Cannabis edibles are a delicious and wonderful way to reap both medicinal and recreational effects in the body. Creating edibles at home should be done with reverence as there is both an art and science to the creation of these tasty morsels. When made correctly, edibles can become a huge part of your daily diet which can be enjoyed through both savory and sweet foods. Through this two-part article, I will gently guide you onto the path of cannabis edible making and teach you the basics of this art. With this knowledge you will be able to start your journey through the world of edibles with confidence and ease.
What Is Decarboxylation?
Cannabis in its raw form contains the cannabinoid Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA). In itself, THCA has medicinal and therapeutic properties, but it is not psychoactive. So if you were to eat raw cannabis, you would not acquire any psychoactive effects but rather non-psychoactive effects instead. THCA affects the body by producing anti-inflammatory, antiemetic and pain management benefits. As cannabis is cured (dried), THCA very slowly and minimally converts to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) over time. To accelerate this process and get the cannabis flower ready for consumption in edibles, the process of decarboxylation must be employed. When THCA is heated, it loses its carboxylic group causing it to transform to THC and become psychoactive.
What Dosage Is Right for Me?
For first-time edible consumers, I generally recommend 5mg if you are sensitive to medications or 10mg if you feel you respond to medications reasonably. As edibles become more habitual in your life, you will find that your tolerance will go up with time. In this case, it is recommended to increase your dosage by increments of 5mg. For some, 5mg or 10mg right off the bat may not be enough, and it is advised in that situation to increase the dosage in increments of 5mg until the right dosage is achieved. For regular users, knowing your “happy dose” or how many milligrams produce the desired effect on your body is key for making the right dosage at home. Most seasoned edible consumers will know how many milligrams work best for them based on edibles they buy from dispensaries or collectives. If you fall into this category, simply make your edibles at home with the same dosage as the edibles you are buying. For regular smokers, it is recommended that you also start with 5mg and work your way up in 5mg increments to a dosage that works best for you.
How Do You Control the Dosage in Edibles?
There are two methods in which to make sure you are getting a controlled dose in each serving of the edibles you make. The first method is a simple math formula based on the THC percentage of each individual cannabis strain used. Each gram of cannabis bud has 1,000mg of dry weight. If a strain has about 10 percent THC, 10 percent of 1,000mg would be 100mg. This means that every gram contains 100mg of THC. If you were to bake a batch of cookies with seven grams of the strain infused into butter, the entire bowl of cookie dough would contain 700mg. If the recipe yielded 30 small cookies, each cookie would contain 23.3mg of THC. The second method is simply using the weight of the flower per serving if the percentage of THC is unknown. For example, if you made a large pot of chili and used olive oil that had seven grams of flower that produced 14 servings, then each serving of chili would contain .50 grams of flower. It is recommended that you start off with a low dose of .25 grams per serving if you are going to use this method. Thus, a simple adjustment of recipe yield or the amount of grams you infuse into your recipe is all you need to create the right dosage at home.
Edible High Versus Inhalation High
The high produced by edibles is much more powerful than the high produced by inhalation. When edibles are consumed, THC transforms to the metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC in the liver after it has passed through the stomach. This produces a more powerful and longer high in the body when compared to inhalation as 11-hydroxy-THC is more effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier. But because the edibles have to be processed first by the stomach and then by the liver before it hits the bloodstream, it creates a longer time frame before the effects are felt within the body. Whereas when cannabis is inhaled either through smoking, vaporization or dabbing, the effects of THC are felt immediately as it travels instantly through the bloodstream from the lungs and then to the brain. Though the high from inhalation comes on the fastest, it also has the shortest duration in the body.
Edible Onset Versus Smoking Onset of Psychoactive Effects
How fast edibles are processed in your body depends on a lot of factors. These factors include: How much food you ate before the edible, if you ate the edible on an empty stomach, your body chemistry and how fast your liver processes the THC. Patients who are sensitive to medications or THC have felt very subtle effects in as little as 15 minutes, which then increased in intensity at 30 minutes, and then by 60 minutes, the full effect was felt. For most people, effects can be felt as early as 30 minutes or as long as two hours depending on different body factors. Once edibles have crossed the blood-brain barrier, the effects generally last four to six hours at low and moderate dosages. If someone has consumed a much higher dosed edible, the high can last considerably longer. For example, I personally consumed a high-dosed shatter reclaim edible that produced an 18 hour high. So it is very important to start with the correct dosage and allow the right time frame in your schedule for the effects. The effects of inhalation, on the other hand, are an immediate onset that will last anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes depending upon how much was inhaled, the mechanism of delivery and if it was a concentrate or flower.
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Jessica Catalano, author of The Ganja Kitchen Revolution: The Bible of Cannabis Cuisine, is a professional cannabis chef and food columnist famous for strain-specific dishes.