Marijuana edibles are food products made with cannabis through either herbal or resin (hash) forms of infusion. They are consumed as an alternative delivery means for experiencing the effects of cannabinoids without smoking or vaporizing marijuana or hashish. Instead, the cannabinoids are placed into various products to be consumed for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Since many marijuana edibles mimic “normal” looking cookies and candies, they are a more discrete method of using cannabis when in public. With the growing sophistication level of customers regarding the various strains of marijuana and their hybrids, most edibles licensed in Colorado will include amount of THC and CBD levels in the product, as well as serving sizes. Typically, the same item will be available with Sativa, Indica and Hybrid marijuana strains in various potencies.
What Makes a Good Edible?
Personal taste is the most obvious choice of what makes a good edible. Most people want an edible that not only tastes good, but does not have a strong marijuana taste. Marijuana edibles that are easy to be divided into portions so that you know how much you are ingesting is also another popular request.
Before legal medical marijuana and the revolutions in lab testing, it was extremely difficult to determine the potency of edibles. But, now most have the THC content listed in milligrams on the label. Legalization has made cannabis foods more understood, but this is a Catch-22 as now there is an entirely new audience of users whom have no idea of what to expect.
So, you have never eaten cannabis, what should you expect? Eating 10-25 milligrams of THC will make your muscles relax, while giggling and silliness are common. You will feel relaxed and might just get the some of the best rest ever. This “high” can last anywhere from four to six hours, or could be even longer when consuming higher doses. Keep in mind that everyone’s metabolism is different, so this is just a general guideline.
Awareness that marijuana infused products can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect is important to those who consume edibles. Many people do not realize that eating marijuana edibles is different from smoking. The “high” tends to affect the body more than the head. In addition, many people underestimate the potency in edibles made from marijuana. Children are prone to accidental ingestions since so many of them come in the form of sweets, cookies, candies, cakes etc.
In Colorado, a task force has been put into place to avoid accidental ingestion by children, and limit the amounts that can be purchased. Colorado lawmakers are tyring to prevent accidental ingestion by children, but people also need to be more responsible about leaving marijuana edibles in plain sight when children are present.
Here are some tips for edible cannabis safety for new consumers:
- Go low and slow: Start with a low dose of 10 milligrams of THC and wait two hours before consuming any more.
- Do not mix with alcohol: Combining marijuana edibles with alcohol should only be attempted by those who have mastered both substances. Smoking marijuana while drinking a beer is completely different than consuming an edible with alcohol. A few beers will magnify the effects of edibles, causing nausea and dizziness.
- Eat a proper meal: Edibles are much more intense when eaten on an empty stomach. Make sure to eat a solid, nutritious meal before taking your THC dose.
- Don't drive or operate heavy machinery: Save the cannabis until you are in a safe place and ready to relax.
- Remain calm: If you do happen to overindulge, remember that you will eventually recover. Simply retreat to a safe place where you can lay down, listen to music and you will most likely drift to sleep. Upon waking, you will feel rested.
Medical Marijuana Smoking vs. Edibles
Although inhaling marijuana smoke is a fast way to introduce cannabinoids into the blood stream, it is not the healthiest way to consume cannabis. Hot oils from the inhaled smoke in contact with ones lungs can cause internal damage. Smoking marijuana also introduces the possibility of inhaling mold spores, which could cause a myriad of health issues in patients with autoimmune disorders.
There is also the debate about lung cancer and whether smoking marijuana can cause it. We all know that tobacco smoke contains nicotine, which can cause cancer, but cannabis smoke does not include nicotine – it has cannabinoids, which can function as an anti-oxidant instead. The University of Colorado Cancer Center released a report stating, “There is little direct evidence that THC or other cannabinoids are carcinogenic.”
This is not to say that marijuana smoke doesn’t have its adverse side effects. Long-term exposure has been shown to accelerate the decline in pulmonary function in some people, but for many patients, the increase in their quality of life associated with smoking cannabis is worth the long-term risk of inhaling smoke.
Edibles, unlike smoking marijuana, are introduced to the body through the gastrointestinal tract, making it slower to kick in, and slower to wear off. This “body” versus “head” high can be the result of the liver changing the chemical compounds in your body. Because cannabis edibles are ingested, the potential harmful side effects associated with smoking are eliminated.
There is no data on any long-term negative side effects from ingesting marijuana edibles, but they do sometime make it easy to over-consume since the effect of the cannabinoids has a much slower onset than inhaling. People tend to get impatient looking for relief and end up ingesting more.
Check out Medical Marijuana of the Rockies’ complete list of currently available edibles here.