As California continues to emerge from marijuana prohibition, consumers will have a glut of new options beyond traditional flower to achieve the optimal high. But it’s easy for newbies to weed-infused foods, also known as edibles, to go overboard.
Just ask Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist who wrote an infamous opinion piece about the ills of cannabis legalization after she consumed too much of a weed candy bar during a trip to Colorado. It’s important to note that it’s next to impossible to die from a marijuana overdose alone.
In the interest of safe consumption, we’ve talked to experts and compiled three helpful tips for anyone who wants to try edibles for the first time.
Get a packaged item from a dispensary
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Edibles have come a long way since the days when homemade pot brownies were your only choice. We’re not knocking your stoner friend’s time-perfected recipe. But it is hard to determine exactly how much THC, the chemical compound in marijuana that interacts with receptors in the brain and body to make you feel high, is in a homemade edible.
Now most medical marijuana dispensaries carry edibles that have been tested in independent labs, which helps ensure safety. Look for an edible labeled with the amount of THC and CBD, the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis used to treat medical problems such as pain and seizure, in each dose.
If you don’t have a medical marijuana card, you won’t have to wait long to walk into a dispensary. The state is expected to begin issuing licenses for recreational marijuana stores, open to anyone 21 and over, on Jan. 1.
Name a treat – cereal, gummy bears, Popsicles, tea – and there’s probably a version of it with marijuana. That doesn’t mean you should start with just anything.
Kenny Morrison, president of the California Cannabis Manufacturers Association, advises that you begin with a product that contains 5 milligrams or less of THC.
He recommends Cannabis Quencher Sips, drinks that come in flavors like Watermelon Lime and Pomegranate Blueberry Acai. The drinks have various levels of THC and CBD.
For example, the Watermelon Lime Cannabis Quencher Sip contains 20 milligrams total of THC. Similar to a measuring glass, the drink comes in a bottle with markings on the side in 5 milligram increments, which makes it easy to determine the proper dosage.
If you’re afraid you’ll take too big of a swig, something like a mint may be even easier. Breez Mints, for example, are available in doses of 5 milligrams each. Pop one, or even half, Morrison says.
If you want to relieve back pain, for example, without the psychoactive effects, try an edible with CBD only.
Activation time varies widely, from as little as 10 minutes to hours depending on the type of product, ingredients, consumption method, what else you’ve eaten and other factors.
“You want to start out small to see how your body is going to respond and what your tolerance is,” said Adam Pressler, a budtender and general manager at the Collective Efforts weed dispensary on Fruitridge Road in South Sacramento.
Dowd, the columnist, took a nibble of a chocolate bar, felt nothing, took another nibble, felt nothing and kept going. Big mistake. The THC kicked in later and left her in a state of deep paranoia. To avoid that, do your research. Read the instructions on the label or ask for advice from the dispensary that sold it to you.
Morrison suggested drinks because they hit you much quicker than some other edibles. The label on the Quencher Sips advises that you drink 5 milligrams and wait 45 minutes before consuming more. The makers of the Breez mints suggest you wait one to two hours to feel the full effects, which may last up to eight hours.
Regardless of what you try, exercise extreme patience – and caution. With impact timing and duration uncertain, it’s best you plan ahead on your transportation and not drive thinking you’re good to go.
“I would rather the first time someone tried cannabis that they don’t feel it at all, than feel it too much,” Morrison said. “The general mantra of the entire industry globally is start low and go slow.”