How do you ingest your cannabis? While smoking, vaping and dabbing are still the most common ways of consuming, cannabis edibles are becoming increasingly popular amongst cannabis consumers for both recreational and medical purposes.
One of the interesting consequences of cannabis legalization has been the increased flow of information regarding cannabis consumer behaviour, including the identification of new trends. An analysis report, released earlier this year, estimated that in the USA (based on figures from seven states including California and Colorado) sales of medical grade cannabis edibles increased from $767 million in 2019 to $1.23 billion in 2020 – a rise of 60%. A significant factor in the growth wasthe rise in cannabis consumers opting to digest, rather than inhale, their cannabinoids, with the pandemic (and its effect on social smoking) believed to be a contributing factor.
At this point it is worth reminding ourselves that the cannabis world has split into a two tier system of legality and illegality and this needs to be accounted for in such data reports. While it is now perfectly normal to pick up a bag of branded cannabis gummies with your groceries in California – each with a standardized dose of THC – this luxury does not extend to most countries around the world where many edibles still tend to be homemade.
How Do Cannabis Edibles Work?
Unlike smoking weed in a joint or a bong, which hits the bloodstream almost immediately through absorption through the lungs, THC from cannabis edibles is processed via the liver. This means that it takes longer for the cannabinoids to take effect. This period is commonly reported as 30 minutes to 2 hours (for edibles that dissolve in the mouth such as lollipops, it’s more like 20 – 45 minutes).
However, just as with how long cannabis seeds take to germinate, predicting how long the effect takes to kick in is not a precise science. People are different and therefore there are a number of personal factors that can influence the speed and strength of the effect.
What Factors Influence the Edibles Effect?
Metabolism: Everyone is built differently and height and weight are significant contributing factors to how long it takes to work, how it may affect the consumer and how long the experience will last.
Tolerance: A big mistake that many new cannabis users make when opting for THC edibles is to assume an average dose (ie 10mg) is going to be mild. Regular cannabis users will naturally have a higher tolerance to THC and be less affected.
Dosage: Inexperienced consumers are recommended to start off slow and low (2mg) and find their level. Why? Well a cannabis smoker will very quickly be aware of the effect of a high THC strain but because of the way edibles work, the effects are potentially much stronger and longer lasting.
Commercial vs Homemade: If you live in a legalized part of the world commercial products carry guides to mg amounts and provided standardized doses. Homemade THC edibles don’t come with such safeguarded guidelines and for this reason should be treated with caution.
What is the Recommended Dose?
“Low and slow” is an often repeated cannabis related mantra for very good reason. THC is a psychoactive substance and too much of it can induce paranoia, anxiety and take the consumer on a ride into the perception busting unknown… As a rule of thumb, 1 – 2.5 mg is a mild and friendly experience and above 15mg brings a potency which can easily prompt a negative experience for inexperienced cannabis users. Cannabis consumers are always recommended to do their research.
How Long Do Effects Last?
For many people making the switch from smoking weed to eating cannabis edibles the most obvious difference is the length of the experience. From smoking a joint, the stoned feeling generally lasts 1 – 3 hours, while the effect from edibles can be felt for much longer. Peaking at around three hours, the effect can last 6 – 8 hours, but can continue for longer than that (some users have reported feeling the effects for up to 24 hours).
Why are Cannabis Edibles so Popular?
Consumers like the predictability of standardized doses, once they have found the level that works for them and microdosing is part of this trend too – edibles are a clean, efficient and discreet way of consuming cannabis. Another fundamental reason is that perhaps the tectonic plates of popular culture have shifted and smoking is just not so popular with the next generation. For this reason, edibles have been embraced by medical cannabis and new recreational consumers alike.