Learn about the health effects and risks of cannabis edibles.
Cannabis edibles are food or drink items made with cannabis or cannabis oils. You can use cannabis edibles as an alternative to smoking or vaping cannabis.
If you choose to consume edibles, start low and go slow. Cannabis edibles can be more potent than other forms and may affect you for longer periods of time. Take your time to understand how your body reacts.
Cannabis edibles come in many different liquid forms and food types such as:
- baked goods
- soft drinks
- cannabis infused butter.
Health effects & benefits
It takes longer to feel the effects of cannabis when you consume edibles compared to other forms of cannabis. The feeling of getting high is often delayed. While edibles can be a less harmful way to consume cannabis than smoking or vaping, they may still contain THC, the chemical that causes the psychological effects known as feeling high. However, we’ve come a long way since the mystery brownies your uncle kept in his basement fridge.
Today, the creation of the cannabis-infused edible is a sophisticated process. The THC and CBD levels in modern edibles are clearly marked on every package, along with the type of cannabis used in the creation of the edible (indica, sativa, or a hybrid of the two). And when one opens their cannabis-infused edibles package, there’s a distinct absence of the familiar scent, or taste, of the marijuana flower.
This absence of the scent or taste of marijuana in modern edibles is made possible because of a very sophisticated extraction process in which marijuana flowers are distilled into an odourless, tasteless oil by using carbon dioxide, butane, or ethanol to separate the plant from its trichomes. Trichomes are small resin glands that manufacture cannabinoids and terpenes—in layman’s terms, the stinky stuff.
The THC compound of cannabis has generated more than its fair share of critics, who believe that the compound has no medicinal value at all. Yet, science has demonstrated this is far from the case. In conjunction with other cannabinoids, the molecule has been found to help people deal with mental and physical ailments. Not to mention many people find THC-rich products – when taken at just the right dosage – to be an effective supplement towards their everyday health.
Risks of cannabis edibles
The health harms and addiction risk of using cannabis is especially high for youth. No amount of cannabis is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Consuming too much cannabis at one time can lead to temporary adverse effects, known as cannabis poisoning. It is easier to be poisoned when consuming cannabis (eating or drinking) compared to inhaling cannabis (smoking or vaping).
Symptoms of cannabis poisoning may include:
- chest pain
- rapid heartbeat
- nausea or vomiting
- a psychotic episode
- shallow breathing
- severe anxiety or a panic attack.
Reduce your risk
The effects of consuming cannabis can be unpredictable as everyone’s tolerance level is different. So, start with a low level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — for example, 2.5 mg or less. Take your time to understand how your body reacts.
Here are some pretty simple rules to follow in order to safely and responsibly consume edibles and reduce your risk:
1 Go Low and Slow
No matter what kind of edible you are consuming, start with a low dose and don’t take any more until you’ve experienced where that first dose landed you, which normally takes anywhere from a half hour to two hours for digestibles, and a half hour or less for lollipops, lozenges, or any other hard candy that is ingested through the mucous membrane of the mouth.
2 Choose Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid
At this point, weed has been cross-bred so much that nothing can truly be confirmed to be 100 percent sativa or 100 percent indica. Everything is hybrid. However, the best and most reliable creators of cannabis-infused edibles can be trusted to sample all of their products and to let their consumers know what kind of experience they are most likely to have when they consume the product.
A sativa experience is an energetic and lively one, usually with a general feeling of euphoria and some creative thinking going on, which people prone to paranoia commonly refer to as “head stuff.” For this reason, hyperactive or anxious people are better off leaning more towards a hybrid or indica edible. Indica is a relaxed, languid, sleepy high. It’s quite enjoyable, but will make you a little spacey. Experiment to find what you like and stick with it.
3 Avoid the Come Down
Anything that gets your dopamine levels soaring like weed does is sure to have a little bit of a come down. Enjoy your cannabis-infused edibles with plenty of water or some herbal tea, and when you wake up the next morning get out there and get some exercise and fresh air instead of lying in bed thinking deep existential thoughts about the passage of time.
4 Safe storage
Edible cannabis products can look the same as other foods or ingredients such as brownies or candy. That’s why it is extremely important to keep all cannabis products locked up and out of reach of children and pets.
Preparing cannabis edibles at home
You can cook with cannabis and cannabis oil to make your own edibles, as long as they are for personal consumption — you cannot sell them or share them with anyone under the age of 18.
If you prepare cannabis edibles at home, make sure you follow safe food handling practices. And above all, follow the laws about cannabis and driving.
This article is about cooking with cannabis, which may or may not be legal in your area. Neither Cooking with Cannabis nor its partners or advertisers encourage or endorse any irresponsible behaviour or illegal activity. If you choose to use cannabis, please do so responsibly and only where permitted by law.