A PSA for Party Hosts: How to Label Your Edibles

How much THC is in this cannabis-infused chocolate chocolate? You certainly can't tell by looking. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Here's an increasingly common scene: A spread of roasted peanuts, crudités, tortilla chips and salsa, and what look like Cheez-Its greet guests at a party. A man gobbled a handful of the salty orange crackers. A younger couple follows his lead. Twenty minutes later, the host confirms their fast-growing suspicions: Those crackers were in fact THC-infused.

Yes, parties these days more often than not have pot. And hosts, keeping in mind those who would rather not walk into a smoke-filled room, usually offer up edibles for the group. There's just one problem: Too many are forgetting to call attention to the illicit ingredients within — something that's a bit more problematic than the forgot-to-label-the-spiked-punch faux pas of parties past.

In the case of the Cheez-Its incident (an actual party foul this author witnessed), a guest finally took out a Sharpie and wrote, “CAUTION! CONTAINS MARIJUANA!” and added arrows to point in the direction of the edible snacks so that the mistake-filled bites wouldn’t further mar the gathering.

But even this doesn’t quite go far enough. The level of THC in a candy or snack can be all over the place, something casual visitors of dispensaries in Colorado or Washington might have found out the hard way when they forgot to look at the THC levels of some tiny, potent gummies. “In most cases, a ‘standard’ dose for an edible is 10mg," says BioTrackTHC’s Brandon Seymour, which provides supply-chain software to the industry. "That said, there are plenty of edibles that contain over 100mg." 

In short, if you're going to be a proper host and keep the party moving, you need to label the dosage too. Tomer Grassiany, who owns To Whom It May Cannabis Chocolates has what he calls the hot-pepper analogy to explain the potential dangers of edibles. “The same way you would not eat a random hot pepper that you have no information about (it might be a ghost pepper), you shouldn't eat an unknown edible.” 

So how much should your bites contain? Here's a nice safe guide for keeping the party fun going: Have each piece contain no more than 5mg of THC, and have a sign that lets guest know just that. (i.e., "These candies contain 5mg of THC each; a serving size by Colorado law is 10mg. In doubt? Take one and wait 30 minutes.")

This might mean you need to do some division. If you order, say, chocolate pieces that have 15mg each, chop those into thirds. Divvying much further gets messy and confusing, so try not to buy any edibles that contain any more than 20mg each — those are for home use, not party consumption.

Making your own edibles, of course, is much more difficult to calculate, but with some exact measurements, you can do it. This rule of thumb from TheCannabist.co is a good calculating starting point for anyone making their own:  

Every 1 gram of cannabis bud has 1,000mg of dry weight. If a strain has about 10 percent THC, 10 percent of 1,000mg would be 100mg. So for cooking or baking at home, it is safe to assume that a gram of cannabis contains at least 100mg THC.

BudGenius has a solid database to find the percentage of THC in a strain of marijuana to help you start the calculation. Err on the side of caution (no need to be generous here) and do test the finished product yourself before offering it up to guests.

Of course, if there are children at your party, the labeling system is probably not enough. Kids will eat without reading, so don't risk putting edibles out at a party. “Similar to preventing underage drinking, if there are minors at a party, there should be a responsible adult, and marijuana products should be kept in their own location, such as a liquor cabinet,” says Beth Adan, founder of Toke Tank. That, or you can just wait for the kids to go to bed and let the fun begin later.