That’s a nice start towards a national standard for plants. But even the most meticulously grown and tested pot can have unpredictable results when it comes in contact with your body. Those dozens of cannibinoids bind to all kinds of cell receptors, creating a potpourri of physiological and psychological reactions. A hit from the same joint might put your friend to sleep, while you get inspired to go jog a few laps around the park.Step two to creating a reliable weed label, theoretically, would be to have something like a blood alcohol concentration calculator: Input the chemical profile of what you’re ingesting and get an estimate of how messed up you’ll get. But that’s even more complicated because weed comes in so many forms. Smoked or vaped cannabis goes through your lungs, directly into your bloodstream. Ingested weed passes through your liver, which usually cranks up the drug’s intensity and delays its onset. And the same weed can affect you in different ways depending on things like what you’ve eaten, when you’ve eaten it, and how much sleep you’ve gotten. Unless you’re consistently smoking weed, your body is something of a black box.
Complicating all of this is the fact that no reliable test can tell how high a person is. “The amount of THC and other cannabinoids in the blood is not an indication of a person’s level of intoxication, like with alcohol,” says Kevin McKernan, founder of cannabis testing company Medicinal Genomics. He says a better way to test intoxication would be through smartphone apps that simulate driving or other motor activities.
And these tests wouldn’t just be for the cops to test you between the dispensary and your car’s steering wheel. They’re important for tying together the scientific understanding of what it means to be high, and how to standardize that for all people.
Plumb suggests that of-legal-age beginners who live in, or visit, states where weed is legal approach marijuana like they would alcohol. Just like downing tequila shots and funneling beers is a bad way to introduce yourself to alcohol, hold off on hotboxing your car and don’t be so quick to buy that monster four-chamber bong. Use a vaporizer, which is probably the best way to control your dosing, and start with very small amounts. Increase the dose over time until you feel good. And a little tip from your friends at WIRED.