What are the pros and cons of consuming edibles?

It’s like unlocking a new level of cannabis experience… but proceed with caution

Comments

While edibles won’t satiate that familiar, tactile feeling of rolling and then smoking a joint, they may awaken new senses that make you consider switching your consumption method.

Edibles are easier on the lungs, there’s no obvious odour, they can come in the form of delicious treats (though, one needs to learn what level works for them), plus, some maintain they offer a better high. And who doesn’t want that?

“Edibles are one of the most effective ways to get the maximum amount out of your cannabis,” suggests Daniel Winer. “This is because you aren’t burning off these cannabinoids the same way you would with inhalation,” notes the marketing director at Starbuds Canada, a national cannabis retailer that has one shop open in Dawson Creek, B.C., and another 19 locations listed as coming soon in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

A worker prepares to package freshly made marijuana infused chocolate bars at Kiva Confections on January 16, 2018 in Oakland, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Still, it’s easy to ingest too much and determining how much is enough can be a challenge; public safety concerns around the sale of edibles remain top of mind. There have been a number of headlines in recent months involving children, teens and even elderly people ingesting weed-laced products unknowingly.

The difference between THC and CBD edibles

People likely know there’s a difference between CBD and THC—if not, no need to sheepishly hang your head; just educate yourself here—and just like flower, there are CBD edibles and THC edibles. They act differently.

“When taken in by mouth, cannabis with THC goes directly into the blood stream, just as a nitroglycerin spray does. Most of the oil is absorbed in the gut in one and a half to two and a half hours, so a slow onset,” says Dr. Bill Code, author of Solving the Brain Puzzle. “Some of this is metabolized in the liver by enzymes into another active compound called 11-Hydroxy-THC (as opposed to the 9-THC originally ingested). Effects last eight to 10 hours with some metabolites found in urine up to four weeks after ingestion,” Dr. Code notes.

An expert on cannabis and the metabolization of drugs, he explains that smoking cannabis with THC acts within minutes and wears off in 30 to 60 minutes. “Much is breathed out rather than metabolized,” he points out.

CBD is different. There is no intoxicating compound being processed by the body, but it still passes through the stomach and the digestive tract.

Because of this trek, effects when ingesting CBD might not be as potent as smoking.

The Herbal Chef CEO and Head Chef Chris Sayegh prepares dishes at an event, in Tacoma, Washington on July 19, 2016. As more US states move to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, the California chef is aiming to elevate haute cuisine to a new level. JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images

Whether using edibles containing CBD or THC, it takes some experimenting to find what level works best for each individual.

Effects on the digestive system

There’s no scientific evidence that edibles are hard on the stomach or digestive system. In fact, some findings reveal the opposite. One study looked at how the cannabinoid system positively expresses cannabis for certain gut-related illnesses and even obesity, while preliminary research in another study found cannabis may help people with irritable bowel disease. Using edibles also means there’s also no negative impact on the lungs since you’re not inhaling, as would be the case when smoking.

The benefits of using edibles

If growing flower at home, turning that freshly harvested bud into tasty edibles can be a great way to maximize the plant (if you’re intimidated by the kitchen and need a bit of guidance, improve your cannabis culinary skills with these cookbooks).

There’s no scientific evidence that edibles are hard on the stomach or digestive system. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“If you make edibles with your own cannabis, you are able to stretch out your cannabis much further, thus lowering your overall cost,” says Winer. Another positive: the lack of smell. “Edibles do not have an odour, so they can be consumed anywhere.

Nothing is perfect: some negatives when using edibles

One of the biggest drawbacks of edibles, especially for new users, is the waiting game. Some folks will get impatient or worry they might not have taken enough when they look at the clock and see 15 minutes has passed and they’re not feeling any different. Sources note that unlike smoking or vaping, where the cannabis is absorbed into the tissue and effects are felt almost immediately, edibles take time.

It’s this period of waiting, Winer says, where some folks run into trouble and feel compelled to take a second amount, thus risking over-consuming or the dreaded “green out.”

As a rule, start slow with edibles

“If you are using THC, we recommend starting with five mg, and waiting one to two hours to see how it affects you,” says Winer. “As you get more comfortable with edibles, you can adjust your dosing based on your needs. But remember, it’s better to underdo it as opposed to consuming too much and getting too intoxicated,” he suggests.

 

Want to keep up to date on what’s happening in the world of cannabis?  Subscribe to the Cannabis Post newsletter for weekly insights into the industry, what insiders will be talking about and content from across the Postmedia Network.