A First Timer's Guide to Marijuana Edibles

Caramel shortbread bonbons infused with marijuana extract. Photo courtesy of the Pot and Pan Kitchen. Caramel shortbread bonbons infused with marijuana extract.

If you’re certified to use medical cannabis and would prefer not to smoke or vaporize your medicine, cannabis infused edibles are a fantastic way to get long lasting relief. With the proper amount, edibles can be particularly effective for sleep, pain, and nausea. It should go without saying that if you have children or pets in your home, it's especially important to keep them away from your cannabis products. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as the patient to keep your medicine in a place where it's safely stored and preferably locked.


The point of using cannabis infused edibles is not to become intoxicated, but to find relief from your symptoms in a natural way. Whether you're about to try an edible for the first time or have relied on them for years, we recommend reading these five important points before you begin.

Start with the smallest possible dose

This is extremely important. Before you even take it out of it's packaging, find out the THC content of your edible. It should be clearly visible on the label. If it's not, don't eat it. Most medical cannabis states require that edibles be labeled with the amount of THC in milligrams. Lower potency edibles start between 5-10mg, which is a great place to begin. If you have a cookie or another confection, cut it into 2-4 equal pieces and start with a bite. Do not eat the entire thing. Wait at least 60-90 minutes before consuming more, in any form. If after that time you feel the effects, don't consume more. If you don't, take another bite the same size as the first one and wait another 60-90 minutes. Until you know what will work for you, this is the best way to acclimate yourself and learn your limits. When you find the right amount, your body will tell you it's working.

Your mindset and physical setting matters

Make sure you're in a good frame of mind and somewhere you feel safe the first time you try cannabis infused foods. Referred to as "set and setting", this makes a tremendous difference in your overall experience with edibles. We recommend you try them at home the first time, preferably on a day free of obligations or plans, and if you're a parent, children. If it puts your mind at ease, ask someone you trust to be present with you the first time you try an edible. This can make the difference between a positive or negative experience for you, which will determine how you approach future applications.

Be patient

So, you've eaten an edible and 45 minutes has gone by and you don't feel any different. You decide to take another bite of that cookie and a few puffs off your vaporizer, and 15 minutes later - BOOM - everything hits you all at once. This is the biggest mistake most people make when trying edibles for the first time, and the experience is so unpleasant they swear off edibles or cannabis for good. It is so important to be mindful of how long it takes you to feel it working. Don't over consume, and wait a full 60-90 minutes before you try another bite to ensure it's not going to cause you an unpleasant experience. Remember, you're the one who controls the dose. You can eat more if you need to, but you can't "un-eat" what you've already had.

Don't consume alcohol with your cannabis edibles

Excessive alcohol use with cannabis infused foods can cause disorientation, nausea, vomiting, and the worst case of "the spins" you've ever had. It's never a good idea to combine alcohol with cannabis edibles in any form. Not only can it exacerbate the effects of an edible and have an intensely sedative effect, it's not using your medicine responsibly. Taking a sip of beer after smoking a joint is not the same thing as eating a cannabis edible after 4-5 drinks. Again, responsible use will make the difference between enjoying the therapeutic effects and a really uncomfortable experience.

Keep an edibles journal

Did that 10 mg lozenge work well for sleep last night? Maybe that 20mg cookie helped relieve your migraine a month ago. Do you prefer sweet or savory edibles? Keeping a journal or log of your experiences will help you keep track of what works for you. It's also a great way to keep a list of things to avoid if something doesn't help your symptoms. Note things like the date and time, your setting, your mindset and mood, the symptom you're using it for, the amount you ate, and how long it takes to kick in. While not always convenient, it allows you to separate the effective from the ineffective and set the bar for your personal tolerance level.

And remember...

Properly calibrated, cannabis edibles can be a wonderful source of relief. If you begin to feel any discomfort like racing thoughts or paranoia, keep in mind that these side effects are only temporary and will pass. Remain calm and take some deep breaths. Some find it helpful to listen to their favorite music or watch their favorite movie. Most often, people find sleep or a good meal will lessen any negative effects. Be sure to keep this information in mind the next time you're at your local dispensary or caregiver! It will save you time and money and prevent you from having an unnecessarily bad experience.

Last modified onTuesday, 18 April 2017 15:32