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10 Factors that Affect Your Cannabis Experience

As more and more areas in the US approve the legalization of cannabis, more people get the opportunity to consume cannabis in its many forms either as a versatile medicine or as a recreational drug. If you're reading this article, you're probably looking into trying out cannabis for yourself. What can you expect if you consume a dose of cannabis?

As it turns out, there's no completely accurate answer to that question.

While most people have a general idea of what to expect after consuming cannabis, there are a lot of factors that can affect your overall experience. A cannabis session you had yesterday may be slightly different from the one you had a few days ago, and it can be a completely different experience compared to the last batch you'll consume later today.

What are the factors that affect your cannabis experience, and how exactly do they cause the differences? To answer these questions, we must first take a look at how cannabis works when consumed.

When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids or special compounds exclusively found in the cannabis plant interact with special receptors in the body. These receptors are part of the body's endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for controlling the secretion of hormones that affect certain functions in the human body such as metabolism, sleepiness, and even sensitivity to pain.

Two types of cannabinoids have the biggest effect on the endocannabinoid system: THC and CBD. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is mostly known for its psychoactive effects, while CBD is responsible for counteracting the effects of THC and providing a calming effect. Many of the different factors that affect your cannabis experience are heavily connected to these cannabinoids.

1. Your Mood and Expectations

Although it's a common belief that consuming cannabis can help you feel happy, it doesn't mean that a cannabis session will always make you feel happy. Figuring out your intentions and setting expectations before consuming cannabis can influence how strong or weak your batch of cannabis will seem to you.

For example, if you are already in a good mood and you want to consume cannabis to feel even better, there will be a placebo effect that will make you feel like the cannabis is doing its job. On the other hand, having too high of an expectation can have a negative effect on your experience. If you were expecting to get super high and you didn't get a strong buzz from your current dosage, you might think that the cannabis is weaker than it usually is. All things considered, it's better to just view cannabis as a mood amplifier instead of a mood changer.

2. Your Choice of Cannabis Strain

There are several hundred strains of cannabis around the world, many of which are available in the US. Each strain has its own ratio of THC and CBD, which means consuming a certain amount of one strain can give you a completely different effect from another. For example, a strain known as "Purple OG Kush" is an excellent choice for people suffering from insomnia because of its relaxing effect. On the other hand, Hawaiian Diesel is a strain that makes users feel more energetic, which is great for those who need to go an extra mile. Cannabis strains go under three major groups: indica, sativa, and hybrids.

TIP: People usually assume that indica strains are more relaxing, sativa strains are more energizing, and hybrids are a bit of both. However, there are indica strains that can energize users and indica strains that are good for helping users relax. It's still better to single out specific strains rather than solely relying on whether a strain is indica, sativa, or hybrid.

3. Amount of Cannabis Consumed

This is one of the most straightforward factors that can affect your cannabis experience. Simply put, the more you consume, the stronger the effects will be. However, that also means you should be extra careful with how much you are consuming. Although having too much cannabis is a very safe experience compared to overdosing on other drug, having too much could still ruin your experience (and waste good weed). Remember to watch out for signs that you already had too much cannabis: lack of mobility, fatigue, dry mouth and eyes, cold sweat, and disorientation. In other words, better stop consuming cannabis on a good note and save the rest for later.

4. Terpenes

Aside from THC to CBD ratio, different strains of cannabis also contain their own blend of oils that have a significant effect on their aroma and flavor. These oils or "terpenes" also act similar to cannabinoids, binding to receptors in the human body and causing various effects. Although not as influential as THC and CBD, terpenes can create subtle differences in the psychoactive and relaxing effects of different cannabis strains. Terpenes are also the most important factor to consider if you are choosing between two strains with very similar THC to CBD ratio because at that point, choosing boils down to which taste or aroma you prefer.

5. Method of Consumption

There are different ways to consume cannabis, both for medicinal and recreational purposes. The most well-known method is to smoke the dried leaves of a cannabis plant by shredding them and rolling them with wrapping paper or putting the shredded leaves in a pipe. Some users prefer to smoke cannabis using water pipes or bongs which involves drawing out a large volume of smoke in one go. Cannabis can also come in the form of edibles, either made by integrating cannabis oil into regular food recipes or by buying ready-made cannabis edibles (usually in the form of candies) from known distributors. Because different methods cause the cannabinoids to be metabolized in different ways, choosing a certain method can affect the time it takes before the effects of cannabis kick in, as well as how strong the effects can get.

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6. Quality of Cannabis

When looking for cannabis products, you'll often encounter the terms "top-shelf", "middle-shelf", and "bottom-shelf". Top shelf cannabis options are highly sought by users because they have the least impurities, which means they have the purest flavor and the strongest effects. Middle-shelf cannabis has a few impurities, but still considered good enough for general consumption. Bottom-shelf cannabis is the cheapest, but it tends to have a lot of impurities caused by poor distillation. Seeds, stems, and debris can taint the flavor and even the effects of the substance. As a rule of thumb, you should limit your options to top-shelf and middle-shelf for a good cannabis experience.

7. Your Experience

If you have been a cannabis user for some time, the very first batch of cannabis you consumed would give you a very different experience if you had it now. This is because as you keep consuming cannabis, you tend to "refine" your way of taking in the drug. You probably choked and coughed out the smoke from your first joint because you were inexperienced back then, but when you're used to smoking, you'll eventually get more out of the same blunt. If you're the type to make your own edibles, you eventually get to figure out the optimal cooking method to improve the effects of your cannabis cookies. You also get used to packing bowls and rolling joints over time. The more experience you have, the better you become at consuming cannabis efficiently.

8. Your Tolerance to Cannabis

While you're getting used to preparing cannabis, your body also gets used to the drug. As a result, you become more tolerant of the drug and you have to increase the amount of cannabis you consume to get the same effect as before. Fortunately, cannabis tolerance doesn't stick around that long; you can lay off the substance for only a couple of days and it should help you get back to smaller dosages. This means you don't have to worry about having to keep increasing your dosage. If you feel like the usual batch no longer gives you your desired results, you can always take a break to get things back to normal. This is especially important for medical cannabis users since they'll have a better idea about dosage changes should they stop or resume treatment.

9. Your Existing Health Conditions

Your existing health condition can easily ruin an otherwise fun cannabis session. For example, if you have asthma and you consumed cannabis by smoking it, don't expect to have a pleasant experience. Don't assume that sticking to cannabis edibles is completely safe - people with unknown allergies to certain ingredients might end up having serious complications if they eat cannabis edibles without checking the ingredients. Even the ideal strain of cannabis depends on your health condition. For example, if you have a heart disease or high blood pressure, you'd generally want to stay away from high-THC strains because they won't give you that relaxed feeling, plus they can cause palpitations that can lead to other heart-related issues.

10. Presence of Alcohol

It's common practice for cannabis users to have some food ready when consuming cannabis. This is because cannabis has a side effect of making you feel hungry, which users refer to as "the munchies". However, you have to be careful when picking the type of food and drinks that accompany your dosage of cannabis. For example, alcohol can make your body absorb the cannabinoids faster, amplifying the psychoactive or relaxing effect of cannabis and causing an exceptionally strong kind of high. While combining alcohol with cannabis (known as cross-fading) is fine for some users, it can cause an unpleasant mix of dizziness and nausea for most people.

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Getting the Best First Experience

With all the different factors that can affect your cannabis experience, you might feel overwhelmed by having so many things to watch out for, especially if you’ve never tried consuming cannabis before. Nobody deserves to have a bad first experience with marijuana. Considering the factors discussed earlier, you have to keep a few things in mind.

  • Set your goal. Find out if you want to consume cannabis to feel more energetic, more relaxed, high, or just enough that you can keep doing certain activities. This will help you decide what strain of cannabis you should get.
  • Can you smoke or not? If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, you won't be able to enjoy smoking cannabis as much because it can irritate your lungs. Cannabis oil is more versatile, but requires more preparation time.
  • Stick to top-shelf cannabis. Although middle-shelf options are still good for consumption, it's best to have your first batch of cannabis to be as good as possible.
  • Start with small doses. Many first-time cannabis users ruin their experience by having too much of the substance. The rule of thumb is to start with only 5 milligrams (half of the recommended consumer dosage for most cannabis products) before switching to a larger dosage.
  • Have some food available but lay off the beer. Feeling hungry with nothing to eat after consuming your first batch of cannabis can be disappointing, so it's best to at least have some chips. Avoid alcohol for now because first-time cannabis users rarely get a good sensation out of cross-fading.
  • Get high with friends. Consuming cannabis can be a very fun group activity, and friends brighten up the mood when taking the drug. However, make sure that everyone in the room is fine with consuming cannabis – don't force a friend who’s not willing to have some weed.
  • Get comfy. It's best to consume cannabis when you are in a comfortable mood. This is why many cannabis users prefer reclining or lying down after consuming cannabis. Also, since cannabis has an effect on your senses, you can brighten or dim the lights and try different kinds of music that can help you feel more comfortable.

Cannabis has a lot of good things going for it if it's consumed the right way. Being aware of the different factors that can affect your cannabis experience is key to getting the most out of this versatile drug, whether you're a first timer or a regular user.