Marijuana edibles are food products that contain cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It is among the most popular methods of weed consumption – and for good reasons, too.
Edibles are delicious, discreet, convenient, affordable, and incredibly versatile. You can simply buy pre-made ones from a local dispensary – baked goods, gummy bears, chocolates, and candies. Or, you could whip up some cannabis-infused oils and butter, and use it to prepare your edible of choice. Needless to say, there is undoubtedly at least one type of weed-infused treat that will suit even the most discerning of palates.
On the flipside, edibles can also be one of the more complicated ways of getting high or harnessing the healing properties of cannabis. You cannot eat a pot brownie and expect the effects right away, or wolf down too much and not suffer from an incapacitating high. Instead, careful planning and proper timing are of the essence. And for a pleasurable, mind-blowing, monumental high, all it takes is knowing the right way to dose and ingest cannabis edibles.
The Ultimate Guide to Dosing and Consuming Marijuana Edibles
Enjoying the effects of marijuana edibles does not have to be complicated. By and large, it is just a matter of understanding how edibles work, knowing your tolerance, then dosing accordingly. Make sure to do so gradually and moderately. That said, be patient and resist snacking until the edibles take effect. After all, it is better to be underwhelmed than to be struck with an all-consuming high.
How Do Cannabis Edibles Work?
Weed-infused edibles are delivered to the body via the oral route. Once consumed, the cannabinoids cannot go directly to the brain the way inhaled smoke or vapor does. Instead, the compounds pass through the digestive tract first, then travel to the liver, where it is metabolized before being released back into the bloodstream. It is only when the active compounds reach the brain that the effects finally appear.
Due to the longer path to the blood-brain barrier, it takes time before the effects of edibles sink in. The duration, however, is notably longer compared to other administration methods, such as inhalation.
Compared to smoking or vaping, the high also tends to be stronger. That is because oral administration retains more 11-hydroxy-THC – a psychoactive metabolite that is far more potent than THC – in the body. Aside from this, the effects of edibles are often unpredictable and inconsistent. Mainly, it is due to the low bioavailability range of 4-20%, which refers to the degree and rate at which the body absorbs and processes the compounds. As a result, the high may feel irregular, as well as vary immensely across users.
Duration of Effects of Edibles
In 1980, a study mapped the plasma concentration of THC after ingestion. Essentially, it reveals how long you would stay high upon eating marijuana edibles. Refer to the table below for the approximate values.
|Phase||Time (After Consumption)|
|After effects||6-12 hours|
Typically, it takes half an hour to two hours before the psychoactive effects take hold. After about 2-5 hours, the high will reach its peak or feel the most intense. You may still feel intoxicated after 6-12 hours, although the potency will not be close to peak levels.
This, however, is just a general picture. Several factors still come into play, which could ultimately affect how fast you start feeling the effects, or how long it stays in the body. It includes:
- Product potency
- Weed tolerance
Also, it may be easier to notice when the effects of THC-infused edibles sink in, primarily because the high could serve as a marker. In contrast, CBD-only edibles are non-psychoactive, making it harder to identify when the effects appear.
Before, the only way to enjoy edibles was through homemade goods, which could be hard to dose due to the unequal distribution of the active compounds. Hence, it is not uncommon for one slice of pot brownie to be much more potent or weaker than another, even though they come from the same batch. But with the availability of commercial edibles, this issue has – more or less – been resolved. Each package not only indicates the total cannabinoid content but also the amount of THC and CBD per serving. These changes make it easy to control the dose.
If you are consuming homemade edibles, though, do not fret as not all hope is lost. In fact, it is still a lot easier to dose compared to hand-wrapped joints. It will just take a bit of trial and error to figure out the dosage. You also have to be extra careful before eating to avoid any unwanted side effects.
Regardless of which way you go, remember to start slowly and moderately, increasing the strength gradually as you go along. To begin, consider the desired effects and the tolerance to marijuana.
How to Dose Edibles Depending on the Desired Effects
In many states across the United States, including Colorado and Washington, 10 mg of THC is the maximum recommended dosage per serving. Novice or occasional users, however, will have to consume less than 10 mg first as they need to build up the tolerance first. Meanwhile, regular users most likely ingest more than the suggested dose.
|Desired Potency of Effects||Low Tolerance||Moderate Tolerance*||High Tolerance**|
|Mild||2-4 mg||3-7 mg||4-10 mg|
|Medium||3-8 mg||4-12 mg||6-15 mg|
|Strong||5-15 mg||10-20 mg||15-30 mg|
* – Those who smoke the plant one to three times a week.
** – Those who smoke cannabis daily.
How to Dose Edibles Depending on the Tolerance
This chart is especially suited for those who plan on consuming THC-infused edibles.
|Tolerance Level||Amount of THC (in mg)|
|Users with no tolerance||1.5 – 5 mg|
|Users who smoke weed several times a weeks||2-12 mg|
|Users who regularly eat marijuana edibles and have moderate tolerance to it||10- 30 mg|
|Users who have a high tolerance to edibles||30-60 mg|
|Users who have a very high tolerance to edibles||60-100 mg|
Now that you have an idea on how to dose; do not gobble up the edible just yet. Instead, be aware of the nitty-gritty of ingesting cannabis edibles properly so that you can maximize the psychoactive or therapeutic benefits while avoiding an excessively overwhelming high. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Consume at the Right Place and the Right Time
If you are new to edibles, timing is of the utmost importance. Remember that the onset of the high can take up to two hours. More importantly, the duration of peak intensity could last up to five hours. The last thing you want to do is to show up for work while intoxicated. Getting high may feel good, but it could also hinder productivity and, in some cases, cloud judgment. Not to mention, it may also get you in trouble due to any legality issues.
As for the place, do it in a safe, calm, and comfortable setting, such as your home. It is even better if you have close friends with you, as they can help you deal with an overbearing high in case of ingesting more than what you could handle.
2. Consider the THC and CBD Content
Some edibles may contain a combination of both THC and CBD, with the ratio and strength varying from product to product. It is important to have an idea of how these two cannabinoids affect the body, so you could be duly prepared.
THC is a psychoactive compound, producing the coveted high associated with cannabis use. When consumed in excess, it could cause unpleasant side effects such as cottonmouth (or dry mouth), dizziness, increased heart rate, heightened anxiety, paranoia, and hallucination, among others.
On the other hand, CBD is non-intoxicating, well-tolerated by the body even at large doses, and only generates benign side effects – or none a all. It may also counteract the adverse effects of THC, making it ideal for those with low tolerance to the compound. At the same time, know that it weakens the high as well.
Generally, a THC:CBD ratio of 1:1 provides powerful symptom relief but with less impairment than a THC-packed product. It could still cause the usual overdose symptoms with too much intake, though. In contrast, at a 1:4 ratio or even higher, you are less likely to experience any undesirable psychotropic effects.
3. Carefully Read the Label and the Dosage Guidelines
The importance of reading the packaging and the label cannot be stressed enough. Make sure that you know how much mg of THC and/or CBD each serving, and to pace yourself appropriately depending on your tolerance. If you are a first-time user, you may have to cut a single portion to an even smaller one.
4. Go Slowly and Moderately
When eating edibles for the first time, it is advisable to start with 1/4 of the suggested dose. Observe and note its effects, including the onset and duration. Take the same dosage for the first three times, with about 8-24 hour intervals between trials. Afterward, increase it to half the strength of the recommended dose before going any higher.
For example, if you have little to no tolerance to THC, this is one way of doing it.
- Begin with 2 mg for the first three times.
- For the fourth intake, raise the dose to 5 mg.
- If 5 mg is not enough, wait for 2 hours before taking another 5 mg.
- During the next session, begin with 5 mg. Alternatively, consider starting with 7.5 mg or 10 mg straightaway – but not any more than that.
5. Do Not Re-dose Without Having Waited for at Least 2 Hours
When consuming edibles, patience is vital. Remember that the oral route has a delayed onset, so resist the urge to pop more weed goodies right after eating.
That said, always wait for 2 hours before increasing the dosage. That is because it may take more than a couple of hours before the effects of pot brownie take hold, particularly for those who consume it on a full stomach. Meanwhile, on an empty stomach, the high may be felt within an hour, and reach its peak at around 1.5 hours.
If you are medicating with marijuana edibles, it is best to let a licensed healthcare professional assess the effects first. They will recommend the optimal dosage, as well as guide you on how to properly re-dose.
6. The First 3 Times May Not Get You High
On the first three uptakes, it is possible that the high is barely felt or seems non-existent. While there is no scientific explanation behind this, it is a commonly reported experience for beginners. As such, you may want to stick to a low dosage for the first few times before increasing it. When the effects kick in and you are sure that you have gotten past the “first-time user tolerance” effect of edibles, then you could start upping the strength.
Dosing Marijuana Edibles Properly and Safely
Weed-infused edibles offer an enjoyable and highly effective way of channeling both the psychoactive and health-promoting benefits of weed. It does require time and patience to make the most out of it. You need to understand how edibles work, as well as how to dose and ingest it properly. Rest assured, however, that once you get the hang of it, it will not be long before you can comfortably savor these delectable treats – all while experiencing the powerful effects of the plant.