Cannabis edibles, typically called just edibles, are food products that are infused with cannabis and provide users with a different way to consume marijuana.

Types of Edibles

Edibles have evolved far beyond the pot brownies of the ’70s and ’80s. Cannabis edibles today include a wide selection of:

  • Baked goods
  • Sweets
  • Candy
  • Chocolates
  • Beverages
  • Drink mix powder
  • Lozenges
  • Gummies

In states where marijuana is legal, there are some restaurants that serve meals infused with cannabis. Edibles can be purchased at most dispensaries or prepared at home, although homemade goodies may be a little harder to dose appropriately. Many baked goodies start with Cannabutter; here is a Cannabutter recipe with instructions for dosing.

Edibles vs. Smoking Weed

Edibles affect users differently than when smoking marijuana. Your body has to digest and break down edibles just like it does with food before the byproducts get introduced into the bloodstream. This is the point at which you will feel the effect of the edibles. Some of the main differences between smoking pot and eating edibles include:

  • Onset of effects – when you smoke cannabis, the cannabinoids enter the respiratory system and the blood system immediately and provide an instantaneous effect. When eating edibles, you must wait for the digestion process to break down the food product, with the onset of effects taking anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. One exception to this rule is edibles that are made with emulsions which hit the body much quicker than typical types of edibles.
  • Duration of effects – a high from edibles can last for many hours, which is longer than the usual high from smoking marijuana. Smoking hits you quickly but fades quicker than the edible buzz.
  • Potency – edibles have less bioavailability compared to smoking cannabis, which means that your body does not use all of the ingested cannabis and edibles. This can make it difficult to determine the amount of THC in some edibles, which leads users to consume excessive amounts. It is always best to start slow and wait for a while to make sure you feel the full effects of the edibles you have taken before you take more.
  • Effects – the effects totally depend upon the quantity and potency of the cannabinoids in edibles and the particular strain of marijuana, which can vary greatly. Some people feel that edibles produce more psychoactive effects, although, with the many types of edibles available today, the effects vary greatly. Edibles may contain different cannabinoids, just like weed, such as CBD, CBN, and CBG, which can produce varying effects.. Other factors such as a person’s metabolism, body type, BMI, and tolerance influence the effects an individual feels when consuming edibles or smoking marijuana.

Risks Associated with Consuming Edibles

While edibles can be a great alternative to smoking for many people who would prefer not to put fire to weed, they can bring a host of negative effects if users are not careful. Anytime you put fire to weed and create smoke, with the end result of ash, you are creating carcinogens. Edibles eliminate this factor, although they do come with their own set of risks. Side effects range from mild, short-term effects to severe, more serious effects.

Short-term effects of edibles include:

  • Cottonmouth – this phenomenon of dry mouth occurs when smoking or eating edibles and, contrary to popular belief, is not due to dehydration. THC acts on the saliva glands to make them inactive for a short-term duration, which creates the cottonmouth effect.
  • Red, glossy eyes – THC over-dilates blood vessels surrounding the eyes and can also affect tear duct production, which leads to dryness combined with redness.
  • Munchies – an increased appetite is a common short-term side effect and is the main reason that medical marijuana is prescribed for people undergoing chemotherapy or other disorders, which deplete a person’s appetite.
  • Anxiety – ingesting too much or too high a dose of an edible can create anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia, which can also occur with smoking. Although this effect can last longer with edibles, and once you take it, you just have to ride it out. Compared to smoking, you can just stop smoking immediately, and the effects should wear off sooner.
  • Drowsiness – edibles can make you tired, just like smoking a nice Indica joint.

Some more serious side effects of edibles may include:

  • Psychosis – depending on the type and quantity of cannabinoids in the edibles, they may cause psychotic episodes and hallucinations.
  • Respiratory distress – some people experience trouble breathing and respiratory depression.
  • Heart problems – edibles may cause an irregular heartbeat and could sometimes even lead to a heart attack.

The bottom line is to use caution when ingesting edibles, start low and slow and learn which type of cannabis and dose is right for you.

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