We’ve all seen it happen or experienced it ourselves: the debilitating effects of consuming too much cannabis. You may chuckle about it in retrospect for years to come, but literally crawling to the couch — if you are even able to move your limbs — is not fun. It is our responsibility to always properly dose ourselves and our guests, and that can get complicated. I have found that like altitude sickness, tolerance has nothing to do with body weight or size. It also has nothing to do with how much cannabis you smoke or how often you may take other mind altering substances. Consuming cannabis stands alone, and it can take you by surprise.
Naturally it is best to begin with small amounts to see what your body can tolerate. For example, let’s say that eating edibles is new to you. At your local dispensary, you see a nicely packaged and delicious looking candy bar so you take it home to try. On the label it says something like “180 mg” but what does that mean? The responsible consumer would look at the details on the back and figure out how many milligrams per square of chocolate, for example, and dose accordingly. The irresponsible, or perhaps simply hungry person with a big sweet tooth, will consume the whole thing and be in outer space for several hours.
Accidents happen. I remember once being given a package of some delicious salted nuts. I ate a few one evening and it was super pleasant. So I tried again, ate the same amount, but was zonked out. I figure the reason was that the cannabis, which was in the roasting oil and spices, was not evenly delivered throughout. It must have been three times as strong the second time, so I learned a lesson there. Same goes for medicated popcorn.
More often, it is at house parties that people may stumble into eating too strong a dose. Last weekend at a gathering, someone whipped up some yummy bhang — an Indian cannabis milkshake that can really pack a wallop. There was a small sign, written in plain ballpoint pen, that said STRONG, but that was it. There were no instructions for proper dosing, just a stack of full-sized paper cups. When people are partying and they see something and go for it, it tastes good, they do a little more. Or else of course, there is the classic mistake: you eat a little bit that seems reasonable, a half hour later don’t feel anything so you eat about twice as much that time, and now you’ve had a triple dose… and start to come on. Well, all I can say is, get comfortable and hang on, it’s going to be a few hours of a ride.
So what do you do as a host or a guest, or just yourself at home alone, to avoid cannabis edible meltdown? Obviously, first and foremost, is stay aware. If someone brings a dessert to a dinner party, and they are the notorious stoner in your circle of friends, you might ask if it is “special” or not. When you have tasty-looking edibles around, it is up to you to let others know. It’s is all about signage at a party, or even on your counter at home. Really, flashing lights might work. People can be blind when it comes to wanting something that looks delicious.
Make your signs bright and obvious and include a clear dosing recommendation, such as: each 2”x 2” square of cake is 25 grams or 1 small cup is very strong – BEWARE and then put out some small Dixie cups, for example. In fact, I recently made a mistake and wrote twice the amount of cannabis in each serving of a desert at a party, and it was perfect. That way, the people who were hesitant, or rookies, only ate a small piece, and were sure not to get too stoned. Likewise, the more hardcore daredevil types (there’s always at least one at every party, right?) will think they are eating a lot more than they actually are, but don’t get too high. If your guests are driving home that night, do not feed them edibles as they are walking out the door. As I said before, please BE AWARE.
Now, because it may happen to you or a friend, what are the antidotes to cannabis edible meltdown? There are some tricks, but probably the hardest trick of all is actually remembering what they are when you might need them. One possible remedy is to ingest some high-CBD cannabis, preferably in a pill form, but you may not have that around. I can’t recommend any sort of cure, I am far from being a medical doctor, only a long-time stoner who has seen it all around cannabis. Some people (like musician Neil Young) rely on black pepper, others on pine nuts and pistachios, some advise eating or drinking oranges and lemons, including the rinds. Relaxation techniques and meditation are also recommended to reduce a person’s heart rate and curb any panic attacks. Mostly, try to get cozy and remind yourself that THIS TOO WILL PASS.
When you have returned to your body, or watched your friend return to their body, hopefully you will have learned some lessons. First of all, always tell people through words or signage that cannabis was included in the recipe. Also, tell them the recommended dosage (and maybe even a little less just to be sure). Keep the list of possible antidotes around your house somewhere you will remember to look. Remember to stay calm, eat some food when you are able to help come down, and breathe deeply. Perhaps, however, the most important lesson of all is that “this too will pass.” Once learned and realized, this lesson can be applied to just about any uncomfortable situation you encounter in the future. You will always be able to remind yourself that, if I could pull myself out of that cannabis edible meltdown, I can all myself out of anything! And yet another way that cannabis is our sage teacher.
Have you ever over done it on edibles? Tell us your stories.