A Weed Newbie's Guide to Legal Marijuana

I've passed on grass my whole life. But now it's legal.

Dec 27 2016, 5:00pm

Image: Adrianna Broussard/Flickr

Recreational cannabis is legal in eight states now, including Nevada and California as of November, and that's put people in my demographic in an interesting situation. I'm talking, of course, of goody-two-shoes, never-break-the-rules kids who haven't smoked pot.

I'm not sure I'll personally exercise my right as a California resident—but if I wanted to, I'd be seriously ill-equipped.

My cannabis knowledge begins and ends at the intellectual, which happens when you write for Motherboard. I know the difference between THC and CBD, I know which patients could benefit from medical marijuana (with a doctor's consult, of course), I know the potential revenue of medical and recreational marijuana markets in various states and I know the general incarceration minimum sentences forlow-level drug crimes in the states I've been a reporter. But I don't know how to roll a joint.

So when weed became officially legal in California, I turned to the internet to learn all the tips and tricks I probably should have picked up in high school when I let those blunts pass me by untouched on my friends' porches.

My first stop was a new marijuana education service, Greenflower Media, that includes everything from tips on how to enter the market as a cannabis entrepreneur to casual smoking etiquette techniques (like don't smoke if you don't contribute). I decided to watch the joint rolling instruction video, and coming into it, I didn't even know what a crutch was.

I've also never bought marijuana, so I don't have any around to practice with. Or rolling papers. So I settled for printer paper and thyme.

Did I do it right? So far, I've learned that the proper products matter, and there's a range of rolling papers, crutches and other rolling accessories that can make the process significantly smoother. As with most things, you get what you pay for.

Next I hit up a free course on Green CulturED on the daily, weekly and monthly chores required when growing marijuana plants. Since I've managed to kill three succulents in my apartment already (and one more is on its last leg), I'm going to file this as "reporting research" since there's not much hope for practical use.

It didn't come as much surprise to me that the major tasks are basically gardening, like adjusting air ventilation, checking soil pH and inspecting for mites on the leaves. But since this is typically done in a greenhouse or indoors, I didn't realize you have to be so clean about the whole thing. You even need to check for mold on your ceilings regularly.

"Clean up, clean up, clean up, as sanitary provides the most productive gardens," the video instructed.

Three months of taking care of a plant every day is too much for me, but there are plenty of videos out there for people who want to learn how to do this properly, safely and legally. Then I turned to YouTube, and while the world has been turning to the video service for drug advice for about a decade, more professional weed-related videos have been popping up in the past few years.

I checked out a cooking show where the chef was making cannabis-infused coconut oil. While explaining the recipe, he also explained how cannabinoids break down and lose certain health benefits at various cooking temperatures, which I didn't know. Since I love baking, this seems like something I could try if I were going to try marijuana, and the internet puts insane amounts of cannabis cooking videos right at my fingertips.

So fear not, fellow marijuana newbies. If you're hankering to try Mary Jane, there are plenty of online resources. As for me, I'm still sipping a glass of wine and trying to figure out what to do with all this fresh knowledge and bud around me.

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