A Beginner’s Guide to Edibles
Edibles are amazing for many reasons, but the biggest reason has got to be efficiency.
While smoking or vaping cannabis can be fun and effective, it’s sending those cannabinoids up in smoke while edibles are being more thoroughly processed by your body.
This graphic shows the drastic difference in how cannabis can treat you based on edibles vs inhalation.
This means is that if you happen to be a person with average tolerance, 1g of 20% flower provides you an effect of:
Inhalation -approx. 0.5-2 hours for 1-3 sessions (0.35-1g dried herb)
Edibles -approx. 4-12+ hours for 16-33 sessions (5-10mg per edible)
This amazing efficiency boost mixed with the vast range of personal tolerances has created a blockade of excitement and fear around consuming edibles.
Why are we afraid?
The accidental over-consumption of edible cannabis has been a running gag in media for decades. Over indulgence of THC can produce hilarious results that we (as an audience) don’t feel bad for laughing at. We know that while cannabis is silly, it’s also generally safe.
Which leaves us with less guilt for laughing at the misfortune of our favourite fictional characters, but it generates fear about loss of control, unwanted effects or being trapped in an uncomfortable state for an extended period of time.
I know I had questions before I tried my first edible:
How much is a dose?
What about effects?
Does it feel the same as smoking?
What if I don’t feel anything?
What if I take too much?
How long does it last?
What do I do if I get overwhelmed?
I have found the answers are variable for everyone, but there are ways to look at the aspects that I think I can help people gain control over their edibles experience.
Cannabis edibles are like a road trip
In every road trip you have factors you can control and factors you have to work around.
In order to have the experience you want, you need to prepare accordingly.
Factors you can control:
Destination: This is your set goal for using an edible in the first place. Knowing where you’re going helps keep you on the right road. This mental aspect has a huge effect on your experience. So plan ahead!
This would be the number of mg consumed at a time and is the fuel you need to get to where you’re going. Not enough fuel and you’ll never reach your destination. Too much fuel and you wind up somewhere you didn’t intend to be.
Microdosing is like taking a trip with a dozen tiny gas cans instead of just filling the tank once. You have to refill more often but your control is vastly increased.
Fuel Type: This is your cannabinoid choice and determines the intensity of the trip. THC is known for a psychoactive response (jet fuel - powerful and potentially overwhelming) whereas CBD is non-psychoactive (gasoline - comfortable and reliable) and some parts of the plant have only trace amounts but still provoke effects. Such as the roots, stems and fan leaves (electricity - new and exciting, but subtle).
Tunes: Your music determines the vibe of your trip and in edibles that job is filled by terpenes. Terpenes are the scented oils that give cannabis that distinctive smell. They also have a significant effect on how your body reacts to the cannabis taken.
Please note: Some edibles have had the terpenes removed during processing. For more help with terpenes check out this link or ask your local budtender.
Snacks: These are how you maintain your state of being and they are literally snacks. Consuming food or drink that is high in a certain terpene will compliment the effect of the edible consumed. Making your ride more comfortable.
i.e. mango (myrcene) adds giddiness, lemonade (limonene) adds energy, pine nuts (pinene) aids focus and black pepper (beta-caryophyllene) helps modulate overwhelm.
It should also be noted that cannabis needs fat to be processed efficiently. If your edible seems weaker than it should, try eating something high in fat to get things rolling.
Short cuts: Just like you can cut hours off a road trip with a sweet short cut. You can make an edible kick in much faster by using a sublingual application method. This is where you bypass the digestive system by absorbing your cannabinoids under the tongue.
On the plus side it kicks in faster. On the negative side it only works with certain types of edibles and it doesn’t last as long as the same dose taken via stomach.
Ask your local budtender to see what’s in stock for sublinguals!
Having a spare tire:
The unexpected can strike at any time. Just like a flat tire, overwhelm can catch you off guard and ruin a great experience. When the edible is stronger than expected, it can be uncomfortable.
Rest assured that you can get your trip back on track by modulating your high with CBD.
Please note: While CBD will help make things more comfortable. It does not promise sobriety.
Factors you can’t control:
Vehicle type: This is your tolerance and is directly connected to the fuel type and amount you should use. Some of us are zipping around in go-carts while others are lumbering about in transport trucks. These vehicles have drastically different needs and should be treated appropriately. Trying to run a gas go-cart with diesel is just as ridiculous as trying to run a transport truck on lighter fluid.
Engine condition: This is our ECS (which you can learn more about here) and it’s the system that applies the cannabinoids to your body. So if your engine is in tip top shape, you get optimum use out of your edible and you need only use a little at a time. However, if your ECS is under-performing it means that you may need more fuel to get the job done.
Travel time: This is the wait between taking the edible and feeling the effects. This will vary from 20 minutes up to 2 hours. How long this takes is determined by the ingredients in the edible, if it was taken on an empty stomach and the sensitivity of the person taking it. While this has multiple controllable factors, I included it here due to the fact that you don’t pick your level of sensitivity or the ingredients used (unless you’re making your own).
Tips for your first edibles trip
I have created this downloadable pdf for you to plan your first edibles experience with confidence!
Plan ahead: Clear a time block of at least 12 hours and make sure you have a variety of activities available. I like to have a spread of options. Such as movies, puzzles, family time, home improvement, creative work and napping. Having this list ready means that if I get loopy I can still pick from things I love without stressing about wasted time or if the effects are different than expected.
Have company: Cannabis can be soothing when you’re experienced, but the first few times can be well… “trippy”. The company of those you trust while doing a familiar activity can make this new experience much more comfortable.
Pack snacks: Food is life and eating while blazed is an experience unto itself. I try to have low calorie/high nutrition snacks nearby along with a big water bottle. That way, if my appetite gets overzealous, I don’t have to stress about poor food choices. I also try to gear my snack choices to support my goals for the day as I mentioned in the snacks section above.
Pace yourself: Start low and go slow is the best advice you’ll ever hear for a comfortable experience. We are all different and the only way to know what you’re driving is to strap in and try.
Please note: Inhalation tolerance and edible tolerance are not necessarily related. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take a long time to find out how much fuel it takes to fill my big rig than blow up my go-cart because I was impatient. I recommend checking out this post for more information on dose size and make sure to allow a full two hours between doses to help prevent overwhelm.
Prepare for the possibility of unpleasantness: There are thousands of cultivars out there and even more recipes and food interactions. There is a possibility that the edible was too much or not the right fit for you. In this case you can regain balance by using CBD, having a snack and taking note of all the factors involved.
I would note: Dose, strain, terpenes, edible type, environment, food eaten that day, state of being on a scale of 1-10 both before and after consumption, goal of consumption, what was nice about the experience and what was less than fun.
I know that seems like a lot, but these are all relevant to finding your personal cannabis combo. Which is the key to customizing your cannabis experience.