Smoking marijuana is so passé, after all, why inhale when you can munch your munchies in chocolate form, inside a baked good or turned into a lollipop. As more states legalize* weed small companies have been churning out just about anything with the herb tucked inside, something dubbed "edibles." Ingesting these foods gives you a different high than taking a hit off a bong, and proves way more discreet too. After all, a nibble on a candy bar won't have the same aroma as toking on a joint does, and this method proves way tastier.
Creative-Family / Getty Images
Aleksandr_Kravtsov / Getty Images
Juanmonino / Getty Images
SageElyse / Getty Images
SageElyse / Getty Images
What Are Edibles?
First of all, edibles are any form of food or drink infused with marijuana. The amount of cannabis doesn't matter, you could be eating a cookie with a drop of the stuff inside or a soda spiked with a lot of it, both are considered edibles. That's why it's important to read the labels on the edibles you're trying, and if it's homemade, attempt to get a sense of how much marijuana the goods contain. Indulging too much can make the whole thing too intense and turn you off the product.
History of Edibles
Though the legalization of pot-enhanced foods proves fairly recent, and not at all widespread, the actual consumption of cannabis as a drink or snack has been around for centuries. The ancient Chinese emperors were known to brew a tea with the herb, while over in India Hindus drank their own version of the beverage called bhang, a warm brew containing marijuana, milk, garam masala spice, and ginger. In Morocco, nomadic tribes prepped a hashish jam called mahjoun, a mixture of chopped nuts and dried fruits and spices, which they took on long treks.
Between 1844 and 1849, Club des Hashischins pulled in a group of intellectuals and artists such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and Charles Baudelaire, who wanted to expand their minds with drug-induced salons. Though many substances were experimented with, hashish, the resin of the cannabis plant, was widespread and crushed into the strong coffee they drank. This helped normalize the idea of eating your cannabis, and it stuck around.
Skip to the 1900s, when Alice B. Toklas, famously the life partner of artist Gertrude Stein, published a cookbook with a recipe for Haschich Fudge. She had gotten the recipe from the painter Brion Gysin, and with that, the basis of the first pot brownie was thought up. This original recipe launched variations on the dish until decades later, we have gourmet nuggets of marijuana-laced brownies you can buy legally in 12 states or easily skim the internet for a recipe to make your own.
How Edibles Are Made
Before proper edibles get made the marijuana flowers go through a process of decarboxylation, or heating the bud. Each fresh flower has an extra carboxyl ring, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). In order to get that fun effect of the plant, that acid part has to be dropped so you have plain old THC. When you smoke pot the heat from the flame does it for you, but in order to work with the fresh herb in food, you essentially need to cook it gently first.
Once that ring has been destroyed, it's time to use the plant to make goodies. The best way to extract the herbal essence is by combining the greens with a fat. For cooking, butter and olive oil are the two most popular methods. Yes, the term "cannabutter" is a real thing. Cannabis chefs then use the butter (or infused oil) to bake brownies or cookies, press it into pie dough, toss it with pasta and vegetables, and anything else regular butter can be used for. Just make sure not to put too much in, or you will have one tasty bite and be done.
Recipe for Cannabutter
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup crushed marijuana leaves
- First, make sure your cannabis is decarboxylated. Do this by placing the leaves on a non-stick tray. Heat oven to 245 F. Insert the tray into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes.
- Melt butter in a saucepan.
- While butter melts, hand grind the leaves as fine as possible.
- Put leaves in butter and simmer at around 160 to 200 F for three to four hours.
- Strain and pour strained butter into a jar and refrigerate for use.
- Make sure to label.
How Much Should You Eat
Journalist Maureen Dowd came to Denver in 2014 to try out cannabis goodies and managed to take edibles out from the covers and into mainstream consciousness. Unfortunately, she overdid it, putting in us the fear of overindulging in weed chocolate bars. This helped Colorado come up with new laws, and labeling (it was the first United States market to legalize the stuff), and today it's easy to see how much a dose is.
Luckily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overindulging won't kill you. So you don't have to worry too much. Though marijuana does affect the brain, and it can alter your state of being, which could be dangerous. That's why it's best to dose lightly and know what you're getting into.
Any budtender will tell you to start your edible journey slow. It can kick in after 20 minutes, or take two hours. It's not a good idea to keep eating more if you aren't feeling anything because if and when it does start working, you may have ingested too much to enjoy the effect. Read the package of any edibles you buy, and try the recommended dose. We find it best to experiment with a new product at the end of the day when nothing is going on. That way you can see how long it takes to get in the system and how you will react.
Of course, you can make your own or get edibles from a friend, but the good thing about buying edibles in legal shops is each product has a regulated dose. You won't know how much weed is in that cookie your brother baked or how strong the marijuana they used is. When you pick up a bar of say Blue Kudu chocolate, you know one square equals 100 milligrams of THC, so you can work from there.
Where to Buy Edibles
First, you have to be somewhere where cannabis has been legalized in order to buy edibles legally. Then, it's just a matter of visiting a dispensary to find what you want. Usually, you will see baked goods, drinks, chocolate bars, and truffles, gummies, lollipops, and hard candies for sale in the edibles department. To help lead the way, do a little research on what dispensaries are best where you are.
How to Store Edibles
There's no special way to store edibles, aside from away from children (often the confections look like regular candy). Once it's secured, keep chocolate in the fridge or freezer and candy and baked goods in an airtight container. Though, you will probably want to eat the cookies or brownies as soon as possible, just so you can get both the effect and enjoy the tasty treat as well.
Marijuana, whether in a cookie or joint, is illegal under Federal Law. Some states have legalized the plant and you can safely consume and buy products thus far in: Washington, Colorado, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts.