9 Steps to Avoid Overdosing on Marijuana Edibles

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STEP 1:   UNDERSTAND A “DOSE”

What is a “dose”? In a nutshell, it’s difficult to say for sure. The scientific community has established 15 milligrams of THC as a standard “dose”, and Colorado has set the bar at 10 mg., but for some patients, 10-15 mg. gives minimal effect. For others, it is unpleasantly intense. In actuality, a “dose” for one person could be as low as 3-4 milligrams of THC, while another will need up to 500 milligrams or more to reach his or her desired effect. Much of this seems to be based on tolerance built up over time, and tolerance to inhaled (smoked or vaporized) THC seems to have little effect on tolerance to eaten THC. For many daily smokers who are new to edibles, their comfortable dosage can be as low as that of someone completely new to cannabis.

STEP 2: DETERMINE THE DOSE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU

The amount of THC that is right for you can only be determined through careful trial and error. Hopefully this guide will help minimize the “error” portion of the equation. The following suggestions are based solely on medical marijuana users’ personal experiences, and are not meant to take the place of a doctor’s advice. If you are extremely sensitive to medications or have concerns, start with even less than the suggested amount. Note that body weight, metabolism, and how recently you have eaten a meal can all factor in to how edibles affect you. If you have questions, concerns, or medical conditions, always consult a physician prior to trying edibles.

When first trying edibles, you should err on the side of caution. You can always eat more later on.

While frequency of inhaled THC use can be a minor factor in edibles tolerance, it is still a good reference point for a starting dose:

  • New cannabis patients or infrequent smokers (0-1 times per week)

                        3 – 5 milligrams of THC suggested

  • Occasional smokers (2-3 times per week)

                       5 – 8 milligrams of THC suggested

  • Frequent smokers (4-7 times per week)

                       8-15 milligrams of THC suggested

  • Heavy smokers (multiple times per day)

                       15-20 milligrams of THC suggested

NOTE: it can take up to 1½ hours to start to feel effects of edibles, and the effects can continue to increase over time, so remember to wait before deciding to re-dose.

STEP 3: CONSUME IN A SAFE LOCATION

A good time to try edibles is a few hours before bedtime, as they can make you sleepy (many people use them as a sleep aid). Make sure you are in a safe, comfortable place, and don’t need to drive or perform any task that could be dangerous if you are impaired. If you are uncomfortable or concerned about trying edibles, ask a friend to be with you for the first few hours. And of course, don’t mix edibles with alcohol or other drugs or medications.

STEP 4: ADJUST UP IF UNDERMEDICATED

After 1 – 1½ hours, if desired effects have not been reached, eat an additional ¼ to ½ of your starting dose. Increase every 1 – 1 ½ hours until desired medication level has been reached.

STEP 5: RELAX IF OVERMEDICATED

If you feel uncomfortable or overmedicated, relax! The effects will wear off within about 8 hours. Get comfortable, have some food & beverages, listen to some soothing music or watch TV, call a friend, or identify and focus on a pleasant sensation (I found petting my cat to be helpful when I was overmedicated). Remind yourself that the sensation is temporary and will wear off. As stated by Oregon State Representative Earl Blumenauer, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose.

If you are concerned about an overconsumption in yourself or others, call Poison Control Center’s national hotline: 1-800-222-1222. A specialist will help evaluate whether you need medical attention or can handle your overintoxication at home.

STEP 6: SELECT THE APPROPRIATE EDIBLE

Look for an edible that has been lab-tested to determine the amount of THC, and try a lower dose edible first. There are many edibles with 100-1000 milligrams of THC, but these are designed for patients who have been using edibles for long periods of time and have developed a tolerance for them, and/or designed for multiple doses. Select the edible that allows you to portion off an appropriate starting amount, and of course, one that looks tasty! Many edibles have little or no cannabis flavor, but high potency, so don’t eat extra because you can’t taste the medicine. (It is always a good idea to have a non-medicated treat handy, so you can satisfy that sweet tooth!)

STEP 7: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS

Even with opaque packaging, edibles can look enticing to kids, and smell great to pets. Most taste good, so the likelihood of a child or pet consuming one if in reach is higher than with alcohol or other medications. Store edibles in a secure location, and if you only eat a portion of one, return the remainder to the secure location prior to consuming.

Excessive amounts of marijuana can cause seizures or other issues in children. In case of accidental child consumption, call Poison Control’s national hotline: 1-800-222-1222. A specialist will help evaluate your child’s condition and whether or not medical attention is needed.

Excessive amounts of marijuana can be toxic for pets, as can several food ingredients that might be in edibles, such as chocolate, raisins, etc. For accidental pet consumption, contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

STEP 8: FOLLOW THE LAW

Medical marijuana is legal in many states with a recommendation from a doctor, and recreational marijuana is legal in a few others. The rest of the country has varying penalties for marijuana possession. Know your state’s laws and follow them. For information on each state’s regulations, visit Americans For Safe Access.

STEP 9: SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES

Help us help you! At this point, much of the information we have on edibles dosage and effect is based on information-gathering. The more data we gather, the more we can help new edibles users get it right the first time. Please share your first edibles experience and see what others have found. We’ve broken down the discussion by recreational and medical use, and by symptom. Experienced users please share as well!

To download this article, click here.

The author, Karen Casey, is founder and pastry chef of Unforgettable Edibles/Baked!, dedicated to producing delicious, consistent, lab-tested edibles for California medical marijuana patients in compliance with CA Proposition 215 and SB420.

About Author

The author, Karen Casey, is founder and pastry chef of Unforgettable Edibles/Baked!, dedicated to producing delicious, consistent, lab-tested edibles for California medical marijuana patients in compliance with CA Proposition 215 and SB420.

2 Comments

  1. This is a functional good article. However, the very important ability of the nutraceutical citicoline to control cannabis overdose was not mentioned. It works amazingly well. 3-4 times more citicoline by weight of extract consumed orally and available online. Cannabis users should always have this available if for whatever reason you want to “calm” the “too much” down. drbob

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