3 things to know before you eat marijuana edibles

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Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

“User-friendly” is not a word that’s often used when describing marijuana edibles.

Whether you’re biting into a pot brownie cooked up in a college dorm or nibbling on a fruit chew purchased from your local dispensary, you never really know how much marijuana you’re ingesting. It can take hours to get high, and the effects can be intense and long-lasting.

That said, edibles offer a discreet way to get high in public or among disapproving company, and a single dose can power users through the worst bouts of illness-induced nausea or a marathon Netflix binge. It’s often the consumption method of choice for people using marijuana for medicinal purposes (and those who just don’t want to smoke).

Remember, it doesn’t matter who you are or what size you are. Edibles will affect everyone differently. Enjoy with caution.

Here are three things to know before you try your first marijuana edible.


1. Marijuana-infused foods are more potent than regular pot.

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Chef Alex Tretter carries a tray of marijuana-infused peanut butter and jelly cups to the oven for baking at Sweet Grass Kitchen in Denver, Colorado.
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Brennan Linsley/AP

The body works in mysterious ways, as does marijuana.

Edibles offer a completely different experience than, say, a joint or a bong hit. When eaten, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in weed, undergoes a transformation in the liver that turns it into a different substance that’s twice as strong and lasts twice as long as when inhaled.

It also takes our bodies much longer to process cannabis when we ingest rather than inhale.

“With smoking, the peak blood levels happen within 3-10 minutes, and with eating, it’s 1-3 hours,” Kari Franson, a clinical pharmacologist and an associate dean of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, told Forbes.

Because it takes so long to process, people often overdo it. If you don’t feel high after ingesting an edible, wait at least two hours before consuming a second dose.


2. You should always, always, always read the label.

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Smaller-dose marijuana-infused cookies, called the Rookie Cookie, sit on the packaging table at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder, Colorado.
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Brennan Linsley/AP

Not everyone has the great fortune of being able to pick out an individually packaged edible from a bona fide retailer, especially in states where the prohibition on pot persists (though that’s starting to change). But if you do, paying attention to the label on the packaging can be the difference between a Grade A night-in and a paranoia-wracked nightmare of an evening.

Any reputable edible maker will lab test their products for potency and will include on the label two important ingredients: THC, the psychoactive chemical compound in marijuana, and CBD, or cannabidiol, the chemical compound that has pain relief benefits. The total THC or “maximum THC” is the most clear-cut indicator of how high the product will make you.

Research shows these labels can be inaccurate, but it beats total ignorance.

Five milligrams of THC is a good place to start for novice users, according to the Oregon Responsible Edibles Council. It’s a conservative dose for adults who don’t know their tolerance or are consuming for recreational, rather than medical, purposes.


3. It will be okay if you get too high.

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If your heart starts to race, your hands tremble, and anxiety strikes, it’s helpful to remember there are no recorded cases of people fatally overdosing on marijuana. Zero.

“The good thing about [consuming too much] weed is it can’t kill you,” Kim Geraghty, cofounder of Madame Munchie, whose gourmet cannabis macarons recently took the award for best dessert at Hempcon, told Business Insider. “But it can make you very uncomfortable.”

There are things you can do to mitigate an “Oh, no, what I have done?” high. First, relax.

“Remind yourself that you’re in no danger and the state you’re in is temporary,” writes David Schmader in his excellent book, “Weed: The User’s Guide.” “Surround yourself with stuff that makes you feel safe. (If this means pajamas in bed, so be it.)”

Drink some water to stay hydrated and eat a snack – preferably one that is ready-to-eat and does not require operating a stove- to boost your blood sugar. Call up a trusted friend, Schmader recommends, or Google search “Maureen Dowd Colorado” to feel less alone.