The Beginner's Guide To Buying Cannabis
Guide by Kate Ryan
Apr 29, 2019 · 9 min read

Weed is complicated until it's not.

I may be Proper’s Editorial Director and a decade-long cannabis user, but my tolerance for THC is low. So low I sometimes think my tolerance never left the basement level I started with, leaving me sensitive and wary of new products but also highly attuned to the concerns of new consumers. Point being: I feel you, newbies.

THC, for those who don’t know, is the shorthand term for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the most abundant and intoxicating compound found in cannabis. It’s partly responsible for the stoned, sleepy, giggly, relaxed, aroused, energized, euphoric feelings we get from weed. When overconsumed, it's responsible for that classic stoner paranoia, too. Just ask that cop who called the cops on himself.

Then you have CBD, the second-most abundant compound found in cannabis. It’s known for relieving pain and minor anxieties without prompting much of a “high.” It also balances out and inhibits the anxiety you can get from consuming too much THC. Most publications refer to CBD as non-psychoactive, but we like to say it’s non-intoxicating because, while it won’t get you stoned, it may leave you feeling calm and perhaps a little sleepy depending on the dose. However subtle, those are technically psychoactive effects.

Now that you've got the basics down, you're ready to start exploring. Start by asking yourself, what am I looking to achieve via cannabis? Is it pain relief? Better sleep? Less anxiety? A good time? Below, you'll find newcomer-approved products to suit those needs along with comparable options you can find outside of California. And if you live in San Francisco, you can shop this list via our delivery service, Parcel.

Good For: Pain Relief
Likelihood You’ll Screw It Up: 0% 

This balm is a true gateway product for two reasons: it’s incredibly easy to use and showcases the medicinal benefits of cannabis without affecting your mind. Like most of Papa & Barkley’s products, this balm has cannabis and other soothing botanicals infused into an easily-absorbed coconut oil base. There is a slight weedy undertone to its aroma, but it’s largely masked by a sinus-clearing eucalyptus scent. THC may be listed in the product name, but this balm will not get you high. Both THC and CBD serve to relieve pain and soothe irritation but cannot penetrate deeply enough to enter your bloodstream and kick off a psychoactive high. So, unless you eat it, you’re in the clear.

According to my partner and weed novice of the highest order, “It was a gentle easing into the pleasant body high sensation and unlike other formats (vapes, edibles, joints), it didn’t cloud my mind to get me there. For me, the benefits of weed don’t outweigh the risk of feeling anxious or paranoid, so it’s nice to know I can get a body high that seemingly bypasses any effect it would have on my mind.” Personally, I like to rub a pea-sized amount on the back of my neck and temples to stop a headache in its tracks. I’ve also used it to heal sunburns with great success. Order here. 

For a comparable topical you can order from anywhere, check out Apothecanna’s Extra Strength Pain Creme. Relief-wise, it isn’t quite as effective as Papa & Barkley’s balm, but it has an ultra-moisturizing texture and smells like sweet mint gum.

Good For: Alleviating Anxiety
Likelihood You’ll Screw It Up: 0%

This pen is a favorite among new cannabis consumers for the simple fact that it vibrates when you’ve consumed one low dose. Each pen is comprised of roughly 5.5% THC and 64.5% CBD. Any amount of THC may sound intimidating until you consider most vape pens contain upwards of 70%, sometimes 90% of the intoxicating cannabinoid, making 5.5% a proverbial drop in the bucket. In the case of dosist’s calm pen specifically, the smidge of THC is just enough to accentuate the best qualities of CBD for a pen that’s calming to both your body and mind (the clue is in the name, y’all).

Contrary to popular belief, the effects of a vape do not kick in instantly but take about 10 to 20 minutes to fully develop. For the safest possible route, take one measured hit and wait 15 minutes for the “high” to develop before taking more. At best, this pen will leave you feeling relaxed and free of minor irritations. At worst, you’ll feel nothing at all. Order here.

Comparable products would include Oregrown’s Pineapple Jager 2:1 PAX Era Pod (Oregon), Avitas’ Avitonic PAX Era Pod (Washington), and Wana Brands’ Balanced 1:1 CBD:THC Disposable Vape (Colorado). None of these pens vibrate when you’ve inhaled one dose, but you can hack that feature by pulling on the vape for no more than three seconds at a time.

Good For: Powering Through Mindless Chores
Likelihood You’ll Screw It Up: 5% (if you eat the whole bag at once)

These chocolate-covered almonds are the most entry-level of edibles. Containing 6mg of CBD and a scant 0.6mg of THC per piece, they should barely register in your consciousness while working in the background to lift your mood. They won’t leave you stoned so much as appreciative of life. Don’t expect these to taste like weed either. As rater Brianna Wheeler put it in her review, “A rich, silky, perfectly tempered jacket of dark chocolate surrounds a fat California almond, toasted with a modest suggestion of salted caramel that lingers at the finish. This is a mature, nuanced take on the chocolate-covered-nut genre of candy, which I, as a nuanced, mature human, truly appreciate.”

You can safely eat two nuts and expect to feel a mild easing of everyday stresses. That said, our standard edible advice still stands: take a low dose (in this case, two nuts) and wait two hours before taking more. This is the only way to safely gauge your ideal dose. Order here.

Comparable products would include Leif Goods’ CBD Salted Chocolate Bar (Oregon) and Blue Kudu’s Black Forest Chocolate Bar (Colorado).

Good For: Sleeping Better & Surviving Hangovers
Likelihood You’ll Screw It Up: 15% (if you take more than one to start)

This product may feel the farthest removed from the cannabis plant in its natural form, but don’t let its flavorless pill format fool you—each discreet, swallowable tablet contains 12mg THC-A, 6mg CBD, 6mg CBG, and 3mg Delta-8. Each of these unique cannabinoids is soothing in its own way but when combined, they obliterate aches and irritations. When I tried this ProTab for myself, the wash of full-body relief floored me—literally. About an hour after ingesting one pill, I went from grouchy and crampy to beyond chill and ready to drag my jello-y limbs to bed. The only problem? This happened first thing in the morning while I was waiting to check my car in at Pep Boys.

If you’ve tried CBD products in the past and didn’t get what all the hype is about, this is the product for you. The unique blend of cannabinoids work synergistically to elicit full-body relaxation, so you’ll definitely feel something from one pill. This is also why I advise testing it out at night or on an afternoon you can afford to take a nap. When I tried it in the evening during my second go-around, I experienced the best night of sleep I’ve had in years. Order here.

For comparable pain relief, check out Wildflower’s CBD+ Capsules, which are available everywhere because they don't contain any THC.

Good For: Just About Anything
Likelihood You’ll Screw It Up: 15% (if you eat more than one to start)

As far as CBD gummies go, these are my all-time favorite. Why? With a sublimely balanced ratio of 2mg THC and 6mg CBD per tasty little gummy, one is just enough to take the edge off while two usher me into deep relaxation mode. I’ve tested these gummies while working out, running errands, hanging with friends, walking my dog, watching movies, making dinner—just about any normal, everyday activity you can think of. Each and every time they’ve provided a sense of calm appreciation for whatever it is I’m doing. The plush, comforting body high doesn’t hurt either.

Some raters have noted this barely-there high can get a tad sleepy towards the end, so I’d advise experimenting with these at night the first time. As always when trying a new edible, start with one serving—in this case, one gummy—and wait two hours before taking more. Order here.

Comparable gummies would include Stillwater’s Honey Lavender Gummy Supplements (Colorado), Wyld’s Strawberry Gummies (Oregon), and Lord Jones’ Old Fashioned Gumdrops (everywhere).

Good For: Happy Hour
Likelihood You’ll Screw It Up: 20% chance (if you don’t pace yourself)

This pen is a crowd pleaser for a couple of reasons. It’s tasty with a flavor profile of citrus and berries, and the bubbly, uplifting high is even better. Some of our raters liken the high to the buzz you get from a glass or two of white wine. At 49% THC and 3% CBD, it’s the most likely item on this list to get you high; that said, the high is more of the fizzy, energetic variety than couch-locked stoned. While some like to pair this vape with an actual glass of wine, others like to harness the burst of energy to tackle chores. In either case, you’re bound to have a good time.

Because it’s easy to sip too much of this pen, start with one 3-second pull and wait 20 minutes before consuming more. Unlike edibles, which can leave you feeling high for several hours, vapor highs tend to leave your system within the hour. So, if you do overdo it, have no fear. You won’t feel that way for long. Order here.

Comparable pens would include BINSKE’s Tangerine Live Resin Cartridge (Colorado), EVOLVD’s Thundersnow CAPSL (Oregon), and Avitas’ Quantum Kush PAX Era Pod (Washington). 

If you're looking to simplify your shopping process, order this kit on Parcel and schedule the delivery. Because weed should work for you, not the other way around. 

Photos by Morgan English. 

Shop This Article

WildflowerCBD+ Capsules


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Papa & Barkley3:1 CBD:THC Releaf Balm - 50ml


Lord JonesOld Fashioned Gumdrops


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Leif GoodsCBD Salted Chocolate Bar


Satori ChocolatesCBD Salted Caramel Almonds in Dar...


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AvitasQuantum Kush PAX Era Pod


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BeboeInspired Vaporizer Pen




OregrownPineapple Jager 2:1 PAX Era Pod


StillwaterHoney Lavender Gummy Supplements


BINSKETangerine Live Resin Cartridge


Wana BrandsBalanced 1:1 CBD:THC Disposable V...


Camino by KivaCamino "Social" Sparkling Pear Gu...


LEVELHangover Protab