Edibles 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Edibles

Adam Osha 10 Jan 2023

Done right, cannabis edibles are a wonderfully fun time, with a deep and satisfying high that tends to last longer than other consumption methods – but proceed with caution! Because they are absorbed through the stomach and liver, resulting in a stronger high, weed edibles can pack an unexpected wallop.

We talked to industry experts from Vermont cannabis dispensaries Magic Mann and Sunday Drive and more to get more tips on the best way to approach edibles. Read on to learn what to expect from your experience eating cannabis.

What is the difference between eating and smoking cannabis?

A Canadian government infographic on the difference between inhaling and ingesting cannabis.

There are many ways to consume cannabis – it can be smoked, vaporized, consumed through food and beverage, tincture, and even absorbed through your skin.

When smoking or vaping, cannabinoids, notably THC, travel into your lungs, where they pass directly into your bloodstream and then your brain.

Edible cannabis, on the other hand, travels first to your stomach then to your liver before getting into your bloodstream and brain. The liver converts THC into a stronger form. Combined with the THC from the original product, this compounds the overall intensity of the high.

The most notable differences between inhaling and ingesting cannabis are intensity and duration – eating or drinking cannabis results in a far longer, and sometimes intense, high than smoking or vaping.

What kind of cannabis edibles are there?

Cannabis edibles are growing in popularity and variety. Almost anything can be infused with cannabis, even your favorite meal or dessert! However, the most common edibles tend to be baked goods, gummies, and hard candies.

Magic Mann co-founder and owner Meredith Mann, a cannabis dispensary in Essex, suggests gummies as a good place to start due to their often low potencies.

“I just suggest that people who are new, get something that is accurately dosed so they can figure out exactly what works for them. So, you know, one of the bonuses of having tested products and a legal market is knowing exactly what you’re getting, and being an informed consumer,” said Mann.

What is the correct edibles dosage for me?

Different people experience and react to cannabis differently, which is why experimenting safely is an essential part of finding your sweet spot. However, there are many variables that go into finding the right dosage for oneself, including tolerance, body weight, and metabolism.

With smoking or vaping, full effects can peak within 30 minutes, and can last up to six hours after use.

“Everybody takes a different amount of time to metabolize edibles.” Meredith Mann, Magic Mann

Looking to make some treats at home? Check out our classic chocolate chip pot cookie recipe.

But edibles, with a slow stomach and liver metabolization process that must first occur before psychoactive effects begin to kick in, are more insidious.

You may not feel anything for as long as one or two hours, but once things kick in, effects can last up to 12 hours. Some residual effects can last up to 24 hours or more, depending on the amount you’ve consumed – and your own unique body chemistry.

“Everybody takes a different amount of time to metabolize edibles,” said Mann.

Headies Cup edible winner and Sunday Drive Budtender and baker Jamie-Lee Fernandes sticks to the “start low, go slow” motto.

“Remember, you can always consume more, but you can’t consume less!” Jamie-Lee Fernandes, Sunday Drive

“If you are new to cannabis or you don’t consume it regularly then you are going to want to start low, the lower the better in fact,” she said. 1-5 mg, she said, is considered a low dose, but first time users are encouraged to start with 1-2 mg. Fernandes adds, “Remember, you can always consume more, but you can’t consume less!”

Even if it’s tempting to take more, users should wait at least 2 hours before consuming more cannabis.

This is also a common dose for users who are looking to microdose cannabis. Microdosing cannabis is common for people looking for the benefits, but with less psychoactive effects.

How long will it take for weed edibles to kick in?

The same factors mentioned before are going to contribute to the onset time. Depending on the user, it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to as long as three hours. If you feel no effects after two to three hours, it’s usually safe to assume you can up the dosage next time.

“I don’t say wait an hour and a half. I say wait two and a half to three hours. But I also tell them, Don’t get up. If you’re still awake at midnight, don’t take another one. You’re going to be groggy if you have to get up in the morning,” says Fernandes.

Mann weighs in, noting that not all edibles are the same.

“If you eat an edible and you chew and swallow it right away and you have a ton of food in your stomach, it’s going to take longer for it to work than if you were to have an (infused) drink,” she said. “Drinks will work quicker because they have a quicker path to your liver to metabolize, being a liquid. So … your different delivery methods guide what type of edible experience you’re going to have.”

How long will I be high on edibles?

“Usually between six to eight hours is what is the general idea. In my opinion, what gauges that the most is how much food you have in your system. Cannabis likes fat cells and seeks out fat. So how much of that have you eaten? Your experience is going to be longer and more intense if you ate a burger and a bunch of nachos with cheese than it would be if you had an empty stomach,” said Mann.

“A lot of people can’t fathom that something so delicious could potentially get them that high until they are questioning their own reality.” — Meredith Mann, Magic Mann

Because cannabis edibles are absorbed into the stomach and then liver, the onset and effects are going to be longer as opposed to smoking it. Most users should expect to be high for 4-12 hours, however some people have reported being high for a lot longer and even waking up high the next morning.

These types of stories tend to be more common in higher doses. A high dose of edibles would be considered anything above 20 mg. Users taking doses this high are usually frequent cannabis users or someone looking for a certain type of relief.

What happens if I get too high?

Getting too high is common, but thankfully no one has ever overdosed on cannabis. In the event that this does happen, Heady Vermont has got you covered with a guide on what to do if you’re too high.

“If you feel you’ve consumed too many edibles. citrus juice, like orange juice, can help,” said Fernandes. In particular, the rinds of citrus fruits are rich in the fresh, citrusy terpene limonene. Studies have shown that limonene can have anti-anxiety effects. Fernandes, however, warns caution when it comes to grapefruit, which has the potential to interact with some medications.

If you get too high, the number one piece of advice is to remember that everything will be okay, and this, too, shall pass. Remember that if you’ve eaten edibles, it may be a little while before your body fully metabolizes the THC you’ve consumed. Creating a safe and quiet space, distracting yourself and staying hydrated are other ways to recover from getting “too high.”

Other tips from the experts:

Both Fernandes and Mann stress the importance of talking with your local Vermont dispensary budtender and being in a safe environment.

“They should definitely go talk to a budtender at Sunday Drive or another at their local dispensary and get advice from a couple people,” said Fernandes.

Mixing Alcohol and Cannabis: What happens when you combine alcohol and weed?

“When we say, don’t take more, it usually means don’t take more, because we don’t want you to have a bad experience. And a lot of people can’t fathom that something so delicious could potentially get them that high until they are questioning their own reality. So I always encourage that,” said Mann.

That brings us back to the golden rule; start low, go slow!

“Do it in a location where you’re going to feel safe with people that are going to make you feel safe… I wouldn’t mix alcohol or anything else the first time you do it,” said Fernandes.

Thanks for reading! 🙏🏽

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