Getting creative with cannabis in the kitchen can sound appealing. Who doesn’t like the sound of serving canna-infused brownies fresh out of the oven? However, making edibles that deliver a safe dose of THC is a precise art, and achieving a consistent dose across every serving is a challenge. It requires meticulous math, a clear understanding of the THC content in the flower you’re using, and knowledge of decarboxylation.Here, you’ll find a chart that describes typical effects felt at different ingested doses. However, there are factors to consider when choosing the right dose for you, which you can read more about below.
This is why manufacturers have to follow rigorous requirements to ensure all of their edibles contain the exact quantity of THC claimed on the package. The tools you work with at home can derail even your best attempts at accuracy. For example, if your baking tray is warped with indentations, the THC can pool, causing some servings to be very potent while others are weak. Calculating doses for homemade edibles requires care and attention.
But don’t take your apron off just yet. In this article, we’ll explain how to make sure your homemade edibles are dosed safely and consistently.
Cannabis edibles are foods and beverages infused with cannabis. Though they’ve risen in popularity recently, edibles aren’t exactly new. There’s a long history of humans incorporating cannabis into their diets, ranging from traditional drinks in India to the humble pot brownie in the US. Now, thanks to advances in infusion methods, you can find a wide selection of cannabis-infused baked goods, gummies, seasoning packets, cooking oil, chocolates, breath strips, mints, sodas, and countless other items.
Why is it vital to calculate edible dosage correctly?
Edibles are distinct from other methods of cannabis delivery in several key ways. For starters, the human body processes the THC present in edibles differently. The digestive process transforms THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent, long-lasting, and has more pronounced sedative properties. Edibles also have a delayed onset thanks to the digestive process. The high can take up to two hours to fully kick in and once it does, it can last six hours or sometimes longer. Finally, edibles can affect individuals differently. History of cannabis use, weight, age, genetics, diet, and gastrointestinal health all influence an individual’s response to edibles.
An overview of edible potency
The potency of edibles is measured differently from that of flower or concentrate. In edibles, cannabinoid concentration is expressed in milligrams rather than as a percentage. THC and CBD concentrations, along with the total cannabinoid content, are typically identified on manufactured products.
Before you pull out the recipe for your favorite homemade edible, first familiarize yourself with the potency of your chosen flower. Confirm the percentage of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in that sampling of flower. THC potency can vary dramatically across different varieties, and flower is generally much stronger today than it was 40 years ago. If you don’t know the potency of the flower you’re working with, you will not be able to calculate the edible dose accurately.
Next use the flower to create a weed-infused butter or oil by gently heating it within a carrier fat. “Remember that you can’t just use raw cannabis because raw cannabis doesn’t contain much THC, it contains the precursor, THCA,” said Dr. Jordan Tishler, cannabis physician and instructor at Harvard School of Medicine. “To convert the THCA to THC, you have to carry out a step called decarboxylation.”
How to try edibles for the first time
Trying edibles for the first time can be intimidating, but it’s all about taking it low and slow, as we’ll explain in a four-step process. Here are the key takeaways for an optimum edibles experience:
- Try edibles with both THC and CBD
- Start with 2 mg of THC or less
- Shop for products that are easy to dose
- Wait at least two hours before consuming more, preferably 24 hours
Step one: pick your cannabinoid
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in both cannabis and the human body.
Let that sink in for a moment. You can find cannabinoids in weed and your own body. Though we do have different names to distinguish the two: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are the cannabinoids we produce within our own bodies. Phytocannabinoids are produced by the cannabis plant.
Often called cannabinoids for short, we can thank phytocannabinoids for the mental and physical effects we feel when we consume cannabis. While much more research is needed, they have the potential to affect a range of processes in our bodies from pain and inflammation to anxiety and sleep. We have a full list of cannabinoids you can read up on later, but for the sake of simplicity and to reflect what is most widely available on the market today, we’ll focus on THC and CBD here.
For a psychoactive high, pick THC. As the most plentiful cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and the one known for producing that classic weed high, THC tends to get a lot of attention. Depending on the person, this famous cannabinoid may produce feelings of euphoria, creativity, relaxation, or pain relief. Others may experience confusion, short-term memory loss, shifts in time perception, rapid heart-rate, lowered coordination, and anxiety. Starting with the lowest possible dose and combining it with other cannabinoids (which we’ll get to in a minute) is the safest way to experiment and avoid some of these potentially unpleasant side effects.
For a barely-there, calm feeling, pick CBD. Contrary to popular belief, CBD does have psychoactive effects — just not in the same way as THC. Anything that changes the brain’s activity is considered psychoactive and CBD is an FDA-approved medication (Epidiolex) thanks to its psychoactivity. That said, taking a bunch of CBD with the hope it’ll unleash the euphoric feelings associated with THC is like expecting to start your car with your house key. So, while CBD may be non-intoxicating, it’s also been shown to be better at addressing anxiety. If you’d rather risk not feeling anything at all than feeling too much, start with CBD-only edibles.
For a balanced high, pick a combination of THC and CBD. When THC and CBD work together, users tend to feel a more mellow, nuanced high than a THC-only high. When CBD is present, they also have a much lower chance of experiencing THC-induced paranoia. Cannabis newcomers are best off trying a combination of cannabinoids if the goal is to experience a noticeable, yet soothing high.
Step two: get to know the milligram
To gauge how edibles will affect you and find your perfect dose, make the milligram (mg) your best friend. The strength of THC or CBD in all ingestible cannabis products — whether it be a drink or a gummy — is measured in milligrams. Go to any legal, licensed dispensary and you will see milligrams featured prominently on the labels of every ingestible product. Milligrams are key to figuring out the minimum dose you need to achieve the effects you want and the maximum amount of cannabinoids you can tolerate before experiencing side effects.
Long story short: start with 2 mg of THC. THC affects everyone differently, so 2 mg could be considered a microdose, low dose, or perfect dose depending on the person. Consume more than 2 mg for your first time and you could risk feeling more intoxicated than you want for longer than you anticipated. With 2 milligrams, your worst-case scenario is not feeling anything at all, which is preferable to calling the cops on yourself and thinking you’re dead.
If you’re looking to try CBD-only edibles, 10 mg of CBD is a great place to start. Just make sure to buy CBD edibles from a licensed dispensary to ensure the potency is accurate.
The same advice goes for those looking to try both: start with 2 mg of THC and 2 mg or more of CBD. You could arrive at this combination by buying two separate products that contain THC or CBD and take them at the same time. Or you can choose from a variety of products that contain both.