Edibles: How Not To Overdose

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For the new consumers entering the legal pot market, the idea of buying not only unfamiliar plant matter, but also intimidating tools that are typically both fragile and not cheap, can be overwhelming.  Edibles provide a stepping stone into legal marijuana in the form of a known substance and the context of a time-tested harmless stereotype.

The one downside to edibles for many new stoners is the lessened control over dose.  Sure the brownie from the dispensary has numbers on the label, but do you know what those numbers mean? And, given the physical qualities of brownie batter, dividing it up does not guarantee that each section will have equal doses.

Studies have also shown that dispensaries often have inconsistencies in their labels’ accuracy — most tend to slightly overlabel THC content, but a subset have the opposite problem as well. These inconsistencies are far larger than what is allowed in alcohol or pharmaceuticals.  It’s an issue that will need to be addressed as medical marijuana grows in acceptance and use.

Don’t let the concerns about dose labeling turn you off edibles completely — from a dispensary, they are still a fun and easy way to get high or relieve symptoms.  With dosages differing from pipe to pan, it’s good to start slow.  You can always eat more, but once you’re too high, only time will help.

Even for an experienced smoker, the different high of an edible can be overwhelming.  And though most of us know what a one gram joint looks and feels like, we can’t visualize TCH in milligrams as clearly.

In Colorado, the standard low dose for a single gummy candy is 10mg.  Most edible experts recommend low-tolerance users to start with half that.  If you’re new or if it’s been a while, you probably shouldn’t sit down with the whole package of candy and start snacking.

Cannabis in edibles take longer to take effect than when in a joint or pipe.  While smoking weed gets you high right away, eating it can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.  After you eat your first piece, be patient before eating more.  Resist the urge to say, “I can’t feel it,” and find yourself three hours later having a conversation with your hand.

A final consideration is how full your stomach is.  If you haven’t eaten much yet and your edibles are one of the only things in your stomach, it’s going to kick in sooner and possibly a little stronger.  If you’re eating a cookie at the end of a day with three solid meals, it will take your body a little longer to digest and absorb the cannabinoids.