How to Calculate the Potency of Edibles

I’ve never liked eating edibles and it’s not because of the taste. The reason I don’t like edibles is because I have no clue how potent they will be.

When I smoke a joint I may not know the percentage of THC the cannabis contains or how much of the joint I will need to smoke. It doesn’t matter, I can take a toke or two and see how I feel. By the time it’s been passed around I have a pretty good idea of how strong it is. I can take another toke, or not, it’s my call. I know what I am signing up for.

Edible don’t work this way. No one can tell how potent edibles are by the size or the taste. The consumer really has nothing to go on. To make matters worse, edibles must be processed by your body before you feel the effects and this can take an hour or more. You won’t know for quite some time if you’ve had too little, too much or just enough.

Don’t expect to read it on the label. I’ve seen plenty of edibles for sale at reputable dispensaries with labels that don’t even try to list the potency. Those that make an attempt often do so in an unintelligible way. How about the single brownie advertised as 12 doses? Am I really only supposed to eat a few crumbs of the brownie? But, it looks soooo good! I want to eat like 3 of them. I’ve seen other labels that state 1.5 grams Sativa. Really? What does this tell the consumer? This tells you only slightly more than nothing at all.

What’s sad is that calculating the potency of edibles is actually pretty easy. Here is a simple formula for doing just that.

How to Calculate Potency

These days it’s pretty easy to find out the potency of the cannabis you purchase. Most dispensaries have their bud lab tested and they advertise the percentage of THC it contains. Assuming the dispensary is honest, you’ve got a good place to start. If you grew you own or purchased a decent amount there are labs popping up all over that can test potency for around $100.

Say you purchase 3.5 grams (approximately 1/8th ounce) of decent outdoor bud that is advertised as 15% THC. This does not mean you have 3.5 grams of THC, it means that 15% of your 3.5 grams is THC. Lets do some math.

Potency Formula

First let’s convert grams to milligrams.

3.5 g of cannabis x 1000 = 3500 mg of cannabis

We know that only 15% of the 3500 mg is actually THC.

15% of 3500 is the same as .15 x 3500 = 525 mg of pure THC

If we use this 3.5 grams of outdoor cannabis to make butter (or oil) and assuming we are able to extract 100% of the THC into the butter, we know the butter will contain 525 mg of THC.

If we use all of this butter to make a batch of 12 brownies, we know that each brownie will have about 43.75 mg of THC.

525 mg of THC divided by 12 brownies. = 43.75 mg THC per brownie

So How Much is a Dose?

If there is 43.75 mg of THC in a brownie, does that mean 1 brownie is a dose? This all depends on the person eating the brownie. There may be 200 mg of Ibuprofen in an Advil but that doesn’t mean 1 advil is a dose. In fact the bottle directs adults 12 and older to take 1-2 capsules. THC is the same way. You have to figure out what works for you. Luckily, unlike some medications, it’s much more difficult to cause permanent damage if you take a little too much THC.

We don’t all have the same comfort level with the psychoactive effects of cannabis and our bodies don’t all metabolize cannabinoids in the same way. For some, 20 mg of THC may be the perfect dose. For those with a higher tolerance or greater comfort level with the effects, 100 mg or more may be more appropriate.

The proper dose is something the user must discover for themselves. This may take a bit of trial and error. Start small and gradually work your way up to higher doses. Once you know how many mg of THC in right for you, use this formula to calculate the correct potency for making your edibles. If you keep your recipes consistent, you’ll have great tasting edibles with very predictable potency.

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