Welcome to 21: What You Need to Know About Cannabis Use
Published on 1/26/22
The recreational cannabis legalization movement is ramping up in every corner of the country, and it's almost hard to keep up with it all. Legalization brings many benefits, whether that be job creation, increased revenues for the state and local governments, and finally, some improved substance safety via regulation. While legal weed can do so much good, educating the youth on the substance that may be available to them soon is paramount.
A Brief Overview of the Legality of Weed in the U.S.
It's been a long, winding road for cannabis and up until a few years ago, no one thought that federal legalization could even be on the table for the country's future. Historically, cannabis has been illegal since 1937 and eventually made its way onto the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 as a schedule 1 substance, unfortunately being grouped in with the likes of heroin, LSD and ecstasy, classified as the highest potential for dependency.
Fast forward a few decades, and you'll find that today there are 38 states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, meaning that roughly 71% of Americans live in a state with access to this kind of cannabis.
On a recreational level, 18 states and Washington D.C. have passed this sort of measure, with Washington and Colorado being the first states to do so back in 2012.
How Old Do I Have to Be to Buy?
The golden age for many things here in America is 21. As with alcohol consumption, one must be at least 21 years or older to purchase recreational cannabis from a licensed dispensary with a government-issued I.D. for proof of age. If one is under 21, looking if one qualifies for a medical card is the next best option. Generally, one needs to be at least 18 to qualify, but some states have different laws regarding the age for medicinal consumption.
Consumption Tips for New Users
Start Slow, Go Low
The worst thing a new user can do is take too much of that edible, take too big of a bong rip or smoke that entire joint by themselves. The golden rule of consuming any mind-altering substance is that you can always take more, but never less. Don't let the excitement cloud judgment and instead opt for trying strains that are high in CBD, low in THC for the first time out of the gates. Or take a few puffs and wait to see how you feel before you continue.
Pick the Right Strain
Technologies in cannabis are hard to keep up with, even if you've been in the game and don't consider yourself a novice. This is the time to take advantage (in the best way) of your budtender. They are there to educate and guide you into the high you want to achieve. Going to a festival or concert? Ask for a sativa. Looking for some couch hangs on a cold winter night with a great movie? Steer towards the indicas.
It seems like new consumption methods are popping up every day. Knowing a bit of information about each way to consume, whether that be edibles vs. vaping vs. smoking, will help you in the long run. For example, don't consume a whole edible before trying to be social because those typically hit harder and longer than you've likely planned for. Vaping is the most accessible way to be introduced to cannabis, so perhaps try your hand there first.
Preparation is Key
While cannabis is often known for the euphoria and fits of laughter that are sure to ensue, your body needs to be prepared for even the sometimes-adverse effects. What does this mean? Before your first smoking session ever, make sure to stay extra hydrated and try to squeeze in a nutritious breakfast. This is the best way to guarantee that your first time will be an enjoyable one.
Environment is Everything
One cornerstone of cannabis consumption is marked by the sensory-altering properties that come from consuming THC. You'll either find yourself in a great or not-so-great headspace, which means that your surroundings and the company you keep can become paramount. Have your favorite record or comedy special on the tv to keep things light. Stock up on your favorite munchies foods and (preferably non-alcoholic) beverages to keep the mood bright and fun. Overall, make sure to choose a time and place you are comfortable with.
Have a Backup Plan
If you regularly smoke cannabis, there is always that time when you just got too high. If you find that you have consumed too much cannabis, the main thing is not to panic. It will all pass, and it is difficult (if not near impossible) to overdose on cannabis. What can you do? While waiting for the effects to pass, grab some water, distract yourself with something funny or lighthearted, go somewhere quiet or even grab some CBD to counteract the THC.
Let Go of Expectations
At this point in the culture, there have been many depictions in film and TV about what it's like to get baked. Some may glorify the experience; others may paint it negatively. It is important to leave whatever preconceived notions you have at the door and just take in the experience for what it is. Just remember that this is a jumping-off point for your cannabis journey.
Stay Positive, Have Fun!
Smoking cannabis is an enjoyable pastime, so if you've just turned 21 and are ready to join in - welcome to the good life. If you keep your mindset uplifted and positive, it will be all the more difficult to have a bad time-consuming weed.
Do you have any new smoker tips? Do you remember your first time-consuming? Tell us your hilarious stories below.