Edibles 101: How to Safely Consume Cannabis
Published on 7/29/19
From brightly colored sour gummy worms to fizzy sodas, marijuana has found its way into almost every edible product imaginable. You will realize this fact upon your first visit to any dispensary, as you are bombarded with a myriad of edible options to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Whether you want to satisfy your sweet tooth with a THC-laden chocolate peanut butter cup, or are just looking for alternatives to smoking, edibles are a great option for anyone.
It's as simple as buy, eat, enjoy....right? Well, eating edibles is not quite as simple as it might first appear. If it is your first time indulging, we highly recommend doing a little research before taking your first bite.
What are Edibles?
At a glance, marijuana edibles are identical to the food products they are made to mirror. From an energizing cold brew coffee to your favorite hot sauce, marijuana infused products are exact replicas of items you have used for years. Despite the constant evolution of products to be exact in both taste and smell, the effects are far different. After ingestion, cannabis edibles will produce a strong psychoactive effect, or the "high" one would experience after smoking marijuana. Unlike smoking marijuana, the effects of edibles can often be delayed and more potent than normal forms of consumption. For these reasons, caution is recommended before downing your newly purchased THC chocolate bar in its entirety.
How Do Edibles Work?
Weed edibles are made by combining the normal ingredients of any product with small amounts of marijuana flower or concentrates. However, simply throwing some nugs into your brownie batter will not unlock the psychoactive potential of marijuana.
This is because marijuana must first go through a process called 'decarboxylation.' which essentially unlocks the effects of THC and other cannabinoids. Decarboxylation requires both heat and time to occur, transforming non-intoxicating THCA into intoxicating THC.
Smoking or vaping marijuana initiates this process instantly, allowing the immediate conversion of THCA into THC, which is then absorbed into your lungs. The intense heat from smoking or vaping is not present when cooking, so different step must be taken to ensure decarboxylation. The marijuana is often finely ground and heated slowly at low temperatures, decarboxylating the cannabinoids present (THC and CBD) and making them readily available for absorption. The THC within the food is then fully active and will be absorbed by the stomach after consumption, producing a "high" for the user.
Why Edibles are More Potent
You likely have heard the horror stories about people eating too many edibles and calling 911 on themselves. This happens for several reasons.
Edibles have a delayed effect
First, edibles often have a delayed effect, allowing users to munch down a whole chocolate bar and feel no effects for up to an hour. This is because edibles are first digested in the body before absorption. Depending on factors such as the last time you ate, the digestion and absorption process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Due to this, many have found themselves wondering "how long will this edible take to kick in?" 30 minutes after ingestion. Well before eating a few more bites, remember this, you can always eat more, you can never eat less. Waiting for the effects of the edible you consumed to kick in before eating a few more bites is the best way to gauge your level of intoxication and avoid any 'bad trips' from eating too much.
Edibles Last Longer Than Smoking
If you have ever eaten an edible, you may have wondered "how long do edibles last" 3 hours into your high. The effects of eaten THC last far longer than those from smoking for a few reasons. Any substance digested by the stomach must first pass through the liver before going into the bloodstream. While the highest THC concentration in the bloodstream after smoking comes 5-10 minutes after consumption, eaten THC has the highest concentration in the bloodstream after 60-120 minutes. The THC is dispersed into the bloodstream at a slower, steady rate, which is why the effects of any edible are slower to start but remain far longer than smoking.
The Psychoactive Effect is Stronger
The digestion process of eaten marijuana edibles forces the ingested THC through the stomach and then the liver. In the liver, the cannabis is metabolized causing the delta-9 THC to transform into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent form. This form of THC passes more easily through the blood-brain barrier, which in turn creates a stronger psychedelic effect for the user.
Proper Edible Dosage
If taken safely and responsibly, edibles are a great alternative to smoking marijuana. Knowing the adequate amount of THC-infused treats to consume without sending yourself into a stupor is a necessity on your first edible experience. Before biting-in, let's start with the basics.
What is a Dose?
Similar to any OTC or pharmaceutical drug you've taken, every marijuana edible has a carefully measured amount of active THC inside. If buying a chocolate bar for instance, a 100 mg bar may be broken down into 10, 10mg doses. Each of these small pieces will likely be the recommended dosage for the specific bar (although we recommend starting with a smaller dose). Certain edibles may have a combination of THC and CBD, with items containing more CBD being less intoxicating. The level of 'high' produced from any edible is based entirely on the milligrams of THC contained, so make sure you precisely measure your dose before consuming.
As we described earlier, any orally ingested marijuana product will have a delayed onset due to the digestion process. Because of this, if it's your first time it is highly recommended to start with a very low dose, gauging the level of effects and intoxication. If you are not a frequent user of THC products , starting with 1-4mg is a great way to measure your level of tolerance. If after 2-3 hours you aren't satisfied with the effects you can easily eat a bit more. If you regularly use THC products, start off with 1-10mg on your first edible experience.
Can I Overdose on Edibles?
The good news is, you're not going to die. The elongated effects and increased potency of edibles can often lead to getting people really, really high, but luckily the potential dangers are very low. Many Americans visit the ER everyday for over-consumption of marijuana. However, most of the time doctors simply monitor patients before sending them home. Eating too much THC can be scary though, so we highly recommend eating a small amount if you aren't sure how much to eat.
Available Edible Products
Because marijuana edibles are more friendly to the respiratory system than smoking, many people have found uses for THC-infused edibles in their lives. A wide range of individuals use edibles, from athletes using edibles for the pain-relieving properties, to terminally ill patients using them too boost their appetite. As marijuana has grown in popularity, the marijuana marketplace has been evolving with new innovative products created everyday to meet the needs of almost anyone.
If you're like the majority of people in the world, you have a bit of a sweet tooth. Finding a marijuana edible to satisfy your sugar cravings is easier than ever with marijuana brownies, cookies, gummy bears, fizzy sodas and much more available at most dispensaries. Find a dispensary near you with some tasty treats!
As the dietary restrictions of modern Americans have been evolving, so to has the cannabis industry. Finding vegan edible options is easier than ever before, as many dispensaries now have eco-conscious options available in many different categories.
Calorie-Free Edible Options
If your prepping for bikini season, or simply looking to kick a few pounds, calorie free options are available for many edible products. THC tinctures or THC-infused water are perfect options for any health-conscious stoner out there.
Have a question, comment or concern about edibles? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think?