Today’s cannabis edibles are not your father’s pot brownies from days gone by. Edibles today are available as candy bars, cereal bars, gummies, cookies, and, yes, brownies. In fact, edibles is the fastest growing product category in cannabis products. Many people are beginning to make their own while others find it more convenient to purchase edibles from a dispensary. Last year, Californians spent $180 million on cannabis-infused foods while Oklahomans are just now able to access legal edibles, and they’re quickly growing in popularity.
How Edibles Are Made
Whether you make your own or purchase from a dispensary, it’s helpful to know how edibles are made. It’s not as simple as grinding up some cannabis and tossing it in a recipe. Edibles can be made from buds, trim, kief, hash, or concentrate.
Raw cannabis contains THCa and CBDa, or acidic compounds that must be converted into useable THC and CBD. The conversion process is called decarboxylation, which involves heating the cannabis for a period of time. This process can produce specific cannabis compounds selected for the end user’s needs. Heating temperatures and the length of time in the conversion process determine which compounds are dominant in a particular edible. This process can produce high THC, low CBD edibles, low THC, high CBD, CBN, CBC, or CBG depending on the length of time it is heated.
THC dominant edibles offer pain relief, is an antidepressant, and can stimulate appetite. Edibles high in CBD are useful for fibromyalgia, inflammation and epilepsy while edibles high in CBN are useful as a sedative. Patients experiencing depression or pain benefit from edibles high in CBC. Those dealing with inflammation or glaucoma find relief with edibles high in CBG.
A final consideration in the creation of edibles is the ratio of CBD and THC that make up what is known as the entourage effect – utilizing different cannabis compounds in different ratios to achieve a desired therapeutic effect. A ration of no CBD to one part THC promotes relaxation and increases appetite. One part CBD to three parts THC helps with anxiety and stress. One part CBD to one part THC addresses insomnia and fibromyalgia while three parts CBD to one part THC is best for Chron’s Disease and autoimmune diseases. One part CBD to no THC helps those with PTSD, epilepsy, anxiety, and depression.
As medical cannabis chefs and processors continue to research and experiment, they are moving toward making patient-specific edibles. A fibromyalgia patient might find what works best is CBD dominant Indica edible. In the near future this patient will be able to go to their dispensary and place an order for edibles made to match that condition. The dispensary will then place an order with a licensed processor, and the order will be filled and returned to the dispensary for patient pick up.
The ability to make patient-specific edibles will help patients with all kinds of conditions have access to the exact THC and CBD ratio, and compound-specific medicine to meet their individual needs.
Benefits of Edibles
One of the most significant benefits of consuming edibles is to eliminate inhaling smoke. Although cannabis has never been known to cause lung problems, some people are just unable to handle smokable cannabis. Eating cannabis has a whole body effect meaning that the cannabinoids are absorbed in the body, not just acting on the brain. Cannabis leaves contain large volumes of vitamin C and K, iron, calcium and folate. Edible cannabis is also loaded with antioxidants that protect cells and blood vessels.
One edible chef, Jessica, recently said, “I started making them because my husband has a condition where his body attacks his joints causing severe inflammation, and his doctor doesn’t know why. He doesn’t smoke, and the edibles are the only thing that give him relief.”
People who have a high tolerance for THC are encouraged to stop smoking for a few days before trying edibles. This short break helps ensure you get maximum effect from the edibles you’ve selected. Because THC is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, you may not feel any effect for the first 30 to 90 minutes, and the effect is not at all like the immediate feeling when smoked. Seasoned edible consumers suggest starting with small doses and waiting at least two hours before deciding to take more. In addition to the amount of THC per dose, the time of day plays an important role. For those dealing with insomnia will want to have indica dominant edibles and eaten in the evening to promote sleep. For those needing to focus on a project, a sativa dominant edible eaten early in the day has been found to be helpful.
Regardless of the variety and frequency, most edible users recommend not taking cannabis edibles on an empty stomach.
First Time Advice
Overwhelmingly, the first and most adamant bit of advice edible users give to newbies is to take it slow. If you’re using edibles for the high, old timers explain that what you feel from eating is totally different from smoking. Experienced users like Joseph tell of their own bad experiences from consuming too much, too fast, “The experience itself was almost overwhelming as I probably ate two or three of the brownies. I remember feeling like my body was almost comatose and I was quite lethargic for over a day. The best advice there is when it comes to edibles is start very slow and micro dose.”
If you’re buying edibles at a dispensary don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. Edibles were new to all of us, and your dispensary medic will be happy to answer your questions and assist you in selecting the edible that’s right for you.