Everyone has heard the story of the person who tries cannabis edibles for the first time, eats one gummy, then upon feeling nothing, eats the whole pack and then experiences what many call a “bad trip.” Intense motion sickness, spinning walls, feelings of paranoia, as well as nausea can all be experienced when one consumes too many or too much. If you’re careful, however, with the correct dosage edible cannabis is one of the safest and easiest forms of cannabis consumption. This article seeks to explain the connection between smoking cannabis and tolerance to edibles.
According to this article (1) by the LA times,
“When smoked, THC reaches the bloodstream rapidly after being absorbed by the lungs. With edibles, the liver metabolizes the THC — a much slower route. It can take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to start feeling the effects, which tend to be stronger and last longer compared to smoking or vaping.”
The article also states that frequent marijuana use may have increased tolerance to cannabinoid compounds. So if you smoke a lot, your tolerance will definitely increase, which means you will need to smoke more to feel the effects of THC/CBD etc… So does this affect your ability to perceive the effects from edibles? The article has a diagram which states that beginners can comfortably use under 10mg of THC per edible, those with some experience may use as much as 10mg per edible. Experienced and regular users of THC may need as much as 20-30mg to feel the effects, with edibles in the 80mg + range being considered (by this article,) to be “too strong.” Many edibles are available on the market today, but consumers should exercise caution when trying new products as some are significantly higher in THC content than what is considered a comfortable dose for a beginner.
Beginners only need a small amount of THC because they are not accustomed to the effects and therefore they will be experiencing something new at the same time as feeling different, which can be a very intense experience. If, however, you consume cannabis regularly, you will find that your tolerance increases. If you start out with edibles, then switch to smoking, and go back to the original edibles, the effects of those same edibles will be less intense because your tolerance will have increased, if you are consuming cannabis regularly. Some people take ‘tolerance breaks’ in order to renew the effects of THC and CBD (as well as other cannabinoids) on their system.
Healthline.com (2) states that if you have limited or no tolerance to THC, that you should start your journey by trying out something under 2.5mg of THC, whereas someone with a medium tolerance should take something around 10mg, and those with high tolerance something in the 30mg range should suffice. It is easy to determine your tolerance levels based on how often you consume cannabis.
In a given week, if you smoke cannabis 0-1 times/week, you are low-to-zero tolerance. If you consume cannabis 2-5 times/week you may be considered medium tolerance, and if you smoke cannabis 6-7 times/week you may be considered high tolerance. However, someone who smokes a lot, 5 times a week, compared to someone who smokes a very small amount 6 days a week, the ‘smaller amount’ person may still be less tolerant to the effects, and should proceed with caution using the recommended dosage. Use your best honest judgement when determining your own tolerance, as it is different for everyone.
As no one can predict how an edible is going to turn out, it is best not to exceed the recommended dosage, even if you consider yourself tolerant to the effects of THC/CBD. When someone exceeds the recommended dosage, it is not a health concern, but you may be quite uncomfortable and not enjoy the experience. Always read the package before you consume any cannabis product.
Tripsafe.org (3) also has a handy chart to help you determine your tolerance as well as the dosage amount. It seems like roughly 25-30mg is the recommended amount for those with a high tolerance, though some may require even higher amounts of THC in order to feel the effects. The consensus seems to be that if you are a daily smoker, you have a high tolerance and need at least 25mg to feel an edible. They also take 30-60 minutes to kick in (generally) unless you ingest them sublingually (under the tongue, such as lollipop/hard candies, sprays, tinctures or oils.)
Globalnews.ca (4) states that it’s a very different experience when one consumes edibles as they are metabolized in a different system, which leads to a different type of high – a body high. This is opposed to the heady, euphoric high one experiences when smoking cannabis. This difference is due to the fact that the liver “…turns the THC into a somewhat different chemical, 11-hydroxy THC.” It also states a cautionary warning – edibles should be purchased from a reputable source. There are many options available, but often the content varies on a per edible basis. Some edibles may have less or more THC than what is stated on the package. You may believe you have a high tolerance because your high THC edible didn’t feel like anything, but it’s possible it may not have contained as much THC as the package said it did. Look for government approved packaging for a more consistent product.
In general, the more you smoke, the higher your tolerance. The higher your tolerance, the more THC you’ll need in an edible to “feel,” it. Beginners should start small with a 2.5-5 mg dose, while more experienced users can attempt 10mg, 25mg, or more, if they are comfortable with the effects. Some stores have products that are not tested and therefore the THC content is questionable, the edibles you purchase may have indeterminate levels of THC. In a bag of “grey market” edibles, one single gummy may have literally all the THC in the bag. This uneven distribution may lead inexperienced users to take more than they wanted. Be careful when you measure your dose to avoid taking too much an experiencing an uncomfortable high.