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Cannabis Edibles 101: A Beginner's Guide to Edible Dosing

Cannabis Edibles 101: A Beginner's Guide to Edible Dosing
Edible cannabis products, such as gummies, mints, brownies, cookies, tinctures, drinks, and other food items, offer a discreet and long-lasting experience that is both safe and enjoyable. However, responsible consumption and understanding the dosage are crucial factors in maximizing your edible journey.

While consuming cannabis-infused edibles, it's important to consider the desired experience, as an uninformed approach can lead to unpredictable outcomes. While consuming excess cannabis won't harm your body, unwanted or unpleasant effects can be mitigated by being aware of the product's dosage and finding the optimal amount that suits you best.

Keep in mind that several factors can influence your experience with edibles. Determining the appropriate dosage for yourself and understanding your personal limits is a journey, as each individual's response to cannabis is distinct.

While products purchased from a licensed dispensary typically have clear dosage labels, determining the dosage of homemade edibles can be more challenging. Continue reading to explore additional factors that contribute to the effects of edibles on individuals.


Discovering Your Optimal Edible Dosage

Determining the appropriate milligram dosage of edibles varies for each person, taking into account their unique body and preferences. Several factors contribute to the potency of an edible, such as:

  • The specific type of edible
  • The dosage strength
  • Individual tolerance levels
  • Body weight
  • Metabolism

It's important to recognize that two individuals may have contrasting responses to the same type and dosage of edible. One person might experience significant intoxication, while another might not feel any effects at all, depending on the aforementioned factors. To ensure a positive experience, it's recommended to start with a small edible dose and gradually increase it until you discover your ideal dosage.

Determining the THC Dosage for Desired Effects

The THC dosage in edibles depends on various factors. These factors include personal tolerance, body chemistry, body weight, and the desired experience. To assist you in finding the suitable dose, here are some general guidelines measured in milligrams (mg):

1 – 2.5 mg THC edibles (microdose): Mild alleviation of symptoms like pain, stress, and anxiety; enhanced focus and creativity. Unlikely to experience intoxication at this dose. Recommended for: First-time consumers or regular consumers interested in microdosing.

3 – 5 mg THC edibles (low): Effects: Stronger relief for pain and anxiety symptoms; euphoria; potential impairment of coordination and altered perception. Some users may experience intoxication at five milligrams. Recommended for: Standard recreational use; individuals seeking relief from persistent symptoms not addressed by smaller doses; those looking for restful sleep.

10 – 15 mg THC edibles (moderate): Effects: Effective relief for pain, nausea, and anxiety symptoms; impaired coordination and altered perception. Recommended for: THC consumers with high tolerance (both recreational users and medical patients); individuals unaccustomed to THC may experience adverse effects. This represents the maximum single dose for smaller edible pieces like cookies, gummies, mints, or chocolate bars.

20 – 30 mg THC edibles (high): Effects: Intense euphoria; significantly impaired coordination and altered perception. Recommended for: Consumers with substantial THC tolerances; patients with decreased gastrointestinal absorption.

50 – 100 mg THC edibles (very high): Effects: Severely impaired coordination and perception; increased likelihood of adverse side effects, including nausea, anxiety, and increased heart rate. Recommended for: Experienced, high-tolerance THC consumers; patients coping with cancer, inflammatory disorders, or conditions requiring high doses.

100 – 500 mg THC edibles (extremely high): Effects: Intensely impaired coordination and perception; potential for unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, anxiety, and increased heart rate. Recommended for: Experienced, high-tolerance THC consumers; patients living with cancer, inflammatory disorders, or conditions necessitating high doses.

Determining the Initial Edible Dose

If you're new to edibles, we highly recommend embracing the tried-and-true approach: "low and slow." Begin with a dosage of 2.5 mg. 5 mg is often considered a standard dose. Therefore, 2.5 mg is a half-dose or "microdose". This is reported to cause minimal intoxication or adverse effects.

Here are some pointers for your first-time edible consumption:

  1. Dispensaries often offer edibles in doses of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, or 10 mg. Opt for gummies, mints, or other edibles that can be easily divided into smaller doses.
  2. Ensure that the dosage is clearly labeled on the packaging of the edibles you purchase, providing a clear understanding of their potency.
  3. Start with a low dose and gradually increase: Remember, you can always consume more, but you cannot reduce the dose once taken. Wait for at least one to two hours after taking the initial dose. If you don't feel any effects or would like a stronger effect, you can take another 2.5 mg increment.


Onset Time of Cannabis Edibles

The onset time of cannabis edibles typically ranges from 20 to 60 minutes, although it can take longer depending on various factors such as metabolism, gastrointestinal conditions, time of day, and the presence of food in your system. To ensure a positive experience, we strongly recommend the "start low and go slow" approach. Begin with a low dose of edibles and allow a minimum of 45 to 90 minutes for the effects to manifest. If you desire stronger effects after this timeframe, you can consider consuming more edibles.

One common mistake in cannabis dosing is taking a dose that exceeds one's tolerance or consuming an additional dose if no effects are felt after one hour. In such cases, both doses can take effect after two hours, leading to an overconsumption situation and potential unpleasant effects of excessive cannabis intake.

It's essential to remember that if you consume more edibles before allowing sufficient time for the initial dose to take effect, both doses may kick in later, potentially resulting in an overwhelming sensation of being "too high." Patience and moderation are key when it comes to cannabis edibles.

The Liver's Role in Processing Weed Edibles

In contrast to methods such as smoking, vaping, dabbing, or using tinctures and transdermal products, the consumption of cannabis edibles involves digestion in our bodies, with the THC content being metabolized by our livers.

Rather than entering the bloodstream through the lungs, mouth, or skin, the liver generates an enzyme known as CYP2CP, which converts delta-9 THC into a more potent metabolite called 11-Hydroxy-THC. However, during the digestion process, a significant portion of 11-Hydroxy-THC can be degraded, leading to a less efficient absorption by our bodies, even though it can be up to three times more potent than inhaled THC.


Duration of Effects from a Weed Edible

The duration of the effects caused by a weed edible depends on various factors, including the dosage consumed, individual tolerance, metabolism, and body chemistry.

For individuals with moderate experience, an average 5 mg edible typically produces effects that last between 2 to 4 hours, encompassing the onset and comedown phases, with the peak experience occurring around 1 hour after ingestion. However, individuals with a high tolerance or fast metabolism may experience a quicker decline in the high. Conversely, individuals with a low tolerance or slower metabolism may have the effects of a 5 mg edible persist for up to 6 hours.

It's worth noting that some cannabis consumers may still feel the effects of an edible upon waking up if they consumed it before sleep. Adjusting the dosage or timing accordingly can help align the desired effects with sleeping patterns.

When consuming edibles, it's important to pay attention to the dosage and gauge its potency and duration for your personal response. This knowledge will assist in finding your ideal dose.


Gaining Insight into CBD and THC Effects in Weed Edibles

Incorporating CBD alongside THC in weed edibles can amplify the medicinal advantages of cannabis edibles, offering relief for conditions like pain and anxiety. Simultaneously, this combination can mitigate the intensity of intoxication and associated negative effects such as impaired cognition and elevated heart rate. By striking a balance between CBD and THC content, weed edibles can provide a more well-rounded experience that combines therapeutic benefits with reduced potential for adverse reactions.

CBD exhibits a distinctive interaction with our endocannabinoid receptors, leading to a partial blockade of the intoxicating effects induced by THC. As a result, consumers can benefit from the therapeutic properties of cannabis while experiencing reduced impairment. It is crucial for consumers to be aware of the specific contents and CBD to THC ratio of edibles prior to ingestion.

When opting for balanced edibles with a CBD:THC ratio of 1:1, users can expect a therapeutic experience with lesser impairment compared to edibles containing only THC. For instance, an individual who feels moderately stoned or impaired after consuming 5 mg of THC alone is likely to experience reduced or no impairment when consuming 5 mg of THC alongside 20 mg of CBD.

Dispensaries now offer a variety of brands that provide edibles with different CBD:THC ratios, expanding the options available to consumers. As the CBD content in an edible increases, the likelihood of undesirable intoxicating effects diminishes. Edibles can be found with CBD:THC ratios of 2:1, 5:1, 10:1, 20:1, and more. Some products may also include non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBG or semi-intoxicating cannabinoids such as CBN. However, it is important to note that excessive consumption of THC-containing edibles, regardless of CBD content, can still lead to unpleasant effects. Always review the labels for accurate dosing information and consider seeking guidance from a knowledgeable budtender or medical professional familiar with the effects of cannabis.


Duration of Weed Edible Effects and Recovery

Weed edibles are known for having the longest duration of intoxication compared to other cannabis consumption methods for a single dose/session. The effects of edibles gradually subside, tapering off more slowly than those experienced through inhalation. After reaching the peak, the effects will plateau and diminish gradually over a span of 1-2 hours.

It's worth noting that some individuals may feel a sense of fatigue once the effects have completely worn off.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have consumed a dose that is too potent for your comfort, we recommend referring to our guide on how to manage an overly intense cannabis high.


Is it possible to overdose on weed edibles?

There have been no reported cases of fatalities resulting from consuming excessive amounts of cannabis. However, it is important to note that overindulging in edibles can lead to an uncomfortable or unpleasant experience. Unlike certain opioids, cannabis does not suppress the respiratory system, irrespective of the dosage administered. 

While the majority of individuals do not require immediate medical attention, it is crucial for consumers to exercise caution when consuming edibles and avoid ingesting excessive levels of cannabis that may lead to discomfort. It's important to recognize that edibles may not be suitable for everyone and personal discretion is advised.

Which types of weed edibles provide the strongest effects?

Different types of edibles contain varying ingredients and formulations, meaning that even with the same dosage, a cannabis brownie may not produce the same intensity as a cannabis-infused drink. Onset times for edibles typically range from 15 to 60 minutes after ingestion.

Hard candies and pastilles such as lollipops, gum, mints, and lozenges, as well as beverages, tend to have quicker onset times. This is because they are primarily absorbed through the absorbent tissue in the mouth, bypassing the digestive tract.

Chewy and sweet edibles like gummies, caramels, and chocolates have a moderate onset time. While they do require digestion, their simpler ingredients contribute to quicker absorption.

Baked goods, on the other hand, generally take the longest to take effect. Their density and the energy needed for digestion and metabolism contribute to the delayed onset compared to other types of edibles.


Is it advisable to combine weed edibles with alcohol?

Although cannabis has not been linked to any reported fatalities, combining it with other substances can lead to various outcomes, ranging from unpleasant to hazardous. Alcohol, being a depressant, reduces activity in the central nervous system. When consumed alongside cannabis, the intoxicating effects of THC may be intensified due to alcohol's role as a solvent, facilitating the faster and more efficient entry of THC into the bloodstream and brain. Recent studies also indicate an increased risk of traffic accidents when cannabis and alcohol are combined.


Additional tips for safely dosing weed edibles

If you haven't experienced any effects from an edible after one hour, consider eating a snack, such as fresh fruit, to promote digestion and enhance absorption in your gastrointestinal tract. It's crucial to follow the principle of "start low and go slow" when consuming cannabis, especially in the form of edibles.

Even if you are a regular cannabis smoker, your tolerance to edibles may be low if you haven't consumed them before. Starting with a half dose of 2.5 mg is recommended. Wait at least 60 minutes after ingestion to assess the effects. If you desire stronger effects, you can consider taking an additional 2.5 mg or even less.

For individuals new to cannabis, it's common to require 2-3 doses before experiencing any noticeable effects. It is advisable to stick with the same low dose for three separate trials, with intervals of 8 to 24 hours between each trial, before considering an increase in dosage. It's important to understand that individuals can have different reactions to THC, and it's perfectly normal if you don't experience the same effects as your friends. Each person's response to THC is unique and can vary.

In certain situations, consuming a high dose of CBD, ranging from 50-200mg without significant levels of THC, can help mitigate the effects of a THC-rich edible. CBD has been known to counteract the intoxicating effects of THC, providing a potential way to balance out the experience.


Considering your mindset and environment

Your mental state (set) and physical surroundings (setting) play a significant role in shaping your cannabis experience.

If you're feeling anxious or in an unsafe environment, the high from edibles may become unpleasant. On the other hand, being in a positive mood and comfortable space can greatly enhance the likelihood of a positive high.

It's important to note that even in a favorable set and setting, consuming excessive amounts of edibles can still lead to an unpleasant experience.

Remember to stay adequately hydrated while consuming edibles. Additionally, be mindful of your eating habits, as consuming edibles on an empty stomach can intensify the effects, resulting in a quicker and potentially stronger impact. Having a meal prior to consuming edibles promotes better manageability and predictability of your overall experience.

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