Consumption Cannabis edibles have been much written about by mainstream media as of late. A few places in the world have given total cannabis legalisation a chance, which means that varied items containing cannabis are being sold over the counter to anyone aged 18 or older. These items are becoming increasingly popular for numerous reasons, which is why they have been under scrutiny these past few months.
In our previous instalment, “Smoking vs. vaporising”, we explained why smoking cannabis can be an issue for some people. Especially when medicating on a long term basis, or when medicating for ailments impacting the respiratory system, it can be interesting to consider other available options.
Smoking cannabis should still be considered a valid, rapid method to medicate, depending on what symptom the patient is trying to alleviate. For instance, an asthma sufferer dealing with severe shallow breathing should avoid smoking cannabis at that particular moment if other options are available. When combustion is the only solution, cannabis can still improve lung capacity in some cases, but not all; it could also make the patient’s state temporarily worse (just like smoking tobacco could). Vaporising is a better option but again, depending on the severity of the asthma attack, could still impact the user negatively, as the vapour can turn out quite harsh and difficult to handle for already weakened lungs.
There are many patients who are unable to consume cannabis by combusting it or vaporising it. For these people, or for recreational purposes, there is the solution of ingesting cannabis through edibles, sometimes also called “medibles”.
To make an edible, one must first prepare the cannabis which will be mixed with the rest of the ingredients. The most recommended base for edibles is an oil-based mixture in which the cannabis flowers (or whichever part of the plant is being used) are infused. The result of this preparation is generally cannabis butter (“cannabutter”), although many other methods are possible. Once said cannabutter ready, it can be baked, used in a sauce, made into a drink, etc.
There are many different edibles available on the legal cannabis market: cookies, candies, salty snacks, etc. These products are very popular as they do not require an affinity with smoking, and in a medical context, can be administered to almost any patient – although in these situations, it is preferable to ingest the necessary cannabinoids through capsules filled with the purest cannabis oils for best results.
Whether one is merely consuming an edible purchased in a dispensary or making it from scratch, some knowledge of the process is necessary.
When purchasing an edible, it is important to carefully read its label(s). It should indicate in some manner the dosage that has been used, either in terms of grams of cannabis infused, amount of cannabinoids in milligrams, or even number of servings to be made of the whole item. However, especially if you are inexperienced in the matter, none of these indications are to be trusted solely, as none of them are precise enough to give 100% accurate information. The best solution is always to ask the budtender who sold you the product about serving size.
When making an edible product from scratch, it is also very important to mind the dosage. Looking up best practices from several different sources will allow an overall view on which amount is deemed “reasonable” or simply “enough” regardless of the cannabis strain used. Especially if you smoke cannabis, do not assume the same amount you put in a joint will result in the same level of intoxication, and the same set of effects.
In both cases, the key to a good experience with edibles is to be patient. Taking a small serving and waiting for effects to manifest themselves is a good first step to assess the potency of the product and help decide later on whether or not to ingest more. Indeed, when cannabis is eaten, it is not processed in the same way by the body than when smoking it or vaporising it. The THC contained in the edible will be processed by the stomach and metabolized by the liver. A slower process takes place than when smoking or vaporising, due to the immediate nature of the cannabinoids intake in the latter methods. Edibles take much more time to affect the user; more on this below!
Why should you switch to edibles?
More potent than smoking or vaporising
When cannabis is being heated up and inhaled in the form of smoke or vapour, cannabinoids are released with each hit taken off the joint/pipe/vaporiser, through the lungs, heart, and brain in a matter of minutes (5 to 10 min). When cannabis is ingested, it gets processed by the organism, which can take several hours (30 min to 2 h), and allows the release of cannabinoids through waves. This creates the feeling of heightened “high” people associate cannabis edibles with, and makes it somewhat of a more efficient, more potent method. In facts however, the amount of cannabinoids released is actually in much smaller concentration than when they are inhaled.
The effects triggered by ingesting cannabis can last much longer than those provided by inhalation – from 2 to 12 hours depending on product, user and context. Patients seeking for immediate alleviation of acute pain or anxiety will find the fairly slow onset of effects to be an issue, but others, for instance in the case of muscle tension or chronic pain, can benefit greatly from the lengthy intoxication period that ensues.
Different edibles for different experiences
Consuming cannabis in edible form can provide as varied an experience as when combusting it or vaporising it. Strain used, state of the consumer before consumption, fluids and food ingested before consumption, all of these are parameters can make an experience with edibles go one direction or another. But it is also possible to choose the right edible for the right experience.
- Processed through the stomach – Cakes, cookies, pretzels, etc. Effects can take up to 2 hours to show, but can last for 6 hours or more.
- Processed through saliva – Candies, tinctures, etc. Effects show within 30 minutes, and last 2 to 3 hours.
- Others – Drinks and everything that melts but can be eaten (Fudge, chocolate, etc.). Onset and effects can vary. Ask your budtender or medicinal cannabis dispensary!
Do you medicate with cannabis edibles? Tell us about your experience, tricks and tips in the comments!