Respect the Effect! Chicago’s Edible Etiquette 101

"The key is to enjoy edibles safely so you can keep the good times rolling instead of sending you off the deep end."
How to consume edibles safely in chicago

Chicago’s weed scene is brand-spanking-new. If you’re like the majority of residents (and tourists), there’s a good chance that you’re still pretty green when it comes to cannabis in its many forms and how to use it safely. One major area of frustration involves edibles.

Let’s be real, we’ve all seen the memes. It’s like as soon as you start wondering when the edibles are going to finally kick in, they punch you in the face and knock you on your ass. Some people manage just fine, but ask anybody in any legal state about their first experience with edibles. Most of the time, the experience wasn’t positive; it was an intense, paranoia-fueled misadventure and may have turned them off of edibles altogether. “You took too much, man! You took too much!”

Luckily, with proper guidance, edibles are great. They offer a different type of high, they’re easier to dose and they last much longer. The key is to enjoy them safely to keep the good times rolling instead of sending you off the deep end. Here’s everything you need to know about edibles, how they work, and how to enjoy them safely.

What are edibles?

Plain and simply, edibles are cannabis-infused foods and beverages. You can infuse just about anything you can eat or drink with cannabis using THC-rich hash oils or distillate. Edible makers simply add these concentrates to foods like gummies, candy, cookies, ice cream, or brownies or add it to beverages like soda, coffee, tea, or lemonade. Just about anything can be made into an edible, even obscure things like barbeque and buffalo sauce, gravies, and anything that contains butter or cooking oil.

The potency levels of the edibles will depend on how potent the hash oil or distillate was. They can be made with THC only, CBD only, or a combination of both THC and CBD in various potency levels ranging from 100mg-1000mg or more. Normally, edibles are sold in 100mg packages. Inside the package, the edible will usually break into pieces for a clean, consistent dose based on the total milligrams of cannabinoids inside. For example, a 100mg package of gummies will normally contain 10 gummies, each one containing 10mg to make for a total of 100mg per package.

Why are edibles so intense?

Edibles have a bad reputation for being intense when in reality it’s often a user-error. Many people assume an edible high will feel like the high you get from smoking the stuff, but edibles are processed within the body in a much different way.

When you smoke flower, you inhale the THC through your lungs where it is distributed throughout the body via the circulatory system once pushed through the lungs. It enters your bloodstream nearly instantly, carrying oxygen and THC through your blood and to your brain where it causes the high. Within a few heartbeats, the THC makes it to your brain. Since this process is so quick, it tends to be short-lived. You’ll peak from hitting a bowl after about 15 minutes and you’ll stop being high altogether after an hour or so.

On the other hand, we have edibles which go through a different process altogether. Since edibles don’t enter your lungs, they don’t make it to your system immediately. In fact, edibles have to be digested before you’ll feel the effects. Until the cannabinoids are metabolized in the liver, you won’t feel the effects. Once it’s metabolized, it can travel into your bloodstream and to your brain, causing the high feeling. This process takes MUCH longer than getting high from smoking. Edibles take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2+ hours to kick in. The benefit is that the effects last longer than the effects of smoking, lasting anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on how much you ate.

With that said, something else happens that changes the high altogether. You’ll notice that the high from edibles feels more unique, foggy, and psychedelic whereas smoking is a much lighter effect. Since edibles go through the digestion process, the structure of the THC changes. In the liver, THC changes from delta9-THC to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is much more potent than the standard sort and promotes a more powerful body high and a psychedelic mental effect.

For a lot of people, this can be too intense, which is why safety should always come first. Safety is the difference between a fun experience and a nightmare experience.

How can you avoid having a bad experience with edibles?

Bad experiences with edibles are caused by a variety of reasons. Even though they are more potent and easier to dose, the long-lasting effects and the time it takes to kick in can make for a bad experience under different circumstances. For example, if you take too much, you can put yourself in for hours of panic and paranoia. If you’re impatient, you may double your dose and end up in the same situation when the separate doses kick in at the same time.

When you smoke cannabis, you feel the effects instantly. Even if you hit it too hard and get anxious, you’ll peak and it’ll pass within 15 minutes. This is known as immediate feedback. With smoking, it’s easier to gauge our tolerance and overall experience to stay in control. If we don’t feel high enough, we can take another hit. If we feel too high, we can wait a few minutes for the effects to pass.

On the other hand is edibles. Edibles are a lot more difficult to dose since all of our bodies digest things differently. Some people have fast metabolisms, others don’t. Some have special enzymes in their stomach that make it so the dose needed to achieve even a mild high would make another person high for days. With that said, we all process THC at a different rate. Even though the dose in the products themselves are consistent, it’s harder to accurately dose an edible as a newbie.

The perfect dose will be different for everyone, too. Most people are good with 10-20mg while others need more 500mg or more. Some people only need 2.5-5mg to feel good.

Say you and your friend both took an edible at the same time and in the same amount. Your friend may feel the effects within 45 minutes while yours won’t kick in for an hour and a half. You may feel obligated to eat another dose since your friend is high and you are not, but that’s where the trouble starts. Doubling your dose will make your high twice as intense since they’ll both kick in at the same time. The high becomes twice as intense and may ultimately turn you off of edibles forever, because it’ll feel like a bad mushroom trip full of anxiety, paranoia, and general discomfort.

To be safe with edibles, you MUST start with a small dose, wait plenty of time, and gradually increase your dose over time. Start with about 5 milligrams and work your way up until you know what your sweet spot is. There is no harm in taking it slow, but there is harm in being uncomfortably high from impatience. Here are a few other tips.

  • The best dose for beginners exploring edibles for the first time is 5-10mg depending on your body weight.

  • Start low (around 10mg) and slowly increase your dose until you find your sweet spot.

  • The perfect dose is different for everyone.

  • Wait at least 3 hours before taking another dose if your first dose didn’t affect you. Don’t get impatient!

  • Let the edibles run their course before taking more. It can take up to 12 hours to stop being high from edibles.

  • Eat edibles right before eating a meal to make them kick in faster

  • Food doesn’t soak up edibles like it soaks up alcohol. If you eat food, you’ll kick your digestive system into gear again and reamplify your high.

TLDR; If you’re just getting started with cannabis, learn from the best with Chi High Tours. Our curated tours are designed to teach you more about cannabis AND Chicago while helping you explore new products safely.