How Much Is Too Much With Marijuana Edibles? Nevada Industry Shares Secrets To Customer Safety

Photo Credit: Steve Marcus

Open a pack of convenience store gummy candies and it’s hard not to grab a handful at a time to satisfy your craving.

But doing the same for a tube of marijuana gummy candies purchased at one of Las Vegas’ legal pot dispensaries could leave users on the floor.

Marijuana edibles have quickly become a hot seller in the first seven months of legalized pot in Nevada, with as much as 45 percent of all weed sales being edibles, according to figures from several dispensary owners.

The extreme potencies, however, have forced dispensaries and lawmakers to be proactive in educating many first-time Nevada users on how ingest pot properly.

“We’ve been very involved in the outset to prevent overconsumption,” said Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “It has happened in other states and we want to prevent it from happening here.”

Marijuana edibles in Nevada are limited to 10 milligrams of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in pot, per dose or more than 100 milligrams of THC per package, according to state law. The edibles — in the form of chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, cookies, gummy candies, nuts and granola — can’t resemble images of cartoon characters, toys, balloons or animals and must be sold in sealed, opaque packaging.

An average dose for regular marijuana users is 10 milligrams of THC, said David Goldwater, owner of Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary in the central valley. While frequent pot users can easily handle up to 20 or 30 milligrams, first-time and less-experienced users should begin with 2.5 to 5 milligram doses.

That means when opening a stack of pot gummy rings — commonly sold in packs of 10 small candies at 10 milligrams each — first-time users should only eat one-fourth of one gummy to achieve a desired high. Experienced pot users could consume two to three whole gummy candies, Goldwater said.

As weed edibles can take the average person from 45 minutes to two hours to start feeling its effects, Goldwater said it should come as no surprise that so many Nevadans have struggled to adapt to appropriate doses. It’s a drastic difference from the typical fistful of candies out of the pot-free gas station bag.

“Low and slow is always our recommendation,” Goldwater said. “Low THC milligram count and eat it slow.”

Chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, brownies and even dried fruit edibles are similar in serving size and potency. A 12-square chocolate bar totaling 100 milligrams of THC would have just over 8 milligrams of THC per square, which is more than enough for most people to get high, Goldwater said.

Goldwater and other dispensary owners said they’re doing everything they can to prevent overdoses and negative experiences from souring customers’ taste for pot edibles.

As part of a monthly free “Wellness Wednesday” seminar, Essence Cannabis Dispensary owner Armen Yemenidjian welcomes adults age 21 and over to listen to doctors, attorneys, state regulators and industry members speak on a variety of pot safety topics. Among them, edible safety is a “top priority,” Yemenidjian said.

Essence employees undergo education training so they can give first-time customers directions on how to consume edibles.

“Put it this way, we want people to enjoy the edibles so they come back for more,” Yemenidjian said. “We don’t want them to hate the experience and be turned off by the whole process.”

At The+Source, owner Andrew Jolley provides handout literature for customers on proper edible use. The+Source also holds monthly educational seminars, and Jolley’s employees are trained to educate customers on proper quantities.

Goldwater directs Inyo customers to the company’s website, where its “knowledge” section outlines acceptable doses for edible uses.

While sales of marijuana flower and concentrates have endured plateaus or even slight dips at different points through the first months of marijuana legalization in Nevada, edibles have continued to grow at a higher rate, according to dispensary officials.

Goldwater said edibles are the least expensive way for pot consumers to get high. At $26 for a tube of 10 gummy candies, buyers can get a strong THC high for $2.60 or less. Comparatively speaking, an 18 percent THC-gram of flower sold for $15 would cost the average user about $7 to $8 to get high.

“People start by trying the edibles, then they realize they like them and come back for more,” Goldwater explained. “We’ve been seeing edible sales grow very rapidly.”

With “ample” education materials available and staff from nearly all of the Las Vegas Valley’s nearly 45 dispensaries available to advise on proper edible use, customers bear the ultimate responsibility to keep themselves safe, Durrett said.

“The resources are out there, a lot of it is just being responsible and knowing what you’re consuming,” she said. “And being patient is part of it.”