Chances are, most negative cannabis experience stores you’ve heard or experienced came from someone overdoing an edible. As the wise cannabis lover Ilana Glazer from the hit show Broad City once said: “You can get real wacky on edibles.” Unlike other methods of cannabis consumption such as smoking, vaping, or dabbing, eating your meds brings you into a whole other realm of potency.
Dosing aside, there is a large difference in ingesting your cannabinoids and other consumption methods. Contrary to the popular belief, it’s not because of the active ingredients are being metabolized differently, rather is that it is metabolized in different degrees within different parts of the body. Edibles give a much longer high, and a more “couch locking” high, largely due to the fact that a larger fraction of delta-9-thc, makes it to the liver first, where it’s then converted into 11-hydroxy-thc, two ratios significantly lower during respiratory consumption.
Many of us are familiar with the cannabinoid “THC” (Tetrahydrocannabinol), however despite including the same three letters in their names, delta-9-thc and 11-hydroxy-thc are two distinctly different cannabinoids. There is limited research currently on 11-hydroxy-thc, however it is hypothesized to be more potent than its relative (THC). When cannabis is smoked, THC enters the bloodstream via the lung’s alveoli. However, THC is an oil soluble compound, thus it does not break down well in blood, which is mostly water.
When eaten, saliva immediately breaks down THC. The THC is then bound to a glucuronide compound and becomes water soluble, making it easier for the cannabinoid to cross the blood-brain barrier. This causes edibles’ effect to feel stronger and last longer than smoking, despite taking 30 minutes to an hour to kick in. Also, keep in mind that even the strongest cannabis strains contain no more than 30% THC in general and that, when smoked, a person only receives a fraction of the active ingredients in that smoke. So, when smoking a one-gram joint, a consumer will receive only small amount of THC from a given dosage. With edibles, nothing is lost to smoke.
Also remember that in Arizona edibles can be purchased with as much as 1000 milligrams of THC in each item. (Unlike AZ, California and Colorado both limit the amount of THC that can be sold per serving.) So, in those cases, an edible cannabis product could actually be MUCH more potent that smoked flower.
Because edibles can be so potent and have such long, strong effects; dosing is critical. The recommended starting dose is 10mg of THC, however some people advise starting at even smaller doses and increasing increments each time until they find their sweet spot. Remember: sometimes edibles take up to hour to kick in, or even longer, so don’t make the all-too-easy mistake of eating more because you can’t feel the effects right away. Chances are you’ll be in for a rude awakening in an hour or so!
Start slow. When you smoke, you will feel the effects a lot faster than with edibles, becoming noticeably medicated within minutes. Take your time. Also, it’s always best to get an edible from a reputable dispensary so you can be sure to receive the most accurate dose, as home-made edibles are not reliable for having standardized dosages. However, with a proper dose, edibles can be a convenient, discreet, and effective way of medicating.
They also can be a tasty, exciting alternative to your regular consumption patterns. Many folks also appreciate the lack of side effects they dislike from smoking such as coughing and the smell. Edibles also provide a possible way to medicate for people who can’t smoke such as children.
Edible products will vary in potency, as well as flavors. Some edibles are savory such as medicated popcorn or medicated pretzels, others are sweet such as the classic medicated brownie. Snack cakes, candies, chips, salsas, beverages, popcorn and more, THC-infused edible products run the gambit. Medicated tinctures can also be added to food and drinks, taken in capsules, or even added into kitchen staples such as medicated olive oil.
If you haven’t tried an edible before but feel it could be a useful method for you, don’t be scared; just check with your patient consultant to fully understand a product before you buy it. Be mindful, start small. Give your first dose time to take effect, before taking a second one. Try out new edible products or dosage levels in safe environments.
There are so many subtly soothing and extremely delicious edibles in so many forms to explore! Bon Appetit and Merry Medicating!