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!

Transdermal Patches: An Introduction

I first learned about transdermal patches from a good friend in Colorado whose son uses the CBD patches for pain management. For their privacy, we’ll call them Brenda and Will. Brenda had the patches recommended by a doctor for Will’s pain related to cerebral palsy. They are easy to apply and have much less side effects than opioids (and most other pain pills). The transdermal’s effects last up to 12 hours, so you don’t have to remember every 4 or 6 hours to administer another dose – or wake up to take them in the middle of the night. While other medications are necessary for his complete pain management, the CBD patches provide a more reliable and consistent foundation of pain relief than Will has ever had.

Brenda then shared that she had used them for pain as well, including after she had knee surgery. When she went in for her 3 month checkup after the surgery, her doctor was surprised to see that the knee had healed as well as if it had been 6 months. He asked her what she had done to accelerate her healing and she shared how the CBD patches had helped manage the pain and must had had an impact on the healing.

She wears the transdermal patches herself as needed for pain relief and other effects.

The transdermal patch is something like a nicotine patch, if you’ve ever seen one of those. It has an outer layer that often looks like a type of bandage fabric, a layer of medication in a medium designed to dispense consistently while worn, then a layer of adhesive to make sure it sticks to your skin.

Patches come in either single formula or a mix. They can comes as THC-Sativa, THC-Indica, THCa, CBD or CBN. There are slao patches with rations, such as CBD/THC 1:1.

To apply them, you find an area of your skin that is venous like the inside of your wrist or ankle. You can apply them close to a point of pain like a knee or hip as well, just try to make sure the area is free of oil, hair or scars. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the area before applying the patch. Apply it firmly and evenly to ensure it adheres well to your skin. We like to use rubbing alcohol not only to clean the area but that it helps to remove the adhesive once you remove the patch.

Usually patches provide an even, long lasting effect as they release over time. As with edibles, the effects can be impacted by what you eat. If you feel the effects are too strong, try eating something to see if that reduces the effect. The effects can be boosted by using transdermal gels, edibles or smoking flowers. Always get to know your reactions to individual products first before combining them.

A favorite is Mary’s CBN patch, used to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. My local dispensaries often sell out of them within days whenever they get them in.

Read the Review: Mary’s CBN Transdermal Patch.

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/

Mountain High Cannabis Caramel Apple Sucker Review

By Alton

The Caramel Apple flavored sucker is just one of many flavors of infused hard candy made by Mountain High Suckers. They are labeled as THC + CBD enriched and contain 8.29 mg THC and 1.53mg of CBD. Mountain High Suckers is a well-established and trusted brand of infused hard candy edibles, made in Colorado since 2009.

As regular More Than Buds readers will know, I prefer it when edibles are labeled as Indica or Sativa, so we know which kinds of effects to expect. The Caramel Apple sucker, like many of their suckers, are not labeled. Mountain High now has a sucker that is not only labeled with a type (Indica or Sativa) but is strain-specific, made with Blue Dream. They also make sugar free suckers, which is a great addition to their offerings.

Mountain High Suckers Carmel Apple picture of the green lollipop with caramel coating

Mountain High Suckers Carmel Apple lollipop with caramel coating

The Caramel Apple flavor is true to its name, with an almost Jolly Racher-esque apple flavor, complemented by a delicious caramel. By mistake I had kept this one past the expiration date and it was as good as if it were fresh. I always recommend taking edibles before their expiration date, this was just a test for our lab. A nice bonus is that it doesn’t need refrigeration. When eating it, the sucker lasted as long as lollipops not infused with cannabis and had a background taste of THC that remained, with the caramel, as part of the aftertaste.

The effects were felt within an hour, a primarily relaxing body high. At first that lead me to guess that it was made with Indica or a hybrid Indica-dominant strain. Fortunately it was taken in the late afternoon when that relaxing body effect is desired. If I had taken it in the morning I would have felt relaxed but also slightly lethargic and lazy. I experienced some of the Sativa head effects of focus and creativity, so this is likely a hybrid strain

My usual dose of THC in an edible is 10 – 15 mg, and this sucker contains an 8.29mg dose, so the effect was understandably more mild. The effect lasted the usual expected length, about 4 hours of the strongest effect then 2 hours of a more mild effect before it faded out. As expected, eating dinner half way through the effect zone reduced the impact, but it did rebound more than expected after about 45 minutes. The CBD dose was so small that it felt similar to taking a single low dose aspirin, a tiny bit of overall pain relief but nothing significant.

If you are not concerned with the Sativa/Indica labeling of your edibles and are looking for a hybrid impact to both your head and your body, this is a great tasting choice. It lasts a long time without refrigeration, includes a small CBD dose for pain and has good staying power.

Strength: 6

Taste: 7

Website: MountainHighSuckers.com

Dixie Synergy CBD:THC Balm Review

by Alton

Dixie’s Synergy Relief Balm is infused with 50mg each of THC and CBD in the 1.7 ounce package. Its focus is on easing deep muscle aches, joint pain, and inflammation. Dixie says is is ideal for joint mobility, muscle relaxation, easing acute muscle and nerve pain.

Since it is a balm and not divided into doses, it can be difficult to get the does right. For example, if my usual dose is 10mg and the package contains 50mg, does that mean I need to use one fifth of the product? It has the consistency of a balm and is in a container you cannot see through, so trying to get the dose right could be a challenge. As with all edibles, tinctures, patches, creams and balms, it is best to start with a small amount. Try a little on your skin just to see if you notice any effect and to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction, since some folks have sensitive skin. Like all topicals, since it is absorbed through the skin and not into the bloodstream, it doesn’t produce the psychoactive effects typically associated with THC.

Dixie Balm Synergy ReliefThis product is vegetarian friendly and it contains beeswax, so it may not be suitable for vegans that don’t consume honey or other animal products. It is based in infused olive oil, with other oils such as cocoa butter and castor seed oil. Along with the THC and CBD oil are various essential oils including rosemary, lavender, cedarwood and pine. The smell is nice and mild, with the fragrances of the lavender, and other oils without any of the camphor or other strong smells in other topicals and transdermals.

While the oils make for good moisturizing, they leave the skin greasy initially. The greasy film gets absorbed eventually but it does linger for quite a while. Don’t put on any delicate fabric like silk on over this balm unless you want grease stains on your clothes. Expect to leave greasy handprints around too or be sure to wash your hands after you use the balm.

I tried the balm on a variety of muscle and nerve pain points. I found it to be effective when used on specific types of pain, such as nerve pain in my feet and muscle pain in my leg. I found it less effective treating joint pain or anything deeper than surface muscle and nerve pain. It’s hard for a topical to penetrate deep into joints from the skin and I didn’t find it effective for that type of pain. While I wasn’t able to dispense the product in any type of consistent dose, I found that using a generous amount was needed to get the desired effects. Just using a little produced no effects for me.

The product can get hard in cold weather, but I found it quite pliable at normal room temperature. I found that 2 or 3 pea-sized portions dug out by my finger was the amount I needed to cover the back of my hand or the top of my foot.

The Synergy Relief balm is a good choice to try if you are looking for a topical rich in natural oils that can address muscle or nerve pain. While it does not work on all types of pain and does come with the greasiness, I found it effective for treating minor aches and pains.

Flavor: n/a

Strength: 4/10

Website: http://dixieelixirs.com/product/synergy-relief-balm/