Dear Nurse Susan,
I was invited to a dinner party and they will be serving food with cannabis in it. I haven’t smoked marijuana for at least 20 years, but I am curious and would like to try it again. I’ve heard that today’s cannabis isn’t anything like what we used to smoke back in the day. How do I navigate this party without making a fool of myself and getting too stoned?
More and more restaurants and private parties are featuring cannabis-infused food. Chefs are pairing different cannabis strains with different foods to complement the terpenes (essential oils) in the cannabis with the flavors in the food. I think it is safe to say that this is the hottest trend in food….now that cronuts are passé. Just as the sommelier knows about wines, the cannabis chef knows about strains and their terpenes.
Usually, a good cannabis chef will know how to adjust servings/cannabis based on the consumer’s sensitivity to cannabis. You are relying on someone else to properly dose your food. Not ideal. Especially since the cannabis today can be very potent. If you are new to cannabis, plan to have a dosage range between 2.5mg – 5mg for the entire meal. This is conservative, and it’s best to go slow at first.
The real issue with newbies and edibles is that it takes some time to feel the effect of an edible. Don’t expect to feel the effects of cannabis for at least thirty minutes and sometimes up to three hours after ingestion. This variance is based on the person, body size, strain, preparation method, etc. This is usually how people get too intoxicated: they eat infused food but don’t feel anything, so they eat more thinking they didn’t get any cannabis. Two hours later the first dose hits, then the second dose compounds the high from the first dose and the person gets extremely uncomfortable, to the point where they seek medical advice. Don’t let this be you!
When edible cannabis goes through the gastrointestinal tract, the liver converts the original form of THC (delta-9 THC) to a much more potent form of THC (11-hydroxy THC). So, today’s already potent cannabis gets supercharged into 11-hydroxy THC with more than double the psycho-activity. Listen to this 911 call of a cannabis over-consumption on edibles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p76AUDt5Jms
So if your goal is to have a good time and avoid the situation on the 911 call above, do your best to make sure you know the dosage in the food you’re eating. Any packaged edibles you get at a dispensary should be clearly marked and indicate the dosage. If they are using words like “approximate” or “use your judgement” it is best to avoid this product. Usually single portions foods are easier to control than a cake that says “cut ¼” for a single portion as the dosage may not be consistent throughout.
When eating meals at a private dinner or restaurant, the chef is usually very cautious and will check with individual diners regarding their experience with cannabis and how high you want to get. Restaurants will often include the dosage on the menu. Most professional chefs tend to be cautious and very concerned for the diner’s experience…but there are some wild ones out there! If new to edibles and the chef doesn’t check with you, don’t be shy and let them know you’re a newbie and to handle you with care. Much better to be safe than sorry.
Typically there is alcohol at dinner and many chefs are fond of providing wine and cannabis pairings. Consuming both is a personal preference as some people like to keep the experiences separate. The first time out you may be better off not drinking if you have concerns about what will happen.
Many restaurants and cafes offer CBD only beverages and edibles. While CBD does not have any psycho-activity and won’t get you high, it can still have an effect. CBD has relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects. While you won’t get high, you may feel bodily sensation of relaxation from ingesting CBD.
The good news is you can dampen the psycho-active effects of THC a few different ways: 1) eat a few peppercorns to get some beta-caryophyllene which blocks the receptors for THC 2) ingest some CBD which also block the receptors, and 3) use some Undoo which is a softgel that is designed to ease the side effects of overconsumption, the cannabis safety-net. Check it out at www.undoo.com.
Finally, unlike opioids, there are no cannabis receptors in the brain-stem which controls respiration and heartbeat, so there is no risk of lethal overdose. You may feel rrrreeaaallllyyy bad and anxious and out of control, but research shows you’d have to consume over five thousand times of whatever you ingested to experience any physically harmful effects. Researchers say you would pass out long before you could consume enough cannabis to have any type of serious event.
So Naïve, I’m sure a fun and tasty evening awaits you. With a bit of caution to go along with your adventurous spirit you should have a wonderful evening.
p.s. If you’d like to check out some top cannabis chefs go to http://www.greenstate.com/food-travel/americas-top-10-cannabis-chefs/