A guide for a first time marijuana user

In this article, you’ll find;

  1.  A basic way to identify safe cannabis and hash
  2.  A description of the cannabis high, so you are prepared for the experience
  3.  Tips on reducing paranoia/anxiety while consuming cannabis
  4.  The importance of set and setting

Identifying cannabis safe for use

Within the UK, there are many articles which claim tens of thousands of people attend the emergency room after using cannabis. These figures are completely misinterpreted by the media. Actual cannabis hospitalisations are few and far between. Spice (synthetic cannabis) is the cause of the large majority of the hospitalisations.

We want to help you determine if the cannabis you have is safe for consumption so that you don’t have to take a trip to the hospital and give cannabis a worse reputation.

The main causes for “cannabis hospitalization“, more than often, are down to either;

  1. Spice, a synthetic cannabis, has been consumed.
  2. The user is overwhelmed by the cannabis high, over thinks the situation, panics, then attends the emergency room. Usually this is due to the consumption of a cannabis edible. Read our word of caution on marijuana edibles if you plan on consuming one!
Panic cartoon

Cannabis will have a distinct aroma to it and is one of the major giveaways to if you have cannabis or some synthetic version.

You should never purchase ground up cannabis. The cannabis you obtain should be as a complete bud, as shown below.

In the above image, natural cannabis is shown on the left. Spice, the synthetic version of cannabis is shown on the right. 

The cannabis should have visible trichomes which are where most of the oils and chemicals of the bud are contained. To check the cannabis has not had any “fake trichomes” to enhance it’s visuals, tap off some of the trichomes onto the back of an old cd and rub them in, natural trichomes should not scratch the cd.

There may be a few small, cut leaves leafs left on the bud, this is fine and quite common. The bud should be fairly dense, although depending on the strain the density can vary.

Colors of cannabis can vary, but should consist of mainly green bud, trichomes and possibly small orange hairs. Some buds can be purple, although this is fairly uncommon within the UK.

If the cannabis is ground up when you purchase it, it is likely that it has been mixed with something else, or isn’t even cannabis at all. Avoid consuming pre ground cannabis.


Hash is made from pressed trichomes and is usually purchased as a block or ball. When purchasing hash in an illegal market, it is usually mixed with additives and is known as soapbar. When it’s been mixed with additives, it will be much harder than natural pure hash. If you’re unsure if it is pure, take a trip to Amsterdam to sample some real hash.

What is being high on cannabis like?

Setting up

Now that you’ve determined your cannabis is safe for consumption, you’ll want to choose where to consume the cannabis. We’d advise as a first time to have it in the comfort of your own home.

You’ll want to make sure you have some drinks – non alcoholic and sweet, some snacks and maybe find a film for later. Incense sticks can make the experience more relaxing, but aren’t really necessary.

Now that you’re all set up, you’ll either need to roll your cannabis into a joint or pack a bowl/bong.

The cannabis high (A general guide for the first time user)

  • Everyone will have a different high when consuming cannabis, however most first time users will generally have a similar experience.
  • A bowl/bong will hit you harder than a joint as you’ll be consuming a higher quantity of cannabis in one pull. A cannabis edible is a completely different, much more intense high that will take a while to kick in. Read our guide on edibles if you’re planning on consuming an edible. 
  • After a couple of hits of the cannabis, you may feel a tingly sensation through your body. Your muscles will relax and you’ll feel although a weight has been lifted from your body.
  • You may cough when inhaling the cannabis, try to inhale completely in to gain full effect. If you prefer a smoother experience, using a vaporizer would be a good idea.
  • Another few minutes will pass and you’ll start to feel the high intensity increasing. Your eyes may feel slightly tingly and your eyelids will close slightly – you’ll start to look tired.
  • By now, you should be nicely relaxed and comfortable. Your mind may start thinking in long, free flowing trains of thought that smoothly run into different topics that are on your mind. This is known as “zoning”.
  • While you’re mind is running through different thoughts, you may catch yourself staring at objects for what may feel like a long time, however is probably only a short period of time. Your perception of time while using cannabis will be completely off, unless you’re a seasoned user.
  • At this point in the high, you may experience “cotton mouth”, which is basically a really dry mouth. Just take a few sips of a sweet drink or water to combat this.
  • As a first time user, you’ll probably find that everything is funny and start giggling at things people say/do. Depending on what strain you’re using, you may be extremely giggly, or not at all.
  • You may now have the munchies which will give you the urge to binge on some food like crisps, cake, cereal etc.

  • You may also start talking about deep topics such as space, nature, the afterlife, or just some random thought that pops into your head that you’ve never thought about before. Many people use cannabis for the creative and philosophical thoughts that occur during/after use.

Reducing cannabis induced Paranoia / Anxiety

Some people have an unpleasant first time experience of cannabis due to having paranoia or anxiety, or consuming a large quantity of cannabis in an edible. Both paranoia and anxiety when consuming cannabis are a mental state and can be overcome.  Mind over matter! 


Heart beat

Quite a few people experience what they think is a racing, strong pulsating heartbeat which makes them worry. Your heart will beat slightly faster but it’s not as fast as you’re thinking it is and is completely normal. You won’t have a heart attack. We suggest consuming cannabis with others for your first time so they can reassure you that you’re fine.

Heart beat


Paranoia and anxiety usually occur when you start to over-analyze aspects of your life. Just try to kick back and enjoy the moment. To take your mind off of racing thoughts, put on your favorite music, it will definitely help.

If you feel your mind racing a bit too fast on stressful topics even with music, actively participate in a conversation with others around you, this will make your mind concentrate on other issues.


For some people, consuming the cannabis outdoors in nature can stop paranoid thoughts. Just find a secluded place where you won’t be disturbed by other people.

Strain-dependent effects

Cannabis strains that are high in THC are more likely to make you paranoid or anxious. If possible, obtain a strain containing higher CBD and lower THC content, as it won’t give you such a “heady high”, but more of a relaxed, body high. You can browse our strains page to find one that might suit your ideal THC/CBD content.

If you have consumed a large quantity of cannabis and feel too high, don’t panic or over think, just drink or eat something with a high sugar content. This will help to make you feel less high.

Importance of Set / Setting

Set and setting with any substance are vitally important. For example you shouldn’t start drinking alcohol to deal with a death of a relative or get limbless drunk right outside of a schools grounds.

Set is the your current mental state. I.e. You should be clear headed and not dealing with any emotional or intense feelings.

Setting is the setting in which you are consuming the substance. You should be in a familiar place and not around anything/anyone which is going to make you anxious or paranoid.

Ensuring your set and setting are in place before consuming cannabis will ensure you have a comfortable, safe and most importantly an enjoyable high.

If you can’t consume your cannabis in your house and don’t fancy consuming in a park,you may want to look into Cannabis Clubs near you. At various locations across the UK you can consume cannabis safely with like-minded people from all backgrounds. 

Here’s the link for the UK Cannabis Clubs website. You can also follow them on Twitter for further information.

Final notes

We hope you understand that UK cannabis use will not cause you to end up in a hospital, regardless of if it is skunk cannabis. If it’s your first time using cannabis, we’d advise to roll a joint and have a pull or two, wait 5 minutes and see how you feel. Even if you feel extremely high, you shouldn’t need to go to hospital and waste doctors time. Read our article on how safe UK Cannabis really is to ease your mind.

If you have any other tips on reducing paranoia while using cannabis, let us know in t
he comments and we’ll add the best ones to the article!

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