Learn what cannabis edibles are, how cannabis edibles are made, and how they interact differently with the ECS than other consumption methods. Included will be a how to guide for consuming edibles, covering doses, onset time of effects, and what to do if you eat too much.
Edibles have come a long way since just adding ground flower directly into baked goods or other recipes. There are still baked goods like brownies and cookies. There are also products resembling gummy vitamins, mints, chocolate bars, infused beverages, everyday meals, and more. Edible marijuana has even been gaining some very mainstream attention with the addition of cannabis cooking competition shows. Cooking on High and Cooked on Cannabis are both featured on Netflix.
The cannabinoids like THC, CBD, or CBG are commonly extracted from the cannabis flower using some sort of carrier oil. The oil is usually butter or coconut oil, which is then used in recipes. There are also other extraction methods like distillation. This process produces a product with all the medicinal benefits of cannabis, without the taste. The science behind these methods is very interesting, but they all start the same.
In order to feel the typical effects from cannabis in an edible form there are a few steps. Cannabis flower needs to be decarboxylated before it can be used to make edible products. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis to a certain temperature. This activated the THC and other cannabinoids. THC and CBD actually start out as THCA and CBDA. These cannabinoids have their own medicinal benefits. They do not come with the exact same effects as THC and CBD. Basically, when heat is applied to THCA or CBDA, the A part of the molecule burns off. This leaves behind just the THC or CBD. This is also what happens when you smoke cannabis flower. The heat from the flame burns off the A, and you’re then inhaling the THC or CBD.
If you consume edibles without decarboxylation to convert THCA to THC, then you won’t get the same euphoric feeling. Funny enough, when you eat edible cannabis products that have been properly “decarbed”, the effects you feel actually come from 11-hydroxy-THC. This is more potent than THC itself. During the digestion process, the liver converts THC to 11-hydroxy-THC.
This is why edibles can take anywhere between 20 minutes to 3 hours or more to kick in. It’s also why edibles have more of a potent effect, and a longer duration of effects, which makes them great for pain relief and sleep. The potential downside is, since it takes so long, many people will eat too much because they think they aren’t working, when they just haven’t waited long enough. The good thing is, if you take too much and start to have a bad experience, which can include anxiety and panic, don’t worry. You just need to sleep it off and you’ll be fine. No one has ever overdosed or died as a result of over-consuming cannabis.
In order to avoid an unpleasant experience, it’s important to know your tolerance level, and understand the dosages of THC in your edible products. Dosages for edibles are measured by milligrams (mg), and most products have 5-10mg servings. If you’re new to edibles, start slow with just one serving of 5-10mg of THC. Wait at least 4 hours or more and observe how you feel. Some edible products may be digested slower or faster than others, so take your time. Don’t rush the process, and after a few times of experimenting with different products and dosages, you’ll be able to find the right combination to meet your needs.