Informed High - Becoming Informed about Cannabis

Smoking Joints

Smoking Joints is the most common form of consuming. There are methods of smoking that do not involve combustion or open flames, but we are not talking about those today. I will create some visual guides for the actual act of rolling and smoking a joint in future posts. Today, I will be talking about smoking joints.



Important Terms


Whether you call it a Joint, Jay, Marijuana cigarette, Reefer, or Doobie, they are all the same. Do not call it a Spliff unless you have tobacco mixed into the cannabis. Unless you already smoke cannabis and nicotine individually, I would strongly advise against smoking Spliffs. Smoking a cigarette involves taking drags, or longer inhales into the lungs with an immediate exhale. Cannabis is not usually smoked like this (at least from a joint). Instead, terms used are ‘puff’ and ‘toke’ – which are used because the inhale is short and shallow into the mouth, then brought into the lungs and held. Smoking spliffs like a joint can cause a head-rush for the unaccustomed.



THC and CBD – Briefly


I have already discussed how THC is the main psychoactive property in Cannabis. Smoking Cannabis sends THC into the blood within minutes. These effects peak at 15-30 minutes and tend to decrease within 2-3 hours. Those who are habituated (used to smoking weed, have built a tolerance, etc.) to Cannabis may find their experience different from this description. Be an informed user of Marijuana. Consume a quantity you can tolerate at a rate you can handle.


THC produces effects that vary dramatically based on various factors. A few of these factors are the strain, percentage of THC and other Cannabinoids, growing conditions, and the age of the cannabis. Always ask if you are new and wondering what is inside of it. If someone calls it a spliff, ask them about it to double check whats inside. Most of the time people will be excited to talk about it, just like talking about a glass of wine or whiskey.


But these are not the topics I want to focus on today. I want to focus on the act of smoking.



Lighting a Joint


If you are the one lighting the joint, do it away from your face. Be patient and hold the joint towards the upper edge of your flame, not the tip of the lighter itself. Do not inhale while you light it (as people do with cigarettes or cigars). Let the tip get burning past the initial paper, building a bit of a red-hot spot (A Cherry). If the paper catches on fire, simply blow on it like a candle. If it is starting to burn, bring it to your mouth a draw in a little test breath, and exhale. Have a look to make sure that the cherry is forming all around the diameter, using the lighter to address unlit parts. Then go ahead and toke away.



(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Factors For Consideration


Things to consider when smoking Cannabis include the speed you inhale; the depth of your inhale; the amount of smoke you have inhaled; and lastly, how long you hold the smoke inside your lungs before exhaling. Regarding each of these, you want to inhale slowly enough that you do not feel too much burning in your mouth or lungs. You want to inhale as deeply as you can without excessive discomfort or the need to cough (it is super common to cough after smoking, but we try to prevent it). You want to inhale an amount of smoke that you can hold without it causing you to burst or start coughing. And you want to hold the smoke inside as long as you comfortably can before slowly exhaling without any coughing or significant discomfort.


Remember that we do not smoke a joint like a cigarette or a cigar. Both of these are smoked very differently (cigarette smoke is inhaled, usually shallow and brief; cigars are short fast inhales that are often kept in the mouth, not inhaled into the lungs).



Informed Consumers


Smoking Cannabis is not something that should be done carelessly. Start small and slow. Getting used to smoking joints can begin with some initial discomfort. I still get discomfort and pain with smoking, but at a tolerable level through practice and experience. Have a beverage with you. I like having any cold drink nearby, usually water, to soothe my throat.


Plan out your evening, so you know how you are getting home and have back-up plans ready. Always have some good calming music and headphones accessible. Sunglasses and eye-drops can help cover up your red eyes. If people ask why you’re so quiet, just say you’re happily baked and content.



Optimal Conditions – Meet Reality


These would be all the best-case scenarios, do not expect your first few times to align with this advice perfectly. Also, remember that getting cross-faded (smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol) will increase the impact of each, plan to consume less of each in this situation. That said, I would advice sticking to one substance per evening and not mixing at the beginner stage (or ever, if possible). Most likely you will do some coughing and have a little burn in your throat. Do not smoke cannabis and drive. Do not smoke Cannabis and work or operate heavy machinery. Stay within your tolerance level and be a responsible adult when consuming any intoxicant. Smoke a joint and relax. Find a good seat, watch a great movie, or listen to a fantastic album.




Your First Time?


It will be ok, probably amazing in fact. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, so be prepared and informed. Pick a calming album, draw a bath, and light a candle. I am pretty sure it’s impossible to have a bad time while in a hot bath listening. Stereotypes are often false, and so I should note that many people love being active while high. I adore going on walks while baked. If you like running or hiking sober, you will probably love doing them baked. For those not wanting to move so much, there are many other options. If you like movies, then watch a movie. Go outside a sit in a park if you like nature. I think you get my point.



Building Tolerance – Smoking Cannabis


I am not talking about tolerance to the effects of cannabis here; I am talking about the act of smoking (I’ll talk about tolerance another day). Getting used to smoking joints can begin with some initial discomfort. Be ready for a burning feeling. There may be some pain from inhaling. Joints are modestly rough on the throat, depending on the size.


Smoking Cannabis Joints


Smoking Joints


Imagine getting passed a hot drink and told to have some. You wouldn’t gulp it down; you would sip it. Sip your joint, like slowly drawing a liquid up a straw. Inhale a small amount into your mouth, then pull the joint away and inhale as you open your mouth. This allows the smoke a brief moment to cool down, then allows fresh air to help take the smoke into your lungs (this is just like principles behind the ‘chokes’ I will discuss for pipes and bongs). I close my lips as soon as I draw the joint away, preventing smoke from billowing out of my mouth, opening my lips and inhaling simultaneously. If you leave your mouth open that is where you will cause some smoke to escape, which looks cool, I guess.



Staying within your Tolerance


Do not feel nervous about backing out of a circle as most people understand. You could say, ‘I’m good, thanks’ or ‘I’m going to be ripped’. That is all. If you have to, say you want to keep being social, and more cannabis smoking will not help with that. Each of us has a tolerance level but rarely any understanding of what the tolerance level of others is like. People will believe you, and if they don’t, screw them.



Size Does Matter


The bigger the joint in diameter, the rougher it can be on the throat and lungs. A bigger joint means a larger cherry and higher temperature. It is easy to take a more massivejoi puff without meaning to, as joints get bigger. That puff can be much hotter than a small cherry would produce.



Saving Joints For Later


There is no rule that a joint must be smoked all at once. Do not worry about putting out a joint if you need a break (If in a group, someone else will gladly finish it I imagine). I will go for walks and smoke a joint over a period of an hour, re-lighting it every once in a while. What you can do is take the tip and press it against something hard (and non-flammable) to try to roll off the cherry so that it falls out. Then I will look to see if anything is still burning. If it is, either use that surface or lick your finger and press it into the black tip.

A Roach


The Finish Line – The Roach


The last bit of a joint that can be tough to handle is often called a roach. People sometimes keep these and smoke them later in different ways. Others throw it away once it gets too ‘spicy’ (too intense).


The further along a joint is, two things change. Firstly, the cherry is closer to your mouth, so it has less time to cool down before it enters your lips. Secondly, you have a larger buildup of resin, increasing the intensity of the smoke. This means the final third of a joint may require inhalation that is half the size as your first one (or even less). I tend to take tiny little slow puffs towards the end, leaving the smoke in my mouth longer to cool down a bit more. Treat it like you are sipping super hot tea through a straw.



Fake It Till You Make It


There is nothing with taking a little or even fake puff (just inhale as the joint gets towards your mouth but stop by the time it touches, then pull it away quickly. If you inhale some into your mouth, just let the smoke escape with an open mouth and not inhaling. It will look like you went straight to the exhale. This is a fantastic tactic if you are trying to stay in a group circle while not surpassing your tolerance. It is roughly the equivalent of walking around a party with a red plastic cup filled with apple juice.



Just Say No


Trying to say no as you stand in a circle and someone is passing to you will draw the encouragement of others, so what I see many people do to save time is this. When you are passed the joint, take it, and pass it along. The person who has passed it is likely distracted by having just smoked and the person you pass to will be happy to have a joint in their hands. Most won’t notice or say anything. Many will be happy to have more for themselves. Either way, be stern, hold your ground, and stay within your tolerance. It is you not them that will suffer from smoking joints beyond your tolerance level.




This post got too long to include Pipes and Bongs; I will post that part soon. Thanks for reading!


Arnold Warkentin

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