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Legal cannabis is exploding in Denver and across the nation. Finally, individuals who smoke can go to the dispensary if they have an ailment or if they are looking for a recreational high. Those who were already familiar with the plant from the black market are rejoicing, but what about those who have never smoked because they feared the repercussions? Plenty of people avoided toking before it was given the green light, especially those in marginalized communities. LGBTQ individuals, namely individuals from older generations, may be wary just to head into a dispensary and place an order because they wouldn’t know what to ask for. Here are a few tips for those venturing into legal weed territory for the first time.

1. Don’t be afraid of honesty

For many, the idea of going into a store that sells pot and explaining that you have problems with chronic pain, or that you want something to help you relax and sleep, can be a little bit terrifying and confusing.

“Like millions of other well-educated, open-minded Americans, it never occurred to me that cannabis could have helped me with the side effects of chemo and the prescription drugs my doc prescribed,” explained Kim Schenk, one of the founders of Shine On, a fledgling company that will be offering support over the phone and online to older individuals who call in with questions about cannabis.

The first step to knowing is asking, and budtenders are open-minded and have a genuine desire to help those who are in pain or who want to recreate responsibly.

2. Start with the basics.

It’s hard to get good information about the kind of cannabis you want to try without learning about the basics. Educate yourself either online or in person with a budtender about the differences between indica and sativa cannabis strains and how they can affect the user. It’s also important to understand the potency of concentrates and edibles as well as  the different methods of smoking and vaping. Once you learn the lingo and the essential differences between products, you’ll be more equipped to make decisions about cannabis.

3. Be prepared to make your own decisions.

“The most common misconception among people who are unfamiliar with cannabis is how different finding a treatment path is to the traditional medical model,” Schenk told OUT FRONT. “With cannabis, the patient is in charge of himself or herself and chooses the path. No one is going to prescribe a specific treatment for you. Doctors can only relay guidelines and anecdotal stories or risk losing their medical license because the federal government has deemed marijuana illegal for now.”

The same can be said for recreational cannabis. While some individuals might swear up and down that indicas help you relax, or that vaping is the only way to get a clean, healthy high, everyone reacts to cannabis differently, has different ideas of what makes for a good time, and what is too much or not enough. Some good old-fashioned curiosity and healthy, guided experimentation are the only way to truly reach your own conclusions about the plant.

4. Have fun and try new things.

Remember, while asking about cannabis for the first time can be scary, it can also be fun, even if you are asking for medical reasons. Be bold and don’t be afraid to embrace trying new strains or ways to smoke and imbibe. You may find that certain strains totally improve your appetite or really enhance the experience of watching comedy or listening to your favorite music.

5. Always stick with safety first.

Above all, keep in mind that safety is first when trying a new substance. Always stick to recommended doses and be on the lookout for anything that doesn’t agree with you. Try using new forms or strains of cannabis with someone sober your first time to make sure that you feel safe and in control of your situation.