Words by Amy Paterson
When it comes to dosing THC or CBD, you’ll find that many people are keen to eat their greens.
But gone are the days when edible cannabis was limited to a plate of “special” brownies at a party, or some sketchy cling-wrapped space cakes made by your dealer’s girlfriend.
In 2020 the cannabis edibles market in the USA alone was valued at $863 million, and the global edibles market is set to be worth $11.5 billion by 2025. Products are premium and highly specialised, ranging from gummies to honeys, chocolates to chewable tablets, cookies and candies to drinks and food spreads.
So with this many options available and even more products being developed by the minute - what is all the fuss about? And if you’re wanting to dabble, where do you even begin?
If you think about it, it makes sense that edibles are doing a lot of the leg work for putting cannabis on the mainstream map.
Many of those now turning to edibles are not necessarily a contingent of 420 fans, but rather everyday individuals in search of medical relief, or people just wanting to experiment with a newly sanctioned and safe substance. And for them, food is a far more familiar and trusted medium of consumption than smoking a joint or puffing on a vape.
Edibles also open up the playing field by allowing people to experience the benefits of cannabis without any of the potentially harmful health risks associated with smoking or inhaling.
Plus, consuming weed in this way allows for a much more mellow and sustained effect on the brain and body than these traditional methods of ingestion. Not to mention the fact that edibles are super discreet, with no smell and the availability to be used anywhere at any time without any kind of paraphernalia.
But arguably the biggest advantages of edibles is that they can be used for precise dosing.
Many of us know people, or are people, who have had at least one negative edibles experience to speak of from our younger days - having eaten four pot brownies in a row because “I can’t feel anything yet,” and then spending hours hyperventilating in a corner trying to process the Tiger Song scene in The Hangover (true story).
But these days edibles are offered with an available knowledge of the exact amounts of cannabis they contain, allowing people to tailor their dose and have much more control over their experience.
How do edibles work?
Edibles hit different because they are processed through your digestive system rather than your lungs.
When cannabinoids are inhaled they reach the bloodstream almost instantaneously, whereas ingested cannabis needs to be broken down by the stomach and then processed by your digestive organs before you start to feel their effects.
This can take anything from 15 minutes to two hours, depending on your weight, your metabolism, your cannabis tolerance, and how much food is already in your stomach.
Effects usually last for about 4-6 hours, and their gradual onset means that when dosed correctly, eating cannabis can make for much less intense and way more mellow, sustained experience than when it is inhaled and immediately felt.
Calculating your edibles dosage
It is crucial to understand that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to consuming cannabis, because everyone’s endocannabinoid system will process it differently depending on their body’s unique biochemistry.
So whether it’s CBD or THC you’re using, general guidance is always based on the old adage of Start Low Go Slow.
The South African daily recommended dosage for CBD is 20mg. But it is probably relevant to bear in mind that by global standards this is considered to be extremely conservative - in the UK the recommended maximum is 70mg, and in Australia it is 60mg.
But with CBD, the lack of any intoxicating psychoactive effects means that getting your dosage right is much less imperative than it is when consuming THC.
If you’re consuming a THC edible you’ve purchased, it is usually recommended that you start with a dose of 2.5mg or less, and wait for 2 hours before topping up.
And if you’re making a recipe of your own, you can use this simple calculation:
- Multiply the number of grams of dried flower that you are using in your batch by 1000.
- Multiply that number by the percentage of THC in your strain.
- Multiply that number by .88 for the conversion of THCA to THC (which is what happens when raw cannabis is heated).
- Divide this number by the number of servings.
For example: White Widow has a THC content of 20%/. 7g is needed for a half a cup of cannabutter, and ¼ cup of this cannabutter is used in a fudge edibles recipe.
- 7 x 1000 = 7000mg
- 7000mg x .20 (% of THC) = 1400mg
- 1400mg x .88 = 1232mg
- The ¼ cup of cannabutter for the recipe therefore contains 616mg of THC. And when cut into 24 portions, each piece of fudge will contain 26 mg of THC.
Some general pointers towards positive edibles experiences:
- Eat something first. The effects of edibles can be notoriously overwhelming on an empty stomach, so set yourself up for success by having a meal or snack beforehand.
- Don’t combine edibles and alcohol. Just because it’s in food form doesn’t mean that the concentration of THC in cannabis won’t still be increased by adding booze into the mix - usually resulting in some pretty undesirable levels of nausea and anxiety.
- Store your stash safely. The very essence of edibles is they’re inconspicuous in food form, and can easily be confused with the version of themselves that doesn’t contain cannabis. Don’t leave them easily accessible by children, pets or just people who aren’t aware of what they contain.
- Stay calm. If you or someone else is suffering from overconsumption or a negative edibles experience, try to situate them in a safe, comfortable space while drinking plenty of water while the effects wear off. And if they’re really in a bad way, consuming CBD in some form is known to significantly reduce the effects of THC.
Edibles seem to have gained a bad rep over the years for being consumed time after time in an ill advised or uninformed way.
But it would be a shame for this to mean that seasoned cannabis consumers and newbies alike are maybe missing out on the many advantages of ingesting cannabis.
Sticking to these simple principles will help you avoid repeating past mistakes - and hopefully even redeem your experience with edibles altogether, to be more than just a triggering memory of the Tiger Song.
If you'd like to ease you way into the world of edibles, check out our CBD edibles range here or try your hand at making your own with our handy Edibles cookbook👇🏽