I love edibles! Edibles are great for medicating conditions linked to pain and I normally take them to help me sleep. While I support all things cannabis, I didn’t always have this love affair with edibles.
I don’t know if this has happened to you, before I started medicating regularly with cannabis, I was with my brothers when they decided to make some medicated brownies. It was some swag they got their hands on, by no means the quality we see now in the dispensary setting. My brothers love to tell the story, how I decided not to eat one but a row of brownies. Of course I was hungry and drinking. Long story short, it did not end up being a great time for me! Cannabis will not kill you, but it can make you feel uncomfortable if you take too much.
This moment really stuck with me and for sometime discouraged me from trying cannabis again. I was probably medicating daily for about two years, before I tried another edible. Honestly, I was missing out from a healthy form of consumption. It felt like edibles hit me harder than smoking. I wasn’t imagining anything or was I? I started to wonder how eating cannabis was different than smoking and was I the only one that felt this way?
There are things a patient should keep in mind when medicating with edibles.
When smoking cannabis, a patient will medicate and almost instantly feel the effects. Cannabis smoke is directly sent to the brain, unlike when eating cannabis. When you eat edibles, the body must break it down. It must pass thru the stomach before finally reaching the liver where THC is absorbed into the bloodstream. The liver converts THC to 11-hydroxy-THC. “In a nutshell, eaten cannabis gets metabolized by the liver, so delta-9 THC becomes 11-hydroxy-THC, which passes the blood-brain barrier more rapidly and has more of a psychedelic effect than standard THC,” says Understanding Marijuana author Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany. “Smoked or vaporized cannabis bypasses the liver and doesn’t create the same 11-hydroxy-THC.”
Dosing can be just as hard for the veteran smoker as it is for a person trying edibles for the first time. Since smoking provides quick relief, it is harder to gauge edibles, where the effects can take 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the person. If you don’t feel it, naturally an impatient person will eagerly eat more. Unless you make everything yourself and have your base tested, it is hard to honestly determine the potency of an edible at home. THC levels in cannabis flower can fluctuate between individual plants, let alone different strains. When dosing with edibles, start small and be patient before eating more. Your body will thank you, no one likes feeling sick.
Effects and Duration
The effects of smoking cannabis will last between 30-60 minutes, with the strongest effects felt within 10 minutes after smoking. “With smoking, as much as 50 to 60 percent of the THC in a joint can get into the blood plasma, and peak concentrations come in 5 to 10 minutes,” according to Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. As stated earlier, edibles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to be felt and can last for hours, but why? With orally administered cannabis, only 10 to 20 percent of the cannabinoids reach the blood plasma, and they do so 60 to 120 minutes later, says Dr. Mark A. Ware, an associate professor of family health at McGill University in Montreal. Generally, patients report stronger body effects and almost psychedelic head high in large doses of edibles. Consuming smaller amounts will be milder and arguably more comfortable. THC from smoked marijuana “rapidly dissipates,” while the effects of eating it can last 6 to 10 hours, because its metabolites are absorbed into body fat and then can be re-released into the blood.
Don’t be afraid to try edibles, medicate responsibly and remember small doses are key to having a good experience!