February 25, 2021

A Beginners Guide to Making & Eating Cannabis Edibles

Cannabis Edibles

Consuming cannabis edibles can be a wonderful, discreet, delicious way to consume cannabis, but they can also pose safety concerns if not consumed responsibly. Here you will find cannabis edible education and recommendations to ensure your cannabis edible experience is safe, positive, and rewarding.

Cannabis EdiblesCannabis Edibles

Table of Contents For This Article:

A Beginners Guide to Cannabis Edibles

Cannabis edibles can be a wonderful, discreet, delicious way to consume cannabis, but they can also pose potential safety concerns if not done responsibly.

Unlike traditional smoking or vaporizing, edibles have a more potent and powerful intoxicating effect for many people.

Additionally, cannabis edibles have a delayed onset of 90-minutes to several hours, making it extremely difficult to predict the onset time, dose-response, and duration of the experience.

Of course, cannabis edibles are meant to be enjoyed and can be an excellent addition to and healthy lifestyle with some basic education.

By following these few safe edible recommendations below, you can ensure you are prepared to have an experience that is safe, positive, and rewarding.

In this article we will cover:

  • The Importance of Decarboxylation
  • Understanding Edibles Delayed Onset
  • Exploring Why Edibles Can Be More Potent
  • Determining Final Product Potency
  • Safety Considerations for Consuming THC Edibles
  • Edibles Are Both An Experiment & Commitment 
  • Dosing Recommendations for Beginners

The Importance of Decarboxylation

Before getting started, it is important to note that all raw or dried cannabis must undergo a process called decarboxylation to be able to enjoy the active forms of CBD or THC.

Raw and dried cannabis flower contains what is known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).

These cannabinoids are found in the raw cannabis plant material and contain their own powerful health benefits.

However, these cannabinoids are not intoxicating in their natural state. Decarboxylation is a process that converts THCa → Δ9-THC and CBDa → CBD.

Using heat and/or solvents is the most common way to decarboxylate the cannabis flower before enjoying it.

Click Here for My Complete Guide to Cannabis Decarboxylation

Mastering the process of cannabis decarboxylation is an important skill to have for anyone who wants to infuse their own cannabis recipes home.

Decarboxylation Summary: When making cannabis edibles, it is important to decarboxylate your cannabis material before consuming it in order to reap the full benefits of activated CBD or THC.

Understanding Edibles Delayed Onset

It can be difficult, potentially dangerous, and sometimes time-consuming for you to find your ideal cannabis edible dosage.

One reason being the delayed onset time of cannabis consumption to produce the desired effect.

It is even more difficult to determine how the consumed product will affect you and how long the effects will last.

The experience varies widely from person to person thanks to our own unique endocannabinoid system (ECS).

It can be difficult to determine your ideal dosage when orally consuming cannabis because the onset of the desired effect is significantly delayed compared to sublingual, topical, or inhalation administration routes. 

Orally ingested cannabis is slower to take effect, with the typical onset time ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, or even longer, depending on the individual. 

While the effects of consumed cannabis are delayed, they tend to manifest stronger and last longer with a peak onset of noticeable effects setting between 1 to 3 hours post-consumption.

The effects of cannabis edibles can last anywhere from 6 to 8 hours or more and vary gratefully from person to person.

It is important to remember that cannabinoids like CBD and THC are eaten have anywhere from a 6-10% bioavailability rate.

Individual physiological factors, such as absorption rates, rates of metabolism and excretion, and body weight, can affect the bioavailability of cannabinoids that also vary from person to person.

Edibles Delayed Onset Summary: Consuming cannabis edibles have a much longer delayed onset time than traditionally inhaling cannabis. The onset time of intoxicating effects can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, peak experience from 1 to 3 hours, and duration lasting 6 to 8 hours or more post-consumption.

Edibles Can Be More Potent

Orally consuming cannabis will indeed provide stronger, more potent, or intoxicating effects in some individuals.

There are anecdotal reports of people experiencing hallucinogenic effects in some situations where too much THC has been orally consumed.

The edible consumption method is different from inhaling or topical administration.

Once the cannabis is eaten and digested, the THC is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the liver, where it undergoes the hepatic first-pass metabolism. 

During this process, enzymes hydroxylate Δ9-THC to form 11-hydroxytetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC), a potent psychoactive metabolite that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

This potent intoxicating metabolite causes potentially unwanted (or wanted) side effects for many unknowing cannabis consumers.

It is important to note that a portion of the population report feeling no effect from cannabis edibles at all.

This may be because they lack the enzyme (or enough of the enzymes) needed to convert Δ9-THC → 11-OH-THC.

Edibles Can Be More Potent Summary: When cannabis is eaten, it goes through the digestive system. As it goes through the liver, Δ9-THC is hydroxylated to 11-OH-THC, a potent psychoactive metabolite that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is this intoxicating metabolite that causes more potent, increased intoxicating effects with cannabis edibles.

Determining Final Product Potency

For many cannabis consumers, the most difficult piece of the oral cannabis consumption puzzle is accurately assessing their final product’s potency to understand their final dosages.

It is nearly impossible to determine the exact concentration of final cannabinoids like CBD and THC without lab testing when making an at-home recipe, like the staple cannabis coconut oil or cannabis butter.

This is a disadvantage for you because it is nearly impossible to accurately assess and track how much of each cannabinoid you will be orally consuming.

This uncertainty opens up the risk of you either underdosing or overdosing, which will ultimately prevent you from experiencing your edibles’ desired health benefits. 

It can help if you know the strain and cannabinoid concentrations of your cannabis product before cooking.

For example, if the flower was purchased at a dispensary, it may say 22% THC, 4% CBD.

If you have this information, a few calculations may help you to guestimate your final product potency.

Determining Final Product Potency Summary: Without knowing the concentration of CBD or THC in your starting material, and without lab testing, it is nearly impossible to estimate the final potency of your homemade cannabis edibles.

Safety Considerations for Consuming THC Edibles

I always encourage my Cannabis Compass students to prepare their own medicinal oils, butter, edibles, or capsules at home for many reasons, including the cost savings and flexibility with personal preferences.

Consuming CBD oil in food does not pose much of a risk, and making homemade CBD gummies is unlikely to produce any intoxicating effects.

It is when you are working with THC dominant strains that you begin to run the risk of accidentally experiencing an intoxicating or even a hallucinogenic effect if the enzymes in your liver hydroxylate Δ9-THC to form 11-OH-THC, the potent intoxicating metabolite mentioned above.

Consuming too much THC can pose a safety risk, mainly for unsuspecting individuals.

The most common unwanted side effects that may pose a safety risk to some individuals include:

  • Disorientation or dizziness
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Slow reaction time
  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Heart-palpitations
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Increased appetite with dry mouth1

THC Safety Considerations Summary: Unknowingly consuming too much THC, especially in the form of cannabis edibles, may result in disorientation, dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, and tachycardia.

Edibles Are Both An Experiment & Commitment 

Consuming cannabis edibles is truly a self-experiment that requires both curiosity and patience.

It will likely take several tries for you to find a dosage with an identifiable onset and duration time that you can rely on. 

For this reason, I always recommend to my Cannabis Compass Course students that they consume cannabis edibles in the safety of their own home when they have a significant amount of time, at least 24 hours, to stay put and comfortably enjoy the experience.

Experimenting with dosages and duration times requires a time commitment from yourself.

With the notoriously delayed onset and duration time of edibles, you should plan on devoting at least 6-12 hours to your experience.

During this time, plan to be safe in your home with no need to travel anywhere, no driving a car, and no operating heavy machinery.

Edibles Are a Commitment Summary: The delayed onset time and unknown intoxicating response meaning that it may take a few tries for you to find your perfect dose or edible recipe. Consuming cannabis edibles is both a self-experiment and a time commitment.

Dosing Recommendations for Beginners

With cannabis, there is no such thing as standard dosing recommendations, as cannabis affects everyone differently.

Everyone’s body metabolizes cannabis differently.

You and your identical twin could consume the same teaspoon of cannabis tincture and have drastically different experiences.

It is important to start with one low dose first and to monitor your body’s reaction.

I repeat, begin with one very low dose to start with (>5mg THC if you know the final potency). 

Remember, cannabis edibles can have a delayed onset time of 30-minutes to 2 hours or more, so don’t take a second dose after just one hour, or you risk the chance of consuming more than you can comfortably handle.

If you do not feel any response after four hours, then gradually titrate up the dose and try again.

Remember to record the amount you took before you take it, so you can go back and compare dosages if needed.

Dosage Recommendations Summary: There is no standard dosage recommendation for cannabis edibles. Start LOW and go SLOW. Try a small amount first and gradually titrate up as needed. Your patience will be rewarded with a safe, enjoyable experience.

Important: Take Notes After Consuming!

If you are new to cannabis edibles and are using cannabis to improve your health, it is essential to take notes on each cannabis edible experience to learn from each experience.

This will help you to repeat the good experiences and avoid bad experiences and allow you to track your dosages and progress over time. 

I offer signs & symptoms dosage tracker to all of my students who take my Online Cannabis Education Class.

Looking To Further Your Cannabis Education?

Are you ready to learn more about cannabis and how you can use it to maximize your health and wellness? Click to learn more about my Cannabis Compass Online Course.

This online cannabis education teaches you how to use, apply, and dose all forms of cannabis safely and effectively so that you can begin to manage your anxiety, pain, and/or inflammation the natural way from the comfort of your own home.