The Science Behind Why That Brownie Ruined Your Night & Ed’s 10 Edible Do's and Don’ts

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The Science Behind Why That Brownie Ruined Your Night

There is a vast and expanding body of research that supports the broad physiological benefits of responsible cannabis consumption and confirms the numerous effective applications of cannabis medicine. And while clinical research is absolutely crucial to further standardize and understand the mechanisms at play, the fundamental efficacy of medical cannabis is a matter of scientific fact.

Humanity’s trust in cannabis medicine stretches across millennia: Hundreds of thousands of generations of human beings agree — cannabis medicine works. And though there are undoubtedly distinct medical benefits and applications for inhaled cannabis, particularly concentrates, much of the human history of cannabis medicine has been characterized by people ingesting it. Why? Because of cannabis metabolites.

Most cannabis users, even those with elevated tolerances, report that eating cannabis edibles provides a more intense, longer high than smoking or dabbing. The reason for this is simple: Eating cannabis edibles actually does provide a more intense, longer high than smoking or dabbing.

Cannabis Metabolites

 Lemon 3 by  Derby Bakery

Lemon 3 by Derby Bakery

One of the main benefits of edibles over smoking (apart from the obvious health benefits of not setting plant matter on fire and pulling the smoke into your lungs) is that ingested cannabis is metabolized by your liver before entering the bloodstream, which transforms its chemical makeup, producing THC metabolites, namely 11-OH-THC. This metabolite is more potent than regular THC (Delta-9THC), and while it’s created in the body when cannabis is inhaled, the levels of 11-OH-THC can be over 10 times higher when it’s ingested.

The effects of an edible on the human body are different for each individual. It depends on several factors including weight, experience, hydration, recent food intake, and overall liver condition.

Processing cannabis isn’t especially taxing on the liver, so consuming edibles while taking pharmaceuticals isn’t necessarily a no-no — it will depend on the individual’s tolerance as well as the particular medication. Depending on one’s digestive system, it can take up to 90 minutes for edibles to take effect, so always wait a while before consuming more. Use moderation, especially when taking pharmaceutical drugs that cause drowsiness.

CBD edibles can provide many benefits without the intoxicating effects of THC. There are also some people who claim benefits from juicing and consuming raw cannabis, which provides THCa and other raw cannabinoids that won’t cause intoxication. Many incorporate raw cannabis and hemp plant into their diet specifically for this reason — to be able to reap the positive effects and advantages of cannabis without experiencing the high.

Cannabis Dosage Guidelines

Most people find that eating 5 to 20 mg of decarboxylated cannabis provides the desired effects, so the average edible “dose” should probably fall somewhere in that range when producing for the public. If you’re making a tray of brownies at home however, dose it to your personal preferences.

Here’s a list of basic rules to follow for getting the most enjoyment (and the least trouble) from your edible experience.

Ed’s 10 Edible Do’s and Don’ts

1. Pace Yourself

The key to a good edibles experience is the same as the key to good barbeque — “low and slow.” Start with a low dose of 5 to 10 mg of THC and wait at least an hour (the effects can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to kick in, depending on the person) before consuming any more cannabis. Your digestive system processes cannabis slowly, and if you’ve eaten prior to having an edible it can take up to 2 hours to feel the effects. After that time has passed, if you still don’t feel the desired effects, then feel free to eat a little more of your edible.

2. Label Your Edibles

If you make your own edibles (or if a friend shares anything with you), always label and store all infused products properly. Labeling is especially crucial for avoiding accidental ingestion: Cannabis can’t harm you, but accidentally eating a hash- infused granola bar before that big job interview may not work out in your favor.

It’s easy to forget what is and isn’t medicated without labels, and if you don’t know the precise potency, you can at least write “mild” or “strong” on the label — anything that increases your ability to make an informed dosing decision at a later date.

3. When Mixing Bud and Booze, Know Your Limits

When you ingest an edible it goes through your digestive system, is broken down, and then heads to your liver, where THC metabolites are formed. Alcohol is also processed through your liver, and the additional effort of processing both substances at the same time can be too intense for some people. Always practice moderation when you drink, but when you combine alcohol with edibles, make sure you practice even more.

4. Beware of Edibles on an Empty Stomach

Edibles are much more intense when consumed on an empty stomach. That’s not necessarily bad, but you need to make sure your actual nutritional needs are met before piling on cannabinoids. Be sure to eat a solid, nutritious meal before taking your infused edible.

5. Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery (or Any Machinery)

Obviously this means your car, but please consider not operating any machinery at all whatsoever. A bicycle doesn’t qualify as “heavy,” but if you try to ride one in traffic, in the grips of a high-dose edible, your chances of survival are greatly reduced. Just take it easy. Stay in a safe place where you will feel in control at all times. Do not drive, and make your surroundings calm, relaxed, and enjoyable.

6. Do Not Allow Pets or Minors to Access Edibles

If you are a minor, please wait a few years before consuming edibles.

There are worse things in your home that your pets and kids can get into. The chocolate in an infused brownie is more harmful to your dog than the cannabis, and no child, regardless of age or weight, is going to die from eating cannabis. That said, letting kids and pets eat your edibles is socially irresponsible and, let’s be honest, a total waste of good edibles. If you have young children in the household, lock your cannabis products out of reach from little hands or paws.

7. Keep Other Weed-Free Food Handy

Make sure you have something to eat at all times, particularly when you’ve eaten an edible. Hunger can strike suddenly, and it’s best to have a snack and not need one than need a snack and not have one.

8. Try to Stay Hydrated

“Cotton mouth” is a plague no person should have to experience, and like most things in life, the key is prevention. If you stay hydrated from the start, you’ll never experience the shrieking panic and agony of being too parched to speak and too high to get something to drink.

9. Do Not Give People Edibles Without Their Permission

Here’s a golden rule you can apply to your entire life: Don’t do/give things to people without their informed consent — period. Apply this to edibles and you’re good. That means never deceive somebody by giving them infused food without their knowledge or giving them a higher dose than they think they’re getting. It can be psychologically distressing to experience acute intoxication when you didn’t plan for it or aren’t used to it. Don’t be “that guy;” let people make their own decisions about what they want to put in their body.

10. Don’t Panic

Always keep that timeless bit of all-weather advice from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in mind; Don’t Panic. If you feel that you’ve overindulged with your edible ingestion, then you’re already ahead of the game; you’ve recognized the problem. Remain calm, drink water, and try to relax — reminding yourself that you’ll be fine and that this state is temporary usually helps. Find a quiet place where you can lie down, listen to soothing music, or just sleep it off. Some people claim a dab of CBD shatter or certain vitamin formulations can “undo” an intense high, but the only 100% effective method is time.


Learn how to cook with marijuana safely and deliciously. Aunt Sandy’s Cookbook is the official course book for Oaksterdam University.