Everyone has the right to choose what goes into their body, and they should do so with as much information as possible. If you’ve been considering smoking marijuana, give this short primer a read so you can make an informed choice.

The Effects of Marijuana

Enjoying the High

People smoke marijuana for the physical, mental, and emotional changes it induces. For some people, it makes them relax. Other people use it to inspire creativity. Minor psychedelic effects at high dosages are enjoyable both for creativity and consuming entertainment. It can heighten your sensitivity to physical sensations and reduce pain.

Marijuana also has some medicinal benefits, but a doctor should be the one to discuss those with you.

Side Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana is a drug, and every drug has some unwanted side effects. In general, the effects are mild, and the risk of serious injury or death is incredibly small compared to other recreational drugs with no reported deaths directly related to marijuana overdoses.

Although it’s much healthier than tobacco, especially pre rolled cigarettes filled with extra carcinogens, inhaling a burning substance can irritate and inflame your lungs. The relaxed state and loss of coordination from a marijuana high can make it difficult to perform tasks that require effort or concentration, and you should treat driving while high on marijuana as seriously as driving while drunk. It may cause an increase in anxiety or paranoia, especially for new users.

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Weed can increase your appetite and make it a bit harder to say no to a craving, but that has also made it helpful for treating eating disorders.

The Legality of Marijuana

Marijuana is federally illegal in the United States, but a growing number of states have made it legal for both medical and recreational usage. You can see a map of which states have legalized marijuana and the uses that are allowed on this site. The punishment for being caught using or possessing marijuana varies by state. On paper, the federal punishment for possession starts as a misdemeanour that can land you in jail for a year with a minimum $1,000 fine, but federal prosecutions have been halted in states that have legalized it.

Many jobs still include marijuana as part of their regular drug tests, even in states where it’s recreationally legal. Even if they don’t turn you into the police, they have the legal right to fire you for almost any reason in most states.

How to Purchase Marijuana

In states with legalized marijuana, sales are typically restricted to specific stores called dispensaries. These businesses are licensed to sell weed that has passed the state’s regulatory process. To find a dispensary in your area, you can use a website like Weedmaps. For example, you could search for a San Francisco dispensary if you live in the bay area. While not available everywhere, Weedmaps can filter by stores that have delivery, which can be handy if you are already intoxicated. If you don’t live in a state where marijuana is legal, you should not purchase marijuana.

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When you look at the shop’s inventory, you’ll find several categories of THC products. These are the most common types.

Flower What most people think of when they imagine marijuana is its flower. It’s cut from the plant and dried.
Shake Shake is mostly dried marijuana leaves, and it has a much lower THC content than the flower. On the plus side, it’s much cheaper and requires little preparation.
Edibles Edibles are any type of weed that you eat. The iconic weed brownies are an example.
RSO “Rick Simpson Oil” is a THC-infused extract.
Concentrate Usually called ‘dab’, this is weed that has been processed into a highly potent resin.
Vape Juice A THC concentrate designed for use with vape pens.

 

How to Use Marijuana

How you use marijuana depends somewhat on the preparation of marijuana that you buy.

Flower and shake can be rolled into joints with rolling papers or into blunts with cigar wraps. You can smoke it through pipes like tobacco, and there are plenty of ways to create makeshift pipes if you have no rolling papers or other smoking methods on hand. Many people like smoking through bongs because the water cools the smoke and makes it smoother, but they are harder to carry and conceal than a pipe or paper.

Edibles and RSO can both be taken by mouth. It is very important to remember that the onset of marijuana taken this way is much slower while the doses are substantial. New users should start with small doses and give several hours for the effects to peak and fall. On the plus side, you don’t have to inhale anything, so it’s easier on your lungs.

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Dab concentrate is typically smoked with a dab rig where you put the resin in a glass banger – a specialized bowl piece – that sits in a bong then heats the bottom of the banger with a torch. You can also put a bit of dab or RSO onto a bowl of flower or shake to up its THC content, but too much makes it hard to burn.

THC vape juice smokes like any other vape. Refilling the vape pen will depend on the brand and model.

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