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The benefits, effects, and how-to of consuming cannabis edibles

The benefits, effects, and how-to of consuming cannabis edibles

What’s a cannabis edible?

Ah, you guessed it! We knew our HelloHigh community was smart. Simply put, a cannabis edible is something you digest that contains cannabinoids. You know these substances as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that produces the “high” effect. But THC isn’t the only superstar of the edible craze. 

Cannabis edibles also can contain CBD, which holds tremendous medical benefits but does not produce a high effect. And then, there are the more obscure cannabinoids that yield specific results like CBN (for sleep), CBG (for pain), and THCV (for mood). 

How are cannabis edibles made?

The first step in this edible-making process is extracting the cannabinoids from the plant (flower). But first, the THC must be activated by applying heat to the plant. Typically, this happens with the flame of a lighter. But the THC can also be triggered by running the ground flower in an oven for 30 minutes. This process is called decarboxylation. 

Once the THC has been activated, it is ready to be extracted. And since cannabis is fat-soluble, it is then submerged in a lipid-rich medium such as butter or coconut oil. Slow cookers, double boilers, and insta-pots are great tools for creating high-potency cannabutter. 

Once the cannabis has been infused into either cannabutter or cannabis-infused oil, it can be used to make all kinds of fun things to eat! You know, brownies, cookies, popcorn topping (be careful with that), and other gourmet baked items. Cannabis can also be infused into an alcohol-based tincture, producing those infamous, easy-to-make, and fun-to-eat gummies. 

Will I get super high from edibles? 

You may have heard of people who ate too many edibles and had an uncomfortable experience. We don’t want that to happen to you! So here is some green-room wisdom before you delve into these delectables. 

The body processes inhaled cannabis differently than ingested cannabis. When taken orally (edibles), the liver metabolizes the THC into 11-hydroxy-THC. This produces a far longer-lasting effect than simply smoking, vaping, or dabbing your favorite cannabis strain. 

Pro-Tip: Eat with caution. Two hours is the average time for a cannabis edible to be felt. Start with tiny doses until you are familiar with how it reacts in your body, and dose up from there. 

Cannabis Edibles Work This Way

Smoking or vaping cannabis provides fast results, which makes it a popular choice for many cannabis enthusiasts. It enters the lungs, then is quickly transferred to the bloodstream. Cannabis edibles, however, are processed through the stomach and the liver. This means the journey is longer between entering the body and reaching the blood and the brain, producing the desired effect.  

The upside to the edible scenario is that the effects last much longer than inhaling and tend to be more mellow than that first jolt of smoke or vapor, which is felt immediately. So if you are the take-it-easy kind of cannabis consumer looking for a long mellow ride, edibles might just be your cup of cannabis tea! 

Pro-tip: If you want to give the effect of your edibles a little kick-start, follow up your edible with a high-fat snack such as buttered popcorn. Also, if you consume them on an empty stomach, you will feel the effects much more quickly than after a big meal.

How long will my edible high last?

Now, you know that you won’t feel the effects immediately due to the metabolism of edibles in the body. You can expect the high from the edible to reach its peak around 1-2 hours after digesting your gummies, cookie, or whatever else you have dreamed up. Once you start feeling high, you can expect that to last about 2-3 hours. 

Smoking cannabis is different. Usually, you start feeling the effect in 10 minutes with around a 30 to 60-minute cycle before having to light up again. 

Factors to consider that will affect the delivery of cannabis into your system include age, pre-existing conditions, and other medications. But with edibles, the contents of your stomach might play the biggest role. 

And while edibles might feel strong compared to the cannabis you inhale, they deliver a smaller concentration of cannabinoids to the blood. When you inhale cannabis, the cannabinoids that find their way into your bloodstream rank at around 50-60%. Whoa! But edibles are only delivering 10-20% into the bloodstream. This might account for the slow and mellow affect most edibles have on those who consume them. 

Pro-Tip: Just because you might be a veteran cannabis user doesn’t mean a cannabis gummy won’t kick your a**. Remember the edibles rule of thumb, start slow and dose up as you go. 

Smoking, vaping, or swallowing: What cannabis delivery system is right for you?

Not everyone wants to inhale smoke or vape steam into their lungs. Thankfully, edibles are a great alternative for that. They are also an excellent option for medical patients who need a longer-acting solution for pain relief. 

Edibles are safer on the body with little exposure to the carcinogens often associated with smoking weed. And that’s some really great news for many a canna-consumer. 

Another big perk to the edible option is the longer-acting effects of the edible. This makes edibles a desirable solution for those fighting chronic pain, inflammation, and chemo-induced nausea. 

Chronic insomniac? Edibles might be what you reach for in addition to your chamomile tea. Due to their longevity, edibles can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. This is paramount when using cannabis for pain relief when pain is the cause of waking in the middle of the night. 

The many forms of cannabis edibles 

What makes cannabis edibles fun is the many forms they can take. Once the cannabis is extracted from the plant and infused into butter or oil, the possibilities are endless… well, mostly. 

Here are some fun ways to consume your edibles:

  • Cannabutter Brownies, cookies, and other fun baked items.
  • Chocolates? Yes, please!
  • Caramel and other candies.
  • Ice Cream? You betcha!
  • Mints for a mellow minty high.
  • Lozenges and under the tongue sublingual.
  • Lollipops (but don’t eat the whole thing at once!)
  • Sodas, waters, cannabis-infused beverages.
  • Yes, even beef jerky! 

Both professional and at-home chefs are cooking up new ways to marry this miracle plant with their favorite delicacies.  

Have food restrictions and sensitivities? 

Not to worry. There is a cannabis edible for every dietary restriction. For cannabis consumers with severe food allergies and sensitivities, cannabis oil from a dropper may be your best bet. Alternatively, lozenges may be a good option that avoids much of the baked goods, sugar, and gelatin in other edible types.

Edibles & Dispensaries 

It used to be someone showed up with a tray of pot brownies, and the party began. Many party-goers had no clue what was actually in those brownies or how potent they were. However, with the legalization of marijuana and the popularity of dispensaries, edibles are more regulated than ever before. And this is excellent for people who prefer a more medical approach than a recreational one. 

Let’s talk dosing. Legal, licensed dispensaries will carry edibles that are accurately dosed. The dose is clearly labeled on the package and produced accurately, similar to other medications. Most regulations cap the amount of THC in a package of edibles or jar of capsules to 100mg. For each unit (tablet, mint, lozenge, chocolate), the max dose is 10mg. When it comes to CBD, however, since there is no “high” effect, the dosage is not limited. 

This measured dosing allows recreational and medical users to have a consistent cannabis experience they can rely on and become familiar with. 

What kind of edibles do dispensaries carry? 

Dispensaries cater to a wide range of consumer tastes and needs. You will often find “fun” options of gummies, cookies, chocolate bars, and cannabis-infused beverages. For those who want a more “medical” experience, capsules, mints, tinctures, and oils are also available. 

Most popular edible? 

You guessed it, the tried and true guru of the edible world is the cannabis gummy. It was one of the first to hit dispensaries due to its versatility, ease of consumption, and acurate dosing. They are also easy to produce, making it a win-win for producers, dispensaries, and consumers alike. 

Close on the heels of the gummy are other much-loved baked goods and treats such as cookies and chocolate bars. As the cannabis craze continues, more creative consumables will surely hit your local dispensary or HelloHigh box soon. 

But what about the taste? 

Are you wondering if your cannabis edibles are going to have that signature skunky taste? Well, worry no more. Cannabis producers today have become quite crafty and masking the taste of cannabis. And while baked goods made with cannabutter can hint at a pot aroma, it is mild and often hidden by the baked good itself. But if you really don’t want to taste any hint of cannabis in your edible, chocolates might be the best choice for delighting your taste buds. 

The beautiful benefits of edibles

Oh, they are so many; where should we begin? 

  • No carcinogens – You don’t have to light up and smoke anything to get the many benefits cannabis provides when using edibles. 
  • No aroma – Not everyone likes to smell like a stoner! With edibles, there is no tell-tale scent that you are a cannabis user. 
  • Discretion – Edibles allow for discreet use. Just pop a gummy in your mouth, and you are on your way to the relief you seek.  
  • Simplicity – With edibles, all you need is the edible. No other paraphernalia is necessary, such as bongs, pipes, rolling papers, bowls, or lighters. 
  • Long-Lasting Relief – Due to the delayed delivery system and long-lasting effect, this makes edibles the top choice for medical patients and those struggling with anxiety and insomnia. 

Top 3 uses of cannabis edibles

Chronic Pain – No one likes to be in pain. Yet roughly 20% of American adults are suffering from some form of chronic pain. With the opioid epidemic killing people at alarming rates, cannabis is an excellent substitute with fewer risks. But do not rely on THC alone. The most effective way to control chronic pain is through a blend of THC and CBD. This miracle blend of cannabinoids hits more receptors in the endocannabinoid system in the brain providing optimal and long-lasting relief. 

Anxiety – Cannabis edibles have successfully treated adults with generalized anxiety. But a word of caution. The right strain is something to consider. Stay away from high-THC, Sativa-based strains, which can cause paranoia in some people. Stick with Indica based strains, adding some CBD to the mix. 

Insomnia – For those wanting a non-narcotic or hypnotic sleep solution, the cannabinoid CBN can bring sweet dreams. Often these edibles will be blended with botanicals and other sleep aids to provide a perfect night of rest and relaxation without sedating side effects. 

Want to speak to a professional budtender about the edibles that are right for you?

All HighHello members get a monthly session with a virtual budtender. Take advantage of this personalized service; subscribe today!

Not ready for exclusive membership benefits? Visit The Green Room for other cannabis resources.

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