Edibles for Beginners: Don’t Learn the Hard Way!
Maybe it happened to you. Perhaps you heard about it from a friend of a friend or read a story online. In one way or another, nearly all of us have heard a horror story about someone eating overeating edibles and freaking out.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Marijuana edibles can be a safe and comfortable way to enjoy the effects of cannabis—if you start with a low dose and are patient for them to take effect. Or, as Lifehacker says, “Go low and slow.”
What Are Edibles?
Edibles are marijuana you eat to get high. But rather than munching on a bud, you eat something that has cannabis baked or infused into it. What you eat ranges from the perennial favorites like brownies, cookies, and “space cakes,” to savory options like pretzels or even beef jerky.
Lots of people prefer to eat marijuana over smoking. Edibles are less harmful to the lungs, they don’t smell so when you are getting high the neighbors won’t complain, and edibles provide the longer lasting high (more on why that is later) than smoking.
Edibles come in four categories. Think of them like the edible food groups. They include:
Sativa-only: Sativa strains of marijuana cause a head high (meaning the goofy kind of high)
Indicia-only: Indicia strains of marijuana induce a body high (resulting in relaxing or sleepiness)
Hybrid (mixed Sativa and Indicia): Hybrid edibles include the best of the brain and body highs.
CBD (Cannabidiol): CBD gives you the good feelings with none of the “getting high” side effects. CBD edibles are often used for medicinal marijuana users.
It is essential that beginners work with a marijuana dispensary for edibles rather than do-it-yourself products. The expert budtenders can help you find the right strain and dosage for your experience level and desired effects. Best of all, the edibles packaged and sold at a marijuana dispensary have the most reliable dosing information to this point so you know how much you are taking. The same can’t be said for your brother’s roommate’s pot brownies.
What’s the Difference Between Eating Pot and Smoking it?
An edible high is different than a smoking or vaping high in many ways. Edibles are ingested through the digestive system, which means that the body needs some time to feel the effects. First, the stomach absorbs it and then the liver processes it. From the liver, the THC enters the bloodstream. When you smoke or vape pot, the THC goes right into the bloodstream, making you feel the effects in as little as five minutes. When you eat it, the feelings could need anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect. However, an edible high lasts much longer than a smoking or vaping high. Consider this illustration from The Cannifornian, a news website covering California cannabis:
Figure 1 Comparing the Highs
Image Source: theCannifornian.com
Smoking or vaping, you can expect a high for about two hours, with its peak effects in the first hour. Eating, you can expect an eight- to ten-hour high, with the peak occurring around two hours after you eat it.
What to Consider Before Taking the First Bite
First-time and beginning users should consider a few things before they take a bite of edibles, including;
You can always add more later, so start with less. The most essential rule of thumb is to take less than you think you need because if you were wrong, you can always eat more. But once you eat an edible, you can’t go back, and it’s going to be a long ride. Most experts agree that 2.5 to 5mg is best for beginners. California limits edibles to 10mg of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, aka, the chemical in pot that gets you high). While this dose is acceptable and recommended for edibles, beginners shouldn’t take that much.
Be patient for longer than you think. Many of the horror stores you heard will start with something like, “I had some brownie, but after about a half hour, I didn’t feel anything, so I had some more…” This mistake has rookie written all over it. Because your digestive system is hard at work on the edible, it can take more than a half an hour to feel it. Depending on when you last ate, how much you weigh, your metabolism, and a myriad of other factors, it could be up to two hours before you really start to feel the effects of the first dose. If you take more, you could be flying higher than you intended—and it will suck.
If you took too much, you will be okay. Miserable, but okay. Maybe you didn’t take our advice, and you overate. Now, you are freaking out and think you might die. You won’t. With a miniscule amount of exceptions (like a heart condition, or pregnancy…which makes us wonder, why are you doing edibles in the first place?), you shouldn’t go to the emergency room with an edible overdose. Unlike other drugs, THC can’t cause you to stop breathing. If you are lucky, you can go to sleep. If you aren’t, you could be really uncomfortable. If you have taken too much, try to drink some water and lay down in a safe place to go to sleep. Don’t eat, though, because that might just make the effects worse.
For more tips on what to do if you have had too much, please click here.
The Californian has more essential tips for edibles beginners: