What are Marijuana Edibles?
With all the options available to medical marijuana patients today, many are choosing to explore methods of medicating beyond the traditional pipe or paper smoking and vaporizing. Marijuana infused products, commonly referred to as ‘edibles’, provide another option to patients who cannot, or choose not to smoke medical marijuana. Edibles come in many different varieties, including tinctures, cooking oils, pre-made desserts, ice cream, drinks, snack foods, candies, and even chewing gum.
Edibles Provide Safe Alternative
Many patients believe that ingesting their medical marijuana is a healthier alternative to inhaling it because there is no exposure to carbon-rich smoke. This is not the case with vaporizing marijuana, as no smoke is produced. Some patients, such as those on supplemental oxygen, turn to edibles when other forms of ingestion are no longer a viable option. For patients with eating and digestive disorders, edibles are not only a great source of nausea-reducing CBD, but also a vital source of nutrients and calories. The same is true for cancer patients suffering from nausea caused by their treatments, and expecting mothers dealing with hyperemesis (morning sickness). A few patients choose edibles because they are a more discreet way to medicate, while others simply prefer the effects of ingesting cannabis to the effects of smoking.
When to Choose Edibles
Because most edibles are exposed to some kind of heat during the cooking process, many of the inactive cannabinoids such as THC-a and CBD-a, are converted to THC, CBD and CBN. The cooking process, as well as the high levels of THC found in edibles, work together to create the perfect treatment for many disorders, including chronic pain, muscle inflammation and spasms, autoimmune disorders, nervous system disorders, insomnia, and nausea. While anyone can enjoy the benefits of edibles, patients suffering from crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that affects as many as 700,000 Americans, find this method of medicating extremely beneficial. Because Crohn’s Disease occurs in the GI tract, edibles distribute useful active and inactive cannabinoids at the root of the problem, instead of having to rely on the bloodstream to carry them from the lungs.
Is Edibles Effect Different?
Yes, it certainly is different. However, exactly what effect edibles will have on you depends on several factors: the type and potency of the edibles you are using, your tolerance, your body chemistry, and even how much you’ve had to eat. Because the effects of eating an edible differ greatly from the effects of smoking, many first time users are caught off guard by the stronger potency and long-lasting effects. Despite CBD’s anxiety relieving properties, many people experience a heightened sense of anxiety and paranoia when they initially ingest an edible. This is caused by various factors, but tends to mostly deal with fact that most people are not used to ingesting cannabis yet and have feelings of uncertainty, which leads to anxiety and paranoia. This seems to fade away the more you eat them, and get used to the effects. You see, when you smoke marijuana you only receive a small amount of the cannabinoids in each hit, although it will be felt instantly. Where as, edibles tend to hit you much more slowly. This allows the cannabinoids to be released in waves, as they are processed by the stomach and digested.
Correct Classification of Marijuana Edibles
Though there are untold varieties of marijuana edibles available on the market today, they can all be split into three basic categories: those geared towards gastrointestinal uptake, those geared towards oral uptake, and a few that fit into a hybrid category that targets both. The most common edibles are geared towards gastrointestinal absorption. Any edible where the cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach, like a brownie, cookie, cashew bar, or crepe falls into this category. These edibles tend to take longer to activate within the body, sometimes as long as two hours, but produce a longer-lasting effect. On the flipside, medical marijuana edibles geared towards oral uptake can affect a patient almost immediately, but tend to wear off faster, within two to three hours. Edibles that you hold in your mouth for an extended period of time like suckers, lozenges, or tincture, fall into this category. Some items, such as drinks and chocolates fall into a hybrid category, because they are designed to be absorbed in both the mouth and the stomach. These cannabis edibles are a middle ground between oral and intestinal absorption, offering fast-acting relief that can last for four hours or more.
Choosing the Right Edible
When selecting an edible, it is very important to pay attention to the potency of the product. This will help you determine how much of the product to eat, as many edibles are designed to be split into multiple doses. However, the exact potency of an edible can be tough for a patient to determine because the strength of an edible depends on the potency of the product used to infuse it. Some manufacturers list their products in strengths such as 10x, 20x etc. while others label their products with the amount of cannabis that is infused in grams. The problem with this, is that unless you know how potent that gram of marijuana was, there is no way for you to tell how potent the edible will be. The same goes for manufacturers who test their products for total cannabinoid content and list the number in milligrams. These numbers can be misleading because they completely disregard the individual bioactive compounds in the plant (THC-a, THC-V, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc).
Nonetheless, 30-100mg of active cannabinoids is considered a daily dose by most patients. 10-30mg is a good place to start if you are brand new to ingesting cannabis.
However, only you can determine what dosage works best for you, and this often requires experimenting with different potencies and types of edibles.
Health Risks Consuming Edibles
Unfortunately, because there is no solid system in place to oversee edible or infused products production, patients must exercise caution when purchasing edibles. Most states require nothing more than a commercial cooking license to sell to a dispensary or medical marijuana delivery service. In addition, the quality of the cannabis that is used to infuse dispensary-bought edibles is nearly impossible to determine. Some companies use edibles as a way to dispose of marijuana that otherwise couldn’t be sold; like buds heavily laden with spider mites or mold. Because of this, it is very important to get your edibles from a trusted source. Patients with severe allergies are advised to use extreme caution when selecting edibles, as the kitchen could be contaminated with trace
amounts of nuts, gluten, lactose, or even pet dander.
Edibles Help Patients With Illnesses
Edibles offer patients one more wonderful way to get medicated. They can be extremely beneficial to cancer patients undergoing radiation, as well as those suffering from debilitating illnesses of the stomach, nervous system, or muscular system. Edibles are not only a great tasting, safer alternative to smoking, but also a great way for patients to introduce high levels of certain cannabinoids to the system. Marijuana edibles are allowing patients to treat their illnesses with more efficiency and flexibility than ever before