Smoke a bowl. Spark up a doobie. Hit the bong. 23 years old, and I sincerely had no idea what all the fuss was about when it came to marijuana. My closest friends had all partaken at least once, and often preferred smoking weed to drinking alcohol. Smoking seemed much like having sex, in my eyes; there was a window of time where most people experienced it for the first time, and if you missed that window, you were suddenly an oddball.
And, unfortunately for me, I felt that I had missed my shot. It took the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado for my opportunity to reappear.
I was often the straightedge friend in my group. Not because I didn’t have the zest for excitement, but more the overhanging cloud of terror that should I get caught, it would cause some form of impending doom upon my future. When my friends were sneaking out to see their boyfriends, I was tucked away in my bedroom closet, soundproofed with a blanket tent, trying to hide the fact that I was on my phone past bedtime.
Needless to say, when offered my first sample of marijuana at a party (it was a pipe, and I was 17), I not only declined, but rushed to escape the location, afraid to be busted as an accomplice to drug doing. This did not make me the most popular friend, often more of a wet blanket. By my twenties, people stopped offering – instead just passed me over when passing the joint, skipped me in the blunt rotation, etc.
Recently, the clouds parted, and a chance arose to drive east coast to west, from Boston to Las Vegas, with a couple of friends. In the last day of the epic journey, we would stop off in Boulder, CO, to legally purchase and consume marijuana. For my companions, this was just a cool perk, that was *ahem* not unusual for either party. But to me, this was the chance I had been waiting for – I could partake, figure out if weed met the hype, and not get in a shred of trouble! I of course said yes, and began my thorough process of investigation into the mysterious world of marijuana.
Step one was to call my two best girlfriends, and allow them what they had always wanted – to explain why weed was so awesome. “There are two strains,” my friend explained, “indica and sativa.” The other chimed in “just remember, indica, in da couch!” They went on to explain that indica tended to produce the sedative, full body high I most often see represented in movies and on TV. Sativa, on the other hand, produced the awake, joyful sensations they believed I would prefer. There were also hybrids, which were mixes of each, but they reassured me that any questions I had could easily be explained at my dispensary in Boulder. They referred me to leafly.com as well, and suggested I actually take to reddit for personal accounts that would make me feel safer.
“It’s important that you know a lot of people don’t get high their first time,” they told me, “and everyone likes to smoke differently. You might realize you hate bongs but you like pipes, or joints, blunts, edibles, who knows.” Those words were all intimidating, so I did some googling and redditing to better understand all of them.
The results of that were that there are so many ways, it’s just intimidating. Everyone has their preference – alcohol is easy, because you just drink it. But you might like a shot, a martini, a blended drink, etc., and when I considered it that way, it made me feel less terrified. I confessed to my two car companions that this would all be new for me, and surprised as they were, they promised to help me through it all. When we crossed the border into Colorado, I would smoke my very first joint.
Background on me smoking: I have never smoked a cigarette, I have smoked cigars, I’ve smoked a hookah, but not often enough to have conditioned lungs that make me good at inhaling. The boys explained that I would inhale from the joint, then remove my lips and inhale air, hold it in my lungs as long as I could, and then exhale. They warned me not to cough if I could help it, because I would cough more with each inhale if I did. I did cough, for the record. They showed me the process of rolling the joint before they lit it, so I would feel safer and also just be able to visualize what was about to go into my body. And you know what? I didn’t feel high. Likely, they said, I didn’t smoke enough, because one drag from the joint had my lungs feeling like fire, and I didn’t enjoy the feeling at all.
After mellowing out for a while, they asked if I’d like to try a pipe, seeing as I wasn’t feeling anything much. The pipe was a bit more complicated. They packed the bowl of the pipe (the terminology of which I found on reddit), and showed me how to smoke it properly. Next to the bowl was a hole, and that’s called the carb. You put your thumb over this hole while you inhale (so that the smoke doesn’t escape) and then release it while you inhale air.
The process was similar to smoking the joint, but I had to light the marijuana myself before I could smoke it, which involved me learning to use a lighter for the first time. This ended up being more challenging than smoking! I suggest practicing alone so that people don’t make fun of you as your clammy hands fumble with the lighting wheel. After smoking the pipe, I was again really just unimpressed. They told me I had smoked indica, and I should feel relaxed, but I generally just felt disappointed. Again, they advised that I hadn’t smoked enough, but I was beginning to feel a sort of worry that I was doing it wrong! Determined, my friends promised me my next experience would be “the one.” And so, we went to a new friend’s house where I would smoke my first bong.
The group of guys sat down with me and showed me the weed I would be smoking – it was called “The Truth” and was apparently top tier stuff. It was sativa, so it would wake my body up, and the bong would be very intense for me. Feeling like I was somehow impervious to marijuana, they walked me through hitting the bong for the first time. I placed my mouth inside the round top, like when you put your mouth inside of a glass and inhale and pretend it’s stuck to your face (this is what it reminded me of, anyway). You then cover the carb, like with the pipe, which is a hole near the bottom of the bong. Then, you light the weed inside the little bowl at the bottom of the bong (someone did it for me that time, thank goodness), and you inhale simultaneously. You suck until the entire bong fills with smoke, which is very easy to see, and then you release the carb and pull up the bowl piece – this is the little bowl that is full of weed – while you inhale all the smoke that’s inside the bong. Then, I was supposed to hold in the smoke as long as I could before exhaling, but let me tell you, I barely cleared the bong before I was hacking out the smoke. I launched out of my chair, dashed to the bathroom, and poised myself over the toilet, thinking I was about to vomit.
I didn’t vomit, so you know. But the closest thing I can relate it to is when you have a head rush so intense it makes you dizzy. I suddenly felt my mind buzzing so wildly, I thought I would be sick. But I wasn’t, and from what I heard in the other room, every single one of my companions was coughing as they passed the bong around. The feeling of being awake was apparent, and I did feel a sort of desire to sing that kept coming to the forefront of my mind, but I mostly felt like I never wanted to smoke a bong again in my life. I sat on the couch next to my friends while they played video games, giggling occasionally in the most stereotypical way, but generally just feeling like some type of insomniac, with a body that felt sleepy and a mind that felt wide awake.
In the morning, I was pleased to wake without a hangover, something that marijuana fans often boast to those who compare it to a night of drinking. We hit the dispensary after lunch, now that I felt like I had a good feel of what was out there. But there was something I had always wanted to try, and at this point, it seemed the easiest bet for a newbie like me. I bought a small pack of pot brownies (made with indica), and it was the best part of the entire trip.
Before we loaded into the car (I was not driving!), I ate half of one of my brownies. The tube contained 3 miniature brownies, which looked and tasted like any mini brownie bites you might find in the grocery store. I had explained to the dispensary folks that I was new to marijuana, and they informed me that each brownie was made with the amount of THC recommended for one person – so, similar to drinking, if I tried to eat all three, it would make me feel very, very high, and possibly sick. As a beginner, they suggested I eat half of one, to see how I liked the feelings. And half is exactly what I ate.
Edibles, or food made with cannabis (my brownies were made with cannabis butter, so basically, they smelled like weed but tasted yummy, like brownies), will be my favorite way to consume marijuana for the rest of forever, I think (should I ever go back to Colorado or Washington). I described it best to my friends as “the feeling you get right after a really good sigh,” but it lasted for about 6 hours. Edibles take usually around 45 minutes to kick in, but I was feeling relaxed and excellent after about 30. There was no tension in my limbs, my head felt light, and all over seemed to just be a good energy. I like to do yoga, and because I am not a workout junkie, my favorite part tends to be the breathing exercises at the end. After this time of breathing and quiet meditation, my body often feels rejuvenated and healthy, and this was exactly the feeling I had post-brownie.
So all in all, I give marijuana mixed reviews. Smoking, for me, wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as eating (typical). While I am pretty confident I just didn’t smoke enough to get the full experience, the act of smoking was just not something I enjoyed – the joint and the pipe bothered my lungs and the bong made me feel like I would vomit. For all you ladies venturing out into the west, wondering if your time to try something new is coming, my advice to you is to follow your instincts and go for the chocolate.