Read before burning: What if you try cannabis and don’t like the effects?

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Let’s say you’re smoking marijuana — perhaps for the first time. What do you do if you just aren’t liking it?

Maybe it’s that you tried it and you didn’t get high. If it’s your first time using THC this might be the case. It sometimes takes two or three tries to get human cannabinoid receptors on board and running up to capacity.

Another reason for not feeling the buzz is that you may just not recognize that it is happening. Some people expect it to be like getting drunk or like some other drug they may have taken. The marijuana high can be subtle and affect you in ways that you don’t expect. For instance, instead of becoming boisterous and loud, you may have a sudden fascination with the weave on your clothing, or the taste of the best peach you ever ate.

Another reason that you may not feel high is that you got crappy weed. That happens less often these days, but it’s a possibility. Or you may not have taken or smoked enough. Wait a little while and see what develops. Don’t rush into taking more and more. For one thing, your high may have been delayed, and the additional THC in your system will make you way too high. If you still don’t get high, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Try again on another occasion.

If you do get high and don’t like the feeling, it could be that you just don’t care for that feeling of being a little out of control, drifty and falling into a time warp. The other feelings can be anxiety or paranoia — which can be very serious. However, it’s possible to deal with those feelings by employing one or more of the following strategies:

1. Go to sleep. Chances are that when you wake up you will not be high anymore, or at least not nearly as high as you were. You may sleep for a long, long time and it’s normal. You may also have some strange dreams. But aren’t all dreams kind of strange?

2. Relax, and know it will be over soon. The peak of a smoked or vaped marijuana high comes just minutes after ingesting, and it’s a slow downhill coast from there. If you ate it then the experience will last longer, perhaps six hours or more, but in the end, you will gently come down.

3. Go into the bathroom. Unless you’re in a really strange place, everything in there will be very familiar to you and the solitude might chill you out. Maybe there will be a lot of cool white porcelain and you can rub your hands on it. Maybe you can turn on a faucet and listen to the water. Just don’t be surprised if someone knocks on the door to ask why you have been in there so long.

If it’s your own bathroom, a long, warm and relaxing bath could be just what you need. Chances are you’re not going to pass out and drown in the tub. And no matter how much you may want to ponder the possibility, you cannot swirl down the drain with the water. (If there is a bidet in there, consider that you may have transported to France.)

4. Speaking of water, if you’re near a lake, river or stream, go sit and watch the water flow. Science tells us that viewing and listening to water induces a flood of neurochemicals that relax us. That’s why we like the beach so much or find going fishing to be so meditative, even if no fish are caught. If you become fascinated with this idea check out the book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.

Water is a very powerful force and affects the human psyche in mysterious and usually good ways.

5. Listen to music that you like. As with water, music affects us powerfully and deeply. It improves your mood, relieves symptoms of depression, and inspires and entertains you. While listening to music you might try dancing. Being part of a group doing the electric slide can give you the feeling of organic wholeness with the rest of humanity. If you don’t like music or dancing, then maybe you should leave marijuana alone.

6. Find your friend that gave the marijuana to you and let them know how you are feeling. Maybe you all should take a nice long walk together in the park. As you commune with nature not only will the natural surroundings be calming but the physical exertion will help move your body into a familiar rhythm and get you out of your head.

7. Eat something really good. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing. You’ll get the great taste of the food and the well-being one gets from having a full belly. Warm, freshly made baked goods are some of the most comforting things you can eat.

8. If you have a hobby like stamp collecting or building ships in bottles or mixing music in your basement studio — something that gets you lost in details for hours — then do it. You’ll probably forget that you’re high.

9. Sometimes you just have to ride it out. Remember that nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose and that you have not irredeemably adulterated your bloodstream, your body or your brain.

10. There is always physical contact such as holding hands, hugging a friend or getting a massage. These warm, physical assurances of human connection could be just what you need. Sex might be appropriate at some point, but if you are not feeling in your comfort zone, attempting something sexual could bring up issues you don’t want to deal with at this time.

Before trying anything new, particularly anything involving concentrates or extracts, make sure you read the information on the package. Remember that you shouldn’t eat the entire 100 mg THC chocolate bar in one sitting. (Aim for 10 mg or less, and work up from there after waiting an hour or so.)

Cannabis is a splendid thing that affects different people in different ways, and varies from situation to situation. Be careful, be with friends, and be well.

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