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How to Start Smoking Weed Again Like Your Stoner Glory Days

A very practical guide to finding your green sea legs once more — no matter how much time has gone by since your senior year of college

I used to love smoking weed. Love it. Alone, with friends, at concerts, in the shower, pretty much everywhere else that wasn’t alone, with friends, at concerts or in the shower — I was no stranger to getting lifted twisted higher than the ceiling. But now, I’m terrible at weed. I cannot ingest any form of THC without becoming incredibly self-aware and paranoid (and just wanting the whole thing to be over). In fact, I’m so bad at weed these days, that when I’m sober around high people, I worry if I’m the one being weird

The thing is, I don’t want it to be this way. Especially because weed is now legal in my home state of Illinois and I’d love nothing more than to trade in my weekend hangovers for a much more productive 48 hours off-the-clock (while still finding some chemically-enhanced chill). Where, though, do I start? Or better put, how do I rekindle a relationship that used to bring me so much joy but today leaves me completely cold? 

Jake Browne, a marijuana critic in Denver, says the process of dialing in your personal sweet spot for dosage can take a while, “but listening to your body is rewarding.” “Set a small amount of what you’re going to consume and don’t go over that,” he explains. “People tend to overcorrect when they’re not getting the desired experience they want. If you’re not high enough, resist the urge to double-down. Instead, wait until your next experience to try a little more.” 

To that end, Rachna Patel, a physician who specializes in medical marijuana, encourages recreational weed users to approach dosage the same way she does in the medical field. That is, “If you want to DIY it,” she says, “you want to be very methodical about how you’re doing so.” 

At the same time, Patel notes that dosing can vary wildly from person to person. For example, she says she had two patients with insomnia. Both were healthy, with similar weight, build and body mass index. “For both, I recommended a marijuana-based, high CBD product. One patient needed about .5 milligrams to sleep better,” she says. “The other patient needed 50 milligrams to sleep better.” 

So again, the best thing you can do when figuring out the right dosage is to start small and build from there. “A lot of people are trying to avoid that experience that they had in high school or college where they took too much and ended up experiencing the unpleasant side effects rather than the benefits,” Patel tells me. 

The good news is that given the increased legality of cannabis and the regulations therein, being methodical about finding your stoned sea legs is fairly easy. “Edibles aren’t as scary as people make them out to be,” Browne explains. “Thanks to testing regulations, dosing is much more dialed in. Start with 2.5 to 5 milligrams in the evening and see how it affects you — but again, never eat more trying to chase the high.” 

Speaking of numbers, it might sound obvious, but Browne advises keeping a close eye on THC percentages, too. It can be “the difference between getting a six-pack of a nice craft beer versus an unlabeled bottle of grain alcohol,” he says. “The biggest mistake people make in dispensaries is equating THC percentage to value, when, in fact, lower-potency cannabis is generally going to have a more euphoric effect, while higher potency tends to produce a more narcotic effect.” 

Now, even with all this, if you do still happen to overdo it, Browne says to just keep things in context. “Sure, you might be super high, but this is a legal substance in over half the country because it’s pretty damn safe,” he reasons. “I try to remind myself that there are cancer patients and kids with seizures who have to take 100 times whatever dose I’m currently feeling anxious about — and they do it daily. So I’ll be just fine.”

Here’s to hoping that I will be, too.