The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Marijuana Edibles (Updated 2021)
Cannabis edibles are a tricky business. Even if you’ve smoked many a joint before, edibles, as the kids would say, hit differently.
For one, you’re likely to experience higher highs. Indeed, many users get high within just 30 minutes of eating weed cookies or other edibles and remain high for as long as 10 hours. The after-effects can last another 6-12 hours.
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Secondly, it’s easy to overdose. You’ve likely read stories in the papers, or perhaps even a close friend, about eating too much chocolate edibles and freaking out. The reason is that edibles are often just as sweet as your favorite snacks, which creates the risk of binging.
When done right, though, cannabis edibles are a fantastic and safe way to enjoy all the benefits of marijuana without exposing yourself to the health risks of smoking. It’s also a more decent and discreet way to get stoned.
If you’re new to the whole concept of edible marijuana, this beginner’s guide to smoking weed should help you grasp the basics.
What are Cannabis Edibles?
Marijuana edibles are foods and beverages that contain cannabis and its active compounds. Indeed, the term “edible,” when used in the context of marijuana, refers to any food or beverage produced to contain substantial levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that causes intoxication.
As more states legalize marijuana, edible cannabis food and beverage products have increased in recent years. Today, edibles come in endless forms, some manufactured and sold in dispensaries, and others made at home using different recipes.
However, the most common weed edibles include;
- Hard candies
- Ice creams
- Dessert balls
Known Weed Edibles
Some people have also developed recipes that allow them to sprinkle some weed to chips, trail mixes, sauces, dressings, and condiments. Energy drinks, coffees, teas, pizza, and baked goods are other excellent candidates for edible recipes.
How are Edibles Different from Other Forms of Cannabis?
First off, weed edibles are eaten or drunk the same way you’d eat cookies or drink a soda, whereas other forms of cannabis are introduced into the body through smoking, vaping, and other ways. Three other differences between edibles and other forms of cannabis are as follows:
1. How They Are Made?
Weed for smoking or vaping is typically made by drying and crushing the leaves or flowers (or both) and rolling them into weed cigars or adding them to vaping devices as appropriate. It’s a pretty straightforward process.
Edible marijuana is made differently. Cookies and brownies are typically made with canna-butter or canna-oil. Canna-butter is a special kind of unsalted butter that’s blended with ground cannabis flower and water. The cannabis-infused butter can be used in the place of regular butter in any cooking process.
Meanwhile, canna-oil is a blend of ground cannabis flower and any cooking oil. It’s mostly used in home-made sauces, sautéing veggies, and salad dressing. Some people also use it in low-temperature frying.
On the other hand, marijuana-infused beverages are made by adding a few drops of cannabis extract in liquid form into your favorite beverages. For those that wish to make edible marijuana beverages at home, an easy option is to add some tincture to your drinks. A major advantage of tinctures is that it gives you greater control over THC levels.
2. Working Mechanism
Another key difference between edible marijuana and marijuana smoking/vaping is how the two work once inside your body. Although THC is the active ingredient in both edible and smoked/vaped weed, how the chemical enters your bloodstream matters.
When you smoke or vape marijuana, THC enters the body via the lungs, reaching peak concentration in the blood within several seconds at most. Eventually, the product is broken down and exerted through your urine and stool.
When you consume edible cannabis, the process is a little different. THC digestion begins in the mouth, where saliva helps to break down the compound into various elements. The broken-down THC then moves to the stomach, where digestion continues with the liver’s help before THC eventually finds its way into the bloodstream.
It’s worth noting that THC reaches the bloodstream much faster via the lungs, which explains why you get high faster through smoking than consuming edible weed.
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3. A Different High
Finally, consuming edible weed, whether in the form of cookies, chocolate, ice cream, or sodas, gives a different high compared to smoking or vaping marijuana.
For one, when you eat cannabis in cookies or drink it in sodas, the liver breaks down the THC into a different type of molecule compared to the transformation that occurs in the lungs. The liver-digested THC is said to be up to 10x more psychoactive than smoked cannabis, often resulting in more perceivable but less intoxicating highs (even though the dosage is still the biggest determinant of how high you can get).
Secondly, the psychoactive effects of cannabis last longer when you consume edible cannabis than when you smoke/vape marijuana. The reason is that the digestion process is longer. Thus THC is released over a longer period. Typically, you can expect to remain high for up to 12 hours compared to only 4-6 hours when you smoke/vape marijuana.
Advantages of Marijuana Edibles
As with other forms of marijuana, edible cannabis comes with endless health and mental benefits. The edibles, however, come with a few additional benefits over smoking or vaping cannabis. These include:
1. Edible Cannabis Isn’T as Harsh on the Lungs
Studies show that inhaling marijuana damages airway epithelium, increases mucus production, and causes the loss of ciliated epithelial cells. When you lose significant amounts of cilia cells, mucus pools in the airways, allowing bacteria and viruses to make contact with and infect pulmonary epithelial cells. This can cause lung infections.
Edible cannabis products allow you to enjoy all the benefits of marijuana without exposing your lungs to so much damage.
Benefits of Marijuana Edibles
2. Edibles Give You “Sedative” Highs
Most experts will tell you that consuming edible marijuana makes you stoned, whereas smoking or vaping the green grass makes you high. It’s important to get the distinction between the two. Weed cookies, chocolates, and beverages give you more of an “in the couch” therapy-style kind of high. They make you relaxed and alleviate pain and discomfort.
Smoking or vaping results in a more “energetic” kind of high. It lifts your spirits and is more likely to compromise your thinking.
3. The Effects Last Longer
We’ve already mentioned this – consuming edible cannabis products produces longer-lasting highs compared to smoking or vaping the product.
On average, the psychoactive effects of smoking or vaping weed kick in within seconds but wear off within 4-6 hours. Meanwhile, if you eat a few weed cookies or drink a few marijuana sodas, the effects tend to kick in within 30-90 minutes but can last up to 12 hours. The highs are also more intense. So, if you want a slightly more intense high that lasts longer, edible weed is the way to go.
Edible Weed Dosing
So, you’ve read and understood the basics of edible marijuana, including how the products are made, how they differ from other forms of marijuana, and the advantages of edibles, and decided it’s the best route for you. The next step is to understand dosage, potential side effects, and how to use edibles safely.
Let’s begin with the dosage.
The amount of edible weed you should consume depends on several factors. But two factors are especially important – how high you want to get and your tolerance levels.
You need only 2-4 milligrams of THC if you’re completely new to edible weed (very low tolerance), 3-7 mg if you have medium tolerance (1-3 times a week smoker), and 4-10 mg for high tolerance individuals (who smoke weed daily).
Beginner users should use 3-8 mg of THC, medium-tolerance individuals should use 8-12 milligrams, and high-tolerance smokers should use 6-16 milligrams.
Users completely new to edible weed should use 5-15 mg of THC, medium-tolerance individuals should take 10-20 milligrams, while high-tolerance smokers may use anywhere between 15 and 30 milligrams. A few users have an extremely high tolerance for edible cannabis. These people are allowed to use as much as 30-100mg of THC at any one instance.
Keep in mind that, irrespective of the dosage quantity, the psychoactive effects of edible cannabis kick in after about 30-120 minutes and can last a whole 10 hours, with the after-effects lasting another 3-12 hours. Therefore, you should always wait at least 24 hours before taking the next dose.
Getting the First Steps Right
The truth is that there is no correct serving when it comes to marijuana edibles. What works for one person may not work for the next. Some studies even indicate that while some first-timers reach the desired high from the first dose, others may not feel anything until they’re on the fourth dose, keeping in mind the 24-hour interval between doses.
Therefore, the best way to get high without overdosing is to find what works for your body. An easy way to find that “sweet spot” is to consider tinctures. Tincture allows you to deliver the exact amount of THC to your edibles.
Another important piece of advice is to start small and work your way up. Even if you don’t feel high the first time, don’t be tempted to overdose. Instead, wait until the 24-hour interval has passed, then try a slightly stronger dose.
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Other Key Tips for that First Time
Aside from considering tinctures to keep track of your THC doses and starting small as you move up the ladder, you should also consider the following tips for your first steps;
Understand that Latency Isn’t Uniform for All Users
This is very important. Sometimes first-timers (or even seasoned users) begin to doubt the weed edible if it’s taking a little too long (based on their expectations) for the desired effects to kick in. As already mentioned, it can take between 30 minutes and 120 minutes, on average, for the effects to be felt. Don’t be tempted to take another dose because it’s been over an hour, and you can’t feel the effects yet. Overdosing can be very risky.
Several Factors Affect Response Time
Believe it or not, even physical factors, such as your height, weight, and even gender, all affect how fast the effects of weed cookies and other edibles kick in. So, perhaps it’s taking longer to feel high because you’re taller or because you’re a male. Another factor that affects how fast the psychoactive effects kick in is whether you’re on an empty or full stomach and your specific diet. People on an empty stomach generally feel the effects quicker.
You May Overdose; Don’t Panic
It’s a lot easier to overdose edible cannabis than vaped or smoked weed. Why? Because weed doesn’t necessarily change the taste of your favorite foods and beverages. Weed chocolates are still the same tasty chocolate bars, and the sodas are just as sweet. So, if you’re a fan, you’ll always be tempted to take another bite or sip.
If you fear you might have munched too many of the cookies, don’t panic. Remember that the effects will wear off eventually. However, if the effects come on too strongly, try sitting down, focus on breathing normally, and just relax. Also, consider consuming CBD to counteract the effects of THC and ask a friend to supervise you.
Potential Challenges and Concerns
Let’s now turn to the potential side effects of edible cannabis. Though eating cannabis-based products has many benefits, health and otherwise, you may run into a few challenges or experience a few unwanted side effects. You want to especially pay attention to the following;
This is one of the biggest challenges with edible marijuana. It can be extremely difficult to determine the right dosage. Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, THC concentrations vary widely depending on factors such as where the product was made, the quality of marijuana used, and so forth. Secondly, not every cannabis edible has a THC concentration label. And, even where the label exists, most of the percentages are merely estimates rather than actual figures. You’ll need to be extremely vigilant to avoid overdosing.
When you smoke or vape cannabis, you know that the effects will kick in right away. The THC bypasses the liver and travels directly to the bloodstream, causing you to feel high immediately. Unfortunately, edible weed doesn’t work this way. The THC in that weed cookie can take as much as two hours to kick in because the compound is first digested in the stomach before the elements find their way to the bloodstream. This may make you feel like the weed isn’t working.
When you combine the dosage and latency challenges, you realize that it’s much easier to overdose on edible cannabis. It may even happen accidentally. One of the conditions associated with edible cannabis overdose is cannabis-induced psychosis. Marijuana-induced psychosis symptoms include paranoid delusions, hallucinations, extreme sedation, and confusion. Dry mouth, sleepiness, and changes in visual perception are also possible.
It’s A Big Risk If You Have Kids Around
Edible marijuana products often resemble regular candies, cookies, and other baked goods, which are popular among kids. This creates a major risk if you have kids around. If you don’t store and use the products with extreme caution, a minor can get their hands on some of these “candies.” In fact, accidental ingestion of marijuana products has risen sharply in recent years following the legalization of cannabis in several states.
Little Research Means Edibles Is a Grey Area
You’ve likely heard of the many health risks associated with smoking marijuana. From increasing your risk of lung cancer to causing or aggravating lung disease, bronchitis, and impaired brain function, researchers and doctors agree unanimously that smoking weed is bad for your health. Rarely will you hear similar criticism of edible weed. However, this doesn’t mean that the weed cookies and salads are all-healthy. It’s partly because there’s been very little research on edible marijuana. Therefore, just as you’d practice caution with smoking weed, always use your edibles cautiously.
Marijuana Edibles Challenges
Finding the Right Edibles
To round off this beginner’s guide to marijuana, let’s now discuss how and where to find the right edible weed products.
There are two primary ways to access edible weed – buy manufactured weed-infused edibles from licensed sellers or prepare your own edible recipes at home. Buying edibles from authorized sellers is an easier and more convenient approach. Manufactured edibles also come in a wider range of options, from CBD mints to sodas and baked goods to brownie mixes. The Super Fruit Bar by Cheef Neutrals, Organic Vanilla Almond Milk by Mary Jane, and Monkey Bar chocolate bars by Incredible Edibles are a few very popular manufactured edibles.
However, preparing your edibles at home is a “safer” option, according to many users, as you can more closely control your THC intake. You can even use tinctures for greater accuracy. Many users have developed recipes that you can use to cook your edibles at home. Alternatively, just buy a marijuana-infused sauce such as the Franklin’s Secret BBQ Sauce by AVG and add it to your BBQs in small quantities.
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Always Check the Product Label
Whichever approach you choose, always scrutinize the product label to ensure that you’re getting quality weed and familiarize yourself with the concentration levels (THC component) to prevent overdosing.
If the product you’re buying is a 1kg box of cookies with 10% THC, then you know that the bag contains 100mg of THC. If you’re currently limiting yourself to 10mg THC per dose, it means you can only consume a tenth of the cookies box over 24 hours. This means three cookies if the box contains 30 cookie pieces or five if it contains 50 pieces.
Marijuana Edibles FAQs
If you still have questions, the following section answers some of the most asked questions about marijuana edibles.
What Are Cannabis Edibles?
Cannabis edibles, also popular as just edibles, are food and beverage products infused with marijuana. The term refers to anything that’s traditionally consumed as food that has been laced with cannabis or cannabis extracts, especially THC and CBD. The edibles come in the form of manufactured goods such as cookies, candies, lollipops, and sodas or home-made recipes such as edible pasta and dressings.
What Are the Best Edibles for First-Timers?
Low-dosage cookies and chocolates are some of the best items for your first time. You can get easily find dosages as low as 50mg/chocolate bars. If you want a mild effect, simply divide the bar into ten pieces and take one piece per day. Indeed, some cookies are even as low as 5% THC, meaning you can easily limit your daily dosage by eating a single cookie per day.
Can You Make Marijuana Edibles at Home?
Yes, you can make your marijuana edibles at home. All you need is cannabis-infused butter or oil. You can even make the cannabis butter/oil at home if you wish. Simply submerge dry, ground cannabis in the desired carrier fat/butter and heat the mixture gently to extract cannabinoids from the plant material. Then, strain the cannabis fat/butter to remove any remaining plant material. The cannabis-infused oil or butter can be substituted 1:1 in any cooking recipe.
Why Do Cannabis Edibles Give Milder Highs?
Decarboxylation plays a key role in determining the type of high generated when you consume marijuana. It is the process by which THCA, present in raw forms of cannabis, changes to the more intoxicating THC when weed is lightly heated, i.e., during smoking or vaping. The human body cannot convert THCA into THC, which is why edible weed is less intoxicating than smoking or vaping the green.
What Is Edible Weed Distillation?
Since raw weed isn’t as intoxicating as smoking or vaping the green grass, people who desire a stronger intoxication have found a way to make their edible weed products stronger – distillation. Distillates are ready-to-use weed products that you can blend with other moist ingredients or mix directly into liquids. They are popular among commercial edible weed producers, where they induce the decarboxylation process to produce “stronger” edible weed products.
What Is Edible Weed Crystallization?
Crystallization is another process used in decarboxylation. Crystalline oils contain a single cannabinoid – either CBD or THCA. Similar to distillates, the oils are blended directly into wet or dry ingredients when cooking or baking. If you choose to cook or bake with THCA crystalline, decarboxylation occurs during heating, where the THCA is converted to THC.
Ready to Give Edibles a Try?
Whether you’re a regular marijuana user or new to the world of weed, edibles offer a safer, healthier alternative to smoking and vaping marijuana. We all know the health risks associated with smoking weed, including increased risk of lung cancer, lung disease, and potential damage to brain cells. Edibles allow you to enjoy cannabis in all its glory without exposing yourself to such massive risks. It’s also a more decent and discrete way to use cannabis.
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