8 Things You Need To Know About Eating Marijuana Edibles

Before you nibble that gummy bear's ear, read this.

marijuana edibles
Photo by Flickr user David O'Hare

That marijuana-infused gummy bear looks so cute and friendly – surely it’s the perfect little mascot to guide a first-timer into a marijuana fantasyland, right? Think again. Marijuana edibles are far harder to handle correctly than their consumer-friendly guise suggests, and it’s all too easy for that little gummy bear to lead the folks straight into the dark, spooky realm of, “Dude, I am toooo high.” Follow these tips to make sure you stay on the right track.


  1. Start small

There’s a reason there’s an entire public education campaign around starting with an edible that equals just 5 milligrams of THC. That’s because it takes a while for marijuana-infused foods to unleash their magic, and it’s all too easy to consume too much before that happens. But trust us: Start with and stick to a single 5-milligram serving until the high hits you. After all, you can always eat another dose after if the high isn’t strong enough – but if you’ve already eaten too much and find yourself overly stoned, try as you might (and yes, you will try) you won’t be able to find a reverse button.

  1. Be patient

Smoke or vaporize marijuana, and the high hits you right away. Consume a marijuana edible and you’re going to have to wait… then wait some more. Since your body has to digest the substance before its psychoactive effects take hold, you might not feel anything for up to two hours. A bit of a downer, but be patient. An edible high, like fine wine, can’t be rushed.

  1. Understand the edible “high”

All highs are not created equal. In short, most edible marijuana is metabolized by the liver, which then produces a kind of THC that has a bigger psychedelic punch than the THC that reaches your blood plasma when you smoke it. So when you finally feel the edible’s effects, it will likely be more powerful than what you’d get from a joint – plus the high will last much longer, up to 12 hours!

  1. Choose your poison

You can find marijuana-infused truffles, marijuana-infused granola bars and even marijuana-infused hummus. But in general, edibles are split into two categories: foods like cookies, candies and pills that are metabolized in the liver, as described above, and products like lollipops, gums and sublingual drops that take effect through saliva in your mouth. The latter type works faster, but the effects might not be as powerful and wear off more quickly. Plus, ask yourself: do you really want to be seen at the party rocking a weed lollipop in your gob?

  1. Think hard about what you chase it with

As we’ve noted, most edibles release their THC in the gastrointestinal tract. It makes sense, then, that you’ll feel more of a wallop from them on an empty stomach. To keep on an even keel, feel free to give in to the munchies even before you feel stoned – but go easy on the booze. That’s because downing alcohol while waiting for your high to set in can lead to messy, messy results.

  1. Know your source

Since the marijuana industry is in its infancy, there’s little in the way of quality control for edibles: Is the marijuana baked into that magic brownie sub-par ditch weed or dosed with pesticides? Can that 100-milligram-THC candy bar really be broken into ten consistent pieces of 10 milligrams of THC each? So scrutinize the provenance of your treat. Does it come from a trusted source? What do online reviews say about the brand and the product? You’re not being a weed snob; you’re just being smart.

  1. Enjoy in a safe space

As you should have gathered by now, an edibles-based high can be potent and powerful. So if you want to be socially stoned, opt for a joint or a vape, and save your first edible experience for a time and place that’s calm and comfortable. In other words, Netflix and chill.

  1. Hide your stash

Politicians are going a bit overboard by trying to regulate the shape of pot gummies because, as they say, “Think of the children!” But it can be hard to tell the difference between a psychedelic cookie and a regular one. So do the right thing and keep your edibles safely out of reach of the little ones. No, there’s no risk the marijuana will kill anybody, but you don’t want to be the jerk who accidentally got his tween stoned out of his gourd when all he wanted was a peanut butter cup.