This item describes how to find the right dose for you when consuming cannabis through edibles. If you’re interested to learn how to determine the potency of your newly cooks edible, press here
A disclaimer – before you read the below, I’d like to emphasize this post caters to my fellow canna-geeks. It provides a popular yet scholastic explanation as to the different doses we intake when consuming weed using various methods.
A lot has been discussed about the different effect one gets when digesting cannabis vs. inhaling it. I’ve written a detailed post about the different experience, however, let me just sum it up by saying THC absorbed through the digestive system does tend to create a more substantial impact compared to THC absorbed through the lungs.
While there are valid explanations as to why the different experience occurs, I found that many people have a wrong understanding of the dosage they intake in each medium of consumption.
A typical ‘clean’ joint (i.e. only contains the cannabis flower without added substances such as cigarettes) contains 1 gram of crushed plant matter. Assuming an average strain potency of 15%, the joint has a total of (15%*1,000mg=) 150mg THC. Let’s postulate people typically smoke half a joint in a ‘session’ – they should be looking at roughly 75mg of THC.
If you’ve read the posts about potency and dosing, you know that 75mg of THC is a very hefty dose reserved for the brave explorers and heavy users. A standard edible dose is only 10mg and so there is an apparent dissonance. Do edibles have a 7.5x stronger impact than their smoky counterparts? I’ve seen some cases where people treated their THC intake from smoking as a baseline and decided to explore equal amounts of THC when venturing into edible. This, I should tell you, is an exceedingly bad idea.
How to explain this discrepancy?
When you ingest a serving of edible marijuana you absorb all of the THC in that serving. Therefore, if you’re eating a 10mg THC dose, your brain will receive a visit from all 10 milligrams. However, when smoking, vaping or using a bong, you need to account for the loss of the THC due to heat. Pyrolysis (decomposition due to high temperature) is one factor that may destroy up to 25%[i] of the THC content. Another factor, in the case of cigarettes, is sidestream smoke – the smoke that is released from the end of a burning cigarette or pipe without smoking – which can account for an additional 40%-50%[ii] of the THC.
Therefore, if you smoke the joint we described before you very well may be inhaling a net of [75mg * 1-(0.25+0.5)=] 18.75mg which is much closer to the standard 10mg edible dose.
Vaping offers a middle path as it doesn’t suffer from the sidestream smoke effect. However, research has shown that test users only inhaled 56% [iii]of the THC through vaping.
In short, edibles are, by far, the most effective and precise way to consume THC (or CBD for that matter). This is one of the reasons why medical professionals will typically prefer that method. Below I’ve added a table with the informal standard doses, assuming you use a 15% THC strain
[i] Perez-Reyes M (1990). Marijuana smoking: factors that influence the bioavailability of tetrahydrocannabinol.
[ii] Perez-Reyes M (1990). Marijuana smoking: factors that influence the bioavailability of tetrahydrocannabinol.
[iii] Arno Hazekamp, Renee Ruhaak, Lineke Zuurman, Joop Can Gerven, Rob Verpoorte (2006). Evaluation of a vaporizing device (Volcano®) for the pulmonary administration of tetrahydrocannabinol