US weed prohibition laws have changed in spurts since Oregon first decriminalized the plant in 1973, so they’re inconsistent state-by-state, Johnson explains. The federal government still considers cannabis to be a Schedule 1 drug, even though eight states and Washington D.C. say it’s legal for recreation and 30 for medical use. Legalization doesn’t mean everyone can buy, smoke, or grow on a whim. In California, for example, it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to buy weed. Even those of age can only purchase an ounce per day of flower and eight grams of concentrated oil. Johnson advises looking up whether your state has laws against certain types of paraphernalia, as well.
Brandon L. Wyatt, Esq., an army veteran and Howard University School of Law alum who serves on the board of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, points out that the ramifications of getting caught can go beyond fines and jail time. “Cannabis use can have an effect on your federal entitlements,” he tells VICE. For example, you can be evicted from a public housing project or military barracks for possessing cannabis, even if you have a medical card. Private landlords and employers also reserve the right to evict residents or fire employees for consuming cannabis, even in states where it’s legal.
In states where recreational cannabis isn’t legal, understanding the different patterns of enforcement is key. Earlier this month, New York City stopped arresting people for smoking weed in public, opting instead for a court summons and a $100 fine. Statistics also show that cops treat cannabis possession very differently depending on race. The ACLU reports cannabis use is “roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested” for possession.
If the above hasn’t seen you abandon the quest, the first step to getting high is finding a reliable connect. Tony Greenhand, an artist who makes a living selling custom smokeable sculptures and who rolled a joint that was at one point the largest in the world, recommends finding the highest quality bud possible for your first experience. “It can be tempting to buy a cheaper or weaker alternative,” he said in an email, but that’s a rookie move. “More often than not, a cheaper option has had something go wrong in the growing process or curing process. This is most true of weed found on the black market. A cheaper black market option may contain pesticides, mold, bugs or debris.”
Pick the right spot to get high. Location can be the difference between a great experience and an awful one. Even seasoned cannabis users can get lost in the mountains or ground an aircraft by getting high in the wrong place or at the wrong time.
Despite the persistent march toward legalization, about 87 percent of weed in North America was purchased on the black market, according to a 2016 survey. That means most of cannabis culture looks different based on the rules and regulations implemented by different states. Whether buying from an authorized dispensary or a friend’s cousin’s weed guy, there are real risks that come with your first experience with pot. They range from simply getting ripped off with weak product to health issues to serious punishment. Here are a few tips that will keep you safe, happy, and maximize your enjoyment.
Learning to use cannabis well is an underrated life skill. Smoking circles are a fast and easy way to make friends, and they’re way more intimate than dollar beer night at the trashy local bar. It’s no wonder 22 million or so American adults use cannabis monthly, according to a 2015 study, and a June survey found that daily use is on the rise. It’s the third most popular mind-altering substance in the country, after booze and nicotine.
Composite by the author via Nicholas R. Andrew
Next, choose a method. Greenhand suggests first-timers use a small pipe, since they’re cheap, easy to find, and easy to use. Most gas stations and smoke shops throughout the country have them regardless of cannabis laws, though glass pipes are illegal in some states. In a pinch, you can make a pipe out of just about anything, but Greenhand recommends avoiding DIY at first.
Don't start with edibles.