It’s pretty safe to say that on a global basis right now, cannabis edibles are a big deal. Ever since legalisation gave the cannabis crowd (in some circles) the legal right to experiment, millions have been doing exactly that. In 2014 alone, somewhere in the region of 6 million cannabis edibles and concentrate products were sold. And that’s not including the countless millions folk cooked up for themselves at home – once again, edibles are a big deal.

For some, the appeal of edibles lies in the fact that you can expect a killer high without actually having to ingest any smoke. Unsurprisingly, plenty of those in medicinal cannabis circles prefer to stick with edibles. But at the same time, there are also those who love the fact that cannabis and food consumption go hand-in-hand like nothing else in the world. And it isn’t just about getting high either. Approached correctly, cannabis has the potential to be a spectacularly delicious ingredient in its own right and one that’s available in quite literally thousands of different flavours.

But there’s one thing experts and seasoned cannabis connoisseurs alike have to say when it comes to advising newcomers – be mindful when it comes to dosages!

It’s Your Call 1
Despite the fact that cannabis has been legalised in so many areas, research into edible dosing remains remedial at best. So what this basically means is that when it comes to measuring exactly how much cannabis you should be consuming by way of edibles, it’s entirely up to you and you alone to find out. Needless to say, this has the rather unfortunate habit of leading to a quite a lot of people well and truly overdoing it. Not that the consequences of doing so are anything terrifying, but to get carried away with cannabis edibles is to risk a delayed effect of enormous and prolonged power that can leave you unable to function for quite a while.

But rather than a lecture on what to do and what not to do, this article is really nothing more than an introduction to the fundamental facts about edibles. Make no mistake about it – this is one arm of cannabis culture you will be extremely glad you got yourself involved in!

2 What Are Edibles?
So nailing the first question right off the bat – what exactly qualifies as a cannabis edible? Well, as the name quite rightly suggests it is pretty much anything you can eat or drink that has in some way being infused with cannabinoids. While those who prefer to stereotype assume that cannabis edibles are limited to cookies and cakes, they actually exist in thousands of different shapes and forms. From soups to stews to smoothies to salads to sweets and so on, there’s really nothing you cannot make even better with some good quality cannabis.

However, it’s important to note that making your own cannabis edibles isn’t quite as simple as just chopping up a load of bud and adding it to whatever you are eating. This is certainly an option, but you won’t get a good high or enjoy a flavour profile of the cannabis in doing so – it may actually be quite unpleasant. Instead, it’s a case of using a variety of cooking and preparation techniques to pull the cannabinoids out of the weed and into whatever you’re making. Which is precisely why the very best cannabis edibles on the market tend to be relatively expensive.

How’s the Hit? 3
This particular table does a pretty good job of explaining exactly what kind of high you can expect when consuming cannabis edibles. It’s often assumed that cannabis edibles have a more powerful hit than smoking or vaping, but this actually isn’t the case at all. The effect may be different, but you are still technically putting the same amount of CBD and THC in your body. However, the chemical process or absorption is extremely different when comparing cannabis edibles to smoking or vaping cannabis.

When you smoke cannabis the traditional way, the smoke you inhale sends the THC on a seriously fast, near-instant trip to your brain. This is precisely why you tend to feel the hit in full within a matter of minutes – the journey from where you are now to where you’ll be shortly often hitting like a freight train. However, the drop in effect also begins the very moment the high hits its peak, leading to rapid reduction in effect that’s almost completely gone within two to four hours.

By contrast, when you ingest cannabis you can expect an entirely different journey. It takes considerably longer for the active compounds in the cannabis to get into your system, which means something of a ‘slow burner’ effect in terms of the high. And when the high hits, you can expect it to last approximately twice as long as you would usually expect from smoking or vaping bud. In terms of value for money therefore, there’s really no comparison.

It’s interesting to note though that when consuming cannabis edibles, it isn’t always possible to detect the kinds of sobering or uplifting properties you’d expect when smoking Indica or Sativa strains. The reason being that tests have shown that many of the terpenes don’t actually make it into the final edible, due to way the oils are extracted in the preparation process. More often than not, fans of cannabis edibles speak of a predominantly experiencing full body highs, rather than ‘heady’ cerebral highs.

4 A Safer Stone?
It’s also commonly assumed that given the way in which no inhalation is necessary, cannabis edibles must be considerably safer and better for you than smoking cannabis. After all, inhaling any kind of smoke cannot possibly be good for your lungs, so cutting it out altogether makes sense…right?

You’d think so, but several recent studies have found that lung function and health do not seem to be affected in the slightest by prolonged cannabis use. In fact, there have been some that have brought to light evidence to suggest that cannabis smoke can potentially reverse at least some of the damage caused by tobacco smoke. As such, it’s really nonsensical to draw a line between the two in terms of safety as neither is known to be harmful.

That being said, evidence suggests that cannabis edibles are leading to a rather significant spike in the number of people overdoing it and finding themselves in the midst of an unfortunate episode. It’s not that overdosing on weed edibles is killing or permanently harming anyone, but over-consumption can certainly lead to a variety of unpleasant effects.

The reason this is happening is because while smoking cannabis gives you an instant hit that wears off quickly, cannabis edibles come on much slower. As such, impatient types tend to scoff one down, then another, then another and having still not felt anything…another. Suffice to say, when the combined hit kicks in, it’s a bit like they smoked their entire stash in one massive bong rip. From drowsiness to dizziness to blood pressure problems and so on, it’s basically what you could expect if you are well and truly over the line with cannabis smoking.

Getting the Right Dose
So while there is very little scientific research going on with regard to dosages, experts are nonetheless weighing in with their own tips and guidelines. The advice in general is to approach with caution, ideally bearing in mind the following suggested rules from experts in the field of edibles:

  • If you are infrequent cannabis user or have relatively low tolerance, you should be looking at approximately 2mg as a maximum when consuming edibles.
  • If looking to improve focus, ease social anxiety or slightly trigger the munchies, 2.5mg should do the job.
  • Taking things one step further, a dose of 5mg could be compared to drinking three standard glasses of wine in terms of psychoactivity.
  • For more regular users of cannabis, 10mg will have a relatively strong effect. With this kind of dose, you can expect to experience mild pain relief, pleasant distraction and a full body stone for several hours.
  • At the 15mg level, you are straying into the kind of territory that most cannabis users with the exception of heavy users may find uncomfortable. Probably a little too powerful for newcomers – not so much for regular users.
  • Once you cross the 20mg threshold, you are entering the relatively big leagues in terms of effects. Regular users may find their response relatively mild, while newcomers to cannabis edibles would probably be blown entirely off their feet.

The key lies in self-control, which admittedly can be easier said than done when it comes to things like this. If unsure, instead of buying a single 20mg edible it simply makes sense to invest in say four 5mg edibles and eat them around an hour apart from one another. This way, you’ll have a good idea just how high you already are before scarfing down another.

And if you do decide to make your own, make sure you know exactly how much THC is in the bud you add to your creations – otherwise you have absolutely no idea what you’re dealing with!