3 things to know about edibles to set you up for success

Cannabis edibles for beginners: Photo of people close-up laughing and eating candy.

It’s rare that people have horror stories about using cannabis, but if they do it probably involves the over-consumption of edibles. I’ve been there, but I have also been behind the dispensary counter explaining how to properly dose a product watching the person’s eyes glaze over. It’s just a lot of new information to process: numbers of milligrams, source material, and related instructions. That’s why we put it into writing here—so that everyone can navigate buying, eating, and experiencing an edible without trepidation.

These tips have been helpful in my time buying, selling, and eating edibles—I hope you find this guide to cannabis edibles for beginners useful as well.

Be a smart shopper

Finding the right edible can feel overwhelming with the array of products to choose from and lengthy menus displaying tons of information. The first step to pinpointing the right edible is identifying your preferred experience. When you sidle up to the counter, have some specifications in mind to narrow down options–this will give the budtender an idea of what to recommend.

What amount of cannabis would I like?

Brands label edibles with one package’s dose and the dose per unit (gummy, candy, dropper, etc.). For example, you could be looking for a 100 THC milligram (mg) package or a microdose. The best place to start is 2.5mg, which is anywhere from half to one quarter of most edible units. The right product depends on the preferred experience.

What kind of cannabinoids do I want?

Some edibles solely contain THC, and others contain cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and CBD alongside THC. I prefer edibles with a ratio of 2:1 THC to CBD, and it’s possible you also have a preference. Learn about the different cannabinoids and know what you’d like to explore at the dispensary before you arrive.

Do I have any dietary restrictions?

There are many types of ingestible cannabis products, including tinctures, capsules, baked goods, candies, and drinks. Knowing what ingredients you’d like to avoid can help narrow down the selection. For example, someone eating dairy-free, vegan, or low-sugar diets would want more specialized products.

Do I have an input preference?

From extraction type to edible tech–there is a range of cannabis infusions. Distillate generally contains pure THC with no added cannabinoids while live resin, rosin, and hash offer a full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids. Beginners may not have a preference yet, but it is always a good idea to ask the budtender what form cannabis takes in an edible product.

Asking yourself these four questions before walking into a dispensary could set you up to pick out the perfect edible.

Preparing for the journey

Gummies, hard candies, drinks, and baked goods can be so delicious it sometimes entices people to eat more even though they’ve ingested enough cannabinoids. Avoid eating too much THC by picking up a non-infused munchie similar to the edible. Have a similar flavor and textured snack nearby to offset the urge for just one more 10 mg gummy bear. I recommend picking up fruit and water in addition to the munchie snack–water for the cotton mouth and fruit because it helps me avoid heaviness and lethargy associated with edibles.

Take dosing seriously

Before diving into a delicious cannabis edible, take stock of what is in the package.

  • What does the product look like?
  • How much of it is one dose?
  • What amount is one dose for me?

Titrating is the process of continuously measuring and adjusting to find the correct dosage of a pharmaceutical. This method has helped me find my ideal amount of THC in an edible. Start by eating 2 mg of THC and wait an hour and a half before having more. Effects can happen in 15 minutes or up to one and a half hours, and they will also generally be more intense and longer lasting compared to the effects of inhalation. Eating another 2 mg before the edible kicks in may lead to overconsumption. The titrating process requires a night of research but will provide insight into how much cannabis is appropriate for a specific situation.

Experiencing edible overconsumption doesn’t have to be a right of passage, especially now that consumers have access to precisely-dosed products. Following these steps from buying to eating an edible may help people avoid having their own edibles horror story.


Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.