“Hey, come on, come along take a ride/ There's a party over there, that ain't no jive/ It's live, live, it's all the way live/ Don't even have to walk, don't even have to drive/ Just slide, glide, slippity-slide/ Just forget about your troubles and your nine to five/ And just sail on (that's what you do), just sail on/ Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage”—“Fantastic Voyage” by Lakeside
Proper dosing when consuming edible medical cannabis is an important aspect of enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the plant. This is especially true when it comes to pain management, stimulating or moderating appetite and as an adjunct to relieving symptoms like muscle spasms and intestinal cramps.
Taking too little means that symptom relief doesn’t happen in a predictable and timely fashion; too large of a dose can send a patient spiraling—albeit temporarily, very temporarily—through a psychedelic wonderland complete with racing thoughts, high blood pressure and extreme anxiety.
Always erring on the safe side by being conservative with your initial dose seems like the simple solution. Adding hourly self-evaluations and a companion to your trip through the realm of edible cannabis will help ensure that your engagement is positive, and most importantly, truly healing.
That said, here are some simple guidelines gathered together to help make such expeditions totally excellent, dudes.
Keeping in mind that the process of using edibles is a medical regimen, be ready to document your use. A simple pen and pad will do, but you might also consider using a spreadsheet like Excel. Once you’ve worked out these details, then it’s time to select product.
Since, as a first-time user, you’re going to start out with small doses and then slowly and methodically increase them until you’ve established pain-relief parameters, choose a product that boasts either of the following qualities. You could pick out a product that can easily be broken into parts, such as a cookie or brownie. Hard candies and lollipops/suckers do not meet that qualification since they are difficult to break into smaller parts, even with a very sharp knife.
Your other option is to buy a product that is already multi-piece, like a collection of low THC-concentration gummies or hard candies. In either case, your first purchase should amount to between 100 and 200 mg.
That said, 10mg is a totally reasonable starting dose that will get you used to the feeling of being medicated with edibles while giving patients the flexibility to take more if necessary. Don’t start with more than 10mg and be patient if it takes some time to discover your baseline. Make sure to record the time and dosages as you continue to the next step.
Wait for 45 minutes before you begin your self-evaluation. If you feel uncomfortable waiting, smoke a bowl of a mellow indica like Northern Lights. When the appointed time arrives, make observations about your vital signs. Is your heartbeat elevated? Has your blood pressure risen? Are your pupils dilated and do you feel at least a bit euphoric? If your answer is yes, then measure your pain. What is its current level compared to 45 minutes ago? You are at the proper dose if you are comfortable with the answers to both lines of questioning.
If you don’t really feel like you’re there yet, sit back, relax and smoke another bowl of indica. Afterward, take 10 grams more and wait half an hour. You can still take another 5mg, but try not to exceed 25 mg the first night.
And remember to have patience, Mr. or Ms. Patient. It takes time for marijuana to enter your system via ingestion and sometimes you may not feel an effect for over an hour.
That’s why you should follow a rigorous dosing schedule—at least at first, until you are familiar with the plant and its effects—that prevents surprise scenarios that sometimes happen when a patient takes too much at once, particularly on the second round of dosing.
The next night, start at the dosage you ended with the previous evening. You can add to it in 10 to 15 mg increments if you wish, until you feel like you’re properly medicated. On the second night and for the rest of the week, limit your nightly intake to no more than 50 mg.
Reevaluate the situation at the onset of the second week.
Despite the precautions noted above, it’s still possible to overdo it with edibles. Though the symptoms of such may seem cray at the time they manifest, keep in mind that it’s practically impossible to die of a cannabis overdose. That fact, combined with THC’s short half-life as a psychotropic drug means that you will come down safely ... eventually.
Symptoms of this type of experience include feelings of depersonalization and isolation, racing thoughts and generalized anxiety. It’s just like when you got high for the first time in high school, except your parents aren’t around. But you can get help from friends nearby. Talk to and try to engage others, even if it seems difficult. If that doen’t work, find a quiet place to rest and wait it out.
If you don’t feel better within an hour, consider taking a walk, having a large glass of water or even a cigarette, if that’s your style. Remember to keep accurate records of this and other usage experiences, good and bad—this is why it helps to have a friend or partner accompany you on these first encounters.
Once you’ve determined the parameters of your edible use and have experienced what both low doses and relatively high doses (don’t you dare take more than 100mg at a time for the first six months) can do to affect your pain as well as your mental capabilities (edible marijuana has a deleterious effect on muscle coordination, so do not drive after ingesting any amount of cannabis) you will be well on you way to your own fantastic health journey. Happy motoring!