Some people call it marijuana. Others use cannabis, weed, or Mary Jane. But, as Shakespeare says, what’s in a name? You can call it whatever you like, and the fact would remain; the face of cannabis in our culture is going through a significant change.
Not all that long ago, there were some pretty negative connotations around smoking cannabis. People called it a ‘gateway drug,’ with first-time smokers expected to turn to spiral within a year. Over the past several years, many of these ludicrous charges have been dropped, as have many of the strict laws against marijuana use.
Of course, the reasons for this shift are quite obvious now that it’s happened. This is especially the case when you take a look back at the history books and realize why laws were made against this marijuana in the first place. You might think that the government of the time deduced that cannabis might have a negative impact on its users, or that crime rates and health problems steadily rose during its use. But, that isn’t quite how it all happened and you might be surprised to learn the truth behind it all.
THE LEGAL HISTORY OF CANNABIS
It all started back in 1929, when a man called Harry Anslinger was put in charge of the Department of Prohibition in Washington, D.C. His first grand plan was the prohibition of alcohol; a substance that actually does lead to rising crime rates and decreased health. Anslinger’s ideas behind alcohol prohibition didn’t go well for him or the US - he essentially handed over control of alcohol distribution to the mob.
Bear in mind that, during this time, Anslinger was reported as saying on the matter of cannabis: “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the idea that it makes people violent. He was even quoted saying that he could see no harm at all in the smoking of cannabis. But, when alcohol prohibition ultimately crashed and burned, Anslinger needed another policy to repair his damaged reputation. And, unfortunately for all of us, cannabis took that hit.
Suddenly, Anslinger started making wild claims about cannabis - how it could have negative effects both physically and mentally. Yet, when he wrote to thirty scientists on the issue, an astounding twenty-nine of them wrote back saying that his claims were incorrect. Of course, Anslinger chose to back the one doctor who agreed with him, and the rest is history. Literally.
The good news is that, in recent years, many in the US government have since realized this law might not have been in the best interests of the public. That’s why many U.S. states are now deciding to revisit whether or not they want to continue prohibiting marijuana in this way. And, many of them are deciding that it’s no longer the right way forward, paving the way for a whole new generation of happy marijuana smokers.
THE LEGALITY OF MARIJUANA ACROSS AMERICA
If you’re keen to be part of this new generation, the first thing to note is that legality regarding the use of cannabis is still a pretty complex issue. Undoing a law like this is no easy task, and we still have a long way to go before we can say that marijuana is officially declassified. Which is why, before you do anything on your cannabis journey, you need to make sure that you’re 100% aware of the legality in your specific area.
The first thing to note is that different states are approaching legalization in different ways. For many, cannabis use is allowed for medical use only. In this instance, obtaining cannabis is much like getting any other prescription medicine - you would first need to visit your doctor for a referral. Then, there are states which have legalized marijuana for recreational use, where you needn’t have a specific medical need to gain access to the drug.
To make sure that you don’t slip up and land on the wrong side of the law on your quest, we’re going to break down which states have medical and recreational laws, and where cannabis smoking is still very much against the law.
The Recreational States
Alaska - up to 1 ounce
Colorado - up to 1 ounce (county permitting)
California - up to 1 ounce
Maine - up to 2.5 ounces
Massachusetts - up to 1 ounce + twelve plants
Michigan - up to 2.5 ounces + twelve plants
Nevada - 1 ounce, with residents living 25 miles away from dispensaries eligible for growing licenses.
Oregon - 1 ounce and four plants
Vermont (as of July ‘19) 1 ounce + 2 plants
Washington - 1 ounce
Washington D.C. - up to 2 ounces
Illinois - (as of June ‘19. Details to be confirmed)
The Medical States
District of Columbia
The Illegal States
Note, too, that these laws are changing at an astoundingly fast rate, so keep an eye on the news if your state isn't yet on the approved list. For instance, as of this month, people will no longer be arrested up-front for weed smoking in New York, but will instead receive a court summons and a fine.
Note, too, that before you start smoking, you should be as clear as possible about any cannabis laws in your particular area. While state-wide legalization isn't uncommon anymore, separate towns and counties often have unique requirements with regards to this issue, and precisely what is and isn't legal. Of course, it would be impossible to discuss every separate town and county law here, but things to look out for include the amount you're allowed in your possession, whether you're allowed to grow, and also whether there are any restrictions against certain smoking paraphernalia (yes, that is a thing!). As you can see from this list, you also need to be careful if you intend to grow your own. In some instances you'll need a growing license, and will need to prove your eligibility before you can get started. Whatever you do; don't rush in and end up on the wrong side of the law.
THE BENEFITS OF SMOKING CANNABIS
As a first time smoker, you may have a few pressing questions, one of which is likely - what are the benefits of smoking cannabis? For so many years now, there's been a rhetoric that marijuana is inherently bad for you.
The good news is that doctors are now expressly stating this isn't the case, with a wide array of statistics backing the fact that, despite ever-growing marijuana use, level of psychosis have remained steady. Far from being bad for your health, recent evidence is proving that cannabis holds a vast array of unexpected health benefits. While many of these are still in the early stages of discovery, it's pretty safe to say that evidence is thoroughly in cannabis's favor.
Hence why such a vast amount of states now offer it for specific medicinal purposes. And, to help you in your first-time smoking quest, we're going to look at some of the most important benefits of smoking marijuana.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
First and foremost, marijuana has been found to have fantastic pain-relieving qualities, especially for pain caused by nerve damage or inflammation. That's fantastic considering that existing medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen can be dangerous in high quantities. With marijuana, it's not possible to overdose, meaning that individuals who are in pain can never 'take too much' as such. These pain relief qualities are thought to come from the components cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are found in marijuana, and they could potentially alleviate pain for anything from a pulled muscle to a migraine. All without posing any further risk to your body.
Improved Lung Capacity
This one may seem surprising, but it's a fact which you'll find on any list of marijuana benefits, perhaps for that very reason. The truth is that there's significant evidence of cannabis use improving lung capacity. Of course, it's important to note that smoking tobacco with your cannabis mostly undoes this benefit and many others besides. As such, it's probably worth avoiding the traditional 'spliff' when you start on your smoking journey. But, there are now plenty of smoking vaporizers and such which allow you to smoke without ever needing to use tobacco. There are even attachable filters like Weedgets which you can use to prevent hazardous materials from ever finding their way into your lungs. And, once you cut out that nasty stuff, the chances are pretty good that your lungs will actually thank you for your smoking.
Of course, it isn't as though marijuana works lung miracles in itself. But, as researchers writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association back in 2012 found out, the mere act of retaining smoke has something of a training quality. Weed smokers get pretty good at holding their breath to get the most from their efforts, after all. And, with little more than purified smoke entering their lungs with each puff, it can lead to good news all around for their lungs.
Its anti-anxiety properties are something which many of us consider when we think about cannabis and health. Of course, as with every area of medical study, evidence for this fact is still sparse, with some worries being raised about the fact that marijuana fails to address long-term anxiety problems. But, the same can be said for many of the more harmful anti-anxiety medications which are widely used at the moment. As such, there's no reason to think that marijuana can't go a long way towards naturally alleviating anxiety in the short-term, while other methods like therapy work at getting to the root of the problem. A study in the Journal of Affective Disorders reported that marijuana could significantly decrease levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in the short-term.
Bear in mind that some studies do also suggest that symptoms such as increased heart rate, and potential paranoia could exacerbate anxiety when used in the wrong context. But, if you're in a safe environment and are using an appropriate dosage, cannabis could well be the best way for you to chill out without worrying about medication side-effects.
A Potential Cure for Cancer
As if all those benefits weren't enough, there's also some evidence to suggest that the smoking of cannabis can shrink tumors in some instances. This from the U.S. government themselves, who said, 'Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.' on the back of rodent-based studies. Of course, as with anything in the world of cannabis, it's still early days. It's also worth noting that the cancer-causing abilities of tobacco smoke can more than outweigh any benefits. But, the stage looks pretty good for cannabis in its pure form being able to work some cancer miracles.
Improved Physical Performance
A stereotype exists of stoners as becoming lazy and ineffectual after smoking cannabis. But those days are over, with many athletes now crediting marijuana for increased physical performances and reduced recovery times. In large part, this is because of anti-pain and inflammatory qualities which we mentioned earlier. With these benefits, athletes are much better able to recover from heavy training sessions in shorter periods of time. There is also evidence to suggest that cannabis improves both mood and energy levels when taken in the right doses. Of course, smoking an excessive amount will probably leave you longing for the couch instead of the gym, but getting your dose right could see you with a boost of adrenaline which allows you to tackle the gym even after a long working day. For proof of just how much a little weed could boost your performance, consider that prominent athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt have been known to dabble. There are far worse athletic footsteps to follow in.
Higher Levels of Creativity
Of course, not all smoking benefits are health-related. There's also evidence that cannabis can work wonders for your creativity. In fact, a 2012 study in Consciousness and Cognition found significantly increased levels of language usage in 160 cannabis users from various walks of life. Whether you want to write a book at last or simply improve your creative thought patterns at work, then, cannabis could be the way to do it. At least, it will if you make sure to keep an eye on your doses.
HOW TO STAY SAFE WHILE SMOKING
Safety should also be a top priority whenever you're smoking, especially during your first time. It's entirely natural to feel nervous. Even with all the above benefits in mind, the stereotype of cannabis as a harmful drug can be difficult to overcome. Not to mention that this could be an experience unlike any you've had before. And, don't we all fear the unknown?
The fact remains, though, that there's nothing to be afraid of. And, to put your mind at ease once and for all, we're going to consider a few of the main ways that you can stay safe during your first smoke and every one after.
Be Careful Where You Buy
The first safety point of note is that you must be careful where you buy your cannabis. Many would argue that the main benefit of widespread legalization is the elimination of dangerous dealing habits. Be sure that your cannabis is 100% safe by buying from a trusted dispensary. That shouldn't be hard to do considering that areas like California have an astounding 261 of these to date, with Oregon beating that at 560+. Check out dispensaries local to you, then, and be sure to browse their reviews for an idea of which option seems best for your needs.
Cut Out the Tobacco
As we touched on in the previous section, staying safe during your smoking journey also involves steering clear of tobacco. It's no secret that the tar and other chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause severe health issues, including cancer and heart disease. If you want to stay safe during your cannabis journey, then, be sure to cut out the tobacco. As we've already mentioned, there are many devices which allow you to smoke cannabis on its own, and using a Weedgets filter can help ensure hazardous material never makes it to your lungs.
If you would prefer not to smoke your cannabis at all, there is always the option of eating it in foods. There are now cannabis-based recipes for everything from ice cream to brownies. The only problem is that it can be challenging to manage your doses here, which may not be ideal for your first time. As a general rule, then, stocking up on paraphernalia which allows you to smoke tobacco-free without worry would be best.
Find a Safe Setting
It's also vital that you choose a safe setting for your first time smoking. From a practical point of view, that's because it's often still illegal to smoke cannabis in public places, same as you can't drink in many public areas. As such, making sure that you take care of where you smoke can keep you safe from breaking the law. Aside from that, though, choosing your smoking spot wisely can ensure that you have a safe smoking experience no matter what. While taking care with your dose should see you having a great time, it's possible that you may feel light headed and even sleepy during your first smoke. As such, being in a safe and comfortable space can make a huge difference. It's also worth asking some people you trust to come along for the journey and stay sober. That way, you can rest 100% easy that no harm will come to you, no matter what happens. Given that stressful situations when you're stoned can be distressing, this could also make for a much more enjoyable smoking process all around.
Steer Clear of Driving
Our last safety pointer is to steer clear of driving. As of yet, legality around this issue is still confusing for the simple fact that doctors are uncertain at what exact point cannabis impairs judgment. While states like California have put laws in place about smoke-driving, then, the exact science is still unclear. As a general rule, though, it's always best that you steer clear of driving after smoking cannabis. Before your first session, make sure that you don't need to be anywhere anytime soon. Then, sit back and enjoy a ride of a different kind.
THE FIRST-TIME SMOKER'S KIT
So, now you know where you can smoke and how to stay safe while you do it. You're nearly ready for your first smoking experience. And, that means that it's about time you got together your first smoking kit. Remember that, once you've smoked, you might now be as capable of movement as you think, especially on your first go-around. That's something which will develop as you get more used to the drug, but for now, it's best to make sure that you have everything you need in one convenient kit. But, what exactly should a first-time smoker's kit look like?
Smoking paraphernalia: Obviously, you need your smoking paraphernalia for your first smoke. Before the event, then, make sure to stock up on everything from lighters, to pipes, vapourisers, or even Weedgets. Don’t forget, either, to invest in a grinder, a small device which is widely available and allows you to grind your cannabis into pieces so that it’s easier to use and also control your dosage.
A comfortable spot: Make sure, too, that you have a comfortable spot from which to enjoy this experience. We’re talking a collection of cushions, or maybe even just your bed so that you can snuggle in as soon as you’ve finished smoking.
Drinks and food: It’s no secret that both a dry mouth and a case of the munchies often come alongside a smoking session. Prepare for this by first making sure you have plenty of water on hand so that you can stay hydrated when cottonmouth sets in. Make sure, too, that you do your future self a favor by stocking up on plenty of tasty snacks, preferably sugar-based ones. Even if you don’t expect it; you WILL want them later.
Good Friends: Last but not least, make sure to stock up on good friends. Having people around you who you know and trust will go a long way towards helping you stay calm and enjoy all the benefits that cannabis has to offer.
A ROUNDUP OF THE PERFECT FIRST SMOKING EXPERIENCE
So, now you know everything that you need to about how to get cannabis smoking right on your first time, and every other time for that matter. To round things up, we’re going to do a quick recap of everything you can do to make sure your first smoking experience is a good one.
Know the Law
As we mentioned at the start of this post, knowing the law regarding cannabis use in your local area is vital for an excellent first smoking experience. It ensures that you needn’t do anything illegal to get the cannabis experience you want. When you buy from a verified and legal dispensary, you also ensure that you aren’t letting any unwanted nasties into your life. All necessary stuff for a first-time smoker.
Consider How to Consume
There are many different ways to smoke cannabis for the first time, and your experience largely depends on which you choose. For health reasons, staying away from tobacco is always the best option. Instead, reach for vaporizers and filters which offer a much healthier smoking experience. Make sure, too, that you’re careful about the amounts of cannabis which you consume. Less is usually best when you’re first starting on this path. Remember that you can always smoke more if nothing happens, but you can’t take cannabis out of your bloodstream once it’s there.
Choose Your Setting Wisely
You would be amazed at how much a setting can change the face of your first smoking experience. Choosing the wrong location for your experimentation could leave you prone to everything from paranoia, sickness, and even harm. Instead, choose a safe space with people who you love and trust, and be sure that at least one of you stays sober to keep an eye on things.
Get your kit ready before you smoke
When you’ve taken care of all the above, get your kit ready with the pointers we gave above. Having everything to hand ensures that you have the most comfortable first smoking experience you could imagine. You won’t need to worry about getting up or thinking straight once the drug takes effect.
A FINAL WORD
As many people are now realizing, cannabis can be a fantastic addition to your day. It can help your health, mental state, and general wellbeing. And, if you take all the above pointers into account, there’s no reason why your first cannabis smoking experience can’t lead to a long and happy smoking relationship which helps your body and much besides.
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