How to get the most out of marijuana edibles.
The market in marijuana edibles has exploded in parts of the U.S. But – as with any facet of cannabis – there is plenty of misconception and confusion out there.
Many enthusiasts of the herb, however, have come to embrace edibles as an integral part of their marijuana regimen.
But maybe you, like a lot of people, tried a pot brownie once and had a bad experience. Or perhaps you’d like to experiment with edibles but aren’t really sure where to start.
In either case, this guide will get you thinking in the right direction.
The difference with edibles.
Eating or drinking cannabis differs from smoking or vaping in three ways:
- Ingested, not inhaled – With edibles, the cannabinoids are metabolized in your liver instead of going immediately into your bloodstream and straight to your brain.
- Feels stronger, lasts longer – Edibles are slow to take effect, but they can produce a more intense high that lasts much longer. (In a minute we’ll talk about modulating your dosage so that it’s not too intense)
- Swallowed, not smoked – Edibles don’t create smoke that can burn your throat or lungs, nor do they require strong breathing capacity.
Let’s look at how these aspects come into play when ingesting edibles responsibly and safely.
Learn your servings.
Most of us have experienced the surprise of learning that an actual portion size of our favorite food is way different than what we thought it was. Like, figuring out that a single serving of potato chips is just five or six individual chips and not the entire bag.
With cannabis edibles, servings are critical to know because potency and dosage are the keys to assuring effective relief and safe enjoyment.
Some products are specifically packaged to identify a serving. For example, candy bars can be pre-divided into measured squares and drinks can be limited to a certain number of ounces per bottle.
The whole point here is to carefully consider serving size in conjunction with an ideal THC dosage.
Dial in the right dosage.
Some edible cannabis products don’t always give a clear indication of what a serving actually is. A good rule of thumb is to take the total amount of THC in the product and divide by 10. (10 mgs is the regulated standard for maximum amount of THC in a single serving for recreational products.)
If you’re completely new to edibles and cannabis in general, then divide a standard 10 mg portion further into 5 mgs or 2.5 mgs.
Always start with the smallest possible serving and work your way into the proper portion. As we say in Colorado, “Start low, go slow!”
Be careful not to overindulge.
Any food or drink you can think of can be made with cannabis oil and be considered a marijuana edible. Most edibles you’ll find at a dispensary are sweet, dessert-like treats that taste good and are easy to consume.
A cursory glance at the Auntie Dolores product selection, for instance, just might leave you salivating.
You may fall in love with their gourmet glazed pecans or their toffee brownie bites, but don’t overdo it! Eating an entire package of an edible can lead to unpleasant side effects.
Get your timing down.
The single biggest mistake people make with edibles is consuming too much in too short of a time frame. Often times people expect the same immediate effects as smoking or vaping. When that doesn’t happen they get impatient and consume more (and more).
Edibles have a delayed onset of effect, generally anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. This can make proper titration a challenge if it’s your first cannabis edible rodeo. All the more reason to start slow.
Here are a few factors that contribute to the amount of time needed for edibles to kick in:
- Gender – Women feel effects faster than men due to body weight and metabolism.
- Full stomach – Edibles are best consumed on a full stomach.
- “Clean” liver – The more fat you have in your liver, the faster you will metabolize THC.
Mind your set and setting.
Set and setting refers to your mindset and immediate environment, both of which are extremely important for a positive cannabis experience.
When trying edibles for the first time, have a trusted friend or loved one nearby. Consider making it a private affair where you have more control over your environment, as opposed to a party or a concert.
And especially since this will be your first time, pick a day where you don’t have much else planned. That may sound obvious, but you want this to be a therapeutic experience.
In case of emergency…
The experience of ingesting too much cannabis can be quite uncomfortable. While it’s impossible to actually die from consuming too much THC, plenty of people have thought they were going to die or that maybe they already had.
The Huffington Post put together a handy list of things to keep in mind if you think you’ve consumed too much:
- Try to breathe normally.
- You will make it through.
- You will return to normal.
The only reliable, sure-shot antidote to being too high is to consume manageable doses. If you do make a mistake, the closest to a fix you can get is the cannabinoid CBD, which modulates the effects of THC. In fact, High Times magazine’s “10 Commandments for Marijuana Safety” includes, “Thou shalt keep CBD capsules on hand.”
If you don’t have any CBD capsules, there are several other tricks you can try.
Edibles are still food.
It’s easy to look at marijuana-infused edibles more from the “marijuana” than the “edible” perspective. But, as the name implies, edibles are food items produced the same as any product you buy at the grocery and need to be handled and scrutinized just as carefully.
Food safety information to look for on edible labels:
- Ingredient list – This is critical for people who have to carefully monitor their intake of sugar or salt, or those who need to watch out for dairy, soy, wheat and nuts.
- Expiration date – Production date and expiration date are key for edibles. These dates indicate food freshness and reduce the risk of consuming spoiled cannabis oil.
And, of course, make sure you keep these products out of reach from children.
Disregard any stereotypes.
As with any cannabis product, there are plenty of stereotypes out there that give the impression that edibles are only for serious stoners; regular folks need not apply.
That’s just a myth though. In truth, edibles are an excellent alternative to smoking or vaping and have become the preferred method for many people.
- Medical patients – Folks who can’t smoke or who must have cannabis dosages throughout the day find edibles to be invaluable.
- Recreational users – Adults of all ages and experience levels flock to edibles because they’re discreet, portable and easy to consume.
- Older folks or newcomers – Edibles are perfect for people who are more comfortable consuming something familiar that doesn’t carry a stigma.
Prohibitionists love to use stories about edibles to scare the public. They cite anecdotes of children accidentally marijuana-laced cookies, statistics of increases in ER visits due to adult over-consumption and deaths caused by accidents after consuming edibles.
But, as with most cannabis propaganda, these claims are rarely evidence-based and are usually disproportionate to the reality of people’s experiences. Consume carefully with intent and you can find wonderful treatment and enjoyment.
Just as important, remember that finding the right regimen and dosage levels usually takes a bit of trial and error. So don’t give up after the first time.
Do you have access?
In locales where cannabis remains prohibited, you might have a difficult time acquiring professionally produced marijuana edibles.
This gives you all the more reason to continue engaging people around you in conversations about cannabis legalization.
But no matter where you live, marijuana legalization and regulation is something that involves all of us.
Want to keep the momentum going? Here’s what you can do:
- Share this post on your social media channels or email to your friends.
- Check out our other #oncannabis posts for more ideas and content to share.
- And try out our sponsor for this post, Auntie Dolores, if you’re interested in high-quality gourmet edibles. Their new CBD brownie is now available through mail order nationwide.