Welcome to Rocky Start: a how-to column for enthusiastic, but clueless beginners looking to try their hand at new outdoor activities in the Rocky Mountain region. I’m Sonya — a 25-year-old transplant from the East Coast in search of new adventures, but not always sure where to start. Follow along as I experience everything the Rockies have to offer. From hut trips, to fly fishing, to trail running — and even a bluegrass festival or two. I’ll be sharing tips and travel resources along the way, so that you, too, can dig into new adventures! 

Cost: $

This Activity is Awesome for: Adults over the age of 21, located in states where recreational marijuana is legal. For a full breakdown of states that allow weed, check out this list.

The Gear you Need: Weed, several hours of free time, easy access to snacks, a dog to pet, and water.

The Scoop: Sometimes it feels like I’m the only person in Colorado who doesn’t enjoy smoking weed. I grew up with immigrant-family values and a DARE drug education in public schools which basically convinced me that smoking weed was akin to committing murder. Several unpleasant experiences in high school and college made me paranoid as heck and sealed the deal: weed wasn’t for me. But people in Colorado love to talk up the benefits of weed and cannabis products, so I figured I would give it one more try.

For this highly scientific test, I purchased several cannabis products, a first-ever for me. There are obviously many types of weed products, but I stuck to what I’m familiar with for this experience — balm, edibles, and a good ‘ole pre-rolled joint.

I’ve been suffering from knee pain and lower back pain, so I chose to try the Whoopie and Maya ‘Rub’ from the company’s series of menstrual pain products. I also got a few of their ‘Savor’ chocolate packets (both THC and CBD-only). For the actual weed smoking, I purchased a pre-rolled joint of ‘Blue Dream’, one of the more commonly available strains of weed.

Educate Yourself: Before I jumped in, I wanted to ask a handful of those embarrassing questions that most first-time weed smokers have, so I went to the professionals at Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver. Besides being the first black woman-owned dispensary in Colorado, this welcoming business blends high-quality weed with a customer-focused buying experience. Shout out to Taylor, the store manager, who was happy to answer all of my noob questions about post-weed munchies and the differences between flower and shake. Dispensaries hire highly-qualified budtenders who are there to guide your weed experience, so don’t hesitate to ask them questions.

There’s a lifetime worth of knowledge to discover about weed, but I have a few tips for the similarly inexperienced. First off, weed can be divided into three broad categories —sativa strains, indica strains and hybrid strains. Sativas will get your body moving and your mind racing, whereas Indicas tend to slow you down and make you want a nap. hybrid strains are blended variations of the other two and will have mixed effects.  These are very general descriptors but will help point you to what you want. There are many ways to ingest weed: by eating it, smoking it, drinking it, applying it to your skin, or if you choose a personal lubricant, rubbing one off. The biggest differences between these products are how fast you feel the effects, the intensity of the high, and the length of time that the high could last. Although some beginners think that eating weed is a good way to start, the experience will actually be delayed by a few hours, which may be stressful for a first-timer.

First Attempt: I used the ‘Rub’ balm on my aching knee and back and felt loose, floppy, and happy for several hours. I ate an entire bowl of Phở and half a pint of ice cream then fell asleep for 13 hours. I would definitely use this again. I should also note that I thought that this rub was a CBD-dominant formula, and only realized my mistake when my boyfriend pointed out to me that I was obviously stoned and checked the label.

Blue Dream is a notoriously potent sativa strain, so it’s best to smoke it when you have a physical task to do – like going for a hike or cleaning up your yard. I was excited for the flood of creative thought that supposedly comes with weed, but without a specific task to focus on, my brain got overwhelmed.

The Blue Dream saga began with a 1 gram doob that we shared between three of us. The first thing I noticed about this high was the growing, unbearable weight of my mascara. Everything seemed hilarious — like our idea for a movie remake called “Fabulous Mr. Fox” about a fabulously gay fox who lives in a well-decorated underground den. My shirt grew fuzz and my shoulders sprouted pads. Suddenly, after what felt like hours we were back in the car where the air conditioning was blowing all of the negativity and bad ideas off of me. We went to three different grocery stores before we remembered what we needed, but we didn’t falter in our strength to avoid buying any more succulents. We were resolute in our intentions. We had a picnic in the backyard for hours and I ate too many pistachios. When I didn’t have a specific task to do, the over-activity in my mind made the high unbearably anxious. Next time, I would give myself a long, menial job to do; like gardening, or picking blueberries, or vacuuming.

Weed tends to enhance whatever mood you were in before — elevating euphoria and playing on paranoias and fears. It’s common for people who don’t enjoy smoking weed to assume there’s something wrong with your brain since everyone else is going around touting it as the miracle plant. While weed and all its derivative forms have a wide range of positive effects, it isn’t for everyone. Everyone’s brain and bodies are different, and even if you smoke the same strain as the person next to you, you might have a completely different experience. My suggestion for you: play around it. Some strains will most likely make you feel a little awkward, but it’s ok for it to feel uncomfortable! And if you love it, that’s awesome! You’ve just found a whole new community activity.

Travel Tips: Driving under the influence is illegal, so arrange to have a friend shuttle you to the grocery store if you decide you need one more bag of chips or a container of mango slices. You can also use public transportation or simply walk if you need to go somewhere. A fun way to get high is out in nature, so make sure if you drive out to a trailhead that you have plenty of snacks to tide you over until you sober up.

There are many dispensaries to suit a variety of needs, aesthetics, and neighborhoods. Each dispensary also carries different strains of weed, so try a few out and see what you like!

You can reach Sonya Pevzner at sophia.pevzner@gmail.com or at her website, www.pevzdispenser.com.