Let me start this post by saying that I love cannabis edibles. They provide a discreet, convenient way to medicate without inhaling smoke, and the variety of treats that can be made or purchased these days are mind-blowing. Bakers, confectioners, chefs, and culinary artisans have provided wildly creative ways to medicate. A few short years ago the most a patient could hope for was a stale brownie or oily cookie. Now there are entire gourmet dinner courses infused with cannabis! You may have never considered trying medicated smoked salmon, or a bountiful caesar salad with THC-infused dressing, or even mouthwatering, heady, lemon custard tarts. For patients looking to explore new options, there has never been a better time to start. By no means am I disparaging edibles!
This same variety and market demand also means there is enormous fluctuation in dosing and potency. Two identically-sized candies from different edible makers can contain completely different concentrations of THC. A low dose (say, around 10mg) will leave most newcomers feeling pleasant, but what would happen to a patient who unknowingly consumed 60 mg at once? With so much ingredient fluctuation how can patients keep tabs on their individual tolerance levels?
How can I medicate with edibles safely?
The best piece of advice we can give is: start slow. You can always eat more if you don’t feel the desired effect, but as our grower and cultivator Chris B. likes to say, “once you buy the ticket, you take the ride.” Unlike smoking or vaporizing cannabis, edibles do not offer an immediate effect. They need time to be broken down and digested. Everyone’s absorption rate is different, but it typically takes between 30 minutes to 2 hours for ingested THC to reach you effectively. Give your body the time it needs to absorb and process the cannabinoids. we recommend eating 10mg per hour and working your way up from there. Many patients are familiar with the feeling of being ‘too high’. It can be very unpleasant if you’re not careful. As you experiment with the dosage that works best for your body, you’ll begin to get a feel for your tolerance level, and it will become easier to consume the right amount every time.
One of the pros of edibles is their portability. For patients who are traveling or need to keep their medication out of sight, edibles are ideal. However if you’re trying an edible for the first time it’s typically a good idea to stay at home when using. Edibles can take up to two hours to reach their maximum effect. A common mistake is to consume an edible and then go about your day. Some patients find they become overpowered once the edible’s full effect kicks in, and if they are dining at a restaurant or participating in a public event, they can become anxious and withdrawn. If it’s your first time, it’s not a bad idea to stay at home until you know exactly how your body will react to specific dosing.
What happens when you overmedicate? What should I do if I think I’ve eaten too many edibles?
Consuming too many edibles at once isn’t going to cause irreparable damage to your body, but it can be a tremendously unpleasant experience. Many patients report anxiety and paranoia as the two main unwanted side effects. Some commonly known effects include feeling extremely sluggish and ’lifeless’, experiencing dry mouth and nasal passages, and feeling cold or hot flashes throughout your body.
If you think you’ve eaten too many edibles, first remember it is nearly impossible to ingest a fatal dose of THC. Drink as much water as you’re able to. Many patients immediately try to lie down, but experience dizziness from staying in a sleeping position. Instead, try to sit upright with your back against a pillow and extend your legs. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly and steadily. Don’t panic! You’re certainly not dying, though you will likely start to feel very tired as the discomfort passes. A solid nap or a single night of early bedtime is often all that is needed to reset yourself. Some of our staff have had good results smoking or vaporizing a CBD-only strain when they are overmedicated. CBD can ease anxiety and lessen the effects of a ‘high’, making it easier for a patient to to relax if they’ve ingested too much. You can also try chewing on a peppercorn to ease the effects of an edible.
Check the labels
Read the labels on your edibles carefully. Inspect the dosage on each individual piece of candy. Each label should display the THC content for the entire package as well as THC content for each individual piece inside the package. Let’s say you’ve just bought a pack of ten medicated gummy bears. The label needs to show how much THC is in each gummy, not just the overall content. If you’re unsure how to read an edible label ask a patient consultant to examine it with you and confirm its dosage at the time of purchase.
The range of bodily tolerance for THC is as diverse as the options for its consumption What’s right for some may not be right for others! Your limit is just that: your limit. Never let another patient or patient consultant pressure you into consuming or buying more than you deem appropriate. Ask questions, explore your options, and make an informed decision.