How to take edibles: Make the most of your first time—and every time

Kyle Merwin
Apr 12, 2018

How do edibles work?

If you’re vaping or smoking cannabis, you’ll feel effects right away. But edibles are more complicated: Your body needs time to digest, metabolize, and absorb the cannabinoid compounds. Depending on your metabolism, body weight, and many other factors, it could take well over an hour before edible effects are noticeable.

Inhaling sends the psychoactive THC—which has just been activated by the heat you applied—and other, non-intoxicating cannabinoids directly to your bloodstream and brain.

That was fast! Here’s how THC is absorbed into your body through edibles:

  1. After traveling down your esophagus, the delicious edible lands in your stomach.
  2. The edible is digested by acids and enzymes that break it down into its component parts, including THC.
  3. The THC is absorbed through the lining of the stomach and taken to the liver.
  4. In the liver, THC is transformed into 11-Hydroxy-THC, which is like super-THC. It’s more potent and can cross the blood-brain barrier more easily than THC that’s been inhaled.

TL;DR: Edibles are slower—but they can also be stronger.

Portion control: how much should I eat?

Patience is a virtue and a necessity when you’re eating edibles. Whether you’re new to all systems of cannabis delivery or you’re just new to edibles, you should start with the lowest amount possible. Consider cutting a piece in half to start. Save the rest for later. (It’ll still be just as good, we promise.) By many people’s standards, 2mg of THC is considered a “low” or “micro-dose,” while 5mg of THC is a standard dose. For those experienced with edibles, 10mg is a strong starting point with great pain relief and deep relaxation effects.

If you are looking for an edible experience that does not get you high, try an edible that is high in CBD and low in THC.

The best edibles to start out with.

If you only need CBD (non-psychoactive):

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If you’ve done this before:

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For Experienced Users:

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Edible F.A.Q.

Should I eat before consuming an edible?

Whether you have food in your stomach affects the absorption time and intensity of the THC, and it is advisable to eat a snack before your first time, just in case. It is not a bad idea to have THC-free snacks on hand after you take edibles, especially because it is hard to be satisfied with just one gummy or brownie.

What if I have never smoked or vaped before?

If your body has never experienced the effects of THC before, that doesn’t mean you should avoid edibles. Many people prefer edibles to smoking and vaping. However, start with the smallest amount of THC possible—2 mg, if you can break your brownie bite or gummy into a small piece—and wait up to two hours for the effects.

Drink water, eat snacks, and relax while you’re waiting. Always listen to your body! That said, even if you have smoked and vaped before, you should expect different effects from edibles, which are slower but stronger.

On the PLUS side, they are delicious.

What if I accidentally take too much?

It happens. And it can be a bad time. Next time, you’ll remember to go slow and low. (We repeat: You can always eat more, but you can’t eat less.) We believe in being prepared—and sometimes even over-prepared—so try to memorize and follow these steps if you get too high (or just keep this guide in an easily accessible location):

  • Repeat this mantra: This will pass. Drink water, relax, and stay away from driving. The effects will go away, it just takes a bit of time.
  • If you have it, try some pure CBD. Make absolutely sure that your CBD source doesn’t have any THC, and try a little at a time. CBD is known to temper the effects of THC and can help slow down that “racy” feeling.
  • Drink water-preferably cold. For at least 10 minutes, keep sipping iced water to dull your high and combat dry mouth, an occasional side effect of THC. Adding ground black pepper, lemon zest, shredded ginger, and mint leaves can also help settle your stomach and reduce the psychoactive effects.
  • Sit back and watch some Netflix. Depending on your high and your personality, this is easier said than done. But this too shall pass, and you can distract yourself by getting yourself in a comfortable position and finding a passive activity.
  • Sleep. Drink some water and tuck yourself into bed. You’ll wake up refreshed, and though you may be a little groggy or “off” the next morning, it will dissipate quickly. It’s not like an alcohol hangover at all.

My friend swears by this certain type of edible. Will it work for me?

Sorry, the same edibles with the same amounts of THC will affect different people differently. Bodies don’t metabolize THC in the same way or in the same amount of time. Always treat every new edible as a new experience.

Edibles: Enjoy Responsibly

You made it! You’re at the end of the guide and you’re ready for brownie bites, sour gummies, or chocolate squares.

The new generation of edibles has come a long way-and they taste much better, too. They’re better packaged and better formulated to fit into your lifestyle, as an alternative or supplement to smoking or vaping. They take longer to process, but can also have stronger and longer effects once the THC does reach your bloodstream.

There is no one-size-fits-all with edibles: every body processes the same amount of THC differently. So read the doses on the packaging carefully, and follow the “start low and go slow” method. Start with the lowest amount of THC that your body is used to processing through ingestion, and take another dose if you don’t feel desired effects within two hours. This isn’t the fastest way, but it can be one of the most enjoyable and effective-if you prepare.

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