Interested in tasting the forbidden fruit of paradise? If you’ve never smoked before and would like to know more about marijuana, this is the perfect place to start. The Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana assumes no knowledge of cannabis or cannabis culture and aims to build a foundation of knowledge upon which an educated decision can be made as to whether or not to try. Additionally, it provides quality advice for making a smooth transition to the wonderful world of smoking without embarrassing moments. Part I focuses on detailing the pros and cons of smoking. It provides information regarding marijuana in general. Read on to learn more!
If you have arrived at this Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana, you are probably already partially interested in marijuana and most definitely already have a number of ideas about marijuana. Marijuana refers to the psychoactive product of certain species of the Cannabis genus (specifically C. sativa and C. indica). Human use of marijuana dates back to times before recorded history. There is evidence in the form of charred cannabis seeds dating as far back as the Neolithic age from burial sites. Its historical uses were largely ritual or religious, but was introduced to the United States in the early 19th century by Indian laborers. During the 20th century, its recreational use in Western countries rose steadily. During the counterculture revolutions of the 60’s, popular attitudes on marijuana were changed drastically and many people began to try it. Lifetime use statistics indicate that by about 1980 70-80% of all adults had tried marijuana at some time, and this number has remained relatively stable. For more statistical information, see the Erowid Psychoactives Statistics Vault. Marijuana is currently illegal in many countries but there is a growing interest in its legalization for medical purposes
Modern day attitudes on marijuana vary greatly. Many people believe that marijuana is essentially bad and that it results in bad health, laziness, low-intelligence, and a downward spiral of drug abuse/addiction. Others feel that marijuana has medical potential and that it should be legalized for its use in treating glaucoma, combating the life-threatening weight-loss associated with chemotherapy, and relieving pains, nausea, and depression. Still, many feel that the use of cannabis recreationally is an entertaining and socially acceptable activity.
This guide focuses mainly on recreational use of marijuana. Part I explains many of the benefits and some of the hazards of smoking pot, but it is by no means an unbiased guide to marijuana. If you are considering using marijuana, it is best to consider all of the facts from many different sources and weigh the options on your own. Every source of information on marijuana will be influenced by the author’s opinion of the subject, so use your head and make up your own mind!
In the modern school system, we are taught from a very young age the potential health hazards of smoking marijuana. Many of these hazards are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the impressionable youth away from the scourge of marijuana use. While the teachers of health class may have their own agenda, there is some basis to the health concerns of smoking marijuana, and these certainly should be considered before trying marijuana.
While I am certainly not an expert on the health effects of marijuana, I have gathered some information from some fairly reputable sources. First of all, the general consensus among professionals is that smoking marijuana causes particulate matter to enter your lungs, which causes irritation. In addition to the heat of the smoke, this is what causes the coughing. Also, there are well-documented increases in upper-respiratory infections in frequent users. In general, these health hazards are neither permanent, nor life threatening, but they should certainly be taken seriously. If you notice after habitual use that you get colds more easily or you are coughing more often, it might be beneficial to take a break.
Many people claim that marijuana causes cancer. It is important to note that no study has demonstrated any link of marijuana use to an increased risk of cancer. Chemical constituents of marijuana smoke are known carcinogens, but nearly every single organic/man-made food product you eat has naturally occurring carcinogenic chemicals. Carcinogens alone do not precipitate cancer.
Many policy makers and anti-drug activists are also concerned with the risk of triggering or increasing psychotic disorders. There is an article at Erowid worth reading on this subject, and I will go no further than saying that in my opinion this risk is not particularly major. There are also concerns about marijuana’s effects on memory. Some studies have suggested that habitual marijuana use can cause a general loss in short-term memory (forgetting where you parked/ put your wallet). This effect resounds through pop culture, but in practice, regular stoners find strategies for compensating this effect and their lives are not significantly affected.
Ultimately, I have already made the decision that the benefits of marijuana use outweigh the risks. For this reason, you can expect my writings to be bias. If you are considering trying marijuana, I encourage you to gather information from as many sources as possible. The health hazards may seem scary at first, but I and many, many others have used marijuana regularly for years without serious health problems. So you be the judge and make your own decision.
Marijuana’s effects are primarily induced by the chemical compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Though its effects are often ascribed entirely to this chemical, the effects are profoundly affected by a number of other compounds present in the plant material. The vast array of psychoactives make it difficult to classify, but most sources categorize it as a hallucinogen.
Its effects and duration are strongly affected by dosage, method of consumption, individual tolerance, and genetic factors. The effects are so varied from person to person and from use to use that it is difficult to qualify. Additionally, the sensations are quite foreign to most novice users so it is difficult to describe to someone who’s never been high what it feels like to be high.
Common effects are a lift in mood and laughter. People who have smoked marijuana typically seem very happy and giggly at almost everything. Some times it can be very relaxing and other times it can inspire incredible creativity. Music is a very important aspect of marijuana use and appreciation of music while under the influence is unparalleled. It can reduce moderate pains and relieve nausea. Some users experience stimulation, feeling a noticeably elevated heart-rate. Others experience just the opposite.
There is a certain change in consciousness that is very exciting to novice users. Some users feel anxiety at higher doses because of this, but with experience, the altered consciousness is familiar and typically preferable to sobriety. One effect that is evident in popular culture is the marijuana munchies. Often times, marijuana will induce an increased appetite. This can be very fun as there is nothing more satisfying than a delicious snack after smoking, but it could certainly cause weight gain if used habitually. Typically, if you eat before smoking, this effect is reduced.
Short-term memory is certainly hindered by marijuana smoke. Thoughts typically race and linear thinking is at times difficult. This affects problem solving skills and can be funny, but can also cause problems. Smoking marijuana causes an altered perception of time that can either make things seem faster or slower. Depth perception is moderately effected. There has been suggestions that driving while under the influence of marijuana is dangerous, but in most cases, marijuana users are consciously aware of the impairment (unlike alcohol) and are capable of compensating safely.
Ultimately, the effects of marijuana are dificult to describe. While some people find marijuana unpleasant, most people enjoy being high. It is all a manner of personal experience and personal preference. The only way to truly understand what it is like to be high, is to experiment.
Some people find being high slightly unpleasant. While I have enjoyed smoking on many an occasion, there have even been times where I felt mildly uncomfortable. Some people go as far as to compare being high to having a panic attack, though this is uncommon. As with other hallucinogens, though perhaps to a lesser degree, the people you are with and your setting will have an impact on your experience. Be aware that you may not enjoy smoking marijuana. Begin by experimenting with small doses and eventually work your way up to bigger doses. It doesn’t do you any good to dive in head first. If you work your way into it gradually, you have the best chance of enjoying marijuana usage.
Most marijuana smoking takes place in groups. Smoking is a social activity that extends beyond typical group distinctions. There is a strong bond, if only temporary, between the members of a smoking circle. Marijuana often induces feelings of empathy and giving. It can spark engaging conversation, or it can improve otherwise boring group activities. As with most social activities, smoking takes on its own set of etiquette and rules. They typically vary from area to area and group to group, but take on a general form. Part III of this guide will go into further detail on social smoking, but when considering whether or not to smoke marijuana, an important factor is your peers. If a lot of your friends do it, then you are in luck and they can help you into the wonderful world of weed. If you and your friends want to start together, then you can embark on a magical journey into a new world together. And if your friends have no interest in smoking, then you can use this as an opportunity to meet new people and engage in new activities. Regardless of your situation, it is best to begin smoking with a group of people, because smoking in groups is one of the staples of cannabis culture, and oh what a wonderful culture!
The Decision is Yours!
If you’ve come here considering marijuana, I applaud your interest in what I feel is a wonderful avenue of life. You are taking steps to expand your mind and your general outlook on life. Consider the facts and read The Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana: Part II to learn even more about the basics of marijuana smoking. Whether you are seriously changing your weekly routine or more interested in simply having a taste, I highly recommend experiencing marijuana for yourself, because no words will ever accurately describe its grandeur.
Since I’m not really an expert on marijuana, I encourage you to look elsewhere for information on the subject. Much of what I have included in this guide comes from research from the following sites and they are excellent sources for further research. The links open in a new window, so feel free to click them and come back to this site to read more!
Wikipedia article on Cannabis.
Erowid an amazingly comprehensive source for information on a number of psychoactive substances has a huge vault of information on marijuana.
DrugPolicy.org has an excellent section regarding marijuana.
WebMD released an article about marijuana and brain damage.