannabis: sativa and indica.

Sativa plants are tall and skinny (like Ross from Friends) and have their origin in regions close to the equator, such as Mexico, Ecuador, and Thailand, whereas indica plants are short and stocky (like George from Seinfeld) and have their origin in Central Asia.

But enough of the history lesson and cheap sitcom similes, how does the high from sativa differ from that of indica?

Sativa strains are energizing and cerebral, often described as a ‘head high,’ whereas indica strains are relaxing, often described as a ‘body high.’ But even within these buckets there’s wide variation of ‘high’ since each strain of sativa and indica has its unique touch.

AND yet there’s more: hybrid cannabis!

As the name suggests, hybrids are when you cross breed disparate strains, which can be a combo of sativa strains, indica strains, OR sativa and indica strains mixed together to make a cannabis liger (with either sativa-dominant characteristics or indica-dominant characteristics).

Bottom line: It’s a consumer’s market with lots of strains to choose from, so be sure to indulge like Veruca Salt in the Chocolate Factory, at least until you find the high you like most!

“How should I get high on my first time?”

We could go on and on about ways of getting high, but this article isn’t meant to be a comprehensive literature review or a PhD dissertation on the subject matter. Instead, we’ll just touch on a few ways that are most popular and most appropriate for first timers (we promise not to get into the toxic, aluminum ridden soda-can pipe of this author’s earlier days).

Joints and Blunts

Smoking cannabis, via joint or blunt, is one of the most popular and widely-used methods. It’s for the old soul and the old school. All you really need are two items: bud and rolling papers. Using a filter is optional, but know that waiving your right to do so will make your joint or blunt less structurally sound (and less impressive to your friends). First timers should work their way up to a blunt since a blunt is simply a much larger joint, which means the puffs are inherently bigger and more intense.

Pipes and Bongs

Another classic way of smoking is through a pipe or a bong. Similar to a tobacco piece, a cannabis pipe is small, convenient, and requires burning the cannabis in the bowl. Bongs are larger pipes with a water chamber, but since they require walking and chewing gum at the same time, we’d encourage sticking to a pipe on your first go around. Why are bongs for experienced smokers, you may ask? Because after burning the bowl, you need to dislodge it from the bong, precisely at the right moment, which will shotgun a cloud of smoke through the water chamber and into your lungs, all the while trying to look distinguished about the entire affair. Trust me, try a bong after you’ve earned your blue belt.

Vaporizers

Vaporizing (or ‘vaping’) cannabis is a smokeless process where you inhale heated cannabis oil through a vaporizer. While there are many kinds of vaporizers, the most common is a portable vape pen, which is shaped like an e-cigarette and requires no setup apart from attaching a cannabis oil cartridge and pressing a button to activate it. Another advantage of vaping is that it’s odorless, so if you combine that with the spy-like gadget of a vape pen, you’d be ready to go full incognito, a 21st century ‘Bong, James Bong’ if you will. As a first timer, be sure to start with a cannabis oil low that’s relatively low in THC.

Edibles

All hail the pot brownie, says the multi-million dollar edible market in California. Indeed, had the pot brownie never existed, we wouldn’t now have cannabis-infused pizza, or cannabis-infused chewy candy, or cannabis-infused chips, or cannabis-infused nuts and trail mixes, or cannabis-infused ice cream, or cannabis-infused sodas, or cannabis-infused sauces/dressings/condiments, or cannabis-infused coffees and teas, or cannabis-infused energy drinks, or… well, you get the picture. If you’re looking for a smoke-free / non-vape option, eating cannabis is a great one, but be sure to give the high some time to kick in since the edible has to go through your digestive system first, which could take up to 30-90 minutes. Failing to patiently wait could result in eating too much THC and getting way, way too high (you’ve been warned). Also, as a first timer, we’d advise starting with a 5 mg dose of edibles, but be sure to talk with your budtender in more depth about the right dose.

Tinctures

Another good non-smoke / non-vape option is tinctures, alcohol-based cannabis extract that’s taken sublingually. Compared to edibles, tinctures get you high faster, which makes controlling the dose easier. While the high generally doesn’t last as long as that from edibles, it lasts longer than the high from smoking / vaping.

Pills

Like edibles, pills filled with cannabis oil offer an easy and convenient non-smoke / non-vape option. Pills come in different shapes, sizes, and strengths, with some that are much higher in THC than others. As a first timer, be kind to yourself and don’t pop the pill with a CBD-THC ratio of 1:20. Speaking of which, be sure to ask your budtender what CBD-THC ratios are all about, which will also help you pick vape cartridges and tinctures that are right for you.

Benefits and Side Effects

There’s a growing body of research that highlights the medicinal benefits of cannabis use, especially as it relates to CBD. Some of these benefits include the following:

But it’s not just about medicinal benefits. It might sound far-fetched, but what if I told you that some people consume cannabis just to get high? Crazy, right? People are not machines, although working 9-5 on a monotonous assembly line might certainly make you feel like one. People, and perhaps the 9-5er just mentioned more than anyone else, should be entitled to leisure and pleasure, as long as it doesn’t harm others. Some people find getting high a great way to relax, while others enjoy it in a social setting. Whatever the reason, the jury is in: more than half of Americans think cannabis should be legalized for recreational use. We agree!

Similar to all prescribed and over-the-counter medication, cannabis strains that are high in THC can lead to some side effects if used inappropriately. Some of these effects include the following:

  • The munchies: This might not be considered an adverse effect if you’re looking to stimulate your appetite. But if you’re not, be sure to stock up your fridge with healthy snacks and purge all of the junk before getting high.
  • Memory loss: If taken chronically over many years, some long-term memory impairment could occur. Yet, other studies have pointed to the ability of CBD to counteract this adverse effect.
  • Cottonmouth: THC dries up your saliva glands, so be sure to stay hydrated.
  • Anxiety: Although THC in moderation is known to relieve anxiety, if taken excessively it could have the opposite effect.
  • Red eyes: Nothing a simple visine drop can’t cure.
  • Lethargy: If you’re fighting insomnia, this might not be such a bad thing, but if getting sleepy is an undesirable side effect, then stay away from the indica strains and consider cannabis-infused coffee or tea.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cannabis Use in California

How much cannabis can I legally have?

  • For 21 years old or older: you can have up to one ounce of cannabis and up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate.

Where can I buy cannabis?

  • Here at Hikei, where we are a retail outlet licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Where can I use cannabis?

  • On private property, not in public spaces. Property owners and landlords are allowed to ban the possession/use of cannabis on their premises. You also can’t use cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school or other facilities where children are present.

Can I carry cannabis around with me?

  • Yes, you can carry up to one ounce of cannabis and up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate. You can’t have an open container while driving (it must be sealed or kept in the trunk).

Can I get a DUI if I am driving high?

  • Absolutely, and not just driving a car, but a boat or other vehicle as well.

Will cannabis affect my driving?

  • Yes, it will affect your reaction time, coordination, and concentration. Don’t do it, for your own safety and others around you.

Is it possible to overdose on cannabis?

  • It’s very unlikely.

If I am pregnant, can I use cannabis to relieve nausea?

  • No, it’s not recommended. Ask your doctor for an alternative treatment.

What if I get too high?

  • Best thing to do is not panic, since you won’t fall over and croak. Some research has suggested CBD can help counteract the effects of THC, but water and time will also help the high pass. But if you’re the dude I cited at the beginning of this article, then mission accomplished.

“Now that I’m better informed, what’s next?”

Here at HiKei Modern Cannabis we’re proud to offer the best cannabis selection in San Diego. Stop by our Home Ave. location to learn more from our budtenders about your cannabis options for getting high. We’d love to continue the conversation with you!