Perhaps you decided to shake things up and make some edibles instead of smoking your usual spliff. You happily munched on a brownie, and after not feeling the effects quick enough, you threw caution to the wind and ate some more. Two hours later, after some laughter and fun, the giggles start to subside. Your vision feels like it’s lagging. Anxious thoughts are swirling while your heart thuds in your chest. We’ve all been there; it’s a classic case of an edible freak-out. Whether it’s your first time trying or you’re a veteran smoker, feeling too high for your own good can feel really unpleasant. Here are some tips on how to make the bumpy ride just a little smoother, and hopefully prevent it from happening again.
What are weed edibles?
Edibles are cannabis-infused food products – most commonly brownies or other baked goods – where the cannabis has gone through a process of decarboxylation. This is done by heating it in the oven, and can take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour. There is endless information online providing in-depth instructions on specific cooking times, as you want to ensure that the THC and CBD become activated without burning the weed. Then, the cannabis is ready to be infused into a fat of some kind, often butter or oil. It should be heated on a low simmer for up to four hours and stirred every half hour or so. Finally, it needs to be strained through a cheesecloth or metal strainer, and once it’s cooled to room temperature it is ready to be used in a recipe or refrigerated for up to six months. It may be a time-consuming process, but it is relatively straightforward.
Consuming cannabis in edible form produces a different kind of high compared to smoking. While smoking is pretty instantaneous – the THC enters the lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream – when you ingest edibles it travels to your stomach, then liver. When the THC is metabolised, the body produces a metabolite called 11-hydroxy-THC. This is considered more potent than the delta-9-THC your body absorbs during smoking or vaporising and explains why edibles have a more psychoactive, almost psychedelic effect, and often run the risk of being overdone. Weed edibles also take a lot longer to kick in. It can take anywhere between 30–120 minutes, and take up to four hours for them to hit their peak.
Because of all these factors, the strength of edibles are notoriously difficult to gauge, even if you painstakingly measured the amount of cannabis you put in. The batch of brownies you made might be perfectly tailored to your tolerance needs, but for others, it might not be enough, or worse, it may just send your weed-novice friends into a bit of a spiral. But fear not! There are preventative measures that can be put in place to avoid this, and if that goes out the window, there are ways to keep yourself feeling safe while you ride it out.
Minimising risk factors
Always start small and go slow. Whatever you think you can handle – halve or quarter it first. And be patient! If you’re not satisfied with your buzz you can always eat more later, but for the love of god, wait until the first has fully kicked in. The same cannot be said if you go in all guns blazing and devour three in a go. Once the THC is in your system, you’re in for the long run, and that could be up to 12 hours. It’s meant to be a fun experience! Don’t stitch yourself up.
Before consuming edibles, it’s also best to line your stomach with a good meal first. This may slow down how fast the effects take to hit, but it will also prevent unpleasant side effects from hitting you like a ton of bricks. You wouldn’t have a big night of drinking alcohol without eating first, and the same goes for an edible session.
What to do when you’re too high from cannabis edibles
The most important thing to remember is – you will be alright. Your worst enemy is your mind right now, and nothing is as bad as those anxious thoughts. No, you can’t die from taking edibles, no matter what your THC-soaked brain is telling you. It may sound perverse, but try to use this as a source of comfort while riding out your high – leafie is here to remind you that you’ll survive to tell the tale.
- Talk it out
If you’re alone, find some company. It’s easy to scare yourself silly when you’re alone and feeling out of control, but the comforting presence of a trusted friend, partner, or even a pet may just stop you from going into a full-blown spiral. If you’re with friends, don’t be afraid to speak up. Having moral support provides you with a distraction and gives you someone to talk to. It’s preferable to be with a sober person, or at least someone who isn’t feeling as high and irrational as you!
- Change the mood
Put on a comfort show! Whether it’s a calming David Attenborough documentary, an offbeat sitcom like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or even re-watching Glee for the third time, anything familiar that doesn’t require too much brainpower. There is even scientific research stating that re-watching nostalgic and comforting shows allow us to feel like there is safety and order around us – perfect for someone who’s feeling out of control.
One of the most effective ways to calm down (from weed-induced anxiety or simply the regular kind) is breathing exercises. If you find yourself short of breath and on the cusp of a panic attack, regulating your oxygen intake is a sure-fire way to calm your nervous system down. The 4-7-8 technique is a nice simple one to follow; begin by breathing in through the nose while counting to four, then hold the breath for seven counts, and finally exhale out the mouth for eight seconds. Try and do this for four full breaths to begin with and it should help regulate you while giving your brain something to focus on.
- Have a shower
While the idea of dragging your body into the bathroom might not sound appealing, many people swear by the sobering properties of a shower. A warm, relaxing shower can leave you feeling fresh and relaxed. Cold showers, if you can handle them, have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Whatever the temperature, a change of scenery and the familiarity of something you do most days will help ground you and reduce the high.
- Take some CBD
While it might sound counterintuitive to consume more cannabinoids, CBD has been proven to reduce anxiety in clinical studies. What’s more, in a review published in Frontiers in Psychiatry in 2013, CBD was shown to be effective at counteracting the negative psychological effects of THC. CBD has been shown to reduce brain activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for controlling the fear response in humans, which suggests that it helps to counteract the THC-induced stress response.
By following some or all of these steps, you’ll be back down to earth in no time. Try not to beat yourself up about overdoing it, getting too high on edibles is harmless to your body, and something we’ve all done. When you’re ready, get some rest and don’t be alarmed if you wake up still feeling a little baked. It doesn’t mean you’ll be high forever, but it can take a day or two to shake off the residual effects, especially if you’ve exceeded your tolerance by a significant amount.
Finally, congratulations! A bad edible experience is pretty much a rite of passage for any seasoned stoner, and eventually, you’ll be able to laugh about that time that you got so high you cried.