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  • Writer's pictureAaron Killion

7 Important Tips for First-Time Medical Marijuana Smokers

If you’re consuming medical marijuana for the first time, the experience can be a bit overwhelming. After all, the delivery systems for medical cannabis are a bit more complicated than the medical prescriptions you’ve used in the past. And then there’s the experience itself. What should you expect? How can you get the therapeutic relief you’re seeking without unwanted side effects?


Your first time smoking cannabis (or consuming cannabis) can absolutely be a positive experience. You just have to follow a few basic guidelines.

1. Follow Your Doctor’s Guidance

If you were certified by a reputable medical marijuana doctor, they should be able to provide you with specific consumption recommendations and tips based on your condition and experience level.


For instance, whenever a patient gets their Arizona medical marijuana card through Green Leaf, our doctors take the time to answer their questions and help them understand how to get the most from their experience smoking cannabis. This is the case for all of our medical cannabis patients, whether they’re getting their Arizona medical card online or in person. Hopefully this is your experience as well.

2. Choose the Right Delivery System

If you’re already comfortable smoking marijuana, you should have no trouble getting started. However, if this is your first time smoking marijuana, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the prospect. Truth be told, you don’t actually have to “smoke” at all. If you’re just seeking therapeutic relief, you might prefer something that’s more familiar or straightforward, like a cannabis tincture taken sublingually. Powders and capsules are also available at many dispensaries. If you like the idea of smoked marijuana but you’re not yet acquainted with the intricacies of rolling marijuana cigarettes, you can buy pre-rolled cigarettes at your local dispensary.


There are lots of ways to get your dose of THC, but for your first time out, we recommend avoiding edibles and concentrates. Edibles—like gummies and baked goods—tend to have very strong effects because the THC is metabolized by the liver and converted into an ultra-potent THC metabolite called 11-hydroxy-THC. Concentrates—like hashish and wax—should be avoided because they’re incredibly psychoactive (containing up to 80% THC in some cases). You don’t need that much THC to achieve relief from your condition.

3. Choose the Right Strain

If you want to achieve the full therapeutic benefit, you have to choose the right strain. For instance, if you’re consuming cannabis for PTSD or another anxiety disorder, you might want to avoid strong indicas that elicit a powerful head high. If you’re consuming cannabis for muscle spasms, you might look for a high-CBD strain.


Ask your doctor for condition-specific strain recommendations. Your budtender might also be helpful to some extent. For instance, the best dispensaries in Phoenix employ knowledgeable budtenders who have been educated about the role of specific cannabinoids and terpenes for treating various conditions. You also have to consider the amount of THC. You don’t want to start off with a strain containing 27% THC. Ease into the experience with a good beginner strain like Harlequin, Blue Dream, Plushberry, or Aliens on Moonshine.

4. Start With a Small Dose

Your starter dose might not provide a lot of therapeutic relief, and that’s okay. The goal is to introduce your body to THC and other cannabinoids. A typical starter dose contains as little as 2 to 3 milligrams of THC. From there, you can increase the dosage by an additional 2 to 3 mg each time until you achieve the desired therapeutic effect.


Most people start to notice the psychoactive effects of THC at around 5 mg, and some people even experience a medical benefit at that dosage. Everyone is different, though, and you’ll need to find your own threshold. Just don’t consume too much cannabis right out of the gate.

5. Don’t Be Alone the First Time You Smoke Marijuana

When smoking cannabis for the first time as a medical marijuana patient, it’s best to have a trusted friend or family member on hand. Their mere presence can provide peace of mind as you tread those unfamiliar waters, and they can also provide any necessary support in the unlikely event that you experience negative side effects as a first-time consumer.


It can be especially helpful to have someone on hand who’s experienced with cannabis. They can walk you through the process, help you get set up, and show you the ropes. They can also help to normalize the experience for you, which is especially important if you have apprehensions about consuming cannabis.

6. Smoke Cannabis When You Have No Responsibilities

This should go without saying, but if you have to leave for work in 15 minutes, now is not the time to try cannabis for the first time. Set aside a time when you can relax at home and explore how cannabis affects you.


If you accidentally overindulge or the psychoactive effect is a bit more than you anticipated, you can just relax until the buzz wears off. By your second or third outing, you’ll have a better understanding of how cannabis affects you.

7. Take Care of Yourself

When smoking weed for the first time, make sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Note how the THC affects you, and plan your next dosage accordingly—whether that means kicking it up a notch or pulling it back slightly. Talk it through, and allow yourself to enjoy the experience.


It can also be helpful to keep a bit of CBD oil nearby when you smoke weed medicinally. In the unlikely event that you have a negative THC side effect, a dose of CBD oil may help to counteract it. As long as you follow the tips on this list, though, you should find the experience to be enjoyable and satisfying.

Getting The Most From These First Time Smoking Weed Tips

If you take nothing else from this list, remember to take it slow in the beginning. It can be tempting to start with a larger-than-necessary dose to get the full experience, but this isn’t necessary.


Start with low-intensity strains and doses, and discover the benefits of medical marijuana for yourself. There will be plenty of time to increase your intake once you understand your tolerance.

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