Marijuana edibles are a tasty alternative to smoking or vaporizing cannabis.
Made by infusing marijuana with food, edibles are one of the most popular ways of consuming cannabis.
Many people prefer edibles because they are easier to ingest and offer a longer, more relaxing effect.
Keep in mind, however, that the “high” or effects from edibles can be difficult to predict. So before munching down on something tasty, do yourself a favor and get to know the facts.
What Are Edibles?
A marijuana edible is a cannabis-infused product containing cannabinoids (THC and CBD) that you can eat or drink.
Cannabis can be infused with basically any food, ranging from cookies and brownies to chocolates, hard candies, and hot or cold drinks.
Many cannabis chefs have even created recipes for infusing cannabis with sophisticated cuisines.
Marijuana edibles are typically made through two processes that involve infusing cannabis with cooking oil or butter.
Edibles can also be made using cannabis extracts such as tinctures. Adding a drop or two of a tincture to your food can create an instant THC cookie or brownie. Using a tincture also makes it easier to control the amount of THC in your edible.
Where To Buy Edibles
Local conventions, green markets or local pot-friendly celebrations also offer edibles where permitted.
In Canada, edibles are not allowed to be sold by medical marijuana producers.
When the law in Canada changes to accept marijuana for recreational use, it will include only marijuana buds, oils, seeds and plants. So far, the recently tabled Cannabis Act does not mention edibles specifically.
Edibles can also be made at home in countries where medical marijuana is allowed.
Cannabinoids like THC are fat soluble, meaning they blend better with fats than water. Making your own canna-butter or canna-oil at home is a popular way to enjoy the benefits of marijuana.
Making edibles at home also allows you to have more control over the potency and taste.
Edibles vs. Smoking
The appetite for edibles goes well beyond pot brownies. Many feel that edibles are a healthier and more enjoyable way of consuming cannabis.
Edibles are more discreet, and are often preferred over smoking because they avoid the negative health effects associated with inhaling marijuana into your lungs.
Another difference between eating versus smoking marijuana is the delay in effects.
Unlike smoking, where THC enters the bloodstream through the lungs and reaches the brain seconds later, edibles introduce cannabinoids through the digestive system.
When you eat an edible, THC gets slowly absorbed into your bloodstream through the stomach and intestinal tracts. THC then gets broken down by the liver, which converts THC to a more potent chemical called 11-hydroxy-THC.
The result is a high that is more intense and psychoactive effects that last much longer.
Effects of Edibles
The effects of smoking marijuana can be felt within seconds or minutes of inhaling. On the other hand, ingesting marijuana as an edible can take much longer to start working.
The effects of edibles are usually felt 30 to 90 minutes after being consumed.
Edibles also produce much stronger and longer-lasting effects. The effects tend to last between 4 to 12 hours, depending on the dose taken.
On average, consuming 10-25 mg of THC will loosen your body and create feelings of relaxation and bliss. Positive effects also include increased laughter and talkativeness.
These effects can differ between individuals based on their metabolism, weight and fitness level, all of which will play a role in how the body reacts to edibles.
Dose and Serving Size
Finding the right dose is challenging since every person reacts differently to edibles.
Body type, gender and age all come into play. It can also depend on whether an individual has tried cannabis before. (Note: a high smoking tolerance level may not always translate to edibles.)
Some edible products are manufactured to contain as much as 100 milligrams of THC, and therefore should be used for multiple servings. Other edibles have smaller amounts of THC, such as 5 or 10 mg.
In Colorado, one serving is defined as 10 mg of THC. This is a relatively small amount of THC intended to reduce the risk of overconsumption for new users.
Colorado packaging and labeling rules require that recreational cannabis products contain no more than 100 mg of THC.
If the package says 100 mg of THC and the product comes in 10 pieces (such as a chocolate bar), each piece will be contain 10 mg of THC, or the suggested single serving.
Other guidelines suggest using less than 3 grams of dried marijuana per day, whether inhaled, taken as an edible, or as a combination of both.
Safety Tips and Advice
Start low and go slow
For those who are new to consuming edibles, the best advice is to “start low and go slow.”
New users should try an edible with a low amount of THC (2-5 mg) and wait at least two hours to gauge the effects before consuming another dose.
It’s always easy to eat more later. But it’s impossible to eat less after you’ve consumed too much of an edible. So, eating less may ultimately give you a more enjoyable “high” than eating too much.
You should stop consuming edibles immediately if any undesirable effects occur.
Read the label
If you make edibles at home, make sure to label them and place them somewhere safe so that children, roommates, friends, parents, babysitters, or anyone else knows that they should not eat them.
For purchased edibles, most have packaging that includes a label describing the contents of the product and how to avoid consuming too much. Always read the label, especially when trying a new product.
Take with food
The effects of edibles can be very intense on an empty stomach, so it’s best to eat a nutritious meal before taking them.
The effects of edibles also depend on the specific food or drink. Rich and dense products such as brownies or chocolate take longer to digest, which means it will take longer for the effects to set in.
On the other hand, infused drinks and tinctures tend to work faster. So, know what you are taking and pace yourself accordingly.
Don’t mix with other substances
Avoid mixing edibles with alcohol or other substances. Mixing marijuana edibles with beer, wine, or any other alcoholic beverage will result in a much stronger form of intoxication.
Make sure that you have other safe (unmedicated) snacks on hand and drink lots of water when consuming edibles.
Enjoy edibles in a safe and comfortable environment, such as your own home or a friend’s place. Never drive after taking an edible.
What Happens If You Consume Too Much?
When someone has a bad experience with edibles, it’s usually because they overdosed by eating too much of an infused product.
Marijuana edibles are easy to overconsume, particularly if they taste great and because their effects are delayed.
New users may become frustrated by the delay, and ultimately consume more than they should. This can result in effects that are overwhelming and uncomfortably long-lasting.
Avoiding an overdose is tricky since every individual has a different level of tolerance. A dose that is comfortable for one person could make another person paranoid, disoriented, or nauseous.
Other signs of an edible overdose include agitation, lack of coordination, and hallucinations.
If you feel like you’ve gone overboard on edibles, don’t panic. Remember, symptoms usually subside within a few hours.
Stay calm, drink water and try your best to wait it out. If the effects become too severe or overwhelming, seek medical attention immediately.