Last night, a cannabis-savvy friend of mine came over and said, “Something has got to be done about the marijuana edibles on the market. They’re way too strong!” Then she recounted a tale involving Las Vegas, poolside alcohol and some repeated consumption of a cannabis edible chocolate bar. What followed was some identity confusion (she felt she was channeling Liza Minelli), her face stuck to a plate glass window for a period of time and an evening that essentially ended before it even started.
Working in the cannabis industry you hear a lot of stories about marijuana edibles. Many stories are positive, such as the elderly lady I spoke with who successfully consumes a tiny sliver of cannabis chocolate each night to help combat insomnia. Equally though, I am hearing more and more edible disasters, which I hereby coin “edi-sasters.” Personally, I think until people are adequately educated and informed, there will be more many more edi-sasters, not fewer.
There are many positives when it comes to edibles. They can be an excellent way to treat a variety of medical conditions like insomnia and chronic pain, and many people are more comfortable eating their cannabis rather than smoking it. Edibles also happen to be incredibly potent, which is great for many medicinal consumers.
Here, when I refer to edibles, I’m talking about products that are processed in our body through intestinal uptake, like a cannabis brownie or a gummy—basically anything that gets digested in your stomach. If you follow my simple guidelines below, you may be able to have a positive experience with edibles and avoid an edi-saster.
Don’t eat a marijuana brownie a friend gives you; you will have no idea how much cannabis you’re consuming. I recently heard a story about a friend’s mom who was at the end of her rope with prescription medications, which weren’t helping with her chronic pain. She ate a marijuana brownie which was given to her, and well, it was an edi-saster. When you eat homemade cannabis treats, they may be yummy, but you’re playing Russian-psychotropic-roulette.
Dosing is always important, but even more so with cannabis edibles. If you’re eating an edible with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), then you should expect a psychotropic experience. Edibles are typically measured in milligrams, so it is important to understand dosing. But remember, this is just a guide, everyone is different. For some people, 2 mg of THC gives them an intense psychoactive experience but for others, they don’t feel a thing.
2 mg: This amount of THC has shown little to no impairment on most consumers.
2.5 mg: Most consumers have reported some psychoactivity, which may be equal to a glass of wine or a beer. Doses of THC in this range are popular for social anxiety, appetite stimulation and focus.
5 mg: Almost all consumers note significant psychoactivity at this THC dosage.
10 mg: For most consumers, there will be significant psychoactivity at this dosage of THC. This also provides significant distraction from pain and is a common dose for chemotherapy patients to reduce nausea.
15 mg: This dosage of THC can most times cause uncomfortable levels of psychoactivity, even for regular cannabis consumers.
If you’re new to edibles and cannabis, I would suggest not exceeding 2.5mg of THC the first time you eat a marijuana edible and know it may take up to an hour to feel the effects. Seek out manufacturers that ensure the consistency and quality of their products.
It’s important to buy your cannabis edibles from a trustworthy dispensary. It’s important that the products you ingest are safe and that your dispensary only sells products that meet safety standards. A reputable dispensary should carry products that are lab tested by the manufacturer. Some dispensaries go a step further and test the manufactured products themselves. Lab testing will check for pesticides, molds, fungus and E.coli, among other substances that may negatively impact your health. If you’re a medicinal user with a compromised immune system, this is especially important.
Alcohol has the ability to magnify an edibles experience and the combination of the two can make you extremely dizzy. Additionally, alcohol can impair your judgment and lead to over consumption. Over consumption is very, very bad because you will feel terrible for a very long time.
Often, people assume that the edible is not working, and then eat more. How much an edible may affect you and when is also due to your age, gender, body type and metabolism. It’s equally important to eat a marijuana edible either after or while eating non-medicated food.
Never, ever leave an edible in the refrigerator or lying around the house. Most edibles look enticing to children. Pets are also likely to eat your edibles. Yes, dogs will feel the effects too, and not in a good way. Always place your edibles out of reach and ideally in a locked box.
Are you nervous about trying edibles? Are you afraid the high may be too intense or the duration may be too long? Well, there’s an answer, and ’'s relatively simple: Keep a product high in cannabidiol (CBD) nearby in case you need help. CBD is an important cannabinoid that, like THC, has special healing properties. It also happens to be an antidote to the paranoia and stoned feeling THC can induce. If you feel too high after eating a cannabis edible, CBD will lessen the effects.
Recently, a close friend of mine ate half of a gummy for his insomnia, not knowing the dosage was too much for him (I did suggest a lower dosage, if you want to know). He was lying on the couch, incapacitated and was telling me the rabbit hole he was going down was too much for him. So I sprayed an 18:1 CBD:THC sublingual spray into his mouth. Within 10 minutes he was up walking around, feeling much better. It really does work! [
If you happen to over consume an edible, know that you will be OK. Hydrate with water, lie down and stay calm. In most cases you’ll fall asleep and wake up groggy, but you will be alive and hopefully be a little wiser. Unlike prescription medicines, alcohol or illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin, you will not kill yourself by overdosing on THC—it’s physically impossible to do so and there are no recorded deaths by marijuana overdose. You may feel terrible and possibly paranoid, but you won’t die.
Yes, they do exist. With the new wave of high-CBD products, there’s a movement in the marketplace for high-CBD edibles. This is great news to people who enjoy edibles but would like a less intense sensation, or to drop THC altogether. CBD is a great anti-inflammatory and analgesic that helps people with back pain, arthritis and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
Cannabis edibles can be so helpful to many people. But keep my tips in mind so you don’t have a marijuana-fueled Liza Minelli impersonation story of your own. Remember, take a small piece of a cannabis edible and wait at least an hour before deciding whether you need to up your dose. As we say in the cannabis industry when it comes to edibles: start low and go slow.
Photo credit: Kat Bruni