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Edibles: What to know for new or first-time users

Ar 170419621
Alexi Grojean/Special to DGO
Ar 170419621
Alexi Grojean/Special to DGO

Brownies, cookies, candies, cakes, sodas, energy drinks, and sweets of all kinds line the counters of local dispensaries across the state. Colorado companies large and small, are jumping into the kitchen to create a veritable smörgåsbord of confections for the cannabis connoisseur. State regulations suggest a standard adult dose of THC is 10 milligrams (mg). However, in a new statewide campaign, www.firsttime5.com, encourages first-time users to go slow, starting at 5 mg. After all, you can always have more the next time, but you can’t eat less this time. So what does all this mean for your average Mary Jane Doe and what’s important to know before taking that first bite? This may be a primer lesson for those more experienced in the world of edibles, but legal edibles are a lot different than those chocolate chip cookies your buddy made with his own weed butter.

When legal edibles first hit the scene, consistent dosage was a bit hit or miss. Brownies, cookies, and other candy bars were anywhere from 50 to 200 mg whole and it was up to the customer to figure out how to divide it up into 10 mg pieces, forcing one to make fractions out of their confections. And while some products claimed their pieces were 10 mg, after testing, their true efficacy could range anywhere from 5 mg to 15 mg! Other larger edibles had problems with inconsistent concentrations throughout their product. In other words, of the 100 mg in a 100 mg bar, 75 mg could be in one corner. So much for just taking a bite! Tighter regulations in the Marijuana Enforcement Division have worked toward shoring up issues in production and dosing of edibles. Almost all edibles that are mass produced in Colorado for recreational sales are dosed at 10 mg or less in user-friendly packaging, making it fairly easy to know exactly how much to eat in that first bite.

And after your first bite? WAIT! And then, wait some more – it can take up to 90 minutes to feel anything at all from ingesting marijuana. The effects of smoking or vaporizing cannabis are usually felt within the first five minutes. This is because smoke and vapor is absorbed into the blood stream via the lungs, while edibles are processed either through in the gastrointestinal tract, or sublingually (meaning,literally, under the tongue). Any type of edible made to dissolve in your mouth, such as suckers, lozenges, or gum, as well as tinctures are absorbed through your sublingual glands. Sublingual edibles can be faster absorbing and can kick anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes and last several hours. Edibles that are delivered via a fatty treat need to be processed through the GI tract. Because every person’s metabolism and chemical makeup is different, absorption can take anywhere from one to two hours, and the effects can last four, six, sometimes eight hours.

Because of harmful associated carcinogens, some might choose an edible as an alternative to smoking. Edibles can be especially beneficial to medical users who cannot smoke or want to lengthen cannabis’ healing effects; many edibles can also be infused with extra CBDs for more pain relief and healing properties. While it is generally healthier than smoking, ingesting marijuana can be an entirely different experience.

New or first-time users are cautioned to take it slow and easy, starting with just one 5 or 10 mg edible and stopping for the day. It is a good idea to be in a safe and comfortable atmosphere with trustworthy friends. And remember that everyone’s experience is probably going to be different. Most people feel a slight euphoria, along with lessening of pain and tension. Some people’s reaction is stronger, and with higher dosages can bring on mild hallucinations, but this is rare in low doses. These people can have out of body type experiences and extreme ranges of emotions. There are also a few people who, for some reason, cannot break down and process the THC in edible form, and feel nothing at all.

Because of the great range in possible reactions it’s a good idea to be prepared by asking questions and getting educated before you take that first bite!

Meggie J is a published poet and freelance writer living in the Four Corners. She is an avid reader, rafter, and connoisseur of cannabis. She can be reached at coxwell.meggiej@gmail.com.