It's difficult to predict precisely how you're going to feel after consuming cannabis: the "super-heavy indica" that glued your best friend to the couch all evening might leave you feeling peppy and ready to jam. Conversely, the infused cookies that "barely did anything" for you might leave your significant other hanging by their fingernails from the fabric of reality.
Contrary to popular belief, the way cannabis affects you isn't dictated entirely by the drug itself - rather, its a complex interaction between your DNA, and that of the plant.
Here are four factors that influence how you feel under the influence.
Think you know what you're getting into once you've selected an indica or sativa? You could be wrong. "It's long been understood among consumers that 'indica' means 'in da couch' and that a sativa strain will give you a creative streak and the giggles," writes Merry Jane's Roni Stetter. "However, the art of cross-breeding has led to an increase in the number of "hybrids" on the market that have more unpredictable -- and inconsistent - side effects from person to person." In short: don't buy a strain just because you're banking on experiencing what Leafly said you would.
2. Experience and tolerance
Everyone knows that seasoned smokers can ingest more of the drug without getting uncomfortably high. But fewer are aware that smoking tolerance doesn't translate into edibles tolerance. "A lot of the reason why the ride is so intense in edibles is because of the minimal amount of membranes it passes through in the stomach. It doesn't absorb the same way as smoking through the lungs," user Giddy Up tells The Cannabist. With edibles, it's recommend you start at a dose of 10 milligrams, then work your way up after waiting at least 90 minutes to gauge the effects. If you're smoking or vaporizing, you'll be able to tell more quickly how high you're getting.
3. Sensitivity to terpenes
Terpenes are oily, smelly compounds found in a wide range of plants - and hundreds of terpenes are present in marijuana, giving each strain its characteristic taste and smell. If you're prone to allergies, or otherwise have a sensitive nose, these compounds can produce a wide range of side effects: according to one study, "chemically sensitive patients can be targeted by terpenes and terpenoids, resulting in a triggering of symptoms and pathology" ranging from changes in pulse, blood pressure, peak bronchial flow, to other signs and symptoms. So, if you feel yourself sneezing and feeling flushed after a session, while your friends remain seemingly unscathed, your reaction to terpenes could be to blame.
As with most things in life, what you get from cannabis depends on what you put in: if you're starting your session with underlying stress and anxiety, that feeling will be amplified, not quelled, by getting high. Conversely, if you're expecting to have your socks knocked off by a product, only to find yourself with a more sedate buzz, you'll interpret it as weak or disappointing. The authors of a 2005 study published in the journal Addiction and Research Theory put it best: "being knowledgeable, thoughtful and well-prepared for using drugs, pretty well any drug, minimizes the risks and dangerousness of the experience, and maximizes positive aspects of the experience."