Maureen Dowd's June 4, 2014, op-ed in The New York Times struck a chord and brought Colorado and the U.S.'s edible dilemma to front and center. While the edible industry evolves and becomes regulated with dosage limits and proper consumption guidelines, consumers need the right information available to gain a basic understanding of an edible's effect.
The wrong dosage or the wrong information can lead to a scary experience like Dowd's. Unlike smoking or vaporizing cannabis, edibles take time to travel through your body's system. “Medibles” creep up on you, and they're far more potent than your average bong hit.
Here are ten simple steps to guide you through your first edible experience:
1: Start Small and Be Patient
With edibles, you can always add on but you can never detract. It's a simple equation. Whether you weigh 100 or 300 pounds, eating more milligrams than your body can handle cannot be reversed. Start off with the lowest dosage possible — in the 10-20 milligram range — and wait an hour and a half. If you feel nothing, add another 10 milligrams (Colorado's proposed limit per edible) to your dosage, and wait another hour. For the seasoned edible consumer, these milligram ranges can be higher. But, all told, no matter your experience, the best bet remains acting slow and steady — because that's exactly how edibles seep into your bloodstream.
2: Know Your Dosage
As noted, first-timers are recommended to consume 10-20 milligrams worth of an edible. Likewise, do not buy a 100 milligram bar and try to split it into 10 pieces. Instead, buy multiple edibles that are (hopefully) accurately labeled on the lower side. And start with a low dose. Depending on your weight and tolerance for cannabis, this recommended dosage will affect you differently. The more you weigh, the longer THC will take to affect you. So know your body, read your edibles label carefully, and take precaution.
3: Quiz Your Budtender
Unfortunately, edibles can be mislabeled and sometimes contain strains or product that may not be beneficial for you. If your budtender (think: sommelier for weed) doesn't inform you about the strain or type (sativa, indica, or hybrid) of edible you're about to purchase (they should), then ask them for more information. And don't be shy in your inquiry. Ask where the weed was grown, in what type of setting the edible was made, and if other customers like it. When it comes to weed — and especially edibles — there are simply no bad questions.
4: Drink Plenty of Water and Have a Full Stomach
Your simple yet pivotal elixir for any edible experience: H2O. Edibles dehydrate people and cause the dreaded cottonmouth. If you know you'll be eating an edible that evening, consume appropriate amounts of water throughout the same day. Make sure your urine looks clear-colored upon edible consumption and not a dark yellow. Likewise, make sure you have a water bottle on hand throughout your experience, particularly if it takes you outdoors where water can't be purchased or obtained easily. Additionally, while eating an edible on an empty stomach will make you feel its effects quicker and harder, it's an ill-advised tactic. Eat some carbohydrates prior to your edible intake, and your body will thank you later. Furthermore, if you feel faint or dizzy, drink a soda or some juice, as the sugar will help erase this feeling.
5: Consume with a Friend
Like with any first-time drug experience, edibles should be consumed safely and enjoyed in the company of someone you trust and know well. This novel method of cannabis consumption will likely have an unprecedented effect on your mind. Most can handle it, but for some, it's too much. Having a friend and a face you know well next to you throughout the experience will only make it easier — and more fun.
6: Get Comfortable
Surround yourself with familiar and cozy setting. A first-time edible experience should not occur at a music festival or in a crowded bar. You want to be in a place you know well, and one that won't overwhelm you with anxious thoughts or fear. The right couch and the right TV show can make all the difference.
7: Do Not Drive a Car or Operate Heavy Machinery
Would you trust someone on LSD behind a wheel? No. While not quite as psychedelic, edibles do transform the mind for many. Likewise, abstain from even putting yourself in a dangerous position and refrain from touching anything that could endanger yourself or those around you.
8: Do Not Combine with Alcohol or Other Drugs
Edibles are a potent form of medication, and should not be trifled with. Mixing them with alcohol or prescription drugs can have an adverse effect. Be smart, and save your beer for the weekend.
9: If You Have a Bad Trip, Know That it Will End
Despite a couple of unfortunate incidents in Denver this year, no one has ever died directly from a cannabis consumption-related overdose. Take deep breaths, drink more water, and turn on a television show or song that typically relaxes you. If you're alone, call up a friend, and have them either come over to calm you down, or just talk you through it. And should your situation worsen …
10: If You Feel Sick or Have Suicidal Thoughts, Dial 911 and Seek Medical Care
Don't be embarrassed by this one. Sometimes, edibles will unfortunately be dosed improperly or you may simply eat too much. Should this scary situation arise, your safety, not your pride, needs to come first. Call for help, stay calm, and know that when you wake up tomorrow, everything will be alright.
Like Amsterdam — a city that's dealt with this issue since the 70s — each dispensary in Colorado and throughout America should have signs on the wall warning people about eating too much edible.