With the end of marijuana prohibition in Canada just around the corner, some people may be considering lighting up for the first time.

For those who are wondering how to safely and responsibly use cannabis, local experts and health officials on Vancouver Island have some tips.

Beginning Oct. 17, British Columbians will be able to buy recreational cannabis in leaf, oil and seed form from provincially licensed dispensaries, government-run stores or online.

As for leafed pot, the dried plant comes in three varieties.

Sativa is known for an energetic experience while indica varieties can make users mellow and even sleepy. Hybrid, a blend of the two, offers a bit of both.


"If you're getting back into it, start small. Start with a smaller joint, or a gram," said Tanner Gresiuk, a cannabis salesperson in Victoria.

For those not wanting to inhale weed, oil is another option. Diluted drops can contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that makes users feel high.

Other oils may only contain CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient known to reduce pain and inflammation – which can offer a "body buzz."

"You can just put it directly under your tongue, put it in a glass of water," said Gresiuk.

Questions about the potency of various pot strains remain a question mark. So far, products don't contain a percentage level the way there is with alcohol, but there is a rule of thumb as to how determining how potent a type of pot may be.

Experts say the more pricy your cannabis is, the more powerful it will likely be as well.

Then there's the question of how to ingest it. Beginners are encouraged to use joints and pipes, which are relatively low-impact and easy to regulate amounts with.

First-time users should probably steer clear of bongs and vaporizers, which can deliver too much smoke too fast.

"Bong is going to deliver you a much larger hit of smoke at one time, so you're going to be at a much fuller set of lungs from that smoke," said Gresiuk.

Island Health has its own set of warnings about weed, saying everyone should avoid high-potency products, stay away from smoking and deeply holding in breath, and avoid consistent use.

weed tips