Edibles, also known as cannabis edibles, refer to food products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or cannabidiol (CBD) – the primary active ingredients in cannabis. Edibles come in many forms, including baked goods, candies, chocolates, and beverages. The amount of THC and/or CBD contained in an edible product is measured in milligrams (mg). This allows consumers to more accurately control their cannabis dosage. Determining what constitutes a “high” dose of THC and CBD in edibles is not straightforward, as it depends on the individual’s tolerance level and other factors. However, there are some general guidelines regarding edible dosing that can help consumers – especially new users – avoid potentially unpleasant experiences from consuming excessive amounts of THC and CBD.
What is considered a standard dose?
For those new to THC edibles, 2.5 to 5 mg of THC is considered a good starting dose. This small amount allows the consumer to test their tolerance level without risks of negative side effects. For more experienced THC users, 10 mg is generally considered a standard single dose. CBD edibles tend to be dosed higher, generally between 15 to 30 mg per serving. It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines, and optimal dosing can vary greatly depending on the individual. Factors like natural tolerance, weight, gender, chemistry, and more can impact appropriate dosing. When trying edibles from a new source, it’s wise to start low and go slow.
At what dosage may users start to feel high or impaired?
Most new THC users will start experiencing some level of high or impairment at dosages between 5 to 15 mg of THC. However, some especially sensitive individuals may react strongly to dosages as low as 2.5 mg. On the other hand, those naturally more tolerant to THC may not experience much effect until 20 to 30 mg. Doses above 30 mg of THC start entering risky territory for many users, especially inexperienced ones. At this level, the “high” can be very intense and uncomfortable. However, regular users with a high THC tolerance may enjoy dosages between 40 to 100 mg without feeling overly impaired. Again, proceeding cautiously and self-monitoring for any negative reactions is advisable when consuming high dose edibles.
What dosage is considered a high dose and may cause adverse effects?
For new and occasional cannabis users, dosages of THC above 30 mg may lead to an excessively strong high. Reactions can include anxiety, panic, paranoia, increased heart rate, and general discomfort. In rare cases, very high THC edible doses lead to more serious side effects like hallucinations or even acute psychiatric disturbances. For regular cannabis consumers, dosages over 100 mg of THC start approaching the level where negative reactions are more likely. Most experts advise even seasoned users to limit their intake to under 100 mg to avoid potential health risks and extremely disorienting psychoactive effects from overconsumption. However, some frequent users report tolerating doses up to 200 to 300 mg without significant impairment or adverse reactions. This demonstrates the large variability in responses between individuals. But for the average user, exceeding 100 mg THC via edibles is considered entering the danger zone for unpredictable and unwanted side effects.
Factors that influence appropriate edible dosage
Many factors beyond just prior cannabis experience influence what constitutes a high, potentially risky dose of THC or CBD from edibles for a given person. Important considerations include:
Individual body chemistry
Our bodies all metabolize and react to cannabis compounds differently based on factors like genetics, stomach pH, liver enzymes, and more. This means a 100 mg dose may be mild for one person yet overwhelming for another. There are even rare individuals with genetic mutations who metabolize THC much more slowly, leading to exaggerated responses from smaller doses over longer time periods.
Some individuals naturally have a higher tolerance to the effects of THC based on inherent biology and chemistry. These people can comfortably handle stronger edible doses from their first use. Others are extra sensitive even without prior exposure and may react intensely to very small doses. Natural tolerance plays a major role in determining appropriate edible dosage, but it varies widely between users.
Weight and gender
Heavier individuals and men naturally develop higher tolerances for THC edibles. Women and lighter people tend to feel effects more acutely and may be more susceptible to overdose reactions from lower amounts. Weight and gender differences in body fat percentage, metabolism, and hormones like estrogen appear responsible for differential THC sensitivity. A 100 mg dose may be excessive for a small woman yet reasonable for a larger man.
Full vs. empty stomach
Consuming edibles on a full stomach tends to slow absorption and moderate effects compared to taking them while fasting. Eating edibles with dietary fats can further amplify absorption. For new users, taking edibles on an empty stomach makes it harder to titrate dosing and can increase risks of overconsumption. With inconsistent food effects, it’s wise to dose more cautiously.
Interactions with medicines, drugs, alcohol
Other central nervous system depressants like alcohol, benzodiazepines, and some antihistamines can strongly amplify the sedating and disorienting effects of THC edibles. This makes it easier to accidentally over-consume while under the influence of these substances. Many medications also interact with THC, so users should consult their doctor.
Sleep and hydration status
Being well-rested and properly hydrated can help buffer users against excessive THC effects from edibles. Fatigue, lack of sleep, and dehydration tend to amplify the intensity and duration of the THC high. Tired or thirsty users should adjust doses accordingly and not consume edibles if severely sleep-deprived.
Environment and activities
The setting in which edibles are consumed influences effects. Uncomfortable and unfamiliar environments can exacerbate reactions to high doses. Engaging in physically or mentally demanding activities while under the influence is not advisable for novice users, as impairment can increase risks. Experienced users who know their limits can better handle themselves despite environmental variables. But most users are best served by consuming edibles in relaxing, comfortable settings without obligations.
Mindset plays a major role in responses to edibles. Anxiety, depression, stress, paranoia, and other mental health conditions can amplify and distort THC reactions. Those in poor mental states should avoid edibles entirely or microdose cautiously. Positive, calm, and optimistic outlooks tend to buffer against negative side effects. Set and setting best practices apply here as well.
Practical tips for dosing edibles safely
Here are some key practical guidelines for consuming edibles safely regarding dosage:
If new to THC, start very low (2.5 to 5 mg) and wait at least 2 hours before gradually increasing dose if needed.
Even if experienced with smoking/vaping THC, start edibles at low doses and work upwards slowly.
Read packaging carefully and follow any dosing guidance. Don’t exceed maximum recommended amounts.
Exercise caution combining edibles with other substances including alcohol, pharmaceuticals, supplements, and caffeine.
Avoid edibles if you need to drive, operate machinery, or engage in demanding cognitive or physical activities.
Have CBD on hand to counteract unwanted THC side effects if needed.
Hydrate well before and after consuming edibles to avoid intensified effects.
Take edibles on a full stomach if prone to over-intoxication while fasting.
Adjust dosing to account for variables like lack of sleep, pre-existing anxiety or fatigue.
Carefully track your reactions at specific doses to determine ideal personal thresholds.
Avoid unpredictable DIY edible recipes – purchase regulated, lab-tested products when possible.
Never eat multiple edibles or redose within 2+ hours of initial ingestion.
What to do if you’ve had too many mg of THC from edibles
If you accidentally over-consume THC edibles, here are some harm reduction tips:
Remain calm and remember symptoms are temporary even if unpleasant.
Get to a comfortable, familiar environment like your home if possible.
Stay well hydrated and try to eat something substantive if able.
Take CBD to potentially counteract some THC side effects.
Apply cold compresses to face, neck, and wrists to lower body temperature if feeling feverish.
Practice mindful breathing exercises, meditate or listen to calming music.
Lie down in comfortable clothing in a dark room until effects diminish.
Avoid mixing in other substances or taking medications.
Contact emergency services if experiencing prolonged vomiting, chest pain, paranoia, or other concerning symptoms.
Overdose experiences can be very unsettling but try to remind yourself the feelings are transient. With supportive self-care and time, the excessive high will pass. Be especially careful with dosing next time and consider lower amounts. For severe or persistent unwanted effects, seek medical assistance.
FAQs about edible dosing guidelines
What’s the difference between THC and CBD dosing amounts?
THC produces the classic cannabis high and has more potential for adverse reactions at higher doses. CBD lacks the same intoxicating effects and has a much higher safety profile and dosing ceiling. Most CBD users report optimal effects in serving sizes of 15 to 30 mg. THC edibles are generally dosed under 10 mg per serving for new users.
How long do edible effects last compared to smoking/vaping?
Edible effects take much longer to onset, with absorption starting around 30 to 90 minutes. However, the peak high then lasts 4-6 hours in most users compared with 1-3 hours from smoked/vaped THC. Overly intense experiences feel subjectively longer when edibles are overdone.
Why should I wait at least 2 hours before redosing THC edibles?
It takes time for the THC from edibles to circulate through the liver and into the bloodstream. Redosing too soon stacks extra effects on top as the first dose starts kicking in, increasing risks of accidental overconsumption and negative side effects.
Can you fatally overdose on cannabis edibles?
There are no documented cases of fatal THC overdose, even from edibles. However, excessive amounts can cause severe reactions that require emergency medical treatment in rare cases. Accidental pediatric ingestion also requires immediate medical care.
Should I choose sativa, indica or hybrid edibles?
All major cannabis strains produce similar THC and CBD amounts when used in edibles. The more pressing choice for beginners is selecting indica-dominant options, which tend to have relaxing effects instead of sativa’s more energizing properties.
The bottom line
Consuming cannabis edibles always requires caution, particularly for beginners who don’t yet know their tolerance. While severely dangerous THC overdose is rare, unpleasant psychological and physical side effects from excessive intake are common if proper dosing guidelines aren’t followed. Go slow, follow packaging directions, and adjust amounts carefully over time to determine ideal serving sizes based on your individual chemistry and sensitivity. It’s always better to err on the side of too little rather than too much THC when trying edibles. With some knowledge and self-control, edibles can be enjoyed safely at comfortable levels by most users.