Cannabis edibles — sometimes called “medibles” (medical + edibles) — are cannabis-infused foods that are eaten to achieve the psychoactive and/or therapeutic effects of cannabis. There are all sorts of edibles, including brownies, cookies, caramels, hard candies, gummies, chocolate bars, lozenges, and more. Some chefs have even begun infusing their cooking oil with cannabis, allowing them to create entire gourmet meals with cannabis.
People choose edibles for many reasons. They might require a discreet, odor-free method of consuming cannabis, prefer the longer lasting effects of edibles, require the larger doses that some edibles offer, prefer the edible high over other highs, be concerned about the potential health risks of smoking/vaping, or perhaps they simply cannot tolerate smoking or vaping.
Everyone’s tolerance is different, so it’s difficult to say for sure. 10mg of THC is generally considered one serving or dose. (What is THC?) It’s useful to think of 10mg like one would think of a glass of wine… which is to say that it depends on your tolerance, but it’s a good place to start if it’s your first time. If you’re worried you may have an especially low tolerance, you can always start with 5mg. The rule of thumb with edibles is to go low and slow. You can always have more if the dose you’ve taken isn’t enough, but you can’t go back in time and take less!
The effects of smoking cannabis are felt nearly instantaneously, but edibles typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to be felt depending on how long it takes for them to be metabolized. Denser foods like brownies take longer to feel because they take longer to digest, while cannabis beverages and tinctures take less time because they move through your system more quickly. An individual’s metabolism also plays a part. If you have a high metabolism, you’ll feel the edible faster than someone with a slow metabolism. Edibles also hit you faster if you eat them on an empty stomach.
The effects of edibles may be felt for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is what you’re looking to get from the experience. Are you after that long-lasting high, long-lasting relief, or both? If you’re looking for a long-lasting high, look for something that contains 5mg or 10mg of THC per dose. Even if you’re a regular smoker, we still recommend starting with 10mg if it’s your first time with edibles because the high produced by edibles can be quite different than what you’re used to. Once you know how 10mg feels, you can start amping up the dose.
If you don’t want the psychoactive effects, look for something that contains 5mg or less of THC per dose and 10mg or more of CBD (What is CBD?). Keep in mind that most edibles will contain THC, but that’s not a bad thing! Small amounts of THC can enhance the therapeutic properties of CBD. This is known as the entourage effect.
There are also edibles available that have equal amounts of CBD:THC. These might be good for people that are looking for a mixture of the two, for people that need more than just CBD, or people that are just looking for a more even high. The same rule applies: If it’s your first time, stick to 5mg-10mg of THC.
It’s much easier to accidentally get too high with edibles. Here are some things to do if you find yourself in that situation:
Don’t panic. Easier said than done, but remember that it’s virtually impossible to consume a lethal amount of THC. It may be an unpleasant experience, but you’re not going to die. Breathe normally. Drink lots of water. Distract yourself until the effects wear off in a couple of hours. Don’t eat anything. It may feel intuitive to eat something in order to “dilute” the the THC in your system, but food can actually push the THC through your system faster and make it hit you harder.
Proceed with caution. Unless you know exactly how much THC is in that brownie someone gave you, it’s advisable to start with a 1/4 of it. Ask the person that gave it to you how much they recommend… and then consider how much you smoke compared to them. Do they routinely out-smoke you, or maybe the other way around? Adjust their recommendation accordingly.
If you’re making your own edibles, it is possible to estimate how much THC is in each serving! You just need to know how much weed you used to make the cannabutter (in grams), the THC% of the flower you used, and the number of servings you wound up with at the end. Input that information into this calculator and it will tell you how much THC is in each serving. The more precise you are with your serving sizes, the more accurate this calculation will be. Try to make each cookie/brownie/etc. the same size.
Another factor that is important to keep in mind when baking your own edibles is how much butter you are making vs. how much the recipe calls for. If your recipe calls for a half a stick of cannabutter and you made a whole stick of cannabutter, then you have some additional math to do.