How to get started with Marijuana or Cannabis edibles?

In short, start with 1-5 milligrams as a dose depending on your specific setting and body type. It could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2+ hours before you feel the effects of the cannabis when you eat it. If 2 hours has passed and you still don’t feel anything my advice is to not take more. If the high never comes, then try another day and increase the dose by 1 or 2 milligrams. If you take more edibles you run the risk of taking too much marijuana and having a bad experience. You get the nightmare scenario where 5 minutes after you eat the 2nd dose, the 1st dose finally hits, with the 2nd dose coming 45 minutes later. Now all of sudden you are much higher than you want to be for a period of hours, which if you don’t have experience can be very uncomfortable. Get in a comfortable and controlled setting with friends who have experience. Be patient and don’t get out over your skis.

Now the longer guide:

Edibles are a great way to experience cannabis. If you are new to them then you should wade systematically into these waters. It is very easy for people to over do it and have an unpleasant experience. This is chiefly attributed to the fact that it can take 1.5 or 2 hours to feel the impacts.

How much to take?

You should never eat a marijuana edible without knowing exactly how much THC is in it. To give you general goalposts, a first timer you will want to stay in the 1-5 milligram range. I’ve seen study abstracts that show that some people can feel the effects of as little as 1.5 milligrams THC. If the smallest dose size available is over this window then find a way to only eat part of the edible to get your dose back in this window. THC impacts people to differing degrees and different settings allow for more risk-taking than others. So it’s hard to say what the right dose is without knowing more about you and your setting.

You can read more about the perfect setting to try an edible here, but in short, if you are staying at home friends experienced in cannabis, you can control more variables around your comfort than if you are going to a restaurant with a group of new people. In general, I feel comfortable starting most people at 3 milligrams and then I tend to tweak from there given the specifics of the situation. If you are a larger build, have plenty of experience alcohol or other altered states, and are staying at home with friends who all have experience with edibles, then you can consider more. If you are impacted more easily by substances, either because of body type or size, then you should consider going 3 milligrams or below. I would never give a person with no tolerance more than 5 milligrams for their first experience, even with all aspects in place.

It’s much smarter to aim low for your first “high” and wade into the water slowly over multiple attempts instead of overreaching.

If you are mixing with alcohol, know that it will magnify the impact of the cannabis. If you are a newbie, consider not mixing them at all. First, the alcohol could greatly magnify the cannabis past where you’re comfortable. Second, it’s pretty compelling to just focus on the cannabis sensation and get to know how your body reacts uncluttered by the alcohol.

Ok, so now you have a feel for how many mg of THC to target. But figuring out how much you’re about to take with the edible you’re looking at is sometimes challenging.

How much THC is in the edible?

You should absolutely find out how much THC is in the edible you are about to eat. This is not as easy as it would seem for a couple reasons.

Challenge 1:
Young industry and inconsistent/confusing labelling.

The cannabis Industry is young and labelling isn’t as consistent as it should be. First off, you sometimes see the number of doses printed on the package, but one company’s dose measurement might be different from another’s. You should go by the milligrams of THC in the edible. And even in that case, know that the mg printed on the package may not be a perfect measurement. On top of all that remember that different cannabinoids exists in different plant strains. Although an edible is often labelled “indica” or “sativa”, it typically won’t tell you what specific strain or combination of strains were used. Getting your edibles from certified dispensaries and asking them about which brands are trusted will help you get what you’re expecting.

Challenge 2:
Available dose might be much higher than you need

There are a lot of edibles out there with high potency. If an edible has 50 mg THC and you only want to take 10 mg, then you got to approximate eating a 1/5 of it. Since you are dealing with an organic piece of food, the cannabinoids will not be distributed perfectly throughout the edible. Take this into account. Always under estimate in these situations to give yourself some cushion. Playing it safe is always the good decision. Once you have a base with an edible, if you desire, you can always smoke or vape from there.

How long will the effects last and how quick is the onset of eating Marijuana or Cannabis?

I’m purposefully drawing this graph in low fidelity to illustrate that these are just general goalposts.


First the overall narrative. An edible will typically start to phase in around the hour mark. It will ramp fairly quickly once it starts and this drop-in can be alarming if you haven’t felt it before. From 1 to 3 hours, it’s party time. You’ll feel the maximum effects in long waves here. Around the 3 hour mark you can clearly feel the effects dissipating, but you will still very much be feeling the cannabis. At the 3.5 to 4 hour mark, you’re now feeling the come down. The come down period differs widely depending on the strain. Past the 5 hour mark it depends on both the person and what else they have done or consumed that day. If you have an empty stomach then expect the edible to hit much more quickly. And subsequently, if you do eat, kicking off the digestion process can amplify the impact of the cannabis. Exercise has a similar supercharging effect.

A note on edibles like hard candy and lolly-pops:
While these edibles are being digested like say, a brownie would be, there is also THC being absorbed through your mouth and lips. You can start to feel the impacts from these edibles as quick as 15 minutes since it is a much quicker trip to your bloodstream. But since you are consuming them more slowly, say over 10 or 15 minutes and again, part of that THC is going to your stomach, it significantly smooths out the ramp up curve.

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