New to Cannabis Edibles Guide

Whether you are interested or are beginning to try edible or topical forms of cannabis, we share are some good basics to know from our considerable experience. We share about effects, selecting, dosing, consuming  – and what to do in case you consume more than feels good.

Effects

If you have not smoked Cannabis before and are unfamiliar with the effects that smoking it creates, understand that you will likely be experiencing new sensations. Well known side effects of smoking Cannabis flowers include euphoria, relaxation, heightened senses, pain relief, dry mouth and “the munchies”.  These effects come from various chemicals in cannabis including CBD and THC.

If you have smoked pot, know that it is different than the almost immediate effects experienced when you smoke. The effects can sometimes take two hours or more to be felt fully. We usually feel effects from edibles within 45 minutes to an hour, but the effects can sometimes continue to increase up to 3 hours later. Every time is s little different. When compared with smoking flowers, it takes longer to feel it and much longer for the effect to fade. We have turned to edibles more as we want to smoke less. When we smoke, the effect can last an hour or so, sometimes two, but with edibles the effects keep giving!

Everyone is impacted differently, so make sure you have the free time to experience the effects – which may last up to 6 hours and for transdermal patches or large doses up to 12 hours. Ideally you are in a comfortable, familiar environment, preferably with someone nearby or in close touch who is supportive and experienced.

Eating or applying the compounds to your skin can have quite different effects. Some effects that we experience from smoking, like heightened senses or the munchies, do happen with edibles. Effects of edibles can include focus, energy and creativity with Sativa strains, pain or anxiety relief with Indica strains and anti-inflammatory effects with CBD rich strains.

Sativa, Indica & Hybrids

Indica, Sativa and Hybrid labeled glass jars
Indica, Sativa and Hybrid options. flickr: extensivlyreviewed

Cannabis comes in two main types – Indica and Sativa. Indica primarily effects the body – relaxing, anti-tension, and sometimes “couch lock” for stronger strains.  Sativa primarily effects the head, increasing focus, creativity, energy and sense perception. There are many hybrids that are dominated by one set of traits or the other and some hybrids that try to balance the effects of both.

Wikipedia: On average, Cannabis indica has higher levels of THC compared to CBD, whereas Cannabis sativa has lower levels of THC to CBD.[5] However, huge variability exists within either species.

In the case of CBDs anti-inflammatory and pain relief are the usual effects Taking CBD with THC is reported to reduce the power of THC or at least it helps limit how high you get. Some suggest taking CBD to combat taking too much.

Within the types – Sativa, Indica, Hybrid – there are many specific strains. Some strain names have become well known and we prefer edibles where the strain name appears, so we can look up the effects if it is an unfamiliar strain. Also, If I want energy and uplift in the morning, I might not want to take an Indica dominant strain like Grandaddy Purple or Gorilla Glue or Chem Dawg that will relax me. I want a Sativa dominant strain like Sour Diesel or Jack Herer or Blue Dream. Some of the CBD strains are AC/DC, Harlequin and Ringo’s Gift. Sites like Leafly and others have reviews that provide details and reviews of strains.

Selecting

With the effects in mind, select what you want thoughtfully. Get something that either comes in small doses or something you can easily cut up into the portion size you want. Brownies, cakes, chocolate treats and similar edibles are often easy to cut into portion sizes. Hard candies and suckers are not easy to cut up, so consider that when making your selection.

To find edibles that are a good fit for you, look for items in flavors and types that appeal to both your taste buds and the effects you desire from your experience. There is a wide variety of cookies, brownies, cakes, chocolates, hard candies and other portable edibles available, so look around at different dispensaries to find the ones that are best for you.

Some dispensaries offer small diary’s or logs for you to keep track of what works for you and what doesn’t. It is a great idea to keep some notes on what you like and don’t so you can refine your choices and see what is best for you.

JurrasicBlueberries abstract cannabis art titled Quadrillions 2015
Flickr photo: JurrasicBlueberries Quadriliion 2015

Dosing

Always start with a low dose, like 2 or 2.5 mgs (milligrams). Do not to use edibles that are not clearly labeled with the total amount of THC either in the whole thing or per item (like with gummies). You cannot tell potency by the size of the edible. A normal size brownie could contain 5mg or 500mg, you just don’t know.

While a typical dose is usually 10mg, if you are totally new to edibles you may want to start at 2-3mg. While sometimes the effects can take up to 2 hours to be felt completely, usually after 60-90 minutes you should feel something. With a new edible, always wait 2 hours to see what you experience. If you feel nothing or almost nothing, possibly add another 2-3mg and wait 2 hours again, or next time try 5mg if the lower dose was not too strong for you.

On The Rise 210mg Gingerbread
On The Rise Edibles Medical Cannabis Gingerbread

Do your math and plan ahead when cutting up edibles. The On the Rise Sativa dominant edible pictured has 210mg of THC and it says it is six (6) doses. That means each dose will have 35mg of THC each – way too much for most people. If you want 10mg pieces, how will you cut it into 21 sections? One way is to cut it in half then cut those pieces in half, then cut those pieces in half, but that means you end up with an even number of pieces. In this case you end up with 20 pieces of 10.5 mg each which is close enough to the target dose.

This was an old style edible, before adult use became legal in California in 2018. Most edibles now – and in most states where it is legal – have the standard required dosing of 5mg or 10mg per dose, with some having higher limits for medical use, like 25mg per dose.

Consumption

How much food is in your stomach impacts the effects of edibles, and so does what you eat with it.  We notice a definite difference if we take the same dose of an edible with very little on our stomach or if we take it soon after a meal. We get a much more pronounced and often quicker effect when our stomach is near empty. If our stomachs are full, the effect is usually weaker overall and can take more time to develop.

What you take the edible with can boost its effects we have found. From what we understand, the THC binds with fats to be distributed into the body, so it helps to take the edible with food that has some healthy fats in it like an avocado, some nuts or some seeds like sunflower, sesame and chia seeds. Too much food, however, and you will loose the benefits of a little fat, so having a big meal with a lot of  fat in it isn’t a good choice if you want to feel the full impact.

Caffeine and spices that increase blood flow (like cinnamon, ginger or cayenne) can also help to boost the effects of edibles. If we are looking for an energetic experience, we usually take our edibles with some form of caffeine, be it coffee, tea, mate or cocoa. While Ruth is a black coffee lover, Alton prefers a modified cafe mocha made by stirring  cocoa powder into coffee with milk. Since he loves spicy foods, he will often mix cayenne and cinnamon into the cocoa powder and add that to coffee for a spicy mocha. We find caffeine and these spices boosts the effects of most edibles I’ve tried. A favorite edible, the On The Rise brownies, come in both chocolate and gingerbread formula. We find that with the gingerbread we get a slightly stronger effect than we do with the chocolate brownie.

JurrasicBlueberries abstract cannabis art titled Cookies 2017
Flickr photo: JurrasicBlueberries Cookies 2017

Hydration

Staying hydrated is always important and I find it more so with edibles. I usually need more water than usual when I use edibles as I often experience dehydration and dry mouth. I usually go through four or five 16oz glasses. It’s fine to drink other liquids, being aware that sugary drinks could reduce the impact of the cannabis you are using.  If you drink alcohol or caffeine or soda or all three, they do dehydrate you, so void them, limit them or pair them with regular intake of water – your body will thank you.

Overdose

It happens to most people at some point. With edibles it is possible to overdo it and feel like you have had too much. Sometimes this feels like you are ill but you cannot pinpoint what is wrong. Some folks get a feeling as if they are “dying” because they feel really bad, but don’t know what is wrong. We’ve experienced this as an all over feeling of being very uncomfortable, feeling nauseous in a way but not sick to the stomach. If we are inside, we can feel like we need to go outside for fresh air, and sometimes that helps. You are not actually sick, it just feels like it.

The easy antidote for too much THC edibles is to eat and drink. Sugar, protein and carbs are especially good at mitigating the effects of too much THC. Try having some form of protein, some cereal or some ice cream, even a sandwich. You may be feeling strange and it may feel strange to be eating, but do your best to finish what you are eating until you feel better. When we have the right dose, the taste of food is amazing, but if we’ve had too much eating is what has always worked to bring us down from an overdose of THC.

We have also heard advice to use products high in CBD’s to offset the effects, such as taking a high CBD tincture so it will bring down the THC effects. We do notice that we never seem as high with an edible that has a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio than one without. We have not tried taking CBD to combat taking too much THC it makes sense  – as long as it doesn’t add more THC to the mix.

Experiment

Everyone is impacted differently, so first try each new edible by itself and when you have the time to enjoy the effects, not when you have to be somewhere or do something soon. Trying different types of edibles over time and at different doses will help you to find out what produces the desired effects for you.

You can Contact Us for advice.

Happy exploring!

Mary’s Medicinals Cannabis Transdermal Gel Pens Review

Mary’s Medicinals has a line of transdermal gel pens that dispense a gel you rub into your skin. They come in THC Sativa, THC Indica, CBD and CBN. From their website:

“Designed as an accompaniment to our patches, Mary’s transdermal gel pens are the perfect resource for patients managing breakthrough pain, or for creating blended cannabinoid ratios. The light gel is placed directly on the skin and gently rubbed in for rapid relief.

MARYS Transdermal PENs

Note that the gel pens are designed to “boost” the effects of the patches, not necessarily designed to be used on their own. For the purpose of understanding their effects alone first, we have used them alone to create these reviews.

The pens contain 100mg of gel and dispense a 2mg dose with each “click” on the pen. Since they are applied to the skin the effects are often felt almost immediately, although the full effect can take several hours. When I use the gel pens, I feel the effects almost immediately in a mild way, the full effect does usually take up to an hour.

I first encountered gel pens (old packaging above) when they cured my wrist pain (see the post Transdermal CBD Gel Trampled My Pain). We tried both the Sativa and the CBD pens and here is what we found.

Effects: CBD

I have tried it in several different ways to get to understand how it works for me. Since I am just beginning to experiment with this gel, I started by only using single doses (2mg) of the gel. Starting with using a small dose is a smart rule of thumb when trying any new product, especially edibles.

When I have had a mild headache, I have tried rubbing it onto my temples and I feel some relief with 20 minutes. I haven’t had it completely relieve the headache, but it definitely reduces the severity.

I have also tried the CBD gel rubbed on the back of my neck near at the base of my skull and on my lower back, hoping it would work a little like a muscle relaxer or pain relief gel. As with the headache, I have felt it make a difference in my discomfort, but I haven’t experienced it completely removing it. As they say, it is great as an accompaniment to patches or other foundational relief.

Effects: Sativa

When I first used the Sativa gel, I was surprised at how strong it seemed to be. I felt much more of an impact than I usually do with edibles. For some reason when I first apply the gel (usually to the inside wrist) I get a sensation in my sinuses of them opening up slightly, as if they are draining a bit. This could be down to an increase in blood flow that comes with the application due to either the THC or other ingredients.

After about an hour with a single 2mg dose, I was feeling the effects mildly, so I applied another dose. Within 30 minutes I could definitely feel the effects. Effects included feeling energetic and heightened senses. I was surprised how much impact just 4mg of the gel pens had, when I usually are using 10mg doses of one of my preferred gummies.

In my experience the effects last at least four hours and usually closer to six hours. As always the effects are impacted by how full or empty your stomach is when you take them and how much you eat or drink. (See our New to Edibles Guide for tips)

As with the CDB gel pen, I think this product will be the most useful when paired with other items, like the patches or edibles or other products. It is the perfect small dose size, allows for super easy application and has a quick onset that can boost you to the level you want.

Mary's Medicinals Sativa Gel Pen
Old Style packaging, pre-2018

Strength: 9

Flavor: n/a

Website: http://www.marysmedicinals.com/

A Cautionary Tale: Asking the Right Questions At The Dispensary

By Ruth

Previously, I have asked for strain specific (Indica/Sativa) marijuana edible products at dispensaries. I SHOULD have also asked how many milligrams (mg) of THC each product contains per dose. I’m used to 5 or 10mg portions of cannabis edibles, then I can take multiples to meet the dose that works best for me of 40mg of THC, a moderate to high amount.

Edibles Heavy Hitters vs. MicrodosesRecently, I dropped the ball and didn’t ask about mg per dose or inspect the container’s label. I was in a Rush with no reading glasses on me. I ended up buying Incredibles Stimulating Ice Mints in microdoses of 2.5mg.

Microdosing works fabulously for folks that a very sensitive to THC. But not everyone. For someone that need a much bigger dose like me, I would have to eat 16 of these Altoid-like Mints to feel any effects.

Later, in an effort to “make it work”, I tried a mint to elevate an existing, waning high. Then I waited. Nothing. So I ate another Incredibles Stimulating Ice Mint. Nothing. They are merely the most expensive breathe mints in Colorado. I would pass on these.

Lesson learned.

1) Bring your reading glasses to the dispensary.

2) Ask your budtender about the strain and dosage of your edible.

3) Read the small print on the packaging before you get home.

(Trust me, you don’t want a container of $20.00 Altoids.)

Edibles Dosing Chart

Chart courtesy Leafly