Intro to Edibles

By Jessica Catalano

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. This LEARN video can 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide (CO2), and this happens to THCA when heated. It loses its carboxylic group causing it to transform to THC and become psychoactive.

What to Do if You Consume Too Much and Experience Adverse Effects?

The first thing you need to realize is that you cannot overdose and die from cannabis. Though you may feel out of control and that there is a possibility of something tragic happening, it will not. According to a 1988 Department of Justice/DEA brief written by Judge Francis L. Young, a person would have to consume 1,500 pounds of cannabis within 15 minutes for it to become lethal. This is such a great feat that one would pass out and throw up before progressing very far into consuming such an astronomical amount. 

The second thing you need to realize is that cannabis lowers your blood sugar so the best thing to do is consume a large glass of orange juice and lay down in a comfortable environment. Make sure the room is cool yet cozy, play some of your favorite music (Pink Floyd would be a great choice), invite a friend over or call your significant other to your side to help keep you level headed, drink some water after your juice and snack on a balanced healthy treat such as an apple and cheese. Basically remind yourself to ride the waves and that you will come out just fine in the end. 

The last thing you need to realize is that cannabis acts as a mental defragmenter and that this can lead to paranoia. Life can be complex and crazy, which can lead some people to put things on the “back burner” so to speak. These things can pile up and be repressed because one does not want to deal with working through those issues and thoughts. When cannabis is consumed in large amounts, all of these thoughts immediately start coming from the back burner to the front of your consciousness. In most people, this causes extreme states of paranoia because they cannot deal with their own inner dialog. 

It is best to treat this situation as both a spiritual and healing experience. Allow yourself to work through your thoughts and come out of the experience a better person. If you need a little help coming down faster, take pure CBD pills or oil as it counteracts the effects of THC in the body.

Safety and Medical Recommendations for Edible Consumption

The following are important safety recommendations to be aware of before consuming edibles:

Be sure to start at the lowest dosage possible, such as 5mg or 10mg, if it is your first time consuming edibles

  • Wait at least two hours before consuming another dose if you feel the first is not working
  • Sublingual edibles hit the bloodstream faster than food so make sure to accommodate your schedule to the faster effects
  • Do not consume edibles and then drive or operate heavy machinery
  • Keep your edibles out of the reach of both children and pets
  • Have a friend or lover stay with you in the event you consume too much and follow the aforementioned advice
  • Do not make edibles at home with flower that contains mold or has not been flushed properly
  • It is not recommended to mix edibles with alcohol—being crossfaded might exacerbate a mental or physical condition—and the same applies when mixing cannabis with other drugs
  • Do not eat edibles from people you do not know very well; always make sure it is from a trusted source instead
  • Properly store your edibles and follow all general food safety guidelines

It is recommended that individuals seeking medicinal benefits try several different approaches to treating their condition. My first recommendation is to have a “Strain Diary” to figure out which strains best treat your symptoms. In this diary, record the following: strain name, strain type, what type of food was the vessel, milligram or gram dosage, onset time, negative and positive effects and how the strain performed on treating your symptoms. This will help patients figure out which strain, what type of food and which dosage works best for them. The second recommendation is to research online which strains are known to treat specific conditions. If a specific strain works for someone else with the same condition, there is a chance it may work for you as well. And lastly, if you are in a medical cannabis or legal state, seek the advice of dispensaries and/or cannabis books/cookbooks.

General Recommendations on Edible Making

For the best tasting edibles, I recommend selecting specific cannabis strains based on their aroma and taste (from terpenes and flavonoids) and then pairing it with the flavor profiles of the ingredients in dishes (strain-specific cannabis cuisine). This groundbreaking terpene-pairing cuisine treats each individual strain as a culinary herb by harnessing the unique flavor and fragrance profiles.

I pioneered strain-specific cannabis cuisine for flavor and found that it makes more enjoyable edibles for patients. Lemon Kush, for example, can be paired with Vietnamese Spring Rolls. By doing this, the Lemon Kush will impart a lemony taste with floral and mint undertones that deepens the flavors in this dish because of the similar taste profiles already present in the ingredients. This also helps patients to understand the importance of flavor profiles in recipes for a more enjoyable experience and how each strain will affect their bodies.

Decarboxylize your cannabis before infusing into butter or oil. To decarboxylize flower, preheat your oven to 220 degrees F. Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper that will not burn in the oven. Very carefully sprinkle the ground flower onto the sheet making sure that it is evenly disbursed. Place the baking sheet into the oven uncovered and heat for 25 minutes. Pull the baking sheet from the oven, and let it cool completely. Be very careful when removing it from the pan. After you have decarboxylized your cannabis flower, add it to butter or oil for one hour in a double boiler on a medium low setting. Be sure to stir this mixture every 15 minutes with a wooden spoon.

When your butter or oil has been strained, immediately use for a recipe or follow general food safety guidelines on food storage so that your oil or butter does not spoil.

Cooking with Sativa, Indica and Hybrids

Cannabis has two different types of species that have many theories to their respective gene pools of why they evolved in nature. The first is cannabis sativa, and the second is cannabis indica. When these two plants are crossed genetically, they produce strains known as hybrids. 

Cannabis sativa typically possesses the following effects on the body and mind making it the perfect daytime medication: physical energy, uplifting mental energy, introspective cerebral thoughts, helps balance mood disorders, creative energy, antidepressant, increased alertness and stimulation of appetite. 

Cannabis indica typically possesses the following effects on the body and mind making it the perfect nighttime medication: induced relaxation, narcotic pain relief, sedation of the body and mind, anti-anxiety, reduces nausea, controls muscle spasms, aids in controlling seizures and also stimulates appetite. The effects of hybrids depend on the parent plants and what traits were considered favorable then stabilized during the breeding process.

General Recommendations on Edible Making

Safety and Medical Recommendations for Edible Consumption

What to Do if You Consume Too Much and Experience Adverse Effects?

What is Decarboxylation?

What Dosage is Right for Me?

Edible High Versus Inhalation High

What Exactly Did the Hashish Eaters Eat?

The Hashish Eaters Club

Pot Pie | Brandin LaShea Feat. Rob Fee

Pot Pie | Brandin LaShea Feat. Jess VerSteeg

Pot Pie | Brandin LaShea Feat. Luis Jimenez

Pot Pie | Brandin LaShea Feat. Simon Gibson

Edibles with Birdie | Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies for Brett Hartman-Payan

Edibles with Birdie | Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies for Ciera Thompson

Edibles with Birdie | Banana Bread for Jamie Lee McCormick