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A Beginner's Guide to Ingesting Marijuana

(Dedicated with Love to Maureen Dowd)

A Beginner's Guide to Ingesting Marijuana

WAIT FOR IT If you’re sitting there, waiting for your high 
and thinking, “Maybe I didn’t take enough…” STOP.

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Last month, New York Times writer Maureen Dowd traveled to Colorado to investigate the state's new commerce in legal marijuana for recreational use. She wound up lying paralyzed in a hotel bed while locked in a psychological staring contest with the grim reaper (or at least someone in a very convincing grim reaper costume). The cause of Dowd's morbid paralysis: just a few nibbles of a marijuana-enhanced candy bar she'd gotten at a Denver dispensary, the surprising strength of which led to widespread discussion of the dangers of ingesting pot.

These dangers are real. Yes, Maureen Dowd could've done more to investigate proper dosage, and yes, the clerks who supplied her with the multi-dose candy bar could've done much, much more to adequately serve the needs of their customer. But until the day comes when marijuana sellers take proper responsibility for the experiences of their customers*, and/or personal marijuana dosages are as ingrained as those of coffee and alcohol, how to enjoyably experience edible pot is something all users must figure out for themselves. Here are some tips.

Know What You're In For

Eating pot is very different than smoking it, with an edible high taking up to 90 minutes to hit and lasting much longer than a smoking high. Edibles typically give three to four hours of peak stonedness, compared to an hour or two from smoking. If you're looking for a quick-hitting high that's gone in a couple hours, stick with smoking.

Figure Out Your Dosage

In the past, getting a precise dose of edible pot was complicated, if not impossible. Previously, edible marijuana popularly took the form of pot brownies, in which the THC followed the butter, to be spread among the batch willy-nilly: One brownie might be weak, another could be strong, and who knows the strength of the pot that went into the butter in the first place? But thanks to advances made in the medical marijuana sector, getting a precise dosage of edible THC is now totally doable.

Case in point: medicated gummy bears, each one of which is infused with exactly 10 mg of THC and packaged in bags containing 10 or 25 bears. Thus are customers given precise buildings blocks to construct their preferred high.

Think of 10 mg of THC (i.e., one medicated gummy bear) as one serving—say, a single shot of espresso. Some people like double espressos. Some like quadruple espressos. Some have the smallest sip of an espresso and stay up all night pooping. I can't tell you how to feel about this espresso metaphor, I just want you to understand the math:

10 mg THC = "one serving" (particularly for new users).

HOWEVER! Even within this precisely dosed world, there are vast differences in experience. A friend of mine—a non–pot smoker—eats just the feet off a single gummy bear and goes somewhere sweet and happy and totally navigable. Another friend, an occasional pot smoker, eats two bears and does the same—but the time she tried three bears, she crossed over into over-stonedness. A friend who is not a pot smoker impatiently ate five bears and spent an entire night having what she described as "rolling orgasms." The average pot smoker typically gets a good, strong, memorable experience from three to four bears. Start with one and build up.

Be Patient

This cannot be stressed enough, especially since "getting high" is not typically an endeavor associated with careful impulse control: Nothing will send you toward the hell that swallowed Maureen Dowd faster than overdose-by-impatience. Whatever size of dose you decide upon, it will take roughly one hour to hit. So if you're sitting there, waiting for your high and thinking, "Maybe I didn't take enough..." STOP. Make sure you've waited a full 60 minutes before you even consider upping your dose. Set a timer. If you forgot to set a timer when you first ate your dose, start the full 60-minute countdown as soon as you remember. Not 50 minutes. Not 55 minutes. Not 59 minutes. Sixty fucking minutes. Don't let impatience send you to a hell of your own stoned making.

Have Fun!

Beyond all the above warnings lies the fact that, in terms of ease of use and duration of effect, edible marijuana is a total dream, perfect for rock concerts, sporting events, cultural festivals, the cinema, high-school reunions, nature hikes, weddings, funerals, Bumbershoots, and any other place you want to be high for several hours straight without having to duck somewhere for a puff. (And if you're a parent, hide your medicated gummies like they were loaded guns—kids are designed by God to eat any candy they find anywhere.) recommended

* I’m not talking about anything huge, just a pot-store equivalent of a food server saying, “Hot plate.” It’s in a business’s best interest to send customers away happy, not psychotic and burnt, and hopefully marijuana capitalists will implement industry-wide standards ASAP.

 

Comments (40) RSS

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Chelydra_serpentina 1
Also hide edibles from your PETS.

My friend is a vet tech at a large clinic (not in WA or CO), and a couple of times a month someone will bring a dog in because "It's acting all weird and shit," and when the vets/techs try to take a history, they get some "umm"s and a lot of looking at the floor.

Actually, don't just hide your edibles, hide your bag of bud too, because chances are a dog will think it's either food, or a chew toy, or some amazing combination that's more delicious than dried pig snouts.
Posted by Chelydra_serpentina on July 9, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
2
I'm a long time pot smoker (50 years) and I've NEVER had any of these outlandish experiences that are being discussed. I basically just write off Dowd's account as an outright lie, told to get page clicks for her employer.
The ONLY effect I've ever had from eating "too much" pot is a long nap. The only effect I've ever had from smoking "too much" is to "smoke myself straight." At some point, the actual high goes away and is simply replaced with lethargy, which, again, is simply "treated" with a nice nap.
Posted by porsadgai on July 9, 2014 at 10:45 AM · Report this
3
Long ago, in the early 1970's, my boyfriend and I had gone running, then stopped at some friends' house. They had made pot brownies, so we ate a few each, not knowing to wait for the response. The pot back then wasn't too good, but we got really high and very sick, eventually getting relief via vomiting.
But lately, with the vastly improved weed and processing, something like the different tinctures offered are very good for easing into a high. They come in varieties such as Sativa and CBD. You can spike your lemonade or just put some drops in your mouth. Then be patient...
Posted by betsio on July 9, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Godzilla1916 4
God, I love this social experiment being conducted in your great state, pave the way for us closet stoners in OR; besides the Stranger just being so medicated with pot related reporting, I'm reminded once again the limits of my own comfortably numb limits.
Posted by Godzilla1916 on July 9, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 5
I think you're being terribly irresponsible by recommending virgin stoners go to Bumbershoot, concerts, sporting events, etc... If they guessed too high on their comfortable initial dose they're going to be very unhappy to be surrounded by loud noises and strangers.

Kids, try drugs in a safe and comfortable space.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on July 9, 2014 at 7:14 PM · Report this
David Schmader 6
5: I meant that paragraph as advice for those who've figured out their personal edible dosage, but I can see how it's unclear. Everyone: Listen to dwightmoodyforgetsthings.
Posted by David Schmader on July 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM · Report this
Betsy Ross 7
Indica vs. Sativa is a big factor also. Personally, Indica makes me anxious, Sativa makes me happy.
Posted by Betsy Ross on July 10, 2014 at 11:20 AM · Report this
8
@7: hell yeah. The only time I tried a pot brownie, it made me cry all day. I'm guessing sativa would have a better effect, but I'm not willing to try, just in case they do all affect me the same way.
Posted by originalcinner on July 10, 2014 at 11:27 AM · Report this
9
@2 Surprise - not everyone responds to marijuana in the same way. Getting too high can happen for many people. Some can smoke pot all night and be fine, you seem to be in this group. Not that hard to understand that a pyschoactive drug affects people differently.
Posted by deign_to_say on July 10, 2014 at 11:28 AM · Report this
10
Thank you! I've always wanted to try this, and smoking has never appealed to me, but edible dosage is so variable. This is concise and sensible, and I appreciate it.
Posted by FranFW on July 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM · Report this
11
@2 - Your experience is your experience. I was a regular smoker in the 60s and 70s and then moved to a place where I had no connection. Got completely out of the routine, didn't smoke again until the late 90s. The strength of the weed then available was orders of magnitude higher than what I'd smoked in the 70s and basically kicked my butt into the next county. If you come at shit like that from a virginal standpoint, it's going to be even worse, and the way you (who have been smoking all along and keeping up with the increase in strength)react to today's weed is nowhere near the way Dowd and I react. I'm not defending Dowd's writing style, or her supplier's lack of instruction/advice, but if I had eaten however many tiny bits of a brownie I'd be reeling, too -- not necessarily paralyzed with fear, but certainly well out of it. Hybridization: the modern argument for Darwin's theory.
Posted by Calpete on July 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM · Report this
12
"Maureen Dowd ended up paralyzed in a hotel bed in a staring contest with the grim reaper"

I heard one time a stoner injected so much pot that he thought his baby was a glass of orange juice and tried to drink it.
Posted by GermanSausage on July 10, 2014 at 11:30 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 13
don't start with edibles. just fucking smoke a joint. pussies.
Posted by Max Solomon on July 10, 2014 at 11:46 AM · Report this
14
I eat edibles all the time, and it often takes me closer to 2 hours before I feel the full effects - it varies some depending on the product or if I have it before/after eating, but my general rule of thumb is to wait two hours before having more, especially when trying a new edible. I am 5'9, M, 170# & in good shape - regularly have edibles (most weekends, not everyday!), not a total pothead - prefer to feel good, but still be able to function rather than turning into jello on the couch, unable to hold a conversation.
Posted by fad on July 10, 2014 at 11:51 AM · Report this
15
In 1994 I was with a guy at a music festival that did just that, ingested WAYYYY too much, because he was totally impatient.

He lay in a near-coma for about 6 hours, and was white and sweaty.. Totally terrified. I don't think that's an overstatement at all, apparently some people get The Fear.

But, it's worth remembering that nobody ever died from a pot overdose.
Posted by Chandira on July 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM · Report this
16
Anecdotally, a decent dosage of CBD with minimal THC will calm someone suffering from an anxiety attack from too much THC. 30-100mg. CBD is the other most significant cannabinoid in marijuana, and moderates the effects of THC. Caps containing ~14-28 mg CBD and minimal CBD are available in the "medical" MJ market.
Posted by hellbillygeek on July 10, 2014 at 12:23 PM · Report this
Rev. Syung Myung Me 17
Honestly, if Mo Dowd came into your dispensary, wouldn't YOU be all "Oh yeah, you want edibles. Ahh, just eat the whole thing. Have two, they're small."
Posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me http://kittysneezes.com on July 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Simone 18
The husband of a teacher of mine at a local college was prescribed some MJ and the both decided to partake in eating a cookie over a weekend. No one, not doctors or whoever handed them the MJ, told them what a proper amount to eat was. They both ate a half a cookie each and had a bad weekend.
Posted by Simone on July 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM · Report this
19
I eat the edibles, I take small amounts for my autoimmune. I will say Ms.Dowds
experience is very real- I love the low dose effect but in my advancing years cannot handle the super thc stuff- calling people pussies is just stupid as I have seen lifelong smokers in similar states.Edibles can outlast a nap as well, just go easy, find your happy place by going forward incrementally and repeat exact dose- it's nice to be set for a few hours and can put you in a happy happy place
Posted by Headlikeahole on July 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM · Report this
20
You see a lollypop or this innocent looking pile of gummy bears and you don't think "high dosage delivery system". If you're a beginner, smoking or vaping is a whole lot easier to control. It hits right away so you can tell when to stop.

Think of edibles as akin to a roller coaster--once you're on the train, you're taking the ride, like it or not.
Posted by Westside forever on July 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 21
This is super helpful.

I haven't tried edibles since pot brownies back in the 1970s. I knew that today's pot is way stronger than 1970s pot, but had no clue as to how to determine the "right" amount of an edible. Dowd's experience made me nervous. She's an idiot, but I'd probably have eaten the whole candy bar myself, not knowing any better. I've eaten whole candy bars my entire life.

Knowing that simple formula: 10mg = 1 dose, is perfect. And the 1 hour delayed high is good to know too, especially when I've been used to a much quicker high from occasionally smoking it.

Best practical advice I've read all year. Thanks David!
Posted by Reverse Polarity on July 10, 2014 at 12:53 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 22
in addition to edibles you find at the dispensaries you'll find cookables - loaded oils and butters - coffees and powders that go in coffees, teas and other assorted beverages, that may seem easier to gauge but are actually harder to control. dave's advice is applicable here.
and yesterday i put something called 'canna bull', packaged like a ' 5 hour energy drink ' in a 20 ounce strawberry lemonade that i used to refresh me at a farmer's market. caffeine and cannabis, what could go wrong ? the ensuing panic attack was brief but real. once i got my bearings back it was all rainbows and unicorns. so yeah. go slow til you know.
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on July 10, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Report this
brandon 23
Seriously about keeping them away from kids. Keep them away from 65 year old retired mail worker uncles who never smoked/ate pot too. Mine dove into my moms basket of 10 dose tootsie rolls. He slept for 18 hours, had cotton mouth something fierce, couldn't stand, barely spoke, and was dizzy afterward.

It was fuckin' funny as hell though.
Posted by brandon on July 10, 2014 at 1:13 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 24
@19: they're not pussies because they can't handle edibles. they're pussies because they don't want to smoke. because lung cancer.

no one ends up curled up in a fetal position from a joint. maybe from a bong hit though.
Posted by Max Solomon on July 10, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
25
@14. Agreed, one hour is not enough sometimes. I've had it take nearly two hours to kick in as well. I think this guide doesn't go far enough in warning people of the strength of edibles.

Please pot virgins, take a puff or two of a vaporizer first if you're worried about smoking! Just because it's in the shape of a sweet little teddy bear or candy bar doesn't make it innocuous. Start slow.

Lastly, I am surprised by the number of people that are wanting to try pot now just because it is legal. I don't understand that. Maybe we could get an article about those people, Stranger?
Posted by deign_to_say on July 10, 2014 at 1:45 PM · Report this
Samuel Danger 26
It should be mentioned that Dowd's fatal mistake was curling up in bed. When you get too high, just walk around or take a bike ride, jog, SOMETHING. If you just sit or lie down you become a victim to the high, one needs to do some sort of activity to relieve the anxiety. We've all been there #Freedaweed
Posted by Samuel Danger on July 10, 2014 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 27
I mean, I know I'm just piling on at this point, but don't be an idiot @2. Why on earth would you think that too much pot affects you in the exact same way it affects everyone else?

I've only had the "too much" experience once, and it was enough (and it was from smoking, not from edibles). Smoked too much and, in addition to being too high, got so incredibly, terribly cold -- was kind of terrifying, actually, as I couldn't get warm no matter what I did. I've got a minor circulation disorder that might have contributed, but who knows.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on July 10, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this
brandon 28
@26 eating helps too. It's more effective against a smoke/vape high though
Posted by brandon on July 10, 2014 at 2:43 PM · Report this
29
@26: you very clearly haven't been there and been sent into the zone that Dowd apparently was.

I'm a very experienced drug user and the single worst experience I've ever had was off of one fucking cookie. And yeah I was in a fetal position for hours. Moving, let alone jogging or going out in public, was not possible. Thankfully, I was in the company of some other very experienced users who recognized immediately that I was in total meltdown and were prepared to take care of me.

Also, for god's sake don't ever think about becoming a rock doc, your advice is 180 degrees wrong for many od situtations.
Posted by gnossos on July 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM · Report this
30
@27: weird, I had that sense of being in fucking Antarctica as well.
Posted by gnossos on July 10, 2014 at 2:53 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 31
Before I knew the proper dosage, I once ate a 25 mg truffle. My girlfriend wisely ate only half of another. Then we sat down to watch Star Wars on Blu-Ray.

In about an hour, gravity increased tenfold in my living room. As my cognitive and motor functions spiraled downwards towards coma levels, it took my all to reach weakly across the couch and hold my girlfriend's hand. She was similarly affected by her lower dosage, and later swore that she had seen scenes which don't actually exist in the movie. We totally Dowded ourselves.

So, yeah. Start small and work your way up, folks. Also, order your Gummi Bears from Raccoons Club. They are super nice people.
Posted by kitschnsync on July 10, 2014 at 4:21 PM · Report this
32
I'm apparently very sensitive to edibles- and as such, I am usually very careful about asking the person who made them how much to eat. The last time I ate a cookie, the person who made it totally underestimated the amount of pot in it, and I ended up like Maureen, curled up in bed for 5 hours in the dark convinced that if I fell asleep I would stop breathing. And no @26, I could not "just walk around"... I could hardly move, much less make it more than 10 feet from my bed. The fact that I was able to make it home before the full effects kicked in was miracle enough.

Personally, smoking is the most sensible approach- everything about edibles, from dosing to the time it takes to kick in/wear off, just does not appeal to me.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on July 10, 2014 at 5:35 PM · Report this
33
I wonder how many of these folks every took mushrooms or LSD? It seems to me the same rules apply. Take it and wait. Wait some more. Wait even longer. Talk to the guy who sold it to you because you still don't feel anything -- oh, hold on ... I can't use my phone because it is melting.

But don't take more because you think it is too weak. There is always tomorrow for that sort of thing. It's not the worst think in the world to enjoy the Grateful Dead while sober (they still kick ass). Also, it is good to secure all possessions before tripping and it is good to go with a friend to someplace you like (concerts are great, but some people aren't into crowds or even strangers -- for them, the woods or a friends back yard would be a better choice).

THC is considered by some to be a mild hallucinogenic. But like coffee (a mild stimulant), if you drank 500 cups, you would probably be bouncing off the wall (I know I would). Drugs like mushrooms and LSD are hard to enjoy in a "mild" way. You mind is usually altered in a major way, or you are sober. That isn't true with weed, which is why people assume you can't get really, really wasted. That's not true. You can, its just that most people smoke it, and most people stop before they get that wasted. In that regard, smoking is like drinking beer, while eating is like drinking whiskey. I'm not sure if anyone has overdosed (and died) on beer, but plenty have on whiskey. By the time you feel the first couple beers, you are only on your third or fourth. After the 8th beer or so, your body (if you are a rookie drinker) is starting to reject alcohol, so it is hard to even drink that second six pack. But the whiskey drinker can easily drink several shots without even feeling the first one (the burn on your mouth doesn't mean it is in your system). So, yeah, if you are nervous, get a vaporizer, take your time, and you should have a good time. But even smoking (or vaporizing) has a bit of a lag time (five minutes, but if you want to play it safe, ten).
More...
Posted by Ross on July 11, 2014 at 9:24 AM · Report this
Garfield 34
4 hours! They take 4 hours to hit me. Have patience.
Posted by Garfield on July 11, 2014 at 10:36 AM · Report this
35
Yes yes yes...like another poster requested above, I too would love some interviews with people who only started using cannabis now that its legal. I have been at this for decades, and the only person I ever met that refrained due to illegality worked in a pharmacy. I can understand that a person who works around pharmaceuticals doesn't want to appear willing to break the law with regards to drugs. Most people I have met that do not do weed tried it - and just don't like it. Legality had nothing to do with it in most cases.

Posted by AinWA on July 11, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
36
My advice is if you have a tendency toward anxiety attacks AT ALL, is to go very, very easy....like eating half the recommended amount (or even less if you're just the kind of person who's sensitive to medications/substances in general, like me). And like the poster above said, consider sativa vs. indica.

Also? Keep your benzos close if you have them. They will save your ass (and end the high) almost instantly.
Posted by Let_Love_Rule on July 12, 2014 at 10:19 AM · Report this
37
"Yes, Maureen Dowd could've done more to investigate proper dosage, and yes, the clerks who supplied her with the multi-dose candy bar could've done much, much more to adequately serve the needs of their customer."

No no and no way!

The real story is, Dowd was given a personal tour by the owner of the place she got the candy bar. He told her to only take a couple bites and to wait at least two hours. That info was also on the packaging of the item she bought.

She had all the info she needed. Of course she didn't mention that in her column. She was either a liar or just very dumb.
Posted by rbuzby on July 16, 2014 at 12:13 PM · Report this
38
@31 "Dowded".. I love it. I think that has to be the new word for it.
Posted by Chandira on July 16, 2014 at 3:22 PM · Report this
39
@35, some people have to deal with random (or not random) drug tests at work. Not trying pot because it's illegal could have lost them a job. I'm sure there are plenty of people who no longer have to worry about that now.
Posted by Chandira on July 16, 2014 at 3:27 PM · Report this
40
I ate a 100 mg "BHO Bomb" a few months ago and I swear it was like coming on to acid. It was lots of fun for a while, then I hit the bed and did the zombie for about four hours. Then my wife fetched a pizza and I ate it - methodically - the whole damn thing.
Posted by kbatku on July 18, 2014 at 6:22 PM · Report this

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