Edibles are becoming increasingly common in the world of medical cannabis.
For starters, someone whose first time using cannabis is more likely to enjoy eating delicious food than smoking.
However, equally important to understand is the effects of edibles, THC, and what can happen if you ingest too much THC. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has even reported that increased use of these foods and drinks has resulted in more emergency room visits.
Edibles can produce a high that lasts several hours. And with a brownie that's potent enough, the psychoactive effects could last much longer than those from a bong hit.
Anyone who has had a bad experience from an edible will tell you, the effect is intense. But many people consume edibles regularly to feel the effects as a body high as opposed to the head high smoking often brings.
This article will discuss edibles, their effects, and more to offer insight into making this a safe, pleasurable experience during treatment.
What are Cannabis Edibles?
An edible is any food or drink that's infused with cannabis. This means that a food or drink item is created to contain cannabinoids – usually, THC or CBD – and then consumed by the end-user.
Edibles are often used as pain-relieving medications because they can take up to an hour to affect the consumer, which also allows for longer-lasting effects than smoking.
But edibles can also be a fun and unique way to use cannabis. And many people who consume them regularly prefer the body high they offer over smoking.
Additionally, medical patients will find these more appealing than other methods for consuming cannabis. Since these generally have no odor and are easy to carry around without attracting attention, it's a great alternative to marijuana flower.
Common Kinds of Cannabis Edibles
Edibles come in all shapes, sizes, and potencies. The most common, of course, is the brownie.
The marijuana-infused brownie is the epitome of cannabis edibles. This is a timeless snack that has commonly been eaten for non-medical purposes long before cannabis for medical use became legal.
But these days, medical cannabis patients like to eat brownie edibles for the effects it has on pain. The THC is easily absorbed into the bloodstream after a patient finishes eating an infused brownie, potentially offering hours of relief.
Cookie edibles are now growing in popularity, especially for home bakers. The absorption rate is the same as with brownies, but the cookies are usually easier to dose.
Getting the right dose for cookies is easier because makers simply weigh the dough to get accurate dosing. With brownies, the effects tend to vary because they're typically baked in a single tray and then sliced without much precision.
Candy infusions are also growing in popularity. Whether lozenges, gummies, or something else, eating something sweet as a treatment for pain is always a good time.
One study highlights that hard candies can kick in quite fast, within 15 to 45 minutes. However, most other edibles take 30 to 180 minutes to feel.
Some people prefer gummies, or normally sour-tasting candy infused with cannabis. The effects tend to be gentler and, for some people, they're more effective than the relief they'd achieve from smoking a joint.
Additionally, those who like to keep their edibles in their pockets have an easy way to do so without attracting attention with candies that don't have any scent.
Marijuana drinks are also growing in popularity. Whether it's CBD or THC, patients enjoy getting a dose of cannabinoids by consuming a drink.
Some brands have launched CBD coffee or THC soda water infusions. The seltzers are especially popular for those who want to avoid sugary drinks.
The Effects of Edibles
The effects of edibles vary from person to person depending on several variables.
The most obvious is the type of food used. Brownies tend to produce a more intense high than candy, for instance, because more THC can be consumed in one sitting. There's less control over the dose size when a patient eats brownies.
A dose of THC can vary depending on how many brownie squares you eat. The same goes for cookies or other types of edibles that are generally measured by weight.
While the method an infused treat is consumed impacts how it'll hit, this food infusion can be quite tricky. One edible can kick in differently than another, and for those lacking a tolerance to them, the way one affects the body can make a person think they're going to die.
But don't worry. A THC infusion is unlikely to kill you. While it might affect how you feel towards food infusions in the future, edible consumption has never killed a person.
The THC found in edibles gets absorbed into the bloodstream after it’s metabolized in the liver. Therefore, when you eat an edible compared to inhaling marijuana smoke, you will feel its effects much more intensely and for a longer period of time.
High doses start at around 20mg of THC. These doses carry higher risks because of the way the cannabinoids metabolize in the liver. One review article highlights that the effects can come as a result of as little as 2.5mg. However, some might have a higher tolerance, demanding 50mg or more to experience the effects.
THC absorption varies between different products. But despite edibles and their low absorption rate, the fact that they're so easy to consume makes it easy to eat too much THC or CBD.
While too much CBD or THC will not kill you, it can hit hard. The related body feeling can last for hours after you feel it kick in, and it can be a while until the feeling leaves your system.
Smoking and vaping THC or CBD offers a feel that will wear off faster. But it can kick in quicker, too. Most users report a high effect that comes on almost instantly while smoking or vaping.
However, with edibles, it can take considerably longer to feel the high. This depends on your metabolism and how large of a dose you ate.
Edibles vs. Cannabis Smoke
A major difference between smoking and consuming edibles for those who are sensitive to THC is their level of 11-Hydroxy-THC.
Smoking produces much less 11-Hydroxy-THC than the liver metabolism of an edible. But those who consume edibles may have a stronger reaction because there is more of it.
When a person smokes cannabis, they get a "high" effect in about 10 minutes or less, while it takes around 30 minutes, sometimes more, to feel the same high from an edible.
The period of psychoactive effects is longer when you consume edibles. This is because the THC isn't absorbed into your bloodstream, but rather metabolized by your liver before being secreted into your bloodstream and brain approximately 45 minutes later.
The effects of an edible can last between four to eight hours or more, while the smoke high lasts about three to four hours on average. However, equally important to understand is the fact that edibles are much easier to over-consume.
Edibles vs. Vaping Cannabis
Vaping cannabis is similar to when someone smokes cannabis. Thus, the difference between vaping cannabis and ingesting cannabis edibles is relatively clear.
Vaping is one of the healthier forms of cannabis consumption. Instead of impacting lung health with combusted cannabis, vapes offer a way to get cannabinoids into your system without the combustion.
Another benefit of vaping is that it's a controlled high. Rather than putting a dose into your body and waiting for the onset, vapers can adjust their dose accordingly for hours. This makes maintaining a body buzz easier than with edibles.
Once an edible is in your body, it's there. The related high that comes is virtually unstoppable, and the related effects are somewhat unpredictable if you've never used edibles before.
Vaping is easier to predict. While vapes come in many forms, one thing remains the same: even though they can be potent, the impact they have on your body is concise in small doses.
Are Edibles Safer Than Other Consumption Methods?
While there have been reports of people having bad experiences with edibles, most doctors agree that this form of cannabis consumption is safer than combustion from smoke. When you eat cannabis, the metabolization of THC takes place in your liver rather than entering your lungs and bloodstream like when a person smokes.
Edibles don't call for combustion, and since you're not inhaling smoke or vapor, your organs don't experience the effects of combusted plant matter. While more research is necessary to determine how edibles can impact health, compared to other consumption methods, the health effects of an edible you ate aren't so terrible.
One common problem with edibles is that they can bring on anxiety. If this happens, wait a couple of hours for the feeling to subside, and don't mix edibles with alcohol.
Taking edibles carefully is essential. Carelessly devouring a bunch of butter infusions might be hard on the stomach, but the way it impacts the mind can be even more worrisome.
What Happens When You Eat Potent Cannabis Edibles?
Potent cannabis edibles offer a high and relaxation, along with some euphoria. The way a person's system feels after consuming an edible depends on the type of cannabinoids present and the potency.
Since cannabis products are rarely toxic, there's not a high risk of overdosing. However, it can be easy to eat too much THC, which can cause some severe side effects.
Below we discuss some of the side effects an edible might bring on. If you feel any of these side effects are serious, make sure to seek medical attention rather than reading information on the internet! This information should never be used to replace the advice of a doctor or physician.
Some common adverse side effects of eating overly potent edibles include:
If you find yourself feeling anxious from cannabis-infused food, take several deep breaths and relax. If you've taken THC, try using some CBD to calm you down. CBD naturally counteracts the anxiety properties of THC, making it perfect for lowering the effect intensity.
You might begin sweating if you've consumed something especially potent. If you are, make sure you stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, and if you feel like you're overheating, try taking a cool shower or washing some cool water over your wrists.
Dizziness can occur in some cases. This is often how you know your edible is potent, and the THC levels have knocked you off your feet. Drink some water and relax. Try laying down if you feel that might help.
If you have a dry mouth after you eat or drink an edible, make sure to have some water nearby. You can try chewing on some mints and gum as well.
Other side effects you might experience include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Panic attacks
- Trouble concentrating or thinking
How to Safely Consume Edibles
If you don't want to get too high, edibles offer a safe way to consume cannabis if used responsibly. If someone eats pot brownies and they're not feeling anything, they can always try again in a couple of hours because getting higher isn't as easy as it is when smoking or vaping.
But with this being said, remember that edibles offer a controlled high. This means that it's easy to get too intense of a body experience, so proceed with caution when eating cannabis products.
If you want to eat THC-infused foods but don't want to get too stoned, start with one or two milligrams of THC and wait until you feel the resulting effect before consuming more.
If you're feeling apprehensive because it's your first time, try eating an edible in smaller doses over the course of a couple of hours rather than eating it all at once. Three milligrams is usually enough to provide relief from pain but not enough to produce a body high with some people, so be smart and know your limits when using edibles.
If you've never taken edibles before, start with a tiny dose – such as half a brownie – to make sure your body can handle it. Ingesting an entire THC-infused treat could be too much for some people's systems. But keep in mind the potency of your treat.
The potency of edibles is measured in milligrams (mg), with common THC edible serving sizes between 5 mg and 100 mg, or 1/8th of an ounce.
If you're trying cannabis for the first time as a flower-only smoker, try eating your dose in stages. For instance, take half of the food at one point and save the rest for later. If after a couple of hours you don't feel anything, try eating a little more.