New to edibles? Here’s how to choose the right dose.

Pre-COVID, I made some muffins with canna-butter. They packed quite a punch. I made the mistake of eating a whole muffin first, rather than a quarter or a half, to judge the dose. Three hours later, I had the spins and went to bed. I’ve been cautious about edibles ever since. The rule of thumb here is to start small. Remain patient.

When consumed in high doses, THC can lead to anxiety, drowsiness and vomiting. While you can’t overdose and die on THC, you can get to a reasonably uncomfortable state if you overeat them. And that high can last a while. So grab your hats and glasses, folks. We’re going to ease our way into consuming cannabis edibles to find the right dose for you based on habits and preferences.

Key considerations when dosing edibles

Getting the dosage right when consuming edibles is complex as many factors affect how you will feel. Before choosing how much to consume, be sure to consider the following:

What are your tolerance levels?

Generally speaking, the higher THC tolerance a person has, the higher dose they can take. This tolerance is built over time and takes both consumption frequency and THC strength into consideration.

Step one is to think about what kind of cannabis consumer you are. Do you smoke? Dab? Do you smoke daily? On special occasions? Some people skip smoking cannabis and go straight to edibles. Whether it’s because smoking isn’t “your thing” or you’re not allowed to smoke due to various restrictions, a word of caution: going straight to an edible could spell trouble if you’re not careful to gauge your tolerance.

If it’s your first edible experience and you smoke cannabis infrequently, limit your edible dose to 2-5mg to play it safe. Wait a few hours, gauge your experience, and then adjust up or down as necessary. For those who smoke daily (or like me, throughout the day), a 5-10mg dose might be just the ticket to a pleasant experience throughout the day).

What effects are you looking for?

Another factor to consider is your strain preference. Do you specifically choose strains to energize (Sativa) or relax (Indica)?

Think about the type of high you like and align with that for your first edible experience, so you have a better idea of what to expect. For example, if you prefer Indica strains when you smoke, taking a Sativa edible might produce an effect you don’t enjoy. Strain type is as crucial as dosage, really.

What type of food do you enjoy?

Now think about what types of foods you enjoy and what flavor profiles you prefer. If you like chewy, fruit-flavored candy, consider dosed gummies. If you crave anything chocolate, try a brownie, cookie, or candy bar.

The critical piece of information here is this: start your edible journey with a store-bought item. This ensures consistent dosage, accurate dosage information, and that piece of quality control is critical when determining the right product and dosage for you. In other words, don’t accept a gummy from a friend, only to find out it’s loaded with 500mg of THC. I guarantee you’re not going to have a good time, and that’s the opposite of what we’re going for here.

Wait until the effects kick in

There are stories galore out there about someone who gobbled up an edible intended for multiple servings after the effects weren’t hitting quick enough. One of my favorite New York Times op-ed pieces is from Maureen Dowd, describing how she felt after purchasing a dosed chocolate bar in Colorado, ignoring the serving size, and eating all of it. She had moments where she believed she was deceased, and her whole experience sounded dreadful.

That’s not the point here. You want to feel better, not worse. So be patient. Start with the smaller recommended dose and wait. Do not eat a square of chocolate, and then ten minutes later, eat ten more squares. All of that THC will hit your bloodstream, and by then, you can’t “un-eat” it. Doubling the dose will not double your fun. I guarantee it.

How much food is already in your system?

One detail most folks don’t consider is how much food is already in their digestive system. This makes a world of difference in how long the edible takes to kick in. Again, the process takes some time and experimenting to find the perfect fit for you.

So if you’ve just eaten a holiday feast and then take an edible, remember that the THC is not going to be broken down until after your gut processes all that food. This delays the edible effects, so keep that in mind when you are determining when to consume one. After careful consideration, you may decide to eat that 10mg gummy before you eat, which may help pinpoint when the effects start kicking in.


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