Edibles are now a hot commodity in the medical cannabis world. These days, the lower half of the PCC display case has quite an abundance of gourmet goodies, causing quite a few patients to pass up our most spectacular buds for the variety of medicated treats underneath them. They are in no way a new invention, in fact cannabis has been eaten just as long as it has been ignited and inhaled. But in the last ten years all sorts of exciting recipes and new methods have been introduced to produce edible medicine for patients who cannot or don’t want to smoke. The choices have far surpassed the traditional pot brownie and many talented providers have undertaken cannabis confections as their new passion.
Most people have had some sort of an experience with edibles, ranging from magical to memorably scary. For the beginner, eating your medicine instead of smoking can be a welcome change for your lungs, but it can also produce a wider range of effects you may not be expecting or prepared to handle. When marijuana is inhaled, the active components are absorbed directly into the bloodstream in the lungs and the effect is almost instant. You “feel it” right away, with the intensity depending on the quality of the medicine. This is not the case when marijuana is digested. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour for the full effects to be felt, and the final result is often stronger and lasts longer. As scientific research goes further into the benefits of medicinal cannabis, many patients are discovering that eating cannabis provides a more gradual psychoactive effect and a more powerful body feel, which treats their medical condition better than inhaling smoke or vapor. Edibles are also a more discreet way of medicating and can be enjoyed where smoking is not possible.
Depending on the dosage of the edible, and the edible tolerance and metabolism of the patient, the range of medicinal effects can be all over the spectrum. The majority of edibles deliver a delayed, physically sedative feeling noticeably stronger than from smoking. Unlike smoking, the intensity of any particular edible is more likely based on the amount of cannabis used rather than what type of cannabis was used in production. Some newer edibles are produced using hash oil extraction and other sophisticated processes involving concentrates which increase potency and eliminate the need for eating large quantities of cannabis butter. As more people try to perfect the art of edibles, more choices are available for patients, but it can be hard to know what’s good or what’s best for you individually. Some patients relate stories of eating a single pot brownie and having powerful, all day relief from symptoms. Other patients swear they have eaten the strongest of medicated products available and feel “absolutely nothing”. With all the variety out there, here are some guidelines to help you find the medicine that will benefit you most.
Types - A good majority of the edibles you will encounter are baked goods- cookies, brownies, rice krispy treats, etc. Almost all of these are made with a base of cannabis infused butter. Depending on the skill of the provider and the strength of the butter used, the experience varies in how much of the flavor of cannabis you can taste. Cannabis may be pleasant to smoke and smell, but for some patients, the taste of cooked cannabis not enjoyable – and it’s not something that can simply be masked by lots of sugar. Other edibles are made with cold water hash (like our extremely popular HASH CHOCOLATE STARS), hash oil or hash infused butter. Due to the concentration of cannabinoids, these edibles can actually provide a better overall flavor because less quantity of medicine has to be ingested. Edibles made with hash can also be more psychoactive and less physical or body effect than edibles made with cannabis butter.
Do keep in mind that eating one or more cookies, chocolates or brownies per day is not always a healthy choice, especially for those who are diabetic, overweight, or have food allergies. You will notice that many dispensaries, including ours carry edibles avoiding specific allergens i.e. vegan/dairy-free, gluten free, etc. We also carry edible alternatives to baked goods, such as tinctures, elixirs, cannabis capsules, and edible hash oil drops. These products each have their own specific advantages and sometimes provide faster, more manageable dosing. In addition to being digested by the stomach, tinctures are absorbed sub-lingually (by the thin skin under the tongue). Ideally cannabis tinctures are applied in small amounts and held under the tongue for as long as comfortable for the patient, and then swallowed. The effect is often noticeably clearer and more uplifting than the sedative feeling of cannabis butter edibles. Many patients describe the effect of tincture as most similar to the effect from smoking.
Cannabis capsules are very popular as they provide a nice mix of functionality and pain relief while ultimately delivering medicine in the familiarity of a pill. Cannabis capsules can contain tempered cannabis and oils or cannabis infused oils like sesame or coconut oil. If cookies and cakes aren’t your thing don’t give up, there are plenty of cannabis edibles that don’t involve a lot of calories.
Another alternative – learning how to make your own edibles using quality cannabis butter. It can sometimes be a less expensive option and provide better dosage control or flavor preference. We carry two different types of cannabis butter – each available by the cup for $25 and under.
The best way to find your favorite edible is with some experimentation and recommendations from your dispensary consultant/staff. The best edible is always the one that simultaneously provides the most medicinal relief and would be enjoyable even if not medicated.
Dosage - With any cannabis medicine you are not familiar with, it is necessary to start slow – especially with edibles. How a particular product will affect you cannot be guaranteed by labeling or recommendation. To confuse things further, many patients who report a high tolerance to smoking cannabis find they have a strange lack of tolerance to edibles. Regardless of the suggested dosage of the edible, expect a measurable amount of time between eating your goodie and feeling any medicinal effects. The biggest temptation is to eat more because “it’s been 15 minutes and I don’t feel anything yet”, which is a classic example of famous last words. You can always eat more, but once you have eaten too much there is not a whole lot of remedy except to drink plenty of water, eat something starchy like bread or mashed potato, and ride the temporary discomfort out in a cool dark place. Over-medication on edibles is something best never experienced but if it does happen; remember, you are going to be fine, cannabis is one of the safest and least toxic medicines available.
Switching to Edibles - Edibles are not just for those who cannot smoke or need to cut back smoking, as they can greatly enhance any patient’s routine. Ingesting cannabis before bed allows slowly released, all night relief from pain and insomnia, for example – where the effects of smoking might ware off too soon. For travel, many patients feel safer from law enforcement carrying non-smokable, smell free medicine – especially through airports, certain states or internationally. For patients for whom travelling without medicine is unacceptable, having edibles available can be a life-saver.
Final Thoughts - There is an infinite variety of edibles to choose from- drinks, lollipops, baklava — basically whatever your heart desires! In general it seems every patient has their favorite, a magic combination of how it tastes and how well it relieves symptoms. However, there are some simple things to keep in mind. As always, use moderation. Regular use of edibles can result in a rapid increase of tolerance and eventually become quite expensive. Many patients find that edibles are best when used to supplement their normal routine, not to completely alter it. A good balance of edibles and traditional cannabis use will keep your tolerance steady and provide maximum relief. The next time you are at PCC, let us know if you have questions about our growing edible selection. As with our cannabis buds, all our edibles are made using high quality standards and only high grade medicine!