With so much negative propaganda surrounding cannabis, it seems as if consumption of the plant should almost be self-explanatory. In my experience, this image could not be more far from the truth.

 

People who arrive at a medical cannabis dispensary require guidance from a healthcare expert who has taken the time to learn about the dosing requirements for the different delivery systems, especially if they have never consumed cannabis before.

 

When I consult with people who are beginning their cannabis journey, I always ask about their experience with “edibles”.

“Have you ever taken an edible?”

“Did you feel anything at all or was it much too strong?”

 

About 90% of people who have experimented with edibles say the experience was not good. For some reason, when people decide to bake a batch of edible cannabis brownies, they use the “more is better” philosophy.

 

This is their first mistake.

 

The most recognizable cannabinoid in cannabis, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is the one that is often associated with marijuana consumption. THC causes a dose-related psychoactive side effect which can become quite uncomfortable when consumed in high doses.

 

In my experience, the optimal starting dose for most people for THC is 5mg. As a rule of thumb, there are patients who are always extra sensitive to all medications and should be started on lower doses –in this case 2.5mg. Only twice in my life have I seen patients unable to consume more than 1mg at a time without feeling strong side effects.

 

The bottom line is….be smart. If you are an average patient who can consume most medications with the basic starting doses, start at 5mg of THC dosed every 6 to 8 hours. If you are nervous, or sensitive, start with 2.5mg every 6 to 8 hours.

CBD has the ability to make the psychoactive side effects of THC more tolerable, or mild. In this case, patients may prefer taking the 5mg of THC dose with 5-10mg of CBD. Or 20mg of CBD. It’s all about finding your favorite ratio of CBD to THC.

 

In the Belly

An “edible” is any dosage form that lands in the stomach. This includes drinks, brownies, honey, or pills. Once swallowed, the cannabinoids must be absorbed into the bloodstream in order to exert their effects, and this takes time.

 

The biggest mistake people make when first taking an edible is to assume, after about 30-40 minutes, that the first edible was not strong enough, so they take a second dose. It is after about two hours that they realize the first dose probably was strong enough and wish they had never taken that second dose.

 

There is an easy way to avoid this mistake.

  1. Choose your starting dose of 2.5mg or 5mg. Daily cannabis users may choose to start with 10mg, although I have seen that this can feel too strong for many regular cannabis users.

  2. Take note of the time. Edibles typically begin working within 60-90 minutes.

  3. Do not consume any other cannabis products (or alcohol) for 6 hours. This will allow you to evaluate your dose completely.

  4. If 5mg was too low, increase your dose to 7.5mg or 10mg. Repeat steps 2 and 3 again.

  5. After two or three tries, you will be able to determine a comfortable, yet effective dose of THC that is not too strong.

 

The reason most people have an uncomfortable experience with cannabis is easy…they consume too much. You can avoid this fate by simply determining “your milligrams”, in other words, YOUR optimal dose. Not your best friend’s dose, but your dose.

 

Once you know how many milligrams work for you, you can confidently walk into any dispensary and purchase an appropriate edible for you. The guesswork is over!

Award Winning Author & Coach

Colleen Higgins, R.Ph.

Colleen Higgins, R.Ph. is an author, speaker, and consultant who educates patients and cannabis manufacturers on the most effective ways to deliver cannabis as a medicine to the patients who need it.  

Colleen Higgins, R.Ph. has worked directly with patients in the role of pharmaceutical and cannabis distribution for over 25 years. She is certified in diabetes education (CDE), medication management (MTM) and as a Pain Management Specialty Pharmacist (PMSP).

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