Marijuana legalization is happening all across the United States, and legalization has brought new, more convenient ways to consume cannabis. Edibles have been around since your dad was eating pot brownies at Woodstock, but today’s legal market may mystify even the most experienced users. Medical patients and recreational consumers alike may be surprised by the hundreds of edible marijuana products differing in type, taste, potency and packaging that fill up dispensary shelves today. The team at Whaxy has partnered with Medical Jane, to introduce to you this educational guide, promoting knowledgeable and responsible cannabis consumption.
There are a several important things to remember when you consume marijuana edibles to have a safe experience. For experienced marijuana consumers many of the common pitfalls may seem obvious, but consuming edibles can produce an entirely different experience than smoking. Whether it’s choosing the right product or determining the right amount to eat, novices and experts have many of the same questions.
1. What Type Of Edible Is Best?
Nearly any type of food can be infused with cannabis, as long as it contains some form of lipids (fats). The effects between different types of edibles do not vary widely, so this is mainly a question of personal preference. The most notable difference between edible types is how they are absorbed into the body.
There are two different ways in which edibles can be absorbed into the bloodstream; sublingual and gastrointestinal. The first, sublingual, is latin for “under the tongue.” This type of absorption occurs when consuming suckers, lozenges, tinctures, or hard candy. This occurs at a much faster rate than gastrointestinal absorption because the cannabinoids are able to enter directly into the bloodstream through the tissues of the mouth.
Gastrointestinal absorption does not happen until the edible has entered the digestive tract. This means it will take longer to feel the effects. This type of absorption occurs when you consume items such as brownies, cookies, baked goods, savory snacks, and drinks.
2. How Much Should I Eat?
How much depends on your past experience with marijuana. For rookies, the rule is start low and go slow. Many, including the state of Colorado, suggest a starting dosage of 10 mg. This may not seem like much for experienced smokers and those who have an high tolerance for marijuana, but everyone consuming cannabis should err on the side of caution.
The Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation recently produced the First Time Five website, which recommends only 5mg of infused edibles to ensure that no consumer, medical or recreational, has a poor experience. Remember that you can always eat more, but once it’s in your system you have to ride out the effects.
3. How Long Until They Kick In?
Unlike smoking marijuana, the effects of edibles may not be felt for up to and beyond 90 minutes. Peak effects may be delayed up to 2 hours, whereas the peak effects of smoking or vaporizing come in as little as 5-10 minutes. This is because of the way our bodies process THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
When smoked, delta-9 THC bypasses processing by the liver and directly enters our bloodstream via the lungs. When eaten, cannabis is metabolized by the liver, changing delta-9 THC into 11-hydroxy-THC. This results in a slower onset with more intense effects. The effects of the digested 11-hydroxy-THC are often described as being more psychedelic.
Planning your experience is extremely important. First and foremost, always make sure that edibles are properly labeled and stored in child-resistant containers that are kept out-of-reach. It is wise to be in a safe and controlled environment, especially for inexperienced users, as it may reduce possible feelings of anxiety.
It may be smart to set your limits before you begin and not exceed those limits. With alcohol, you might say, “I will only have one beer.” Similarly you can set your limits and stick to them. Chocolates and truffles are extremely easy to gobble up, but you have to remember that they are medicated.
Never get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana. A safe and comfortable environment is highly recommended and if you have to leave, use a designated driver.
Always keep non-infused snacks on hand to prevent over-consumption of your marijuana edibles due to a case of the munchies. Drink plenty of water, and do not consume on an empty stomach, as this may intensify the effects.
If you are making your own edibles, make sure to choose a strain that you are familiar with. Before cooking, determine how strong you would like each serving to be. We have created an edibles calculator that will help you determine how many milligrams will be in each serving of your homemade goodies.
Photo Credit: Zé.Valdi
This post was originally published on December 2, 2014, it was updated on October 5, 2017.