Cannabis Edibles – the basics

So you want to try edibles. You’ve heard about gummies and your friends super dank brownies, or maybe smoking cannabis just isn’t giving you the relief you are looking for, either way here you are.

Consuming edibles and smoking /vaping cannabis are two completely different experiences and it is a good idea to understand what you are getting into if you are a first timer. THC infused edibles have great medicinal benefits, especially for pain management. They are also fun on a recreational level but dipping your toes into edibles without understanding them can land you in the emergency room. Not because the cannabis is a direct danger to your health, but because it can be overwhelming for some people, especially newbies, and induce panic. The key to safely consuming edibles is knowledge and patience. I’ll explain…


The first thing you need to understand about edibles is that when you eat cannabis it takes a very different path through your body. When you smoke cannabis, the THC in the smoke passes through your lungs, into your bloodstream and then to your brain. It is a fast process, usually within minutes. That is why smoking cannabis gives you it’s effect so fast. It is because the path is so short.

When you eat cannabis the activated THC travels through your stomach and then begins it’s multiple passes through the liver. After it leaves your liver it finally makes it’s way into your blood stream and to your brain. This process takes 30-60 minutes on average.

Delta 9 VS Delta 11

The next thing you need to know about edibles is what happens when it is passing through your liver. Delta 9 THC is the cannabinoid compound that gives us psych activity. It is responsible for the “high” or “stoned” feeling we get when smoking cannabis. However, when Delta 9 THC passes through the liver, our liver breaks it down into Delta 11 THC, an entirely different compound. Delta 11 is much more stronger than Delta 9. It also has a much longer half life which means it’s effects last longer. 3-5x longer. When you consume a cannabis edible your effects are going to be stronger, they are going to take longer to onset and they are going to last longer. So what you need now is patience.

Patience, Patients.

Now that we know the basics about edibles we need to learn how to dose for the first time. When Colorado legalized recreational cannabis there was a very distinct uptick in cannabis emergency room visits. It can be attributed mostly to new users who wanted to try cannabis for the first time but instead of starting with flower or starting slow, they dove head first into edibles.

In most legal states it is not uncommon to see 100mg-250mg candy bars. An unexperienced user may eat half or even the whole candy bar. For a new user this may give them an intense experience. High doses of edibles can lead to paranoia, anxiety and panic. It can increase the heart rate and really scare some people. We’ve all heard the (sometimes funny) horror stories of the person who ate the whole brownie and called 911.

While this may make some of you nervous, the key to avoiding bad experiences with edibles is starting slow and having patience.

Beginners Dosing

For most novice users, 5mg is a good starting point. Take 5mg, wait an hour and see how you feel. If you do not feel the desired effect take another 5mg. If you are more acquainted with using cannabis then start with 10mg. Same waiting time applies. Give it a good 60 minutes before you try to consume any more.

The most common mistake for newbies is taking the first dose and not being satisfied with its effects after 20 minutes and taking more. That’s how you find yourself in a situation of panic and anxiety. 60 minutes or more passes and now you’re getting the full effect of both doses. It can be intense.

After you have built up a tolerance to edibles over doing becomes less likely. You have a full understanding of your body’s tolerance and usually dose accordingly. The negative side effects of edibles lessen as you build your tolerance as well. Don’t be afraid to try edibles, just know your bodies limits. (Always consult with a medical professional when making medical decisions).

You over did it, what now?

Are you going to die? Are the police watching your house? Can your dog hear your thoughts? These may be questions you find yourself asking in the event that you’ve taken too strong of a dose. What do you do now? Take a deep breath. Patience.

While the affects of edibles last longer, they do eventually end. Stay home, lay in bed, ride it out. Taking CBD oil is a great way to counter some of the negative effects of edibles. Take a nap. Sleeping is a good way to fast forward to the end and if you can get your brain to shut off it may just be the best sleep of your life.

Panic and anxiety can be helped at home and are common side effects of low tolerance users that over do it.

In conclusion, cannabis edibles are a unique experience that many enjoy, including myself. Don’t be afraid to try them. Just be smart, understand what you are consuming, go slow and be patient. You’ll find that optimum dose in no time.

(I am not a medical professional, I am a cannabis patient, advocate and educator. Always consult a physician when making medical decisions.)

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