Cannabis edibles and I are dating again—and I think it’s love. After a handful of pre-legalization experiences which were always an extremely unpredictable split between an evening of giggly fun or a completely nauseous, seemingly neverending dark night of the soul, now I can just reach for a precisely dosed gummy and know exactly what I’m getting, how much of it I want to take and how long it will likely last. It’s a long way from crossing your fingers as you bit into a space cookie made by a hippie in 2002.
Canada legalized edibles sold by licensed retailers in October 2019, and while the category encompasses things like teas, chocolate, dissolvable powders, cookies and, my new favourite, cold fizzy drinks, a lot of people who are new to edibles like to start with gummies—sometimes called “soft chews” if you’re fancy. Black-market gummies from the olden days usually tasted weedy and were often way too strong, but now experienced confectioners are getting in on the act and it’s a whole new world of juicy goodness. A lot of people like gummies because they’re discreet, easy to transport and don’t involve smoking or vaping to get a buzz.
With the help of Lindsey Lebel, the manager of learning at Ontario indie cannabis chain Superette, I’ve put together a little Gummies 101 for people who are interested in trying them but get overwhelmed by the selection, or are worried they’re going to end up rocking in the corner of their bedroom listening to Portishead on repeat like that one terrible time in 1994 (just a random example!). Our product picks are below, but first, some basics…
What kind do I want?
The two most readily available types of cannabinoids in Canada are THC, which is psychoactive—meaning, it gets you high—and CBD, which isn’t, but is popular for its relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties. You can find THC-only gummies, “balanced” formulations that have both CBD and THC, and CBD-only ones, too.
“The THC-dominant ones are going to bring the high and produce that euphoric feeling,” says Lebel, “The balanced gummies are going to be more of a therapeutic experience with less of a high and the CBD ones will chill you out and help your body relax.”
Let’s talk about dose, baby
You’ve probably heard the phrase “start low and go slow” when it comes to edibles, but what does that even mean? Weed in Canada is sold in individual packages with a maximum total dose of 10 mg of THC and no limit on the amount of CBD. The THC might be in a single high-dose gummy or be spread out among several pieces. For most users, especially newer ones, 10 mg of THC is a lot. If you haven’t used cannabis in years—or ever—I would definitely not suggest going all in with the full 10 mg off the jump. While The Cannabis Act actually prohibits brands from telling consumers how much to take, if you’re using products with THC in them Lebel recommends starting out with 1 to 2 mg. “That’s a good starting dose where you can gauge how your body and mind feel,” she says.
The packaging will say how much THC and/or CBD is contained “per unit,” which means how many milligrams of weed is in each gummy. You’ll also see another figure, listed in grams, on the in-store displays or when you’re purchasing gummies online (it’s not generally on the packaging itself) which refers to the actual size of the gummy. So, for example, in the below screenshot from the Ontario Cannabis Store, you can see the total amount of THC in the package (10.00 mg) on the left, the number of candies in the package and how big they are in the green button (4 gummies that weigh 4.3 g each) and the amount of THC in each gummy is down below in the product description (2.5 mg).
Because edibles take longer to kick in (up to four hours, though more typically within two) than a few puffs on a joint and the effects last longer (anywhere from four to 12 hours), a classic rookie mistake is thinking that nothing is happening and then taking more too soon. Patience, sis—trust. And, honestly, if it’s your first time, you may want to wait until the next session before upping your dosage.
How much THC you want to imbibe totally depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. While personally I reserve the full 10-mg situation for special occasions where I have a lot of time and not much responsibility, 2.0 to 2.5 mg is perfect for giving me the two-cocktails-giggles and I’m all about the micro-dosing (1 to 1.5 mg) for improving my mood or tamping down aches and pains while still remaining completely functional during the day. (And a reminder: absolutely no driving or operating heavy machinery on any amount of THC, of course! And be sure to store all your edibles securely and out of reach of children and pets—lockboxes are great.)
Okay, so what should I buy?
Finally! The fun part! Here are some starter suggestions from Lebel and me for gummies you can try. The good news is that you get a lot of bang for your buck—most packages of gummies are under $10—so it’s easy to sample a bunch of different brands without breaking the bank.
Dynathrive CBD Apple Cider Vinegar Soft Chews
When women message me about cannabis, they almost always want to know about using it for sleep, and some are hesitant about using THC even though preliminary research shows that CBD’s snooze-inducing efficacy is boosted by mixing it with THC. So, for a CBD-only relaxation experience I like this mega-pack of 30 10-mg soft chews. Apple cider vinegar flavour sounds weird, but they really just taste like tart apple, and they also come in a new pomegranate flavour, too. At first I was hesitant about the relatively large commitment and price tag of buying 30 gummies, at once as opposed to the more standard one to five piece packages, but if it’s something you take every night, like I do, those smaller packages run out pretty quickly. If I’m home in the evening I usually pop one or two 10mg gummies two-three hours before bedtime just so I can do as my 10-year-old is always telling me to and “Chill!” It doesn’t knock me out cold or anything, but it helps me wind down. I think of it as a sleep vitamin.
30 pieces, 10 mg CBD each, $52.50 at The Ontario Cannabis Store
San Rafael ’71 Blasberry Soft Chews
These lower-dose THC chews are Lebel’s personal favourite for sleep. “I give these to my Grandma,” she says. “We keep them beside our beds at all times!” These tangy berry chews have a very slight weed taste. My hot tip about using THC for sleep is that it works better—for me, anyways—if I take it within an hour of bedtime so it hits its full strength while I’m (hopefully) already asleep and helps keep me there. If I start too early in the evening I just get too high and way too interested in reorganizing my cookbooks.
4 pieces, 2.5mg THC each, $9.28 at Superette
For candy lovers
Sunshower Mango Tangerine Soft Chews
These are probably some of the tastiest gummies I’ve had, which is actually kind of dangerous because if I keep reaching back into that bag just because they’re so yummy I’m in trouble. There is absolutely no weed taste, and they’re slightly bigger than your typical soft chew too, so, as Lebel says: “You get a little more candy to your cannabis.” They also come in Wild Strawberry and Watermelon Lemonade flavours.
5 pieces, 2 mg THC each, $6.99 at BC Cannabis Stores
For a short-but-sweet trip
Wana Quick Orchard Peach Soft Chews
One of the complaints people have about edibles is it takes too damn long to feel their effects and then those effects, in turn, are too lasting. Wana has solved this with a new water-soluble technology that means this gummy acts more like a great, big glass of wine—easy in, easy out (or, in official terms, “quick onset and offset”).
“These are a really cool entryway to gummies without that potential eight-hour commitment,” says Lebel.
You’ll start to feel buzzed within about 15 minutes and will have probably wrapped up your little vacation in around four hours. The Orchard Peach and Strawberry Lime flavours are THC only, but Wana Quick also comes in a balanced 1:1 THC/CBD version in Pineapple Coconut.
2 pieces, 5.0 mg THC each, $9 at Ontario Cannabis Store
For a balanced experience
Ace Valley Peaches & Honey 1:1 Gummies
Gummies that are made with both THC and CBD are called balanced formulas, because the CBD theoretically counterbalances the more psychoactive aspects of the THC for a smoother, less “high” experience (I haven’t personally noticed a huge difference, but that could just be me!). Starting out with a balanced gummy is a popular choice for beginner users, especially ones who are nervous about THC. A 1:1 ratio means there are equal parts of each cannabinoid, but you’ll also see gummies listed as “balanced” that are THC-dominant but still have at least some CBD.
2 pieces, 5.0 mg of THC and 5.0mg of CBD each, $6.99 at BC Cannabis Stores
For when you’re ready to go big
Thumbs Up THC Pineapple Coconut Soft Chew
If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, this delicious 10 mg gummy is a juicy way to escape to a tropical paradise in your mind. Bonus points for Thumbs Up 10% For Good program, where they donate 10 percent of their profits to help fund cannabis amnesty efforts for the estimated 500,000 Canadians—many of whom are racialized or from vulnerable communities—who still have criminal records for cannabis possession.
1 piece, 10 mg THC, $5.95 at Ontario Cannabis Store
Click here to read our guide to making your own weed gummies.