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What is a cannabis edible?
A cannabis edible or “medible” is a food or beverage infused with cannabis and ingested for therapeutic purposes.
Edibles have evolved far beyond the "space cakes" or “magic brownies” of days gone by. They've evolved far beyond the foul tasting chocolate chip cookies or candies of yesteryear. Not only is there now a wide variety of sweet treats available at the local dispensary (lemon bars, crispy rice bars, gummies, candies, lollipops, chocolate bars, chocolate covered espresso beans, ice cream…), there is also an array of savory snacks (pretzels, goldfish crackers, popcorn, cornbread, pizza sauce, hummus, guacamole…) and beverages (lemonade, sodas, tonics, coffees, flavored waters, teas...)
The great news is all kinds of cannabis edibles can be made at home in the kitchen with the right recipe. Adventurous souls can even infuse fatty proteins like salmon and bacon with cannabis or, spruce up veggies with cannabis butter. Once the cook begins to think of cannabis as the herb that it is, it becomes easy to turn time-honored recipes into therapeutic meals.
A major benefit of making cannabis edibles at home is the ability to control what goes into them. Food allergies and diet restrictions aren't an issue when the medibles are coming out of the patient's own kitchen.
If an exact THC or CBD ratio is important, many people prefer pre-packaged chocolates, gummies or chews that are portion-controlled with the specific amounts of THC and CBD listed on the label.
It can be possible to control dosages when cooking or baking with cannabis at home, but the ratios will never be as exact as a lab-tested THC or CBD product. The best way to determine a regulated dose at home is to begin by making a cannabis butter or oil and substituting it for the butter in a standard recipe. (Check out the recipe for Aunt Sandy’s famous 10x Cannabutter, complete with ratio instructions.)
Cannabis butters, or cannabutters, can also be found at some dispensaries, but be aware that the strength may vary from batch to batch. Potency can fluctuate due to the plant matter being used to infuse the butter may be from different grows.
Cannabis cocktails also exist but they can't be found at any dispensary. Yet. To make a dynamite "cannadrink" at home, check out this cannabis drink recipe from modern mixologist Warren Bobrow. This particular recipe is for a Manhattan-style cannabis drink called the Mezzrole Cocktail, straight from Warren’s new book, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics.
So, why would you want to eat or drink your cannabis instead of smoke or vape it?
The human body processes the THC differently depending on whether it’s ingested or inhaled. When inhaled, the THC travels directly to the brain, which is why the effects of smoking or vaporizing are felt right away. When THC is ingested, it gets metabolized by the liver which converts it into 11-hydroxy-THC, a metabolite that is particularly effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier. This can often result in a more intense "high" or euphoric response.
Since ingested THC has to first be metabolized by the body, it will take longer to feel the effects. In addition, those effects will tend to last longer than what is standard with inhaled cannabis. Those seeking relief for chronic pain tend to prefer this longer lasting body effect. Many also choose edibles because they just don’t like smoking or vaporizing (or can’t smoke for medical reasons) and ingesting edibles is gentler on their body.
It is always recommended to start with a small dose of an edible and wait at least 30 minutes to see how that dose affects the sytem. Depending on factors like metabolism and how much food has been consumed prior, it can even take up to 2 hours to feel the edible’s effect. In short: be patient.
“Low and slow” is the mantra of many who prefer eating their cannabis. 10mg is widely considered to be single dose, but those whose bodies haven't previously been introduced to THC may want to start with 5mg. Too much THC is never lethal, but to have a positive experience it's important to cautiously avoid overdoing it.
It’s also recommended to take an edible on a full stomach, like one would with any other oral medication, and make sure to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration. For more tips on how to enjoy eating/drinking cannabis, check out Hopegrown's blog post: Cannabis Edibles 101: A Beginner’s Guide To Medibles. After that, those DIYers who are ready to make their own edibles and enjoy fresh berries with chocolate, can check out our amazing marijuana dessert recipe for Cannabis Chocolate Covered Strawberries. We’ll continue adding more recipes so be sure to keep checking back for more!