Everything You Need to Know for Your First Time Smoking Weed

First time smoking weed? Congratulations! You’re in for a whole new world of enjoyment and—if you’re looking for therapeutic benefits—hopefully, relief. Before smoking cannabis, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can help ensure that you have a great experience and avoid or reduce any unpleasant side effects.

Step 1: Choose a Cannabis Strain

The main secret to having a good time smoking marijuana is to choose the right strain. Smoking just any strain could have you passed out on the couch when you need to be somewhere else or up all night when you need to sleep. 

For your first time smoking cannabis, we recommend starting with a strain with less THC content and a higher percentage of CBD for a milder, less intoxicating high. Aside from that, choose a strain that’s known for the effects you want and appropriate for the time of day.

Aliens on Moonshine: Evening Strain

Aliens on Moonshine offers a gentle mood boost and mild high that’s perfect for your first time smoking weed. This indica dominant strain has 18% CBD and 9% THC and has a unique sweet and savory taste with a hint of chemicals. After smoking this strain, many people feel calm, uplifted, and pain-free.

Harlequin: Daytime Strain

This sativa-dominant medical marijuana strain is popular among consumers who are looking for pain relief. A product of Colombian Gold mixed with Thai and Swiss landrace strains, Harlequin offers an attractive 1:1 THC to CBD ratio and earthy mango flavor. With Harlequin, expect to feel calm, relaxed, and alert. 

Pennywise: Evening Strain

The child of Harlequin and Jack the Ripper, Pennywise is a great relaxing strain for an evening smoke before heading off to bed. This indica-dominant strain with a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD is both relaxing and euphoric while allowing you to stay clear-headed. Expect aromas of coffee, pepper, bubblegum, and citrus.

Plushberry: Evening Strain

Plushberry is one for the berry fans in the crowd. An indica-dominant hybrid with 18% THC and very little CBD, this strain offers an uplifting mind and body high that relaxes you but doesn’t lead to couchlock. Savor the delicious notes of blackberry and raspberry.

Dancehall: Daytime Strain

Named after the reggae style, dancehall is a great strain for first-timers who want energizing rather than sedative effects. A sativa hybrid produced by crossing Juanita La Lagrimosa and Kalijah, Dancehall has a pleasant 9% THC and 15% CBD and offers an uplifting cerebral high and mild body buzz. Perfect for smoking and socializing with friends.

Other Recommended Strains

If your first smoking session goes well, give these classic strains a try. Warning: some of these strains are very potent, so you might want to stop after one or two puffs.

Popular AM Strains

  • Blue Dream

  • Jack Herer

  • CBD Narnia

Popular PM Strains

  • OG Kush

  • Granddaddy Purple

  • God’s Gift

Step 2: Choose a Smoking Device

There are a myriad of ways to smoke marijuana, and each method has its pros and cons. For your first time smoking weed, you’ll want to stick with pre-rolls or pipes and leave the cannabis concentrates and bongs to more experienced consumers.


For their first time smoking marijuana, most people go with a joint. You can ask a friend with experience smoking cannabis to roll the joint for you or purchase a pre-rolled joint from a cannabis dispensary. Joints come with the advantage of being small but still big enough to share. The downside is that you can’t cool the smoke before it enters your lungs, making you more likely to cough.


Pipes are the other most common tool for smoking marijuana for the first time. Pipes are cost-effective, they’re portable, and they don’t involve any rolling paper, so they’re easier to prepare and you won’t be inhaling burnt paper with your weed. When choosing a pipe, consider going for a silicone model and freezing it before use. This will cool the smoke for a smoother inhale and less coughing.

Step 3: Purchase Marijuana

If you’re reading this article, we’re assuming you’re at least 21 and are located in a legal city like Seattle, Portland, or Las Vegas. According to research from Nielson, the highest concentrations of cannabis consumers in the U.S. are found in the Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Las Vegas metro areas. In fact, in Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, marijuana consumers even outnumber nicotine consumers.

To buy the best weed in Seattle (or wherever you’re located), all you’ll need is a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or passport to prove that you’re of legal age. Then, head to a licensed dispensary during operating hours and make your purchase. Please note that most dispensaries—including Higher Leaf—are cash-only businesses (as a result of the difficulty that cannabis businesses have with banking institutions). So even if you place an order online, you’ll still need to pay in person with cash. Plan accordingly. 

At the Dispensary…

At your first dispensary visit, tell the budtender that it’s your first time smoking weed and ask for strain recommendations. Strains like Harlequin are usually easy to come by, but any strain with a maximum of 20% THC content (and ideally a high percentage of CBD) will usually be fine.

After you’ve chosen a strain (and a pipe, if you’ve decided to go this route), use your cash and purchase an 8th of your chosen strain. Transport the closed packet or jar home in your bag (you can’t smoke in public or in a vehicle) and begin to prepare your space.

Step 4: Prepare Your Environment

To smoke weed, you’ll need:

  • A grinder (optional)

  • A pipe or pre-roll

  • A lighter

  • A bottle of water for dry mouth

  • Healthy snacks for the munchies

  • CBD in case you get too high (optional)

  • A comfortable place to sit, like a couch

  • Music (optional)

  • Movies and/or video games (optional)

  • Something creative to do (optional)

  • Friends you trust (essential!)

For your first time, clear your schedule so that you have a good few hours without any other commitments to allow the effects to run their course. We often recommend that first-time cannabis smokers try marijuana in the afternoon in case they feel drowsy and want to sleep (this is common with indicas). However, if you’ve chosen a sativa strain, you should be ok to smoke weed in the morning—just make sure you’ve got a task to do when the energy and motivation hit.

Step 5: Smoke Cannabis

Grind Your Cannabis

Pre-rolls contain cannabis that’s already ground and ready to smoke. However, if you will be using a pipe or rolling your own, you’ll need to grind the cannabis first with a cannabis grinder or with your fingers. Don’t worry, grinding weed right before use doesn’t make it less potent.

The trick when grinding cannabis nugs is to make the pieces large enough that they won’t fly through and into your mouth and small enough that they’ll burn evenly. If you’re not sure, get an experienced cannabis smoker to check.

Prepare Your Pipe or Joint

Once ground, place the cannabis in the bowl of the pipe (the small cup at the end opposite the mouthpiece) or down the middle of the rolling paper. A couple of pinches of cannabis are usually sufficient for your first time smoking weed. If you want cooler hits, chill your silicone pipe overnight.

If you’re using rolling papers, ask an experienced friend to roll the joint for you. This is essential for ensuring an even burn and preventing the joint from “canoeing.” If you don’t have a friend who’s experienced with cannabis, go with a pre-roll or pipe.

Light Up

Ignite the lighter and hold it gently to the cannabis in the bowl or the end of the joint, just enough that it starts to burn. If you’re using a pipe, cover the small hole on the side (the carb hole) to allow the pipe to fill with smoke.

With your mouth, pull on the other end of the joint or pipe (without inhaling the smoke) until you get a red glow—known as a cherry—and an even burn. Once the cherry is rolling nicely (on a joint) or has faded (on a pipe), you’re ready to start smoking.

Inhale Deeply, Hold, and Exhale

This is the part that’s trickiest for first-time weed smokers. You want the smoke to go into your lungs—not your mouth—so that the THC can make its way into your bloodstream and from there into the brain. Oftentimes, first-time smokers don’t manage to get enough of the THC into their lungs to actually get high. 

The other trick is to stay hydrated to counter the inevitable dry mouth by drinking water before and after you smoke. It all takes a bit of practice, but don’t worry, you’ll eventually get it.

  1. Drink some water.

  2. Breathe out before you put the joint or pipe to your lips.

  3. Bring the joint or pipe to your lips and inhale deeply, allowing the marijuana smoke to enter your lungs. While inhaling, you will take your thumb off the carb hole on a pipe.

  4. Remove the joint or pipe and take a small second breath of clean air, without releasing the smoke, to transfer the smoke from your mouth to your lungs.

  5. Hold the smoke in your lungs for 1.5 seconds (longer isn’t necessary).

  6. Exhale.

  7. Drink some more water.

To get the maximum amount of THC, take two puffs of the joint and then pass it on to the next person. As we say, “puff, puff, pass!”

Sit Back and Wait for the Effects

The effects of smoking marijuana are felt much more quickly than the effects of edibles or tinctures, but it can still take a few minutes to feel anything and often longer if it’s your first time smoking weed.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to wait for 20 minutes after your first toke to see how cannabis affects you. If you have too much cannabis, you might feel nauseous, anxious, or even paranoid, so it’s better to “go low and slow.” You can always have more later on.

Cannabis Etiquette 101

While cigarettes are an individual experience, cannabis is more of a social affair. After you’ve taken your two puffs, the rule is: pass it on. Not only will you earn the favor of your smoking companions (and avoid being that guy or girl who doesn’t share), but it will give you more time to feel the effects before the joint comes around again.

If You Overdo It

Ideally, you’ll start with such a small amount of marijuana that you’ll feel a bit giggly, relaxed, and perhaps a little bit hungry. However, if you overdo it (don’t worry, we’ve all been there!), just relax and let the feelings pass. If you’re really freaked out, try smoking some CBD, chewing on some black peppers, or sucking on a lemon to temper the effects of THC.

Have Fun!

After reading these first-time-smoking-weed tips, the most important thing to remember is to keep it lighthearted and have fun. 

Most people who smoked weed for the first time had a positive experience, and if you don’t, you can always try a different strain or a different delivery method like cannabis edibles, THC tinctures, or THC topicals

Cannabis has a lot to offer and everyone’s experience is unique. Get ready, light up, and enjoy.