Having a glass of wine alone at home with dinner is a different experience than doing a shot of whiskey on an empty stomach in a night club. Yet, both scenarios are considered to be drinking alcohol. There are many different factors that come into play that can influence how you experience substance effects. For anyone who has consumed alcohol, you experience different feelings in different situations. Cannabis is essentially similar to that concept.
So, what are some of those outside factors that can interfere both positively and negatively when consuming cannabis? We’ve put together a list of 6 factors to consider that can impact your experience:
1. Environment & Mood
I put this at number one because the environment and the mood you are in can have an enormous impact on anything you do. If you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, adding in an outside element like consuming cannabis can have both good and bad reactions. It can make you feel more relaxed and comfortable, but it can also make you feel paranoid with an overwhelming need to remove yourself from the situation.
Most experienced cannabis users are well aware of the different ways cannabis can affect them, but if you are early on in your journey with experimenting with cannabis create positive experiences. Start by being in environments where you have privacy and are alone or around people you trust and feel comfortable with. This will eliminate other worries and concerns you may encounter.
The intention of consuming cannabis is to help your wellbeing or heal your ailments. Make sure you set yourself up to have good experiences. All too often, you hear stories of paranoia and feeling too stoned to do anything. Most people are not after that type of encounter. When you are in the right environment, and in the right head-space, cannabis can bring you feelings of pain relief, have calming effects and contribute to your health, wellness, and happiness.
2. Method of Consumption
Different methods of consumption will have different effects. Edibles have to be processed through your digestive system, where taking a couple of puffs from a vape pen can have instant effects. Whether you prefer edibles, vaping, a joint, dabbing, tinctures, etc. it is your personal preference, but the methods can vary in how the high comes on.
Sometimes edibles aren’t felt fast enough prompting a person to take more before the full effects are felt. This can lead to feeling too high and uncomfortable. Smoking a joint may have a lingering smell that stays on your clothes or in your hair. This can make some people feel paranoid if out in public. Every experience is so different. It’s important to just be cognitive and smart about the method you choose to consume.
3. The Cannabinoid Ratio
For the sake of time and length of this article, I am just going to discuss THC and CBD cannabinoids. While more research is being done, CBD and THC are the most influential cannabinoids to pay attention to today’s cannabis products. Many people smoke weed solely for the THC effects. THC is what makes you feel high. However, there is a large population of people who are exploring cannabis health benefits that do not enjoy the feeling from THC and they are more focused on CBD. You will often find in many products on the market today the THC:CBD ratio. This ratio is what you should take notice of when determining how it makes you feel. If you consume something that is high in CBD and low in THC you may not have any of the head high. Depending on your preferences and desired effects, you may want to adjust that ratio.
Research has shown that CBD almost has a balancing effect on THC. If for example, a tincture is high in THC but contains equal parts CBD you may not feel any or that much of a high as if you were to consume a cannabis product that has the same THC level with less CBD. You can find a dispensary that can point you in the right direction for what your desired effects are, but the best way to find your cannabis sweet spot will simply be to do some experimenting.
4. Amount Consumed
This seems like a no-brainer. The amount you consume will most definitely have an effect on your experience. Dosing can be difficult depending on what cannabis products you prefer, but most products found in retail dispensaries will have dosing suggestions.
The only way to control and have a positive experience is to proceed with caution. Be aware of overdoing it and consuming too much too soon before you are ready. You can always consume more, but you cannot turn back if you took too much.
5. Demographics; age, weight, gender
If you have ever drunk alcohol in your 20’s compared to your 30’s you can make an anecdotal assumption that you just can’t indulge the way you use to when you were young. It’s also been studied and proven that men can consume and tolerate more alcohol than women. So it comes as no surprise that things like age, weight, gender type demographics will have an impact on how cannabis will affect you. A 25-year-old man weighing 180 pounds will have a completely different experience then a 35-year-old woman weight 120 pounds if they consumed the same amount of marijuana. These types of factors are what make it so difficult to share insight into how a specific type of cannabis can make someone feel.
There are more studies coming out and being done to analyze the different ways cannabis affects a variety of different demographic groups. For example, this study showed how sex differences exist in the oxidative metabolism of THC. We encourage you to dive deeper into some of this information that is being published. Having the knowledge to understand how cannabis can affect your specific demographic can lead you to a more positive experience overall.
The last factor I wanted to make note of is tolerance. Similar to the discussion about demographics, so many different things have an effect on how you experience cannabis. Everyone is so different. There are both things that are in and out of your control as to what affects your tolerance.
If you are someone who uses cannabis frequently and has become accustomed to the different ways it affects you, you are going to have a higher tolerance than someone who has only begun experimenting. However, things like we mentioned earlier; age, gender, etc. are not factors that you can control, you simply have to adjust factors like environment and quantity consumed to be able to create a well-balanced experience.
Be Smart, Experiment in Moderation
There’s a lot to consider and while having a good understanding of how cannabis impacts you and what determines your high, the best way to create a positive experience is to consume cannabis in moderation. Whether you smoke, eat edibles, vape, etc. be smart and responsible about how you experience it and you will learn about what the right make-up is for your individual needs.