Some like to smoke it. Others want to vape it. And, even others like to rub it on. Cannabis in all its forms is the key to many pleasures for millions of users.
Legalization in an increasing number of United States is blowing away the stigma that still lingers. But, marijuana marketed to medical patients is the real groundbreaker. States still resistant to adult- or recreational use have opened their legislatures to medical marijuana.
Of course, medical marijuana can cover purchase of cannabis flowers for traditional smoking. But, cannabis edibles are the way to go. So, just what are the uses, benefits, and side-effects of cannabis edibles?
The “edibles” category hosts various cannabis delivery methods. If you are looking for the therapeutic effects of THC and CBD in a convenient, discrete, and delicious, edibles are the way to go. And, more investors and manufacturers, and retailers are taking that path.
Research and anecdotal reports find that edible cannabis will reduce vomiting in patients undergoing chemo. It will allay nausea and appetite loss in HIV/AIDS victims. Anti-inflammatory properties will treat arthritis, chronic pain, neurological problems, and spasticity. And, some research shows cannabis destroying tumors in brain cancer patients.
Creative people have packaged edibles as cookies, brownies, candies, and lozenges. Creative cooks have worked cannabis into recipes that fill a growing number of cookbooks. Turned into a butter, it can infuse countless edible options.
Analysts identify 85 different cannabinoids that interact with the endocannabinoid system that functions throughout the human body. The cannabis plant secretes the fabled cannabinoids, THC and CBD. THC, of course, produces the psychoactive experience sought by many users. The CBD produces the body response in relaxation and medication. Edibles favor the CBD, but some balance it with a touch of THC to add to the experience.
Medical marijuana dispensaries carry brownies, chews, chocolates, cookies, gummies, lollipops, mints, toffee, and truffles. There are also flavored drinks, colas, coffees, and teas. Innovations include crispy kief, fruit snacks, macaroons, kief jerky, coated marshmallows, flavored nuts, and orange creamsicles.
What’s interesting is the branding that edibles are driving. New packaging, new ideas, and new names. Edibles are positioned to make a difference in the medical marijuana dispensary. But, they may also change the direction of the recreational use markets with its color and celebrity endorsements.
Cannabis can infuse almost any edible substance. It is specifically oil-soluble, so it makes butters to use in recipes, oils to mix with ingredients, and tinctures to apply under the tongue. So, in all its forms, edibles can please casual users at one end of the spectrum to incapacitated medical patients in the hands of caregivers.
Inhaling marijuana smoke leaches the cannabinoids through the lungs and into the bloodstream for a fairly immediate effect. Ingesting cannabis starts its influence in the gastrointestinal system where the liver processes it into a the stronger 11-hydroxi-THC. So, it may take longer for you to notice the effects, but they can be stronger.
- Eating cannabis is not so harsh on the lungs. Smokers risk inhaling other toxins that can damage lungs.
- Edibles better serve those people who cannot smoke because of existing illness or just don’t like smoking as a habit.
- While the THC high hits the brain, the edible high is more sedative and relaxing, a “body” high that eases pain and suffering with a laid-back chill.
- Edibles take longer to produce a reaction, but it will last longer (3 to 7 hours). I will also feel more intense, thus, reducing the need to dose frequently.
- Marijuana medical professionals recommend edibles for patients suffering from insomnia, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or some problems with the liver or digestive tract.
- For those who want or need the benefit of marijuana throughout the day without messing with their workday or focus, edibles can be consumed as discretely as candy, protein bars, or hot or cold beverage.
The Washington Times reports, “Government health experts warn in a new report that the risks of consuming marijuana-infused edibles like weed brownies and other snacks mustn’t be understated following the suicide last year of a man whose death has been blamed on pot.”
Novices must be careful when trying edibles. They risk overdosing by consuming too much too quickly. They consume too much for several reasons:
- The package and labeling are not clear or accurate about contents or dosing.
- Because edibles are slower to take effect, it temps users to consumer more than recommended.
- Edibles taste so good that consumers just want more.
You want to shop carefully for packaged products. You need to know the contents, including the ratio and richness of THC and CBD. New consumers should start with only 5-10 milligrams of edibles. You can build on that as you get comfortable with the effects.
This is important when a single brownie or chocolate candy could contain well more than that. You should eat only portions until your body tells you what your tolerance is. The side effects include:
- Increased anxiety and paranoia is likely to pass with time, but it is a sign you are consuming too much at a time.
- Dry mouth is not unusual any more than it is with smoking, so you can fix that with hydration.
- Sleepiness and laziness may take over if you overdose, but enjoy the rest and drink some extra water.
Phillip Smith, writing for Alternet, warns, “And these aren't your father's edibles.” Innovators are pushing new products to market, but without standardized labeling requirements, their consumers are taking risks.
Consumers also must worry about how much of what cannabis is worked into home cooked products. You don’t want to eat anything about which you are not fully informed. You need to study before you leap into this delicious but slightly risky treat.
Without serious research, the uses, benefits, and side-effects of cannabis edibles leave some questions. For example, there is no definitive work on how edible cannabis might interact with other foods or medications. And, there is no dosage specific to certain medical conditions. Still, these unknowns are not likely to dampen the market willing to try these tasty, soothing, and convenient treats.