Pop superstar Nick Jonas tells a funny story about cannabis edibles. The American singer was invited to present at the Young Hollywood Awards Show and beforehand a friend invited him to eat a cannabis candy, specifically a lollipop. So he did. The whole thing.
“I enjoyed the night, felt great (but) then everything’s in slow motion,” he recalled. “Oh no, this is happening, this is real!” He was able to make it on to stage and give his speech, which included an unscripted joke about his height. But he couldn’t quite pronounce the word “shorter” correctly. When he finally handed over the award and left the stage, he looked at his manager and “was like, ‘You think anybody knew?’ He’s like, “Yes, they definitely did.”
Jonas’s story is amusing yet poignant for anyone interested in cannabis edibles. Yes, food infused with marijuana can be fun, relaxing, enjoyable and even medicinal. But they need to be treated with respect. Just because cannabis gummies look cute and delicious, doesn’t mean they don’t pack a punch. So before we delve into what type of cannabis edibles are perfect for you, let’s take a look at exactly what they are, how they differ from other forms of marijuana, how they impact you and how to choose wisely.
What are Cannabis Edibles?
Cannabis edibles are food or drink products that are infused with parts or derivatives of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plants that have a psychoactive effect on the body when consumed. Usually when people discuss eating marijuana they immediately think of brownies and that’s because back in the day it was popular to take the shake (leaf cuttings) from a cannabis plant, infuse it into butter or batter and bake with it.
What’s interesting is marijuana edibles are not new. In fact, they’ve been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. In June 2019 the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History reported the discovery of evidence of cannabis cultivation in East Asia dating back as early as 4000 BC. Chemical residue found in pots and burners from that time reveal the presence of psychoactive cannabinoids.
What’s different these days is marijuana tends to be a lot stronger, meaning that compared to plants of yesteryear, today’s weed has been bred to contain more tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the chemical responsible for the psychological effects. In other words, today’s cannabis gummies are a lot stronger than the brownies your grandparents made. And they’re substantially stronger than the weed teas that were consumed a millennia ago.
Is Cannabis Legal in Canada?
Yes. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001 and recreational marijuana became legal in the country on October 2017, 2018. Since that time a study was done by Canadian research company Insights West to see what the impact of legalization has had on the industry. Called “The Future of Cannabis in Canada” the report showed that nearly a quarter of adult Canadians consumed cannabis in the last few months of 2018. Of those, 36 percent partook in weed edibles and that number is expected to rise as “millennial consumers are more likely to try consuming cannabis edibles and drinkables relative to their older counterparts.”
How are Cannabis Edibles Different From Other Forms of Marijuana?
Traditionally people consumed marijuana by smoking it, either in the form of a rolled cigarette or through a pipe. But as shown in the Insights West study, more and more consumers are turning to cannabis edibles for various reasons. Perhaps it’s because they have health issues that don’t allow them to smoke. What’s important to note is the two ways of consumption, inhalation versus eating, provide two very different experiences. This is because weed edibles are metabolized by the liver and not the lungs. They pass through the blood-brain barrier faster than smoke and create a stronger, more body-centered, evenly distributed high that lasts longer.
In other words as delicious as they look, cannabis gummies can be much stronger than a rolled joint.
Smoking marijuana has an almost immediate effect but when partaking of a weed edible, it takes time for the body to process the psychoactive compounds. Some users report it’s taken up to two hours to feel the effects from one pot brownie for example. Once the high kicks in though, it can last for as long as six hours.
Therefore, it’s important novices start with a very small dose of a cannabis consumable and wait a minimum of 45 minutes to feel the effects. Scarfing down an entire marijuana chocolate bar in the same time you’d take to eat a normal bar could have disastrous effects as evidenced when writer Maureen Dowd reported in the New York Times that she lay in the fetal position in her hotel room for eight hours suffering from paranoia after eating a weed candy-bar. The next day a medical consultant told her she should have divvied the bar into 16 pieces.
It’s tricky to advise exactly how much of a marijuana edible one person should take because everyone’s metabolic rates are different and various outside factors need to be taken into consideration such as: was the edible taken on a full or empty stomach, what is the consumer’s mood, how is the surrounding environment affecting them, etc? So the best bet is to start small.
So, to review:
- • It takes longer to feel the effects of weed edibles, anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours.
- • The effects of a cannabis edible can last as long as 3-6 hours.
- • Users enjoy a stronger, more constant high.
Are Cannabis Edibles Dangerous?
No. There has never been a report of a fatality as a direct result of the consumption of marijuana, whether through smoking or eating. Nor are their effects as incapacitating as alcohol or other substances, provided the weed edibles are treated with respect.
The worst that can happen if too many marijuana edibles are consumed is you have an uncomfortable experience, such as the one shared by reporter Maureen Dowd. So, to stave off any discomfort or embarrassment such as the case of Nick Jonas at the Young Hollywood Awards, novices should enjoy small amounts in comfortable environments at first.
What are the Benefits of Cannabis Edibles?
There are many benefits of cannabis, which is why doctors have been legally allowed to prescribe them in Canada for the past two decades. According to Health Canada, users of cannabis can experience euphoria (feeling “high”), a sense of well-being, relaxation and heightened senses including sight, taste, smell and sound. Other benefits one can experience from marijuana include:
- Relief from chronic pain
- Stimulation of appetite
- Alleviation of sleep disorders
- Easing of nausea and vomiting
- Relief from muscle spasms and seizures
Research is ongoing as to the other medicinal usages but in terms of cannabis edibles versus other forms of consumption, there are some benefits worth noting. For example, many consumers prefer not to smoke or cannot due to medical reasons and so edibles give them another option. And as noted above, weed edibles give you a longer, stronger, and more constant high. Plus you don’t require any extra equipment such as a pipe or papers to consume marijuana edibles.
It’s also easier to enjoy a measured dose of THC when consuming cannabis edibles. More on that below.
What do the Milligrams of THC Indicate in a Cannabis Edible?
The great part about cannabis edibles is their THC content is listed on the packaging. Gone are the days of playing Russian roulette dosage. Now we know exactly how much psychoactive compound is found within each item. But how much is too much? A good rule of thumb for beginners is to start with a dose of 5 mg in a two-hour period. Remember: you can always do more, but you can never go back. Therefore, in the case of the Black Cherry Jelly, you’ll want to take one-eighth or just one of the circle sections to start because the overall THC content of a single candy is 40mg of THC. For those who have used cannabis edibles before, a standard dose is typically considered to be 10 mg. Veteran consumers and medical patients can take a higher dose.
What Type of Cannabis Edibles Are Perfect for You?
Now that we have a better understanding of the effects of weed edibles and their benefits, which ones are perfect for you? Cannabis gummies? Or the more traditional brownies? The best answer we can give is: whatever tastes best to you! Depending on your experience with marijuana edibles, you’ll want to be aware of the THC content of each item and determine whether you want more or fewer milligrams. Beyond that, the only other factors are price and whether you’d prefer to partake in something that requires preparation, such as cannabis-infused coconut oil or a pre-packaged chocolate.
The exciting part about Cannabis Edibles is exploring all the different foods, tastes and experiences that are available. Bon appetit!