From baked goods and confections to lozenges and capsules, cannabis edibles can come in a variety of tasty forms. If you’re a novice, you may not know how to approach edible dosages or how the effects might differ from smoking or vaping. This beginner’s guide is designed for the newbie, letting you in on everything from how to choose the right dosage to potential side effects to how long the effects may last. So, before you start munching, read on for a few recommendations.
How Do I Choose the Right Edible Dosage?
If you’re wondering how much THC it takes to get high or how many edibles you should eat, know that every person reacts to edible dosages differently depending on their unique physiology and tolerance levels. Even if two people took the same exact dose, there are numerous factors that can cause them to react differently. These include gastrointestinal factors, previous history of cannabis use and the sensitivity of one’s endocannabinoid system. It's recommended that those new to edibles start with low doses of 1-5 mg until they are able to work up to a “standard” single dose of a 10-mg edible.
How Long Does It Take to Kick In?
Because edibles are absorbed through the digestive tract and processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream, they can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect. Don’t be fooled by the waiting period between eating and feeling. You may be tempted to eat more than the recommended dosage because you enjoy what you’re eating, but taking too much too fast can result in adverse side effects.
What Are Potential Side Effects?
Let’s start with the good stuff. Positive effects of taking an edible include:
- Relief of pain and anxiety
- Improved focus and enhanced creativity
- Relaxation or sleepiness
- Increased appetite
But, there can also be adverse side effects if the dosage is too high. These include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Heavy breathing
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Slower reaction times
- In extreme cases, paranoia and anxiety
What Cautions Should I Take?
Some considerations to keep in mind: If you have a full stomach, it may take longer for your edible to kick in. Also, high altitudes might affect your reaction. If you find that you are having adverse reactions to ingested edibles, try the following:
- Drink water and have a snack to boost your blood pressure.
- Move to a calm, safe environment and seek reassurance from someone you trust.
- Try taking a large dose of CBD (the part of the cannabis plant that has no psychoactive effects), as this can help relieve the effects of too much THC.
- Remind yourself that most people do not need emergency medical care unless they have some pre-existing, serious medical condition.
Nobody has ever died from taking too much marijuana. Tell yourself, “This, too, shall pass.”
Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.