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Three Beginner Mistakes To Avoid When Eating Cannabis

Headed out West for a little gustatory drug tourism? Here’s how to prevent a bad time.

Three Beginner Mistakes To Avoid When Eating Cannabis
Eating citrus acid found in oranges can reduce the effects of THC. [Photo: Flickr user Aurimas]

You’re visiting a friend in Colorado, or Oregon, or California, and they offer you something you haven’t eaten since college: a marijuana edible. Maybe it’s something they’ve cooked themselves, or maybe it’s store-bought. What could go wrong?

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Three things, probably:

1) You spend a lot of money and get nothing.

Many people spend hundreds of dollars on marijuana only to screw up the extraction process.

“When cooking with weed, it is very important to use fat (oil, butter, milk) because THC is fat soluble and not water soluble,” says Matt Gray, cofounder and CEO of The Stoner’s Cookbook. “If you want good extractions, you have to put the time and attention into following the proper steps.”

Most recipes you’ll find leave out the most important step, says Gray.

“The first mistake many people make is they forget to decarboxylate their cannabis. A lot of home chefs skip this important step, and put the plant directly into the oil or butter.

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Decarboxylation removes the CO2 molecule from THTA, turning it into the THC molecule which your brain loves so much. To do this, put the ground cannabis in the oven at 240 degrees Fahrenheit for about 90 minutes. After the cannabis has decarboxylated, it is ready to be infused into oil or butter.

2) You eat way too much and end up having a PTSD-inducing trip.

“You can always eat more edibles, you can’t eat less,” says Gray. “It’s important to go slow and give your body time to react to the THC in edibles.” He recommends having other (clearly labeled) foods that contain no THC, so that people who are still hungry can eat without getting more medicated.

Remember: It can take up to two or three hours before the drug takes hold, so don’t wait 45 minutes and chow down on more.

3) You don’t know how to sober up.

Drinking coffee induces a nice placebo effect for drunks, but what about people who are too high? There are indeed some antidotes for THC, besides simply sleeping it off. Gray, who cites the British Journal of Pharmacology, says there are two acute ways to reduce the effects of THC. They are:

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  • Eating pistachios or pine nuts. They contain pinene,which is a chemical that helps with mental clarity.
  • Eating the citrus acid found in lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. Make sure you eat the pulp!

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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