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We all know that person who somehow managed to never smoke marijuana during high school or college. Perhaps they were afraid, they wanted to make their parents proud, or they were an athlete and knew they would get drug tested. Now as an adult, their interest is piqued.

For individuals who live in a state where it’s legal to consume cannabis, like Washington, you have more options available to you now than ever before. Something that once had a stigma around it and could potentially put you in jail under certain circumstances now has a free pass associated with it. If you’re still scared to get high, that’s ok too.

The first time you smoke weed, or eat an edible for that matter, can bring up a plethora of feelings. Let’s unpack those a bit and explain why being scared to get high is common and how you can prepare for a successful experience.

Great Expectations

One of the more common reasons that people are afraid to get high at any age is that they don’t know what to expect. Unfortunately, marijuana is still viewed by many as a drug that’s terribly evil, and by getting high you’re just asking for an extreme psychedelic experience. If you didn’t already know – that’s not true.

Part of what gets you high comes from THC, a compound in cannabis that does impart psychoactive effects, yet they are typically manageable from the start. As a new smoker, you can take a few steps to ensure you don’t get too high and that your journey is pleasant rather than anxiety filled.

The first time you smoke, your body will have the strongest reaction to THC that it will ever have, which is why people who have smoked for years often need more and more to experience the same level of high. Keeping this reaction in check means choosing a strain of marijuana that’s relatively gentle.

Be sure to consult a budtender at your local upscale dispensary, like The Bakeréé, and let them know this will be your first time. More than likely they’ll suggest a strain with a low THC percentage, typically around 10% or so. Anything greater than 15% could be too much and create a negative set of effects that could sour your experience.

Once you have your mellow weed, another key element in soothing your fears is to make sure you partake an appropriate amount. A first-time smoker probably shouldn’t enjoy an entire joint or take multiple bong hits in succession – you’re just asking for trouble if you do. Instead, all it might take is one or two puffs at the most before the effects start to kick in.

How Long Is Too Long?

Related to the fear of what it’s like to be high, many first-time smokers worry that they don’t know how long they’ll be high for. If they hate the feeling, do they have to ride it out for seven hours before they feel normal again?

The answer depends on how sensitive your body is, how much you’ve had to eat, and if you’re smoking versus ingesting cannabis. In general, new users note that they experience effects for a much longer period of time the first several times around, and that’s mostly due to your body not quite knowing how to process these new compounds that have made their way into your system. We don’t want you to worry, but some people have reported being high for a full 24 hours the first time they smoked a joint.

Your best bet is to try getting high on a day where you have absolutely nothing to do. Maybe it’s your day off from work, the errands are done, and the kids are at grandma’s house for the weekend. When you have nothing remotely responsible looming on the horizon, it can help to lessen the fear of being high for too long. If you do experience effects for 24 hours, it won’t ruin your day.

Perception Is Everything

The connotations that are still present in our culture around smoking marijuana and getting high is another common reason why people are afraid to ever start using it. Self-doubting questions like “what will my friends think?” or “will I become a stoner?” can run rampant through people’s minds, and it’s enough to make them fearful about what could happen if they decide to cross the line into becoming a cannabis consumer.

Everyone is so different that we can’t necessarily speak to each and every concern about how people will perceive you, but we can offer some general things to think about. First, remember that you are ultimately in control of your marijuana use. If the fear of becoming a non-functioning member of society who is always stoned and glued to the couch is terrifying, you and you alone have the power to make sure that’s not the case.

If judgment from friends and family makes you fearful, then you have a few options. Some people simply don’t care what others think, which of course is easier said than done. Others take the opportunity as a way to have a candid conversation with their loved ones. This allows them to explain their reasons for starting to use marijuana and could even break down stereotypes within families or groups of friends.

Still, others might choose to get high by themselves in the comfort of their home and never tell a soul. Maybe their budtender is the only one who knows that they’ve taken the leap into the world of weed, and that’s ok too.

No matter why you’re afraid to get high, we want you to know that your fears are 100% valid. New experiences can be scary, and if you’ve gone your entire life avoiding pot only to try it for the first time as an adult, there’s a fair amount of common sense that might tell you to stay away. When in doubt, remember that the reasons you choose to get high are yours, and no matter what your mom says, no one has ever died from getting high.