Next to smoking, edibles may be the second most popular method of consuming cannabis. And they’re nothing new—the Khmer people of Cambodia, for instance, have been using cannabis in food preparation for centuries, if not millennia. Edibles are come in many forms. They’re fun, potent, and long-lasting, but they are also very easy to overdo. This is your guide to the tastiest way to get stoned.
ALL SHAPES, SIZES & CUISINES
In the context of cannabis, “edible” is a broad term which applies to any product which you eat or drink in order to achieve the medical and psychoactive effects of cannabis.
The burgeoning edibles market has already churned out a nearly countless array of products. Because of the flexible nature of cannabis oils and butters, they can be included in a stunning variety of foods and beverages. Baked goods are the simplest and most traditional edible, and have so far dominated the market. However, creativity is taking hold, and we are now seeing everything from cannabis-infused root beer to chocolate to raw cane sugar. By using cannabis concentrates, such as hash oil or tinctures, literally any food can be transformed into an edible by adding a drop or two. Pasta Indica, why not?
HOW IT’S MADE
Cannabis-infused edibles are produced by extracting THC, CBD or other cannabinoids into a cooking-friendly medium.
Concentrates such as hash oil may be used, though beginning with cannabis-infused butter (cannabutter) or oil is by far the most popular approach. Infusion is typically achieved by mixing ground cannabis flower with oil or butter, then heating the mixture for an extended period of time. The reason for this step is that cannabinoids are fat-soluble, meaning that they will readily dissolve and disperse in fatty mediums in a way that they will not in, say, water. Conveniently, fatty mediums such as butter and oil are also highly useful in cooking!
Another key aspect of the process is that cannabinoids are activated by heat, so just mixing raw flower in with your trail mix won’t do you any good. Once the cannabis has been heated, activated, and mixed with a fatty medium, you’re ready to get cooking.
THE EDIBLE EFFECT
When cannabis is burned and inhaled—such as through smoking a joint—THC and other cannabinoids enter your bloodstream through the lungs. This is a pretty direct process, and it brings the cannabinoids to your brain within a minute, resulting in effects that are felt not long thereafter. With edibles, the cannabinoids take a less direct path.
Your stomach will deal with the food or drink just as it would regular food—that part is business as usual. However, the cannabinoids will then be absorbed through the liver, and enter the bloodstream from there. This delayed absorption results in effects taking much longer to be felt than those achieved by smoking. The average person will begin to feel the effects of their edibles 30-90 minutes after consumption. Also unlike smoking, the effects of edibles come on in waves, getting progressively stronger until full effects are felt.
While this is generally the case, there are exceptions. For example, there are candies and mints on the market that are absorbed through the mouth, and thus take effect much more quickly.
DON’T OVERDO IT!
While no one has technically died from overdosing on cannabis edibles, overdosing on edibles happens extremely frequently, and almost always leads to a bad time. Nausea, paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations are symptoms of overdose, and these experiences can be agonizingly long-lasting.
People, especially first-time consumers, regularly eat too much of a product either because it tastes so good, they underestimate the effects, or they become frustrated by the delayed onset and eat more, thinking that they simply didn’t have enough to begin with. Producers don’t always help by creating cookies or truffles where an individual product contains enough THC to make for many doses.
A good rule of thumb to avoid unpleasant experiences with brownies is this: start small and be patient. Bear in mind that in most contexts 10mg of THC is considered one dose. It is helpful to think of this in much the same way that a single beer is considered one alcoholic drink, and may be hardly felt by one person, while making another person flushed. Start with small doses and try to understand how a certain amount of THC affects you before upping the dosage. You should be feeling the full effects of an edible within two hours.
Cannabis edibles are here to stay, and as more and more people acknowledge the potential dangers of smoking, it’s safe to say that the demand for edibles will probably boom. Whether you’re buying them from a professional producer or making them yourself, it’s always a good idea to take it slow and see how edibles will affect you. Those powerful, long-lasting effects are great if enjoyed in moderation, but that potency and longevity can turn nasty if you eat too much. Try out what the market has to offer, and sample some of the tasty options available!