Edibles are absorbed through the gastrointestinal system. First, they enter the stomach, then pass through the intestines, move through the liver, enter the bloodstream, and end up in the brain. This lengthy digestion process means that edibles usually won’t kick in for 40 minutes to 1 hour, so consumers will have to exercise some patience before consuming more product. The reward can be great, as edible highs last from 1 to 8 hours, depending on the amount and your tolerance. It’s important to remember that everyone’s metabolism is different, so the high may vary depending on height, weight, and a variety of other factors.
Cannabis is versatile in so many ways, one of those being the manner in which it can be consumed. To harness its benefits, you can smoke it, apply it topically, vaporize it, or ingest it in an edible product. Each method has a unique effect. When it comes to consuming edibles, the most incentivizing effect is the long lasting high it produces.
Our bodies absorb cannabis-infused edibles very differently from inhaled cannabis flower.
Inhaled marijuana flower is absorbed through the lungs. The millions of alveoli located on the lungs absorb the cannabinoids and transfer them to the bloodstream. From there, the cannabinoids are pumped to the heart and then sent to the brain. This process results in a quicker high, but because only a small amount of cannabinoids is released at a time, the high only lasts a few hours.
Consuming an edible while dehydrated or without accompanying food will allow the THC to completely overwhelm your digestive system, resulting in an extremely intense high. If you consume an edible along with a meal, on the other hand, your metabolism will take longer to break down your food (and the edible), resulting in a delayed high that lasts as long as it takes for your food to completely digest. A warning for those who are also taking pharmaceuticals: because prescription drugs are ingested the same way as an edible, it is important to talk to your doctor about how the two substances may interact before consuming both at the same time.
The method of cannabis consumption also affects the plant’s chemistry. For example, inhaled cannabis does not alter the delta-9-THC, but when cannabis is digested, the cannabinoid breaks down into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more psychedelic version of the chemical that passes the blood-brain barrier quicker than delta-9-THC does.
This means that edible produced highs are much stronger and longer lasting than inhalation produced highs, something that can either be a gift or a nightmare depending on the user’s needs. A medical patient looking for chronic pain or insomnia relief might thrive on the powerful longevity of the edible, whereas a novice recreational user may feel overwhelmed and panicked by the potency.
Eat Your Edible Responsibly
As with every substance, there is always a potential for misuse, and given the nascence of the legal marijuana industry, there is a need for more education on the safest way to consume edibles. Here are a few tips from HIGH TIMES on safe consumption.
Take a low dose, and wait: The recommended dose of THC is 10 milligrams. It’s a good idea to start here or lower. Remember that it can take your body a while to register the effects of the edible, so wait at least two hours before consuming more.
Label, label, label: Don’t make it easy for unsuspecting friends (or children) to mistakenly consume cannabis-infused treats. If you are making homemade edibles, label them clearly to avoid an accidental high or panic attack.
Alcohol and cannabis: either or, not both: Alcohol can magnify the effects of cannabis, and given the increased potency of edibles, play it safe and stick with one substance at a time.
Don’t take edibles on an empty stomach: Ingesting edibles without an accompanying meal will cause the THC to hit your system all at once, resulting in a very powerful and potentially uncomfortable high. Eating unmedicated food along with your edibles will both slow your metabolism and result in a longer lasting, more enjoyable experience.
Stay in: Protect yourself and others and avoid driving or operating any heavy machinery. If it is your first time-consuming edibles, it makes sense to do so in the comfortable and safe environment of your home.
Keep unmedicated snacks available: So eating only a portion of a delicious cannabis-infused, chocolate chip cookie in order to stay within the recommended dosage is going to be hard. Who eats one piece of a cookie at a time? It’s going to be even harder to resist eating the whole thing when the munchies kick in. To avoid the temptation of eating the entire edible, bring an unmedicated cookie along with you so you can satisfy the desire to eat without risking an overwhelming high.
Childproof your stash: Edibles look just like the tasty treats that attract kids. Make sure that you keep your edibles locked away from children who may eat the entire cookie thinking that it’s just a cookie.
Keep a stash of CBD capsules nearby: Cannabidiol (CBD), the highly therapeutic, non-pyschoactive cannabinoid present in the marijuana plant, acts as a natural buffer to the effects of THC. If you’re baking yourself, incorporating a CBD rich strain like Charlotte’s Web could help you avoid an intense high. If you need to come down quick, taking a CBD capsule may provide relief.
Don’t panic: If you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and begin to feel anxious and paranoid, do your best not to feed into those feelings, and remember that this will eventually pass. You will not die. You cannot overdose on marijuana.
Do not play games with edibles: As tempting as it may be, do not prank someone by covertly giving him/her a cannabis infused edible. That is illegal, extremely inconsiderate, and dangerous since you don’t know how that person may react to the edible and since they are totally unaware of what they are consuming and so will likely eat far more than the recommended 10 milligrams.