What Do We Mean When We Talk About Cannabis ‘Edibles?’
Many people look to an alternative to smoking cannabis. Maybe you are trying to avoid the stench of bong water. Or maybe it’s the overall time commitment of bong maintenance that you hate. Some people have quit smoking and the prospect of sparking up a joint could be triggering an old addiction. However you arrive at the idea of eating your cannabis, it’s important to recognize that it’s very different from inhaling it. The effects may feel slightly different and they can potentially last much longer.
So technically, edibles are any ingestible forms of cannabis where cannabis is extracted and infused into food or beverages. The industry is improving the process so that the active ingredients are able to bond to more and more foods, not just butter or oil like in the past. So what are the active ingredients? The star of the show is tetrahydrocannabinol, but you probably know her as THC. Her co-star is likely CBD, or cannabidiol, the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis. The differences of the two are being explored and the topic is big enough to cover in a separate article altogether.
Common Types Of Edibles
The most common types of edibles are:
- Cannabis infused in foods
- Cannabis infused in drinks
- Cannabis Tincture
- Cannabanoid Powder
- CBD-only varieties
If cannabis is infused into a food, it’s likely that the cannabis was combined with an oil, butter, or sugar, and processed into the food. The foods can include cupcakes, cotton candy, chocolate bars, garlic butter, salad dressing and many others. It’s probably a shorter list of what cannot be laced with cannabis. The ingredients are activated, and bonded to an oil or sugar. Even though a food has cannabis infused in it, you may not be able to smell or taste the presence of it. You can make your own cannabis oil or sugar at home, or buy it at your local dispensary – which lets you add THC to almost any food or drink.
If cannabis is infused into a drink, it could be made with cannabis flowers and steeped like a tea, or it could be once again, a sugar with THC in it is added to a drink. Think of a grape or orange soda, but with a hint of herb. There are also wines being developed that incorporate cannabis.
A cannabis tincture is often more concentrated and made by boiling down cannabis and filtering it into an oil that you can consume by the droplet. This is helpful for some because you are able to measure droplets to measure dosage, a factor that can be hard to control when consuming a baked good or gummy.
Cannabinoid powders are newer products on the markets that greatly reduce the taste and smell of the edible THC and CBD, so that you can add them to almost anything without being easily detected. They are easy to bake with or add right into a smoothie.
When you decide on the form of edibles, you may also experiment with CBD instead of THC. People who get overwhelmed by the effects of THC, or simply do not prefer it, should try CBD. CBD has many benefits and can provide the therapeutic effects of cannabis without making the user “high.”
The type of edible that you take will have a lot of influence over how long the effects take to kick in and how long they will last for. You can find edibles with just CBD, just THC, or edibles that have a balance of both. Edibles with a high milligram count of active content will have a more potent effect and last longer.
Edibles like hard candy and gum, as well as beverages, are quicker to take effect than others because they start absorbing through your mouth and stomach. Most edibles like baked goods, travel to the stomach before being broken down inside the liver. You’re adding in more complications if there is alcohol in the mix, competing for liver processing. (This is one reason to consider the broader warning to “be careful of mixing edible cannabis and alcohol”. )
The label of your edible is helpful to see how much THC or CBD you are consuming. But this is very dependent on your body type, your digestion, and your tolerance to cannabis. I would even argue that there is a difference between your edible tolerance vs your inhaling tolerance.
What Is An Edibles ‘High’ Like?
Edibles will most likely give a body-focused high that is deeper penetrating and develops with time. In some people, they can also do the exact opposite with a more mind-focused high, and for some, the high doesn’t ever start. Most tend to feel a pleasant body numbness known as “couch-lock”. Some people seek this kind of numbness because it reduces pain, or simply enjoy the feeling. Expect the unexpected, and expect a delay when eating or drinking, compared to inhaling.
When cannabis is consumed instead of inhaled, it’s hitting your liver instead of your lungs. So where lungs might take a few seconds to register an overload, your liver will take between 40 mins to 4 hours, before letting you know there’s an overload.
What’s an overload of cannabis feel like? Increased anxiety, increase in heart rate and blood pressure, paranoia, short-term memory loss, we’ve seen these when people smoke too much, but it’s often easier to get in too deep with edibles if you are unsure of your tolerance or dosing.
The relationship between THC and CBD is pretty complex, but CBD could (in some instances) serve as a sort of antidote for too much THC in your system. While more research is required to understand this relationship, there is some science to back up that claim, read here for a deeper look. Hopefully after reading this article, you won’t find yourself in that situation.
Dosing can be very tricky for some and no big deal for others. You might enjoy the feeling of a 3mg dose on a full stomach but it trips you out hard if you take the 3mg dose on an empty stomach. That brings us to our next topic!
What Influences How Strong An Edible Is?
How long do edibles take to kick in? What if you have to drive your grandma to the bingo hall later that night? You need to know how long do edibles last in your system, right? And finally, we need to know what a comfortable dose of edible cannabis would be, and how we might see it measured on labels and packaging.
Beginners should know that although they take longer to set in, the psychoactive effects of edibles can be far more intense and last longer than other methods. Edibles typically need between 60-90 minutes to take effect, and can last from 6-8 hours.
So make sure that you take into account:
- The dosage you are about to ingest -It’s much easier to increase dosage gradually, than to decrease it after the fact.
- Your metabolism -Consumers with high metabolism are likely to feel the effects faster than those with low metabolism. Similarly, the effects will be shorter for consumers with a high end liver, as the cannabis is processed and broken down by the body quicker. If your liver sucks, or is busy doing other things, it’s going to take a while to get high, and take longer to get sober.
- The type of edible -Dispensary edibles are typically made with more advanced methods utilizing a cannabis concentrate like live resin or live rosin. The quality of cannabis is going to directly affect how strong your edible is.
- Your bodyweight and stomach contents -It’s generally good advice to eat a meal before taking an edible. The effects of the edible will be hitting hard and fast on an empty stomach or an occupied liver. Other factors include age, health conditions, or medications so talk to a doc if you’re concerned.
How Long Does An Edible High Last?
You might feel high within minutes after smoking cannabis, but it takes up to 1 to 2 hours for the average adult. You may feel an edible hit as soon as 30 minutes after taking it, if you want it to hit faster, there are ways to do this like described above. If you want an edible to last longer, you can control your diet to draw the experience out.
The effects of an edible may last 4 to 6 hours, and some people feel effects for up to 12 hours. Personal results will vary. If you’re looking for a more technical answer, say for a drug test, you can check out our article on how long THC stays in your system.
How To Get The Right Edible Dose
Getting the dosage right with edibles is really a case by case basis, there’s almost no good metric for judging how many milligrams of THC you should ingest to get the perfect amount of high. The best bet is to find the sort of standards of the edible you are trying to consume, and start low, working your way up. You will, over time, find your own sweet spot for edibles, but it takes some testing and experimentation.
For example, I’m trying out this new THC/CBD drink that has 10 mg of THC and 10 mg of CBD, because it’s Valencia Orange flavor and I like Oranges! But wait, there’s a Muscat Grape version with 5 mg of THC and CBD, and a Bing Cherry version with 3mg of just CBD.
How do I dose myself, or find the right level of high?
So my process of dosing will involve maybe trying just half a can of the stronger orange drink, because I am confident with my tolerance levels, and I think that high of a dose will be about right, but it seems like the strongest option the store sells, so I’ll opt for a bit of caution and start with half the can.
Alternatively, my process of dosing might involve maybe trying the whole can of the less concentrated grape drink, and because I am confident with my tolerance levels, and I think that medium dose will be about right, it’s also the middle option the store sells, so I’ll probably be able to tolerate that pretty well.
The cherry option, the drink with only CBD, would be great for me when I want to get a good night’s rest. Another reason I might get the CBD-only drink might be to take the edge off from having too much THC in my system. I recommend looking further into the “entourage effect” so you can take advantage of full spectrum cannabinoids.
It Also Depends On The User
Like many things, the effects are going to vary from user to user, but the best way to figure that out is to use! Edibles shouldn’t be feared, but they definitely should be respected, as they can pack an invisible punch. As long as the user is mindful and proceeds with caution, there shouldn’t be too much discomfort. Many users are so happy with edibles that they can’t imagine going through their lungs ever again, and in medical cases where lungs aren’t an option, it’s great to have another method.
A great way to get started is to visit your local dispensary, and talk to the staff. You can explain to them what experience you’re hoping to achieve, and any experience (or lack thereof) you’ve had with edibles in the past – and ask for a recommendation to help lead you on the right path!