If you’re looking to enjoy the miracles of marijuana without the drawbacks of sucking in smoke, edibles might be the perfect fit for your next session. What could be easier than munching on a brownie and then kicking back to let cannabis work its magic?
As appealing as that sounds, it takes a little bit more planning to make sure the high you’re chasing doesn’t carry you away. Before you chow down, take some time to understand what you’re in for and learn how to pick the perfect dose for your tolerance and plans.
In this section of Cannabis University, we’ll teach you everything you need to know to have a safe, enjoyable, and properly-dosed edible experience.
Everybody’s familiar with the iconic pot brownie, but nowadays the massive selection of edible products is as mind-boggling as it is mouth-watering. With a grocery store’s worth of products to choose from, you can get high by eating gummies, sucking on hard candies, drinking soda, sipping tea, popping a mint, dripping some drops, or nearly any other mouth-based method you can think of.
But the cruel trick of edibles is that you’re never able to eat as much as you want to. Make sure to have plenty of non-cannabis munchies on hand, because when it comes to an edible high, overdoing it can lead to much more than a stomachache.
Although they’re as much a part of iconic stoner culture as joints, bowls, and bongs, edibles are in a league all their own.
While the high from smoking comes on in just a few minutes and typically lasts about two to four hours, a THC-infused edible high is much longer on both counts. Edibles usually kick in within one to two hours, but they can last for more than eight hours, depending on your dosage, metabolism, etc.
Not only that – the high from an edible is even more intense (in both the body and brain) than anything you’ll experience from smoking a bowl. Let’s explore why:
When you smoke weed, the smoke travels directly into your bloodstream through the alveoli in your lungs. That’s why you start to feel high within just a few minutes — the THC and other fun chemicals can get straight to work with very little downtime.
Edibles, on the other hand, take a more leisurely route to your bloodstream. When you eat an edible, it has to travel all the way to your stomach — where it’s then absorbed into the blood and transported to the liver — before the party can get started. When the cannabinoid delta-9-THC reaches your liver, enzymes start metabolizing it into a new form: 11-hydroxy-THC. This metabolite is quite a bit stronger and longer-lasting than regular old THC, which is why an edible high is way more intense and psychoactive than its smoke-induced counterpart.
The peak effects of an edible high will hit most people between one to two hours after ingestion, but they can last for upwards of eight hours.
There are some fast-acting varieties (that don’t produce as much 11-hydroxy-THC), but they’re not as common as traditional edibles. Some edible brands use a technology called “nano-emulsion” to make the active ingredients smaller and water-soluble, which makes them easier to absorb. Other edible forms, especially oils and tablets, are designed to be held in your mouth and absorbed into your bloodstream through those membranes. These fast-acting edibles tend to be much more like a regular smoking session, where the high comes on quickly and only lasts for a couple hours.
Whatever form of edible you choose, make sure to read the packaging thoroughly so you can anticipate the effects and plan accordingly. Never dive in blind, and make sure that – at the very least – you know how many milligrams of each cannabinoid you’re consuming… while you’re still in the right headspace to be doing math.
Because edibles are such a uniquely powerful and prolonged way to enjoy cannabis, it’s important to approach your first few experiments with an extra dose of patience.
One of the worst things you could do is eat an edible, wait an hour, decide it didn’t work, and take another, only to realize that you’ve now launched yourself two times higher than you ever intended to go.
The number-one rule of thumb is to start small and wait to see how your body reacts. For most body types and tolerances, that means no more than 2.5 mg of THC for your first time. You’ll probably start feeling something within the first two hours, but if you don’t, try moving around and changing your environment. Even just standing up can prove that you’re a lot higher than you realized while sitting still.
If you’re really not feeling anything after two to three hours, pop another 2.5 mg — and then stop!
For more experienced consumers with a higher tolerance and a sense of their own limits, it’s safe to experiment with higher dosages so long as you’re in a safe place with plenty of time on your hands.
Up to 15 mg of THC can produce an enjoyable euphoric experience even for relative newcomers, but anything more than that is best saved for the true marijuana veterans. These users can work their way up to 30, 50, or even 100 mg, but even hardcore stoners are liable to experience some severe discomfort, paranoia, and bad vibes at high doses.
For most cannabis connoisseurs, the sweet spot is between 15 and 30 mg, enjoyed in a safe environment with plenty of snacks and a place to crash if the high gets too overwhelming.
Know what to expect. Take it slow. Don’t take too much. And above all — bon appétit!