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How to Smoke Weed: A Beginner’s Guide

It’s never too late to learn the basics.

The decidedly uphill battle to legalize marijuana, medical or otherwise, is likely to be with us for decades to come. Legislating morality in our country has always been fraught. As we have seen, even if marijuana is legal in some states, that doesn’t mean the federal government won’t get involved, as I discovered woefully a few years back when the owners of my own dear collective in Malibu, California, were forced to pack up and flee after receiving a threatening letter from Obama’s U.S. Attorney General’s office. And under Trump and Jeff Sessions, the feds are no friend of the pro-pot crowd.

Meanwhile, glassy eyes around the nation are turned toward the nine states (plus D.C.) where pot is now legal for a sign as to where this is all going.

Given the choice between a drunk (and impaired) asshole and a pleasant stoner. Well, put it this way: If my college-bound kid was to ask my advice on the subject, I’d tell him I prefer he smoked weed in lieu of drinking. Watch one episode of Real World. That’s what our kids are emulating, people. (Of course, I’d also tell him to watch his butt—people still get busted for simple marijuana possession every day in America.)

There’s not a lot to know to get you started, and I am not here advocating the use of illegal substances. But if you happen to be interested, here’s what to know about marijuana.

1. Indica vs. Sativa

Learn the difference. Indica makes you sleepy; it’s more of a body high, good for pain, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping—you’ll likely nod out a couple hours after smoking. Sativa is a more upbeat, artistic, and cerebral high. It sparks the imagination and energizes you directly after smoking, and will keep you awake if you smoke too close to bedtime. Most stoners remember the difference in a somewhat anti-intuitive way. Sativa starts with an S = NOT sleepy.

2. Just Say No to Blunts

The hip-hop generation has popularized the use of tobacco leaf rolling papers or hollowed-out/re-rolled Swisher Sweets as the delivery device of choice for weed. Not only can this lead to an addiction to nicotine, it also kills the taste of the myriad delicious strains now on the market. Nobody would ever mix a shot of red wine in a glass with ice and Coke, would they?

3. Know Your Equipment

Some people swear by vaporizers, which eliminate the intense skunky smell (good for dorm rooms and public spots) and the inhalation of smoke (possibly but not medically proven to adversely affect the lungs). However, the vape high is considerably less intense and shorter lasting. While a bong can be unruly and downright disgusting, a small water pipe can fulfill the same purpose, filtering the more noxious elements of combustion. For cleaning, isopropyl alcohol cuts resin nicely. Remember the container full of combs soaking in blue liquid on the barber’s counter? I do the same with my glass pipes.

4. Giggling Gets Old

The first time you smoke, feel free to giggle your ass off, munch down on Double Stuf Oreos and barbecue potato chips, and marvel at the newfound intensity of movies, music, sex, et al. The primary effect of weed is to enhance the sensory enjoyment of everything around you. But please, if you continue to smoke, learn some dignity. Conquer the munchies and the giggles. Concentrate instead on these newly opened doors of perception.

5. Expectations

If pot makes you feel paranoid, it’s because it affords the user a slightly different view of him or herself. When you’re high, your words echo discreetly in your own coconut, and your point of view is slightly off center from normal, affording you a kind of fleeting glimpse of yourself and your actions that you might not ordinarily have. Weed invites self-observation, which is not for everyone. Even though it should be.

There's not a lot to know to get you started, and I am not here advocating the use of illegal substances. But if you happen to be interested, here's everything you need to know about smoking marijuana.

A beginner’s guide to buying cannabis gear

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Contents

  1. What types of cannabis products do you consume?
  2. How do you prefer to consume cannabis?
  3. How often do you consume cannabis?
  4. Where will you consume cannabis?
  5. What restrictions or concerns do you need to work around?
  6. Individual or social consumption?
  7. Functional or artistic?
  8. What’s your budget?

Buying cannabis gear is all about understanding your preferences and then tailoring your gear to those preferences. To get you started, here are eight key questions to consider. The answers to these questions will determine the kind of cannabis gear and weed paraphernalia best suited for your consumption needs.

What types of cannabis products do you consume?

Thanks in large part to ongoing legalization across the world, there are now more consumption options than ever before. Although flower is still the go-to product for many, concentrates have proliferated in recent years to become the fastest-growing product category in the legal marijuana industry — on pace to outsell flower products by 2022. Similarly, a rapidly expanding range of edibles, drinkables, topicals, and tinctures are also now available on both the medical and recreational market.

In all of these cases, each product type requires its own unique and distinctive set of equipment. This is especially true when it comes to storage. Specific considerations include:

Flower

If you’re going to enjoy flower, you’ll need adequate storage gear to keep your buds out of direct light and in an airtight environment, away from extreme temperatures and open air, and at the correct humidity levels.

If you’re going to enjoy flower, you’ll need adequate storage gear. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Concentrates

Concentrates also require storage gear that keeps them at the proper temperature and humidity levels, and away from open air and direct light. Additionally, you should also store your concentrates in a container that makes it easy to scoop out dabs when you’re ready to consume your concentrate.

You should store your concentrates in a container that makes it easy to scoop out dabs. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Vape pens

Among the most convenient cannabis products on the market today, vape pens also require proper storage to keep the battery functional and oil consumable. In addition to avoiding direct light and extreme temperatures, the most important factor for storing your vape pen is to keep it standing upright so the oil does not flow away from the heating element, potentially decreasing the effectiveness of your pen.

Store your vape pen standing upright so the oil does not flow away from the heating element, potentially decreasing the effectiveness of your pen. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Foods and topicals

Various cannabis products, such as tinctures, topicals, edibles, and drinkables, don’t require very specific storage gear as long as you keep them away from direct light and extreme temperatures and limit their exposure to open air. If you have an open container of drinkables, edibles, or tincture, it is generally a good idea to keep them refrigerated.

Foods and topicals don’t require very specific storage gear as long as you keep them away from direct light and extreme temperatures and limit their exposure to open air. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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How do you prefer to consume cannabis?

Just as different cannabis products require specific types of storage gear, different cannabis products are also linked to various methods of consumption, each of which dictates the device or piece you will need to enjoy your selected cannabis product.

Different cannabis products are also linked to various methods of consumption, each of which dictates the device or piece you will need to enjoy your selected cannabis product. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Smoking flower remains very popular with a wide swath of cannabis consumers. But it’s also becoming much more common to vaporize flower and concentrates. Each approach, along with the consumer-specific preference, requires different gear.

Similarly, concentrates, edibles, drinkables, topicals, and tinctures often require their own unique set of equipment. So before doing anything else, consider the following factors related to your preferred consumption method:

  • Smoking a pipe: Common pipes include spoons, bubblers, and other handheld pieces. While pipes come in a variety of materials, it’s generally best to stick with glass, as this tends to be the cleanest, safest, and most visually striking material.
  • Smoking a bong: If you want to soften the smoke that comes from combusting flower, a bong might be the right apparatus. You may also want additional components such as a specialty bowl, a downstem with a percolator, an ice pinch, or other similar features that can make the consumption experience more enjoyable.
  • Smoking a joint, blunt, or spliff: If rolling is your style, you’ll obviously need your preferred rolling papers or blunt wrap, as well as filters or crutch paper. For those who prefer to keep their hands non-sticky, you may also want to purchase a rolling tray or rolling machine.
  • Smoking a one-hitter: This approach requires a simple one-hitter pipe and in most cases, an accompanying dugout, which is a compact storage device for both your one-hitter pipe and a stash of bud.
  • Vaporizing flower: To vaporize flower, you need a flower-compatible vaporizer. In general, these will come as either small handheld vaporizers or larger, more tabletop vaporizers that are stationary.
  • Dabbing concentrates: If you plan on dabbing, you will need to purchase a dab rig, which includes a water pipe and a number of dab-specific components such as nails, domes, blowtorches, e-nails, and more.
  • Using a vape pen: If you prefer consuming cannabis with a vape pen, you will need two main components: a battery and a cartridge containing cannabis oil. The battery provides the power to heat the element inside the cartridge, which in turn vaporizes the oil.

How often do you consume cannabis?

The frequency of your cannabis consumption also plays a role in figuring out the type of cannabis gear is best suited for you. For example, if you are a frequent cannabis consumer — daily or near-daily — you may be better off investing in more expensive, durable gear than someone who consumes much less frequently.

Obviously, you want the best quality gear you can afford, regardless of how often you consume. But infrequent consumers can often use more affordable, entry-level gear without sacrificing their experience, where a daily consumer might max out the capabilities and lifespan of such gear more quickly and therefore opt for more expensive gear that can withstand constant use.

Where will you consume cannabis?

If you know you’re going to consume cannabis primarily indoors, you can generally opt for larger and potentially more complex or intricate pieces including things such as:

  • Large and elaborate artistic bongs
  • Bongs and glass pipes with multiple chambers, bowls, and percolators
  • Dab rigs with multiple chambers and percolators
  • E-nails, which use a digital interface and electrical heating elements to heat a dab nail to precise temperatures
  • Multi-functional tabletop vaporizers for flower

If you know you’re going to consume cannabis primarily indoors, you can generally opt for larger and potentially more complex or intricate pieces. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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On the other hand, if you plan on consuming cannabis outdoors or while traveling, you need to opt for smaller pieces and gear that are built out of more travel-friendly materials. This could include:

  • Silicone bongs
  • Protective, hard shell carrying cases
  • Odor-proof backpacks, handbags, purses, or luggage for discreetly carrying bud and other cannabis gear
  • A one hitter housed in a compact dugout
  • Small vape pens with THC cartridges
  • Handheld vaporizers designed for flower
  • Travel-friendly nectar collectors with silicone dab jars for a slightly more mobile dabbing option

If you plan on consuming cannabis outdoors or while traveling, you need to opt for smaller pieces and gear that are built out of more travel-friendly materials. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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What restrictions or concerns do you need to work around?

Even in the ongoing age of cannabis legalization, cannabis consumers often run into a number of obstacles that require extra discretion. Working around such obstacles typically requires certain types of gear.

The most common concerns for cannabis consumers have to do with odor. If you need to limit the aromas associated with consuming marijuana, you will need to purchase odor-proof storage and traveling containers, sploofs, or a personal air filter. You may also want to focus your consumption on vape pens, edibles, topicals, or tinctures, as these products generally do not carry the same strong odors as flower and its byproducts.

In other cases, consumers find themselves more worried about keeping their cannabis and cannabis gear out of sight. For that, you can purchase designer storage lockers, boxes, and containers that are built to look stylish while also sealing in odors. In many cases, these types of storage containers also function as humidors to keep your cannabis fresh. You can also purchase smaller-sized bongs, pipes, or dab rigs that are easier to store in a hidden place.

Individual or social consumption?

Another key factor to consider when selecting cannabis gear is if you’ll be consuming individually or socially.

When consuming marijuana on your own, you’ll generally be better off using smaller bowls and pipes, since you will be burning through smaller amounts of bud during a solo smoke sesh. Similarly, you can get away with more minimalist storage equipment, as you will likely have smaller quantities of product on hand.

If you plan on consuming cannabis in more social settings, you should adapt your gear accordingly. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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If you plan on consuming cannabis in more social settings, you should adapt your gear accordingly. This could include buying components such as double bowl adapters for your bong, larger bowls and spoon pipes, or a rolling machine to help you twist multiple joints more quickly and easily.

Functional or artistic?

Interestingly, many types of cannabis gear have become closely linked to artistic production and expression. This is most clearly seen in the world of glass cannabis equipment, which has thrust a number of esteemed glassblowers into the spotlight of cannabis culture.

If you’re focused primarily on function, then you should look for scientific glass pieces. This category of gear tends to include thicker, more durable glass and is designed for precise, reliable performance with little concern for how the pieces actually look. As a result, scientific glass typically has a very minimalist aesthetic, something like what you would see in a laboratory.

If function is your main priority, then you should look for scientific glass pieces. If your priority is style, you might want to look for custom, handmade art pieces. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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On the other hand, if you’re invested in the stylistic and artistic side of cannabis, you may be better suited looking for custom, handmade art pieces. Because this type of gear is typically more intricate, using colors and imaginative shapes and designs, the glass is often not as thick or durable as scientific glass. Additionally, artistic glass pieces tend to be more expensive than scientific pieces. But for people who like the aesthetic elements of cannabis culture, the slightly less durable glass and slightly higher price tags of an artistic piece are often worth it.

What’s your budget?

Your budget will play a major role in determining the kind of gear you need.

If you’re on a tight budget, you should focus on less ornate, more affordable gear that strikes a balance between cost and durability. Keep in mind, if you get equipment that’s too cheap and that breaks too easily, you might end up spending more in the long run than if you had purchased a higher-end piece to begin with.

On the other hand, if you have a larger budget, the sky really is the limit. A larger budget will allow you to invest in higher quality gear with extra functionality. This could include a deluxe, multi-function tabletop vaporizer, a large multi-chamber bong with multiple percolators, high-end dab rigs, and more. A larger budget also gives you room to invest in custom-made artistic pieces, some of which can carry price tags as high as $100,000 and up.

A beginner’s guide to buying cannabis gear Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What types of cannabis products do you consume? How do you prefer