3 Popular Questions About Marijuana & Edibles Answered

Recently, two police officers in Toronto raided an illegal marijuana dispensary and decided to pocket a few edibles for themselves. They thought it’d be a good idea to eat them while still on duty and made the biggest edibles mistake you can make: Because they didn’t feel anything right away, they ate more. And then more.

And then the cannabis hit them all at once, and they started to hallucinate. So they called for backup and were subsequently taken to the hospital. They’ve now been suspended while the police force investigates the incident.

Cannabis edibles are different from vaping or smoking because the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in edibles has to go through your digestive system and then be metabolized by your liver before you feel any effects. This means that for most people edibles don’t kick in until about 45–60 minutes—and sometimes up to two hours—after consuming.

The rookie mistake those police officers made was not waiting the appropriate time before seeing if they needed to consume more (and also consuming while on duty—definitely not cool, or professional for that matter).

We answer the three most popular questions about edibles. We hope that you learn something new about edibles from these Q&As, and if you’re new to edibles, please always follow the golden rule: Start low and go slow.


Q: The difference between edibles and other forms of cannabis consumption?

_ I’ve found a great deal of luck with edibles to achieve a full eight hours of sleep despite my chronic pain and tendency towards insomnia. We also have a major family history of diabetes and a family member is concerned that edibles are not the best option for me considering my family history. How can I explain to her the differences between the different methods of consuming cannabis and why edibles create a longer lasting and more relaxing effect than vaping or topical products?_

Answer: @kivaerica It’s wonderful to hear that you’re getting the relief you need by consuming edibles. Edibles typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take full effect. It has to work through your digestive system, going through your stomach and then your liver. We recommend that patients enjoy Kiva chocolates, or any other edibles, as a dessert so that the cannabis can process naturally with the rest of your digestive functions. Once it has been processed by your liver it turns that Delta 9 THC into a Delta 11 THC, which can create a more intense and longer-lasting effect.

That’s why edibles are the preferred method for ailments such as insomnia and pain relief. Smoking and vaping have a much faster onset, almost instantaneous, but the effect also wears off quicker. Some patients may find relief from smoking or vaping and then eating an edible for a more even keel effect. Once the smoke has worn off the edible is kicking in and they won’t have to smoke or vape as often. Edibles do produce more of a bodily heavy effect, while vaping is more of a cerebral effect. When you combine the 2 you may get the best of both worlds.

Please remember that there are many different factors to take in account. Every body is different, that’s why we recommend 5mg of THC as a starting dose until you know how it affects you. On a final note, I would recommend a dark chocolate line of products since they have the least amount of sugar.

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Q: How many edibles should I take?

_ I have a pretty high tolerance for smoking, I have been smoking every day for the past few months and multiple times a day. I have never taken an edible before and I have a bag of 500mg sour gummies each infused with 10mg of THC. How many do you think I should take?_

Answer:@andrewvanmd 5-10mg of THC in a whole plant extract is usually a good starting dose. With oral ingestion, the liver will process many of the compounds and create a more psychoactive compound in Delta 11 THC. On a full stomach, try a small dose, wait several hours and if needed increase the dose. Many people overindulge in edibles, experience severe psychoactive effects, get scared and have a bad time. Some even call 911 or go to the emergency room. Take caution with edibles and don’t overdo it! Cannabidiol (CBD) can act as somewhat of an “overdose” remedy in that it will decrease the effects of THC and stretch them out over time. But don’t worry too much, as no one has ever actually died from a cannabis overdose.


Q: Why do edibles make me so groggy? Is there any way to counteract this?

When I consume edibles, it makes me very groggy and out of it the next day. Why is this? Is there any way to counteract this?

Answer: @Perry Solomon, MD Great question. When people start to use edibles they often think that the effect should take place as fast as when they smoke bud or use a vaporizer. With smoking or vaping the effects of the cannabis or oil can usually be felt within a few minutes. Edibles can take between one to two hours to take effect depending on how fast your digestive system works and if you’ve had anything to eat prior to taking the edible.

Sometimes the groggy feeling can result from taking too much of an edible product too close to going to sleep, if you’re using it to treat your insomnia, for example. You may be still feeling the effects of the cannabis when you awaken. Some people think that they should feel some effect in the same time frame as smoking or vaping, and when that doesn’t happen, they ingest more of the edible. The advice of “go low and slow”, essentially to use a low dose and slowly increase it, applies to any cannabis product that you use to treat your medical condition, but especially to edibles for the reasons above.

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Photo credit: Stacy Spensley

If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.


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