Cannabis edibles are growing in popularity. They provide an alternative way to enjoy the benefits that cannabis has to offer without smoking or inhaling vapor. Edibles can be foods or beverages that contain a specific amount of cannabis in each serving and include such things as gummies, hard candies, chocolates, baked goods, granola, coffee, infused water, and more.
Just like other forms of cannabis, people use edibles for a wide variety of reasons. Depending upon the cannabis used, the edible can help you relax, ease pain, or boost your energy. For some people, however, edibles just do not seem to work.
How does the body process edibles?
When it comes to edibles, the body processes edibles differently than any other form of consumption. If you smoke or vape weed, you inhale the smoke or vapor into your lungs. The active compounds, including the THC, then absorb into the bloodstream. When it goes into the bloodstream, it goes straight to the brain, which means that you feel the effects within moments.
Edibles metabolize in the human body in a completely different way than smoked cannabis. When you eat cannabinoids, they absorb through the intestines, then they have to move through the liver before going into the bloodstream and then spread through the rest of the body.
It can take edibles anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before you can start feeling the effects. When it comes to edibles, you need to be very patient. If at least 3 hours have passed and you still do not feel the effects, you probably consumed too low of a dose.
Edibles are all about experimenting; you need to find what dosage is perfect for you. The best way to start experimenting is to start low and slow, then slowly start increasing your dosage over the course of a few evenings.
Finding an effective dosage
One of the main reasons why cannabis edibles might not work for you is because there just is not enough cannabis in the dosage you are taking. Some individuals require higher doses than others to obtain the desired effect. If you are not getting the desired effect from a single dose, try gradually increasing how much you consume.
Cannabis is known to have an incredibly variable effective dose range – meaning that some consumers will feel effects at 2.5mg of consumed THC, some will not feel effects until they reach the 25mg range, and some may take 250mg and still feel no effects.
Due to this wide variance in the dose at which effects are felt, it is very hard to establish a baseline for what dose will produce certain effects. It could be that some consumers have a very high baseline THC tolerance, so they have never actually consumed a high enough dose to reach their ideal effects range, so they believe that edibles cannot affect them at all.
How your metabolism affects your high
A person’s unique metabolism can determine a lot about them; from their body size to the effects that drugs have on them. In considering the effect of an individual’s metabolism, it is important to consider the first pass metabolism effect.
First pass metabolism is how your liver filters out foreign compounds from your bloodstream before the blood circulates throughout the rest of the body. Just like standard digestive metabolism, first pass metabolism can be stronger or weaker than “normal” depending on the individual’s body.
Generally speaking, when an edible is ingested, a large percentage of the active THC is wasted out by the liver before it circulates to the brain and can cause an effect, but the amount of THC that gets through this metabolism process is usually still strong enough to cause noticeable psychoactive effects.
However, it may be the case that an individual has such a strong first pass metabolism that the remaining THC is too diluted to have noticeable psychoactive effects once it reaches the brain. For these consumers, even extremely high doses of THC may be filtered out by the liver, leaving edibles essentially ineffective on them.
For consumers with these experiences, sublingual absorption may be the answer to extended oral cannabis effects. When an edible is dissolved completely under the tongue rather than chewed and swallowed, the cannabinoids enter the mucus membranes and glands of the mouth, penetrating the bloodstream directly while bypassing the liver and its metabolic functions. Effects from sublingual consumption are typically longer in duration than smoking, but not quite as long as edibles.
Taking an edible on an empty stomach
For some, edibles may cause them to feel something, but it is not the type of high they were hoping for. Instead of feeling relaxed, you might feel incredibly anxious. One of the biggest reasons for this might be because you are taking the edible on an empty stomach.
While it still takes longer to hit your system than smoking or vaping, consuming an edible with nothing else in your stomach can cause the THC to hit you more quickly than if you eat beforehand and cause unwanted effects.
Inconsistencies in edibles
This is one of the biggest problems with edible products purchased through the black market, and a big reason why new cannabis consumers are often wary of edibles – why are the effects of edibles so unpredictable, and why are the experiences often not consistent from one consumption to the next?
Before the rise of lab testing, edibles were incredibly difficult to accurately dose during production and consumption, and two individual doses from the very same edible could produce wildly different results due to uneven infusion of compounds.
Additionally, not knowing the starting cannabis material and infusion type of an edible makes predicting effects almost impossible. Thankfully, edible companies in legal state cannabis markets are making strides at addressing these problems.
The biggest advancement in producing consistent edibles is the state requirement for lab testing at multiple stages of edible production, making it much easier to know the overall dose for a complete edible, as well as the serving sizes for individual doses.
Another manufacturing step that edible companies are taking to ensure repeatable cannabis experiences is the use of consistent, uniform starting materials. Companies are beginning to establish relationships with cannabis suppliers that afford them a reliable stream of consistent quality cannabis for use in their edibles.
Many companies are choosing to perform strain-specific infusions to add another layer of consistency to their product, and allow customers to estimate the type of effects they will experience from that edible based on their feelings toward the strain itself.
Lastly, many edible makers are starting to pay close attention to the impact of the “Entourage Effect” on cannabis experiences and planning their formulations with these interactions in mind.
If you are not familiar with the “Entourage Effect”, it is the principle that the full matrix of compounds in a plant (like the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and others in cannabis) interact with each other in unique ways to produce different, nuanced effects when consumed together than the same amount of an isolated compound like THC or CBD would on its own.
It just may not be suitable for you
For some, edibles simply just do not work no matter what they do. Just like certain types of conventional medications do not work for everyone, cannabis edibles just do not work for everyone. Instead, you may want to consider trying a different type of cannabis. If you do not want to smoke or vape, you could try a tincture.