Cannabis edibles can be a wonderful, delicious, and discreet way to consume cannabis, but they can also pose safety concerns if you don't know what you're getting yourself into first. In this guide, you will find education and recommendations to ensure your edible experience is safe, positive, rewarding, and most importantly - enjoyable.
Everything You Need To Know About Edibles
Cannabis edibles can be a wonderful, delicious, and discreet way to consume cannabis, but they can also pose safety concerns if you don't know what you're getting yourself into first.
They also affect each person completely differently, meaning your experience will be unique to you and your endocannabinoid system.
Of course, cannabis edibles are meant to be enjoyed and can be an excellent addition to a healthy lifestyle with some basic education.
I always encourage my Well With Cannabis Facebook Community to prepare their own oils, butter, recipes, or capsules at home for many reasons, including cost savings and flexibility with personal preferences.
But it's important to do so safely.
By following my safe edible recommendations here in this guide, you can be prepared to have an experience that is safe, positive, rewarding, and most importantly - enjoyable.
In this guide, we will cover:
- An Experiment & A Commitment
- Safety Considerations For Consuming THC
- Edibles Can Be More Potent Than Other Forms of Consumption
- Understanding Delayed Onset & Duration Times
- Dosing Recommendations for Beginners
- Determining Final Product Potency
- The Importance of Decarboxylation
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An Experiment & A Commitment
Before jumping into the world of edibles, I want you to know that consuming cannabis edibles is truly a self-experiment that requires both curiosity and patience.
Experimenting with dosages and duration times also requires a time commitment from yourself.
It will likely take several tries for you to find the right dosage with identifiable onset and duration times that you can rely on.
For this reason, I always recommend my Cannabis Compass Online Course students consume edibles in the safety of their own home when they have time to stay put and enjoy the experience.
With the notoriously delayed onset and duration time of edibles, you should plan on devoting at least 6-12 hours to your experience.
During this time, plan to be safe in your home with no need to travel anywhere, no need to drive a car, and no need to operate heavy machinery.
Edibles Are Both An Experiment & Commitment Summary: Consuming cannabis edibles is both a self-experiment and a time commitment. The unknown intoxicating response means that it may take a few tries for you to find your perfect dose.
Safety Considerations For Consuming THC Edibles
But consuming too much THC is where you risk experiencing an overly intoxicating or even a hallucinogenic effect.
The most common unwanted side effects that may pose a safety risk to some individuals include:
- Disorientation or dizziness
- Short-term memory issues
- Slow reaction time
- Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
- Increased appetite with dry mouth
Experiencing these unwanted side effects can be avoided by following the golden rule "start low, and go slow" when consuming THC.
This means starting with a very low dose and very slowly increasing it over time until you know how THC truly affects you.
THC Safety Considerations Summary: Unknowingly consuming too much THC, especially in the form of cannabis edibles, may result in disorientation, dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, and tachycardia. This can be avoided by following the golden rule "start low, and go slow."
Edibles Can Be More Potent Than Other Forms of Consumption
There are even anecdotal reports of people experiencing hallucinogenic effects in some cases where too much THC has been consumed.
This experience is due to the way the liver processes the THC.
Once cannabis is eaten and digested, THC is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the liver, undergoing the hepatic first-pass metabolism.
During this process, enzymes hydroxylate Δ9-THC to form 11-hydroxytetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC), a potent psychoactive metabolite that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
This metabolite, 11-OH-THC, causes potentially unwanted, or wanted, side effects for consumers.
It is important to note that a portion of the population reports feeling no effect from cannabis edibles.
This may be because they lack the enzyme (or enough of the enzymes) needed to convert Δ9-THC → 11-OH-THC.
Edibles Can Be More Potent Than Other Forms of Consumption Summary: When cannabis is eaten, it goes through the digestive system. When the liver processes it, THC is converted to 11-OH-THC, a metabolite that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is this intoxicating metabolite that causes more potent, increased intoxicating effects associated with cannabis edibles.
Understanding Delayed Onset & Duration Times
It can be difficult, potentially frustrating, and sometimes time-consuming for you to determine how edibles affect you personally.
It is even more difficult to determine how the consumed product will affect you and how long the effects will last.
One reason is the delayed onset time required for orally consumed cannabis to produce the desired effect.
Cannabis edibles are slower to take effect due to their need to travel through the digestive system.
The typical onset time ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours, or even longer, depending on the individual.
While the effects are delayed, they tend to manifest stronger and last longer, with a peak onset of noticeable effects setting in between 1 to 3 hours after consumption.
The effects can then last anywhere from 6 to 8 hours or more and vary gratefully from person to person.
Individual physiological factors, such as body weight, medical conditions, and absorption rates, can also affect the experience from person to person.
For this reason, it is important not to consume a second dose of edibles in a short amount of time if you're not feeling the desired result.
It is recommended to wait at least 2 hours before attempting to consume a second dose.
If you consume a second dose too quickly, say 30 minutes after initial consumption, you run the risk of over-consuming and experiencing unwanted effects.
Edibles Delayed Onset & Duration Times Summary: Edibles have a much longer delayed onset than inhalation or topical or sublingual applications. The onset time of intoxicating effects can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, with a duration times lasting 6 to 8 hours or more after consumption.
Dosing Recommendations for Beginners
With cannabis consumption, there is no such thing as standard dosing recommendations because it affects everyone differently.
Everyone's body metabolizes cannabis differently.
You and your identical twin could consume the same THC amount in a cannabis tincture and have drastically different experiences.
It is important to start with one low dose first and monitor your body's reaction following the "start low and go slow" golden rule.
If you are new to edibles, begin with one very low dose equal to or less than 5mg of THC.
Remember, cannabis edibles can have a delayed onset time of 30-minutes to 2 hours or more, so don’t take a second dose after just one hour, or you risk the chance of consuming more than you can comfortably handle.
If you do not feel any response after 2-4 hours, you can gradually increase the dose and try again.
Important: Take Notes After Consuming!
If you are new to cannabis edibles, remember to record the amount you took so you can go back and compare dosages if needed.
This will help you to repeat the good experiences and avoid bad experiences, allowing you to track your dosages and progress over time.
I offer signs & symptoms dosage tracker to all of my students who take my Cannabis Compass Online Course.
I also recommend checking out the tracking journals offered by Gold Leaf here.
Dosage Recommendations For Beginners Summary: There is no standard dosage recommendation for cannabis edibles. Follow the golden rule: "Start LOW and go SLOW." Try a small amount first and gradually titrate up as needed. Your patience will be rewarded with a safe, enjoyable experience.
Determining Final Product Potency
For many consumers who make their own cannabis recipes at home, the most difficult piece of the puzzle is accurately assessing the end product's potency to determine their ideal dosage.
This is a disadvantage because it is nearly impossible to accurately assess and track how much CBD or THC you will be consuming.
This uncertainty opens up the risk of you either underdosing or overdosing, which will ultimately prevent you from experiencing your edibles' desired benefits.
While a calculator is no replacement for lab testing, this tool has been designed to help you get a guesstimate of the potency of your homemade cannabis infusions and extractions.
Unlike other calculators available online, this calculator aims to provide more accuracy by accounting for the losses associated with decarboxylation, infusion oils, or extraction solvents used.
It will help if you know the strain and cannabinoid concentrations of your cannabis product, for example, if the flower was purchased at a dispensary and labeled as 22% THC and 4% CBD.
This edible dosage calculator can help you guestimate your final product potency and dosage per serving if you have this information.
Determining Final Product Potency Summary: Without knowing the concentration of CBD or THC in your starting material and without lab testing, it is nearly impossible to estimate the final potency of your homemade cannabis edibles. You can use this edible dosage calculator for a guestimate.
The Importance of Decarboxylation
If you plan to make your own edibles at home, it is important to understand the importance of the process of decarboxylation.
All raw or dried cannabis must undergo a process called decarboxylation to enjoy the active forms of CBD or THC.
Raw and dried cannabis flower contains what is known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).
These cannabinoids are found in raw cannabis plant material and contain their own powerful health benefits.
However, these cannabinoids are not intoxicating in their natural state.
Decarboxylation is a process that converts THCA → THC and CBDA → CBD.
Using heat is the most common way to decarboxylate the cannabis flower before enjoying it.
Mastering the process of cannabis decarboxylation is an important skill to have for anyone who wants to infuse their own cannabis recipes home.
Decarboxylation Summary: When making cannabis edibles, it is important to decarboxylate your material before consuming it to reap the full benefits of activated CBD or THC.
Use An Infusion Machine For Your Edibles
Cannabis-infusion machines are countertop devices that do all the work for you by decarboxylating and infusing your butters, oils, and more.
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