Even the most experienced potheads who have continually puffed the magic dragon and hit the highest-THC strains they can get their hands on may still feel taken back by the potent effect that hits them after consuming cannabis edible(s). Despite that, cannabis edibles are extremely popular: studies have shown that they accounted for nearly 45% of Colorado’s cannabis sales in 2014, almost 30 percent of Americans who have tried cannabis admit to consuming it in edible or beverage form, and surprisingly, they have been shown to be more popular amongst medical users than purely recreational.
Why is it that an edible high can be so much more lingering and pervasive than a smoked or vaporized inhalation? Ultimately, it has to do with a few key factors, so if you’re contemplating trying edibles, wondering why you may have had an experience that didn’t go so well, or just curious about why those buds feel so extremely different eaten than inhaled, here’s what you should know.
Metabolism: A Double-Edged Sword
Fundamentally, marijuana consumption and inhalation both work by stimulating the body’s network of neurotransmitters known as the endocannabinoid system. Where their highs differ lies in how edibles and smoke uniquely stimulate the ECS: inhalation bypasses a long trip through the bloodstream and digestive system and mostly avoids metabolization, whereas edible ingestion allows much more THC and metabolites to enter the liver, initiating a more prolonged and potent process.
By letting more Delta-9-THC into the liver, more of it gets converted into a metabolite variation known as 11-hydroxy-THC, creating a far more prolonged, psychoactive, and lingering high effect than smoked marijuana. This variant can also be produced through smoking, though given that most product stays concentrated in the lungs, far less of it is yielded to have any impact.
Less research has been done on the 11-OH-THC cannabinoid than it’s standard Delta-9 counterpart and CBD, but it could potentially exhibit medicinal promise offering a more powerful form of the latter two’s therapeutic benefits. Additionally, oral consumption removes the harsh, slightly-unhealthier lung irritants that a person would consume through marijuana inhalation. Unfortunately, this more reactive effect could lead to a more reactive backfire. Some of marijuana’s potential adverse reactions include nausea, impaired judgment, altered brain development in younger users, and worsened symptoms in specific mental health disorders, so use carefully.
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
Baked desserts, candy, coffee, tea, soda, seasoned meat, pasta: most people know about the quintessential “special brownies,” if it’s any recipe with fat-soluble molecules, it’s a weed-friendly recipe. That is the reason why infused cannabutter and cannaoil cooking is generally the preferred form of edible administration, as the fat and lipid content makes them great retainers of cannabinoid molecules. Therefore, delectable chocolates, cookies, pastries, and gummies are among the most popular forms of edibles on the market, but consumers should indulge their sweet tooth carefully.
Smoked marijuana provides a more immediate impact in a shorter 30-90 minute burst, whereas the high of edible marijuana is the total inverse of that length, generally kicking in anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours after consumption, producing a sustained high that may last several hours long. Unfortunately, if taken recreationally, this can make it easier for an edible user to misjudge and improperly estimate the limit of how much their body can handle.
Treat edible marijuana like any other drug or medicine: consume safely and store responsibly, in a safe, high location away from the reach of anyone you wouldn’t want accidentally consuming them. Always read the informational labels on packaging to understand the dosage and how much MG of THC you’re getting per serving, and if you’re still unsure of how much to consume beyond that, here’s a helpful, comprehensive guide on safe dosage at https://tripsafe.org/edibles/.
Don’t Eat On An Empty Stomach
Little formal research exists on the subject, but broad empirical and anecdotal evidence widely dictates that it’s inadvisable to consume cannabis edibles on an empty stomach. As paradoxical as it may sound, you should not eat on an empty stomach in the case of edibles, as doing so can expedite their psychoactive effects. Eating fatty meals beforehand can stimulate bile release in the gallbladder and encourage your body’s fatty molecules (such as THC) to metabolize faster.
Additionally, moderating your body’s THC with an additional serving of CBD products may also help modulate your endocannabinoid closer to equilibrium. The highs and lows of smoked marijuana and edible marijuana can be radically different in their own ways, but no matter how you consume it, do so safely, responsibly, and carefully.