How many mg of THC should one person eat?
Well, none, if they want to stay sober. But that’s probably not what you really want to know.
Our guess is that you’re new to edibles, and don’t want to go overboard. Those who smoke or vape weed can take advantage of their body’s automatic warning system; when they get too wasted, they know it’s time to stop smoking or vaping.
Edibles, however, may take an hour or two before their THC takes effect – so it’s easy to ingest way too much. (It’s also easy to consume so little that you won’t get high.) And in most cases, the effects of the THC in edibles will last much longer than a few tokes on a pipe will. A 6-8 hour high is common, and it can last ten hours or even longer if you’ve consumed a lot of the cannabinoid.
That makes proper dosing crucial when you’re munching on a weed brownie or gummy.
Let’s dig into the details.
Why Does It Take So Long For Edibles To Act?
When you inhale marijuana smoke or vapor it goes directly to the lungs, and the THC is absorbed into the bloodstream just seconds later. From there, the THC is carried throughout the body and the effects are felt in minutes. You’re not high enough? Time for another toke. Had enough? Time to put the joint or vape down.
When you consume THC in edibles, though, it’s not that simple. The edible ends up in the stomach, where it has to be digested. Only then is the THC is “freed” and sent to the liver, which transforms it into plentiful amounts of a different and much more potent compound (11-hydroxy-THC, abbreviated 11-OH-THC). Finally, the metabolite is dispersed throughout the body and its effects are felt. Smoking weed, by comparison, only produces a small amount of 11-OH-THC.
As you can probably guess, processing edibles take much longer than absorption through the lungs – and that’s why it can take edibles as long as two hours to take full effect. It’s also why their effects generally last longer. 11-OH-THC isn’t just stronger, it also takes much longer to wear off. Some recreational users may like that; most medicinal marijuana users definitely find it helpful.
Of course, no one is going to take one bite of a pot brownie and then wait a couple of hours to see whether they need another bite to get high. They’ll eat the whole thing, and then wait for the expected effects to take hold.
So knowing how much weed there is in an edible is crucial. Otherwise, you could end up either disappointed or way too high.
That brings us to dosing, and how many milligrams you should consume.
How Much Mg Of THC Is The Right Amount?
If you’re buying your edibles at a dispensary, much of the work has already been done for you. You just have to choose a product that’s pre-labeled with the desired THC level. If you’re making your own, though, the process is trickier.
The “standard” unit of measurement for THC, at least in the eyes of researchers, is five milligrams. It’s also one of the most common THC levels in edibles sold at dispensaries. You’ll also see smaller doses, primarily created for newbies or those with low tolerance levels, and much larger doses meant for experienced users and some medicinal patients.
Here’s a simplified cheat sheet.
- 1mg-2.5mg: A good starting point for those who’ve never tried edibles and aren’t sure how they’ll react or what to expect.
- 5mg: The standard “low dosage” for recreational users.
- 10mg-15mg: The standard doses for users in search of a good-but-not-incapacitating buzz, those with anxiety or depression issues, or those suffering from moderate pain.
- 20mg-30mg: Dosages that will provide much a much stronger high, suitable for experienced users or those with a high tolerance level, patients with more serious pain, or those dealing with severe insomnia.
- 40mg-50mg: Only recommended for those with specific medical issues or those with very high tolerance who want to get completely wasted.
- 50+ mg: Not recommended for anyone except patients with some types of cancer or other extremely serious medical issues.
Most experts suggest that 40mg of THC should be the maximum amount that one person should eat per day.
And since everyone’s body reacts to THC differently, the best advice when trying to figure out the right dosage is “start low, increase slowly.” If you’ve never had an edible before, start with 2.5mg; if that doesn’t deliver the effects you want or need, move up to 5mg the next time – and so on.
Making Your Own Edibles
Many who bake with cannabis have determined the right amount of flower to use by trial and error. Why? Because the actual math can be difficult at worst, inexact at best.
There are several reasons for that.
To begin with, the THC content in each strain – and every batch from the same strain – will be different. Next, some of the THC from your weed will be lost when you decarb it. (You are going to decarb it in the oven before using it, right? You can’t use pot straight from the baggie without first activating the THC via the decarboxylation process, which turns the precursor THCA into psychoactive THC.) Finally, when you’re using the weed to make cannabutter or canna-oil for use in your edibles, not all of the THC will be infused.
There are calculators online which can help with the math, but here are a few guidelines.
- Determine or guesstimate the average THC content for the strain you’ll be using. If it comes from a dispensary, the THC level should be right on the package; if the label lists THCA content, multiply that number by 0.88 to come up with the THC content. Otherwise, look up the approximate THC level for your strain, and adjust for whether you’re using top-shelf stuff or trim.
- When you decarb the weed, you’ll lose some potency. Take your THC number and multiply by 0.88 to get a new number.
- You’ll lose more potency when making the butter or oil. Take the new number and cut it in half. That’s about how much THC (in very approximate terms) will be in your cannabutter or oil.
Here’s an example.
If you have five grams of 20% THC weed, that means there’s a total of about one gram, or 1,000 milligrams, of THC in your supply. When you decarb it, the THC content drops to 880mg (1000mg x 0.88). When you make cannabutter with it, the THC content will be cut by about 50%, making the final number 440mg (880mg x 0.5).
If you want each serving of your edibles to contain about 5mg, you have enough butter to make 88 servings. Or, if you’re using a recipe that calls for a cup of butter, you can do the math to figure out approximately how much THC is in that cup.
As we said, it’s complicated – and now you probably understand why people often resort to trial and error.
Just remember two things: it’s best to start slow and increase slowly, and you don’t want to start with more than 2.5-5mg of THC per serving until you’ve gotten the hang of things.
Or, you can take the easy (and smart) route, and buy your edibles already measured and labeled for THC content.
How Much Mg Of THC Should One Person Eat FAQ
Q: Is there a downside to eating weed instead of smoking it?
A: Edibles have many more pros than cons. Many people prefer them, either because the high lasts longer or because they don’t want to smoke or vape. The biggest issue to be aware of is that edibles take a long time to kick in, so the natural impulse is to eat more and more in an attempt to feel the buzz. That won’t speed things up; it’s more likely to lead to overconsumption of THC and an experience that’s less pleasant than you’d planned.
Q: Is using a dose higher than 5mg or 10mg dangerous?
A: Dangerous isn’t the word we’d use; a dose of weed that’s “too high” for you won’t kill you or send you to the ICU. However, those who aren’t regular daily users could find themselves overwhelmed by a high dose, and they could experience severe anxiety or even a panic attack as a result. Also remember that dosages for homemade edibles are only approximate, so it’s easy to get “too much THC” without even realizing it until it’s too late.
Q: Will using the math guidelines ensure the same THC level in every portion?
A: No, it definitely won’t. It’s virtually impossible to achieve even distribution in a batch, so each portion will always contain a different amount of THC. The best way to “come close” is to mix the batch extremely thoroughly after adding the cannabis, and if the butter or oil has been stored, stir it thoroughly once again before using it.