How to Smoke Cannabis Correctly: An Easy & Complete Guide

So you’re finally ready to try cannabis for the first time, or maybe the last time you smoked was 20 years ago and you’re ready to start back up. Either way, the very idea may seem a bit scary with all the rumors about the strength of weed today and NY Times columnists losing their marbles for hours on end. Where the hell do you start and how do you smoke weed safely? We can help make your first cannabis experience more enjoyable.

Unless you seek specific therapeutic benefits, in which case you should reference our CBD content, you are likely looking to catch a pleasurable buzz. As easy as that may sound, the cannabis market has significantly evolved over the past several years and the options can be daunting to navigate. In this guide we will help you determine the appropriate strain, dosage, and consumption method for a positive first-time experience.

First Time Using Cannabis? Here’s What You Need to Know

We all have experienced some form of negative stigma about cannabis which unfortunately has led to misleading information about the humble plant. But with increased legalization and acceptance of cannabis increasing, curiosity of cannabis has also doubled! For many, this is their first time using cannabis.

If this is your first time using cannabis, don’t let the negative stigma or comments you have heard ruin your experience. That’s why we wanted to share a guide, if you will, to help alleviate any worries or questions you have and you can proceed enjoying cannabis as you should. 

It’s my first time using cannabis. Where do I start?

If you are new to cannabis, then you’ve probably pondered a few things: What does the being high feel like? What will happen after exhaling? How high am I going to get? How long will it last? How long does it stay in my system? Let’s start by giving you a little background history of the cannabis plant.

Believed to have originated out of the wild of Central Asia, cannabis is a plant prized for its therapeutic applications with different landraces spread around the world. Current research has revealed that cannabis contains hundreds of medicinal compounds called cannabinoids.

One cannabinoid in particular, THC, produces psychoactive effects within the body because they stimulate cannabinoid receptors found mainly in the brain and nervous systems, however, other cannabinoids like CBD or CBN do not create the “high feeling”. The effects of THC are felt in alterations in mood and perception, which heightens the senses —  this is the experience of getting high. It can either stimulate the mind and elevate your mood or, depending on the potency, it can make you feel a bit sleepy. 

Cannabis can strengthen emotions that are already present and can offer you a fleeting glimpse of yourself in a slightly different views. Simply put, weed invites self-observation and for the doobie newbie, your first time smoking the plant is an experience that will be entirely unique to you. 

Where is the best location for using cannabis for the first time?

Public settings such as concerts, clubs, or sporting events may not be the best choice for your first time using cannabis. One of our favorite experiences with cannabis are the great outdoors where you can connect with nature and your peaceful surroundings.

Don’t feel like exploring outside? Create your own ambiance in a peaceful place with music, warm blankets, candles or plush cushions. A place where you can relax, worry-free.

If you are with people for your first time, make sure they are people you trust.  At some point, we’re all new to cannabis. Keeping people you trust around will help you stay calm, cool, and collected without feeling outside pressures. Friends can often offer the most useful and beneficial tips in case you have questions or start to feel anxious, that way it isn’t a case of the blind leading the blind and you can learn while trying it!

Preparation is Key for your first time using cannabis

Aside from clearing your schedule for a journey to remember, be sure to have some H20 and a couple of snacks on standby, as cannabis can induce munchies and may also cause your throat and mouth to dry up — which can be a real buzzkill. Drinking water is essential and being sufficiently hydrated can help reduce the cottonmouth during your first time using cannabis.

Make sure you are somewhere safe and within legal means. At home or out in nature are two places we recommend!

Know Your Cannabis Type

If you are new to cannabis and find yourself in a dispensary, you’re more than likely considering making your first purchase. And when you do, be sure to ask all of the questions you need to before finally shelling out your hard-earned cash.

Furthermore, it’s important to know that cannabis strains are split into three different categories: indica, sativa, and hybrid. Although, most cannabis strains are hybrids, so it really boils down to two. Indica cannabis strains are typically associated with relaxation, sativas offer more of a head high, and hybrid strains induce a myriad of sativa and indica effects. As for the effects, everyone experiences the psychoactivity of cannabis differently, however, it typically depends on the strain you smoke.

Pick A Consumption Method

Smoking is the most common way to consume weed. Some of the most common ways you can smoke cannabis include:

  • Hand pipes: These can include different designs and types of material, and provide a way for consumers to express themselves.
  • One-hitters (or “onenies”): These are smaller pipes made to look like cigarettes, which offers more discretion.
  • Water pipes: While less convenient in terms of portability, these are more advanced than a hand pipe and include bongs or bubblers, and even hookahs.

If you’re completely new to cannabis, you might find the smoke a bit irritating to your throat and lungs — especially if you suffer from asthma or any other respiratory conditions. Additionally, you might experience what we call ‘coughing fits,’ but don’t let these cause you to tap out of your cannabis experience. Vaporizers, edibles, and topical applications such as creams or salves are a few other ways to enjoy cannabis.

Vaporizing is a great way to keep your smoke discreet and is also easier on the lungs compared to smoking. Portable, as well as disposable, vape devices are ideal for those who are always on-the-go.

Edibles admittedly shouldn’t be a newbie’s first choice. This is mainly because edibles have a slower onset, and when they do they hit hard, which may be a lot for the first-time cannabis consumer. However, if you want to skip out on the smoke, perhaps edibles might be the next best option — just be sure they contain a low THC content.

Creams and salves are becoming increasingly popular and for good reason. They are an innocuous way to introduce people to cannabis providing relief from pain and inflammation directly to the source thanks to cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties. These are great for looking to use on topical pain by applying cream to the desired area.

Start Small and Gradually Increase

The first time is going to include a lot of trial and error, but like with all things, you should take notes from from the learning curves to better your next experience. This is especially true when it comes to figuring out your limits. Some people will get completely lifted, while others may get the munchies, or just fall asleep. Human biology is a complex thing, so it can be difficult to know exactly what a person’s tolerance is. Ultimately, we say that it all comes down to a few things: the dose you intake, the type of cannabis, and your mood. Toke and smoke responsibly!

The Best Rolling Papers for Beginners and Experts

There’s a plethora of rolling papers on the market today – from traditional Zig-Zags to 24 karat gold papers, it can be a daunting task to pick the ‘best’ pack. Ultimately, there is no ‘best’, it all comes down to personal preference. Below, we break down the major types of paper materials to help you identify the paper that meets your joint rolling and smoking preferences.


The major factors to consider when evaluating potential papers include rolling difficulty, burn rate, smoke-ability, taste, and environmental impact.


 

Wood Pulp

The very first rolling papers were likely made using wood pulp – the same material as printer paper and cigarettes. They are arguably the easiest papers to use when learning to roll a joint and certainly the most common, you can find them anywhere. They stay lit through a storm and maintain a medium to fast burn rate. Unfortunately, they are usually the worst tasting paper variety with the most noticeable aftertaste. This subsequently means they produce the most ash, burning less cleanly and contaminating your smoke. They are the lowest quality papers from an environmental and personal health perspective.

Traditional wood pulp papers can be 100% wood pulp or partially blended with flax – a quick Google will tell you the composition of nearly any brand. Wood pulp papers are either bleached with calcium carbonate or chlorine (they will appear white) or unbleached (brown or translucent). As a general rule of thumb, the less processed the papers are, the less you notice that unnatural, burnt-paper-taste. You can find wood pulp papers in a variety of thicknesses and flavors.

Hemp

Hemp papers are typically made from 100% hemp fiber and most are unbleached. Hemp papers can be found in a variety of thicknesses, but as a general rule of thumb, they have a thicker, more texturized feel than rice papers. The texturized feel of hemp papers provides good grip and makes for relatively easy joint rolling. Hemp stays lit better than rice paper and adds a mild, pleasant, taste some may describe as sweet or musky. As a bonus, hemp rolling papers are the most environmentally conscious option.

Rice

Rice paper is made with processed rice and can include other additives such as sugar and flax. Rice is the thinnest of the major paper types, and therefore results in the least noticeable taste and the slowest burn. The thin, smooth texture of rice papers can make them a challenge to roll joints with, but the reward is a slow burning paper with little to no taste. On the downside, it may go out if not constantly smoked.

Comparison

While we have covered the most common rolling paper materials, there are other novelty rolling papers as well. Some incorporate gold flakes while others are infused with artificial flavors. There are also transparent rolling papers made of cellulose. While these papers are fun on occasion, we don’t recommend them for the everyday smoker. We can help you roll slower burning joints by flipping the paper inside out, perfect your style with cone vs pinner tips, increase the potency of your joints by adding cannabis concentrates to create what’s known as a twax joint. Twaxing comes in handy when you need to share a small joint with a lot of people. By adding some BHOor even kief from your grinder, you can boost its potency and increase the joints share-ability. If you don’t have access to concentrates, you can even make your own dabs at home!

Protect Your Rolling Papers

Once you have found your favorite rolling papers, be sure to protect them and the rest of your supplies in the smell-proof Safety Case. Its smell-proof design keeps your stash a secret, and secures all your key rolling components.

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Visual Guide: How to Use a Dry Herb Vape Pen

If joint smoke is irritating to your lungs, you may benefit from using a dry herb vape pen for your flower instead. A vape (short for vaporizer) is a device used to heat cannabis products — in this case, flower — to the point at which the cannabinoids and terpenes within the plant begin to turn into a gas (vapor) without actually combusting (burning) any plant material.

In this article, we will show you how to load your favorite dry herb vaporizer step by step. For a full breakdown of smoking vs. vaporizing, check out this article. If you’re looking to vaporize cannabis concentrates (also known as dabs), use this guide instead.

What is a dry herb vaporizer?

A dry herb vaporizer is a type of vaping device that heats cannabis buds to a specific temperature lower than burning a joint or a bowl. The result is very clean, smooth, medicinal vapor instead of smoke, which also happens to be quite flavorful!

Recently, portable vaporizers have become more popular as technology has advanced their capabilities to a point that allows them to compete with larger desktop units.

How to Use a Dry Herb Vape Pen

  1. Identify Your Vape Style (How does it work?)

Before we get into the specifics of how to pack your vaporizer, it’s important to understand which one you have. In this case, the major distinction isn’t necessarily the make and model, but rather whether it uses conduction or convection to heat the cannabis flowers.

Not sure which heating method your vaporizer uses? A quick Google search will usually give you the answer in seconds! In reality, most vaporizers inherently use both methods to some degree, as each method also begets a bit of the other. The important thing is to understand the primary method of action of your vaporizer so you can pack it effectively. Here’s a quick breakdown of how each type works:

Conduction units heat the material via direct contact with a heat source (meaning the flowers are touching a hot surface). As you might imagine, this can result in incidental overheating of some parts of the chamber, which can cause accidental combustion and a harsher flavor. Common conduction vaporizers include: Pax 2 & 3, Vapium Summit

Convection units heat the material by passing heated air through the chamber. The result is a much more even temperature range throughout the chamber and overall better flavor due to less risk of inadvertent combustion. Common convection vaporizers include: Firefly 2, Grasshopper, Atmos Jump

  1. Get the Important Vape Accessories

best vape pen accessories

In order to get the perfect hit from your vaporizer pen, you MUST use a grinder to break down the cannabis (or organic hemp flower) buds. A fine grind is not just for joints, it is better for all inhaled forms of cannabis, including vapes!

That’s why we always have a grinder card stocked in our vape travel kit. The grinder card produces the perfect consistency for loading your pen – a fine, even grind and stores conveniently in a stash bag or wallet.

how to grind weed

You can even grind directly into your vape pen chamber or into a pebble (if you want to save some for your next session). We also recommend having a poker style tool on hand for clearing your chamber of sticky Already-Been-Vaped (ABV) flowers. It just so happens that all of these items fit perfectly in the Safety Case, with extra room for your vaporizer pen.

  1. Select the Right Strain

strains of cannabis

While we’re on the subject of preparing your cannabis, don’t forget to select the correct starting material! The type of cannabis you use (i.e. indica or sativa, or a non-intoxicating hemp flower) will directly impact how you feel after you vape. If you need help choosing, use our strain selection guide. As always, quality matters!

Pro Tip: It may be counterintuitive, but herb vaporizers perform better when the cannabis is fully dry! This is because residual moisture in your buds can result in unnecessary throat irritation and produces a wispy, thin vapor.

  1. Load the Chamber

load the chamber of a vape pen

First, remove the cap/cover to expose the chamber. Then, use your fingers to gently load the finely ground cannabis into the chamber. It’s important not to overfill the chamber or pack it too tight – remember, the air still has to pass through there!

A medium pack is usually best across the board, but this is where the conduction vs. convection heating method comes into play. Conduction vaporizers like the Pax 2 and 3 can handle (and actually benefit from) a tighter pack to bring more herb into contact with the heating element, while convection vaporizers like the Grasshopper benefit from a looser pack for improved airflow.

You can experiment with different density packs to see which perform best with your particular pen. You can use your fingers or damper style tool to pack down the ground cannabis evenly. Once packed, replace the lid/cover and close the chamber.

  1. Heat Up the Pen

how to use vapepen

Herb vaporizers can take anywhere from <10 seconds to over a minute to heat up. It’s imperative to let the pen heat up fully prior to taking a hit, otherwise, your draw won’t do much for you.

Many vaporizer units actually have adjustable temperature settings – lower temperatures produce smoother, more flavorful hits with less throat irritation, while higher temperature settings will provide more powerful hits with thick, dense vapor.

  1. Take a Hit!

pack dry herb into vape pen and smoke it

Once the pen reaches the desired temperature, you can inhale from the mouthpiece and enjoy the perfect hit! Also, be sure your battery is fully charged for consistent performance from your vaporizer. Many people store an extra battery or charger in their vape pen case to ensure they never run low.

  1. Store in a Smell Proof Vaporizer Case

smell proof case for pax vape pen

You likely paid a pretty penny for your vaporizer and consider it an investment, so treat it like one! Just because it’s portable, doesn’t mean it’s indestructible – we highly recommend using a smell proof vape case to keep your pen protected and discreet. A safety case has the ability to carry all the other vaporizing essential needed to pack your vaporizer on the go!

Bonus: Clearing the Chamber

clean the chamber of vape pen

Clearing your chamber after each use is just as important as packing it! Because the leftover loose-leaf material is often sticky from heat exposure (vaping tends to leave a residue on the herb, making it potentially beneficial for making edibles), we suggest using a tool to clear it out fully – it’s especially helpful for those stubborn bits. If you fail to clear your chamber adequately, you will restrict airflow and impair the performance of your vaporizer over time.

Which Vaporizer is Best?

dry herb vape pen options

The answer to this question will depend on several factors: size, price point, heat up time, intended use, charge time, temperature control, chamber size, warranty, etc. Sound complex enough?  Don’t sweat it! The important thing is to purchase based on the factors that are most important to you – after all, you’ll be the one using it!

Keep in mind that desktop vaporizers are in a totally different class than portable vaporizers – comparing between these two vape types is like comparing apples to oranges. There are also lots of reviews and comparisons online if you can’t decide between 2 or 3 models. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll find the best selection and customer service over at Billowby.

Vaping Hemp Flower

If you desire symptom relief without the high associated with THC, you might try vaping raw organic hemp flower instead of traditional cannabis buds.  Hemp flower can provide a full-spectrum dose of CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids without any intoxicating effects, regardless of the dose. Plus, you can purchase online and have it mailed to you.

We like the organic, non-GMO hemp flower from Canna Comforts, who carefully and sustainably cultivate each strain before batch-testing the buds for quality, purity, and potency.  We are especially fond of Canna Comfort’s Lifter strain (shown in image below) and Special Sauce. But each of their diverse array of strains looks, feels, smells, tastes, and vapes just like the top-shelf cannabis strains that inspired them, minus the intoxicating effects of THC – you really can’t go wrong!

cannabis

10 Tips for Rolling Better Joints

Every smoking circle has their de-facto joint roller: the guy everyone turns to when the team wants to burn one, or the girl who can twist perfect pinners while walking into the wind holding all her smoking supplies (we don’t know how she does it either).

Are you, well, not that person?  Are you looking to improve your rolling technique? With a bit of practice and the right information, you don’t have to be a magician to craft a picturesque, smooth-burning joint. However, if you need help from the very beginning, you should try our step by step how to roll a joint article.

Necessary Items for Your Rolling Stash Box

Make sure you have all the key elements for rolling great joints: this should include a weed grinder, crutches, papers, and a lighter at the bare minimum, but deck yourself out if you want to.

Although many steps in the joint rolling process are largely a matter of preference, there are several tips that require the above items if you want to improve your smoking experience. There are also some very clever weed accessories that have become essentials in our 420 smoking kit.

  1. Use the Best Rolling Paper

    types of rolling papers

    Are you still grabbing Zig-Zags off the counter at the gas station? They are impacting the flavor of your joints. There are three types of rolling paper materials and they each have unique characteristics that affect the way your joint rolls and smokes. Steer clear of wood pulp rolling papers, you want a paper made of rice or hemp. Those just learning should try a hemp paper as they are easier to roll with and stay lit well. Expert rollers looking for a flavorless, slow burn and a precise roll will benefit from rice papers.

  2. Select the Right Size

    perfect joints

    The right size rolling paper is a situational decision based on a few key factors: How many people are you smoking with? How high are their tolerances? How many joints do you intend to roll?

  3. If you show up to Snoop Dogg’s house with a pack of single-wides, you won’t be able to roll ’em fast enough. The most popular and widely available sizes are 1 ¼” size and King Slims. 1 ¼” is generally considered to be the ‘standard’ cannabis rolling paper and suits 1-3 people with moderate to low tolerances. King Slims are better for moderate-tolerance groups of 2-5 people or high-tolerance groups of 1-3. Not sure which papers are for you? Check our rolling papers sizing guide to find the right papers for your smoking kit.
  4. Always Grind First

    You don’t need to spend $60+ for the best grinder! Regardless of your rolling abilities, crafting a perfect joint will be a futile exercise if your herb isn’t evenly ground. We recommend metal grinders, as they are more durable and provide a smoother, more consistent grinding action – but they are also available in plastic or wood version. All that matters is using one!

    cannabis grounds

     

  5. Use a Crutch, They Are Clutch

    roll with a crutch

    Have you ever been handed a joint with a soggy end that you can barely smoke? Don’t be “that guy” responsible for subjecting your smoking circle to that experience. Also called a filter or tip, a crutch is essentially a mouthpiece made of glass or wood pulp – you can purchase perfectly-sized rolling tips or make them at home. They act as a handle that aids in holding and passing to others while optimizing airflow for an easy draw. As if that weren’t enough, they also aid in the joint rolling process by providing a perfect cylinder to which the rolled cannabis can be integrated. The best part: now you can smoke your joint to the very end.

  6. Arrange Slowly Before Rolling

    pin vs cone joint

    Have you ever noticed that some joints come out looking like they have a little”pooch” in the middle? A bit of gentle organization with your fingertips is all that’s needed to position your bud properly and prevent the “pregnant” look, but it’s often overlooked. Pinners (straight, cigarette-shaped joints) are typically rolled for smaller groups and are very efficient, whereas cones (fluted joints that flare at the end) provide a powerful hit and maximize the size of the rolling paper.

  7. Final Prep, then Roll Patiently

    how to roll a joint

    It’s difficult to roll great joints if the ground cannabis is all over the place, so take some time and arrange it neatly within the paper. It’s important to take your time working the cannabis down into the paper to create a tube. We have additional step by step how to roll a joint help for this step if you’re struggling.

    perfect joint

    After you’ve arranged the bud and rolled the paper back and forth between your fingers, set the whole thing down on the table and see how your roll behaves. If it doesn’t hold its cylindrical shape, you won’t be able to get that tight tuck you’re looking for.

  8. Create Paper Tension Using the Tip

    rolling a joint

    If you get a little crinkle in the paper after the initial tuck, you can fix it! Using one hand hold the tuck in place, shift your other hand to the tip of the paper and pull away from the crutch. Focus on creating just enough tension in the paper to smooth it out, but don’t pull so hard that you tear it. This is an easy place to struggle, so we have some more detailed tips for how to roll a cone joint to help you get through the tuck and roll process as a beginner.

  9. Light it Correctly, No Inhale on Ignition

    how to light a joint

    Do not try to earn style points when lighting your joints. Cannabis and organic raw hemp flower joints do not burn like cigarettes, and therefore should be ignited in a different fashion. Gently rotate the joint while slowly increasing the amount of direct heat to create a long-lasting, slow-burning cherry right from the tip of your joint, preventing the dreaded “canoe” that forms when part of the joint burns more quickly than the rest. If one more person rubs their saliva all over the side of the joint to slow down the canoe, we might have to skip our turn.

  10. Step it up and Smoke Less Paper

    art of rolling a perfect joint

    Did you know you can roll joints with the paper flipped inside out like pro skier Tanner Hall? By minimizing the amount of paper used to seal the joint, you can further decrease the burn rate and avoid the unwanted paper taste. Rolling inside out may have a steeper learning curve, but those who master it rarely return to the traditional style. Give it a try once you have your basic technique down — you might surprise yourself.

  11. Twax for Potency

    twax a blunt or joint

    “Twaxing” is a new trend in cannabis. As defined by the originator, @WA5280, to twax is “to apply hash/concentrates to the inside, outside, or tip of your rolls/bowls in any way, shape, or form.” The main benefit here is a huge increase in the potency of your joint, which makes concentrates (including CBD concentrates) a potentially helpful addition (especially when sharing a joint and smoking in larger groups). If you don’t have access to BHO or any other cannabis concentrates where you live, you can still learn how to make dabs at home! By implementing the inexpensive and easy-to-execute rosin press tech, you can use any cannabis flower to produce concentrates for your joints or blunts.

  12. CBD Joints for Medicinal Benefits

The practice of twaxing can be applied with CBD concentrates as well, but you can also roll joints with raw, organic hemp flower instead of cannabis to reap the analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits of a full-spectrum dose of cannabinoids without the high. Hemp flower can provide fast-acting symptom relief that allows you to continue about your day as normal, with no impairment.
We like Canna Comforts‘ extensive collection of organic, non-GMO, high-quality, federally legal hemp flower.  Modeled after famous high-THC strains, Canna Comforts‘ hemp flower varietals provide the full experience of smoking top-shelf cannabis with all the benefits of CBD and none of the impairment.  We’ve had great success with their products. We recommend the Lifter strain (shown in image below) to practice your rolling skills, or the Wife Palm Wrap prerolls if you’d rather leave the rolling to the pros), and they meet our CBD Buyer’s Guide criteria for quality, purity, and potency.

cannabis

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