A more moderate dose would be around 10 to 15 mg, Dr. Wilson-King says, and a high dose would be upwards of 20 mg. More experienced cannabis users may need to take 20 to 30 mg to get their desired effects, but most people can get what they’re after between 5 and 10 mg, Dr. Tishler says. Ultimately, though, a dose is just a starting point, Dr. Wilson-King says, and it may take some trial and error to figure out the right cannabis products for you.
The product you’re using should clearly say on the label how much THC it contains so you can take the right dose. In most states it’s a legal requirement for cannabis products sold at dispensaries to undergo some kind of formal testing before reaching the consumer. The exact regulations differ from state to state and the industry in general is dealing with issues around inconsistent results from different labs, Leafly explains. But in many states, consumers can look up testing results via a bar code on the product to provide some level of reassurance that it contains what it’s supposed to, Dr. Ward says.
4. Take your first dose in the evening, just in case.
One of the most common effects of cannabis is to make you feel relaxed and sleepy. That can certainly be a plus for many people, but others want to be able to use cannabis to manage the symptoms of a condition—and actually still be able to function.
The first time you try a new cannabis edible product, Dr. Tishler recommends using it in the evening. That way, if you do need to hit the hay, it’s not an issue and you can adjust the dose accordingly next time to make it easier to stay awake. “If you overshoot, then you can go to sleep and not ruin the whole day,” he says.
5. Wait at least two hours before taking more.
Here comes the “go slow” part of that golden rule: Edibles notoriously take a while to start working—sometimes up to two hours. If you’re used to consuming cannabis via vaping or smoking, this might be a challenge. “But if you’re not feeling relief in a few minutes, that does not mean you should take more,” Dr. Niles says.
You might get a little frustrated or bored and be tempted to take more because you assume that the first dose simply didn’t work. Then, of course, the first and second doses kick in and you’re suddenly in way over your head. “Boom—you’re having your after-school special moment,” Payan says.
The THC, CBD, and other compounds in cannabis work by interacting with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. This system, which is composed of different types of cannabinoid receptors throughout the body and the brain, supports a huge variety of bodily functions, including appetite, mood, memory, pain perception, and body temperature regulation. When these systems are overloaded due to, say, eating a bunch of pot brownies, you can feel confused, anxious, dizzy, and nauseous, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. You might also have a high heart rate and can even develop auditory or visual hallucinations at high doses.
But as unpleasant as these effects may be, they’re temporary and unlikely to cause long-term issues. “You can feel like you’re going to die, but you’re not going to die,” Dr. Wilson-King says. Drinking water, taking a shower, practicing deep breathing, and sleeping can make you feel better while you wait for the effects to wear off.
To avoid this issue, the experts SELF spoke to all agree that you should wait at least two hours before taking another dose. And Dr. Tishler even recommends that beginners avoid taking more than one dose in the same 12-hour period. So if you take your first dose at night and don’t feel anything, just let it go and try again the next day.
6. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, get a nonmedicated version of your favorite treat.
With so much variety out there, you are sure to find an edible cannabis product that suits your tastes. And that is definitely a good thing, Payan says, but it can also sometimes make it tempting to eat more of that treat (and the THC it contains) than you’re ready for. Plus, the fact that cannabis can increase your appetite makes it even harder to eat just half of the chocolate bar.
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