Guest Post: Leafly beginners guide to cannabis

The nice folks at Leafly sent us this handy introduction to recreational cannabis – with some good tips and information for folks new to legal pot.

The company, based in Seattle, has a great phone app and a nice site with tons of other information about various strains of marijuana and the science behind them. Check it out if you have time at leafly.com

Cheers! -SueVo

The Beginner’s Guide to Recreational Cannabis
Guest post by Cy Scott, Leafly.com

With cannabis now legal for recreational use in the state of Washington, many people are finding themselves interested in trying cannabis for the first time in years – or for the first time ever.

So what do you need to know if you’re a novice consumer? This beginners’ guide is meant to help you navigate the new territory of cannabis and ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.


One of the first things you should know is that there are many varieties, or strains, of cannabis to choose from.

In fact, there are more than 800 strains available in the thousands of dispensaries across the U.S. Strains fall into one of three categories: indicas, which often induce relaxed, full-body effects; sativas, which tend to make people feel more uplifted and euphoric; and hybrids, which can fall anywhere in between.

Informational sites like Leafly can help you locate strains that will have the effects you’re looking for.

You can explore hundreds of different varieties before you even set foot in a store, and filter your search by effect, medical usage or potential side effects.

As you become more experienced and start trying out different varieties, you’ll probably start to notice that different strains have their own aromas, flavor profiles and intensities, much like your favorite wine or craft beer.

Experimenting with different strains is an exciting way to broaden your experience and learn what it is you’re looking for in cannabis. You might find that you prefer some varieties over others, but there’s no need to limit yourself.

You can even try pairing your cannabis with beer or wine using our flavor matching guides.

Once you’ve decided on a strain, the next step is to decide what method you’re going to use to consume it. The most common consumption methods are smoking, vaporizing and edibles, each of which comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.



Smoking is the most common and well-known method of consuming cannabis.

People smoke cannabis in a variety of ways, including with hand pipes, water pipes, rolling papers and hookahs.

Smoking is often the choice of first-time users because it allows them to get an idea of how cannabis will affect them relatively quickly, and it’s easy to slowly increase the dosage until you reach your desired level.

The effects of smoked cannabis tend to peak within the first 10 minutes after consumption, and rapidly dissipate over the next 30 to 60 minutes. However, the medical risks linked to smoking might deter more health-conscious consumers from choosing this method.



A vaporizer is a small electronic device that passes hot air over dried cannabis or cannabis concentrate, extracting its active ingredients and turning them into vapor.

The vapor is then inhaled by the user through a mouthpiece. Vaporizing essentially eliminates the health risks of smoking, which makes it a great choice for health-conscious consumers. Many users also find that vaporizers produce less odor and a smoother, better-tasting experience than smoking.

Vaporizers come in a wide variety of models and functionalities, and new designs are being brought to the market all the time.



Edibles are cannabis-infused foods or beverages that produce a high when eaten.

When consuming edibles, the golden rule is to start slow and be patient. Edibles can produce an intense, psychedelic-type high that can last for several hours, and this can become very uncomfortable if the dosage is higher than you can handle.

One of the most common mistakes that new users make with edibles is taking too much, too soon; because of the way they’re metabolized by the body, edibles take much longer to take effect than smoking or vaporizing, so you should wait at least an hour before consuming more.

Edibles are also notoriously difficult to dose; the amount of THC in an edible can vary greatly by product, and even within each batch of a given product.

On the other hand, edibles can be a healthier alternative to smoking, and their long-lasting effects can be helpful for people who are using cannabis to treat chronic pain or other conditions.

There are many other delivery methods for cannabis out there, from tinctures and ingestible oils to topical creams.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

As with alcohol, the best rule of thumb is to take it slowly, and only increase the dosage when you know how your body will respond. Go one step at a time, and see what works best for you.

Finally, here are a few legal tips you should know if you’re planning on enjoying Washington’s recreational cannabis.

Leafly’s Cannabis 101
• You must be 21 or older to buy cannabis.
• Consume cannabis in the privacy of your home – you can be fined up to $100 for public consumption.
• Driving under the influence of cannabis is both irresponsible and illegal.
• It is against the law to take cannabis beyond state lines.

Cannabis possession limits:
• Dried cannabis 1 oz
• Extracts 7 grams
• Infused Foods and solid topicals 16 oz
• Infused Beverages and liquid topicals 72 oz