Cannabis-infused foods and beverages have taken the legal cannabis market by storm. Valued for their potency and, more often in recent years, for delivering precious cannabinoids to your system without the necessity of smoke or vapor; edibles come in an ever-evolving variety of gummies, baked goods, chocolates, oils, and other infused products. As is the case with all forms of cannabis, it’s essential to understand how different edibles are made and what type of effects they can have before you consume them.
Here’s a quick, comprehensive, user-friendly guide to edibles: their benefits, differences from other cannabis products, how to dose them properly, and what to expect from an edible high.
What Are Edibles?
In a cannabis context, edibles are ingestible items infused with cannabis compounds, usually in the form of cannabis oil or butter. Though arguably thought of as a modern tradition of cannabis consumption, cannabis-infused foods and drinks have been around for ages. Dating as far back as 10th Century India, ground cannabis was a primary ingredient of Bhang, a traditional drink made with spices, butter, and milk. Throughout world history, edibles have popped up in various forms, most of which we still approximate in the edibles market today.
Throughout the 20th century, edibles in America were largely confined to homemade pot brownies and other baked goods, typically known for high doses of cannabinoids and powerful effects. In the post-legalization era, the budding cannabis industry has all but revamped the edible tradition to include an expanding variety of products with precise and more manageable dosing.
How Edibles Work
Understanding how edibles work (and why they can be so potent) means understanding the process of decarboxylation. When cannabinoids are exposed to air and/or heat, either through natural aging or other environmental factors, they drop a carboxyl group in their chemical makeup. This process enables them to fit your body’s cannabinoid receptors. For example, when you smoke flower, the combustion decarboxylates THCA into THC, the active molecule that triggers euphoric, intoxicating, and alleviating effects.
Edibles are usually infused with cooked cannabis oil or butter that contains active cannabinoids. As decarboxylated (or “decarbed”) cannabinoids are digested, you’ll typically have a delayed, albeit more potent reaction. When your liver metabolizes delta-9-THC, it converts it into 11-hydroxy-THC, which has been shown to have a more powerful and longer duration of effect.
Types of Edibles
Though edible cannabis products and product types continue to evolve, most edibles fit into one of the following categories:
- Brownies & Cookies
- Capsules & Tablets
Ultimately, which type of edible you choose is a matter of personal preference. Beverages may kick in slightly faster than baked goods, but seldom deliver on the same potency level. Gummies are popular for ease of use and small-dose accessibility. Capsules and tablets may be an optimal, no-frills option for those taking cannabis strictly for medicinal purposes. The type of edible you choose will largely depend on what you’re using it for and what’s easiest to integrate into your day.
The Benefits of Edibles
In today’s market, edibles are widely sought after because you can consume cannabis and feel the plant’s effects without having to smoke or vape. Dosing consistency is the other main benefit. Thanks to the advent of legalization, edibles now offer consistent, reliable doses that make it easier to consume with a reasonable level of certainty about how you’re going to feel.
When experimenting with edibles, however, always keep in mind that a certain amount of trial and error is involved to figure out how a specific edible will affect you. Everyone’s body reacts to cannabis differently, and every cannabis product has its own effect profile. The active cannabinoids in edibles go through your digestive system before they enter your bloodstream, which means effects come on slowly until they peak. The strength and duration of the peak will depend on several personal factors, including your age, weight, and genetic makeup.
What to Look For When Buying Edibles
If you purchase unregulated or counterfeit weed edibles, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the effects you’re seeking. You may end up disappointed to feel nothing or get a far higher potency than you bargained for. Some high-powered, homemade edibles can produce heavy psychoactive effects that last for days. That’s why the best way to shop for edibles is to seek out verified brands and properly dosed products from licensed dispensaries. Seek out edibles from companies that provide a certificate of analysis from an accredited third-party lab for every product.
For Quality Assurance, Go with Delivery
One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting a clean, consistently dosed edible is to seek out trusted delivery services from which to order. The Grassdoor team comprises engaged cannabis connoisseurs and experts who go to great lengths to ensure the Grassdoor edible menu includes only 100% compliant, high-quality products.
Make Your Own
If knowing exactly what’s going into your edibles is your top priority, your best bet may be making your own edibles with homemade cannabutter. There are several viable ways to make weed edibles, but cannabutter is typically the easiest method for first-timers or relative newcomers. All you really need for ingredients is a cup of butter and a cup of decarbed cannabis.
- Step 1: Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of butter into a saucepan. Simmer on low until the butter is melted.
- Step 2: Add your ground, decarbed cannabis to the pan as the butter melts. Periodically stir and continue to simmer the mixture for 2-3 hours.
- Step 3: Line a funnel with a cheesecloth, and strain your mixture through the funnel into a jar. Refrigerate your jar of cannabutter overnight.
How to Consume Edibles
Whether you’re trying edibles for the first time or a cannabis veteran who’s simply trying a new type of edible, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of having a positive experience.
The first thing to do is shop for products that are easy to dose. Most regulated gummies, chocolates, capsules, and tablets on the market today offer consistent, low-THC doses per piece. If you’re consuming a THC edible, start with a product that includes no more than 5 mg per piece, preferable 2 mg or less if you’re brand new to edibles. Then you can slowly increase your dosage over time until you’ve landed on something that works for you. If you’re taking a CBD edible, even high doses are generally considered safe for most people. 10-20mg of CBD is a perfectly suitable starter dose.
You’ve probably heard the saying “you can always take more but you can’t take less” in reference to edibles. Some edibles can only take 20 minutes to kick in, though 1 to 2 hours is the more common minimum delay time. After consuming an edible, always wait at least 2 and up to 24 hours before you take more.
Most of the unpleasant effects people experience from edibles come from high doses of THC. If you’re worried about experiencing paranoia, anxiety, excessive sedation, and other potentially adverse high-THC effects, try edibles that include both THC and CBD. Though everyone’s body absorbs and reacts to both THC and CBD differently, CBD has shown a lot of potential in minimizing the potentially uncomfortable psychoactive responses associated with THC.
What to Expect
As previously mentioned, edibles deliver effects at a delayed rate, and typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to kick in. The duration of effect is generally at least 1 to 2 hours, though high doses can last anywhere from 4 to 16 hours.
If you’re taking edibles that include CBD only, expect nothing more than a mild calm as far as psychoactivity is concerned. THC edibles genuinely elicit a strong head-buzz and often a potent, heavy body high after a slow, steady onset. Light to heavy sedation is also a possibility, especially after your high has peaked. Again, the key thing to remember is that everyone reacts to edibles differently, and every product brings with it a unique experience. Get to know your body and how it responds to products you’re interested in, and always err on the side of caution when breaking into the edible weed world.