Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 18, 2023

Weed seems to be everywhere these days and in various forms – from the more recent hit products like tinctures and oils, to the classics like joints and edibles. Add to that the widely available information on its one-of-a-kind effects and you’ll get an increased interest in weed, and rightfully so.

If you’re new to cannabis, you might be curious about its effects and properties, and what the famous “high” actually feels like. Don’t worry, we have you covered. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about using weed for the first time and what being high feels like, from the specific effects it produces to ways you can consume it.

Let’s get into it.

Difference Between CBD and THC

First things first. You may have heard about the two main chemical compounds found in weed called cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). These two compounds are largely responsible for the characteristic effects that weed causes. The other major compounds found in weed are called terpenoids and they provide the flavor and aroma.

When cannabinoids enter the body, they interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which is a network of receptors involved in many essential metabolic processes, like mood, memory, digestion, sleep, immunity, coordination, and others.

Briefly, THC is the main psychoactive compound responsible for getting you high. It binds to the endocannabinoid receptors present in the brain and the central nervous system and it acts as a neurotransmitter that indirectly stimulates the release of dopamine. This leads to feelings of euphoria and elation, also known as the “marijuana high”. Larger doses of THC or strains with very high THC levels tend to cause unpleasant side effects.

CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t produce feelings of euphoria, but it does serve to balance out the mind-altering effects of THC. It has anti-inflammatory and calming effects, which is why people who want to avoid the effects of THC choose to consume CBD products instead. CBD is better tolerated in larger doses and rarely causes any side effects.

Different Strains Cause Different Effects

There are hundreds of different strains of weed, all with varying THC and CBD concentrations. But, to simplify things, it’s important to note that there are three main types of the cannabis plant, and all other strains go from there.

  • Indica (Cannabis indica) is a species of cannabis that’s native to the Hindu Kush mountains of India. It’s known to produce feelings of relaxation and calmness.
  • Sativa (Cannabis sativa) is the other cannabis species that’s native to eastern Asia. Sativa is the opposite of Indica in that it has energizing effects.
  • Hybrid strains are a cross between Indica strains and Sativa strains. Cultivators create them and grow them in controlled conditions in order to produce strains of weed with unique properties. There are many hybrids, some of which have become staples over the decades, like Gorilla Glue, Purple Haze, Pineapple Express, and others. Hybrids have varying concentrations of THC and CBD and they’re mostly created with certain desired effects in mind, whether for medicinal or recreational use.

How Does Weed Affect the Brain?

As we mentioned earlier, depending on the strain, the effects of marijuana will vary. Generally, you will experience a feeling of relaxation and euphoria wash over you. You may feel like you’re in a very good mood and may become giggly. Some strains may make you feel a rush of creativity. You may feel like time is moving slower than normal and like you’re able to take in everything all at once and appreciate the little details.

How Does Weed Affect the Body?

Again, the cannabis high will be different depending on the strain. Some may make you feel energized in your body and able to take on any challenge. These strains are better to use during the day because of their stimulating effects.

Strains that are high in THC are likely to produce feelings of lethargy and drowsiness, also known as couch-lock. This happens when your body is so relaxed that you feel like you’re glued to the couch. These strains are largely recommended for night time so you can relax and sleep better. However, these guidelines don’t have to apply to medical marijuana use as users will take it in accordance to their needs, whether during the day or at night.

Most Common Methods of Consumption

Nowadays, with so many ways to consume marijuana, you can take your pick. However, you also need to know what your needs are and what you’re looking to achieve, so you can start with the method that’s best suited for you. The most common methods for cannabis use are smoking, vaping, and edibles.

What Does Vaping Feel Like?

Vaping is becoming very popular these days, and the modern vaporizers work with both weed concentrates and dry herb, so you have more options. Vaping weed has an advantage in that you can control the temperature at which THC is released. This gives you options to experience varying degrees of high, which is perfect when you’re a beginner.

But mind you, with vaping you inhale vapor instead of smoke because the weed doesn’t burn, but is heated. Inhaling vapor means that your lungs won’t get as irritated as with smoking weed. Additionally, when you vape, higher concentrations of cannabinoids are released and the effects will be stronger, so you need to be cautious about that. The good thing is that it doesn’t take long to feel the effects, so you’ll know immediately if you’re stoned.

What Does Smoking Feel Like?

Smoking is by far the most standard way of consuming cannabis. It’s somewhat similar to vaping, but due to the high temperature of the smoke, some of the cannabinoids and terpenoids undergo combustion and lose their potency when you inhale, but it’s not by much.

When you smoke weed whether with a joint or from a bong, it’s difficult to know in advance how much you’ll need, so you’ll have to monitor your reactions. It takes from a few to 20 minutes to feel the effects of cannabis after one hit, so the best thing to do is to pace yourself when you’re a beginner.

What Do Edibles Feel Like?

Edibles are in a league of their own. Compared to smoking and vaping, cannabis edibles (brownies, weed butter, gummies, candies) take the longest to kick in, and this is something you should remember well. Since you’re inhaling anything directly, but you’re ingesting it, weed has to go through your digestive system and be metabolized by the liver before the effects of cannabinoids are felt. This usually means you have to wait at least an hour and a half.

However, delayed onset of effects doesn’t mean you’ll barely feel it. It means that you’ll feel the high but it will last longer than with smoking or vaping because the cannabinoids bind to the lipids in your cells.

Side Effects of Weed and What to Do About Them

Side effects are temporary and they shouldn’t be a cause of concern if you consume weed responsibly. Many people who have built up tolerance will rarely experience any side effects, but for new consumers, it can happen. Side effects (and a “weed hangover”) can also be felt with larger doses, or even with stronger strains, no matter the tolerance.

The most common side effects are experiencing dry mouth (cottonmouth) and red eyes. This is very common and except for being slightly uncomfortable, it’s not serious. You can relieve dry mouth by drinking water with some freshly squeezed lemon to stimulate the salivary glands. The most well-known common side effect is getting the munchies, which is feeling very very hungry. So, to prepare yourself, you can stock up your fridge or your cabinet with some extra delicious foods.

Other possible side effects, usually caused by high THC concentrations, are elevated heart rate and experiencing heightened anxiety and paranoia. These feelings can be very unpleasant, especially for inexperienced users. If this happens, it’s important to remember that you’re safe and that it’s temporary, and that you’ll feel better the next day. It helps to slow down and find a comfortable spot, maybe distract your thoughts by listening to music or talking to a friend.

Bottom Line

Weed is one of the most widely consumed substances around the world and it’s getting more popular by the day. The main compounds in weed are the cannabinoids called CBD and THC which are mainly responsible for its medical and psychoactive effects. While CBD doesn’t induce mind altering effects, THC is the main psychoactive cannabinoid that produces the “marijuana high”. The cannabinoids interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid system and bind to its receptors.

There are many different ways of using marijuana, the most common being smoking, vaping, and consuming edibles. Vaping and smoking cannabis are somewhat similar because it doesn’t take long for them to kick in, but edibles take at least 90 minutes because they need to go through the digestive system.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.