Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
What is edible cannabis, and what do you need to know about ingestibles? If you’ve ever wondered, “why eat weed?” we have the answers in this complete guide to marijuana edibles.
Learn about the different types of cannabis edibles, plus how ingesting potent edibles affects your body and brain. Also, discover if cannabis edibles are right for you with our comprehensive list of the pros and cons of eating cannabis.
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Cannabis Edibles for Beginners
Cannabis edibles are food products infused with extracted cannabis. The classic example would be a pot brownie, but edibles can be almost any food or drink, particularly if you are cooking with infused cannabis oil or cannabutter.
The basic rule of thumb with consuming cannabis edibles is to start low and go slow. “Low” refers to the THC levels, which contribute to the intense “high” effects of cannabis edibles. In general, a low THC level for a novice user would be 5 milligrams (mg) or less, but this number may vary depending on factors like body chemistry and body mass index (BMI). An individual weighing 200 pounds, for example, might fare better with 5 mg of THC than someone weighing only 100 pounds.
Low THC levels need balancing with slow consumption, which ensures that you don’t keep ingesting more cannabis before you feel the initial effects. It can take several hours for the effects of the cannabis edible to become apparent because it takes time for the body to metabolize the plant’s compounds in this format, especially THC. But once those effects settle in, you may experience a more powerful high than your body is accustomed to handling.
Indeed, consuming marijuana edibles too fast can lead to an uncomfortable high and, for a few, a psychotic episode. While rare, psychotic episodes due to eating cannabis can be serious and sometimes lead to emergency room visits. How can you avoid getting too high from edibles? Take a wait-and-see approach, allowing several hours to pass before consuming more cannabis. Ingesting marijuana edibles slowly lets you enjoy the many different types of this smokeless consumption method.
Types of Cannabis Edibles
You may opt to purchase premade cannabis edibles from a licensed dispensary or to make your own tasty marijuana treats at home. Here are some typical edibles you will find in a cannabis dispensary:
- Cookies, brownies, muffins, and other baked goods
- Liquid extracts and tinctures
- Chewable tablets
- Pills and capsules
- Hard candies
- Cannabis-infused drinks like fruit juice and matcha tea
- Powder to mix into a drink, salad dressing, or sauce
One factor that all these types of cannabis edibles share in common is their potency. Regardless of whether you let a hard candy melt in your mouth or nibble on a pot brownie, marijuana edibles are powerful stuff. However, some users report more psychoactive effects from baked edibles rather than gummies or hard candies. The reason for this discrepancy is that edibles like pastries contain fat, which the body metabolizes differently.
Beginners, therefore, might like to start with a CBD-rich gummy before progressing to more THC-leaning brownies. Some CBD gummies may even help you sleep better, especially if they also contain melatonin. You can use edibles, then, for your choice of energizing or sedating effects.
The takeaway about cannabis edibles is that you can always reach for another one, but you can’t undo the one you have just consumed.
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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Cannabis Edibles?
Marijuana edibles offer several pros and cons. Here are some of the main advantages to eating marijuana versus other consumption methods:
- Healthier than smoking or vaping, especially for those with breathing issues and respiratory conditions like asthma.
- Longer lasting effects than other consumption methods; good for people using cannabis for pain who are seeking extended relief.
- Creative, tasty, and enjoyable way to consume cannabis with many recipe varieties to try like vegan edibles.
- Discreet consumption; your kitchen might smell like a bakery, but there won’t be any heavy weed fragrance hanging in the air.
- Potentially calmer high than the one you might get from smoking weed, but this factor depends strongly on proper dosing.
On the other hand, cannabis edibles may not be the ideal consumption method for everyone. Here are some disadvantages of eating cannabis:
- Added salt, sugar, and other undesirable ingredients
- Overconsumption due to flavorful but unhealthy ingredients
- Possible “bad trip” from overconsumption of cannabis edibles
For many, the advantages of marijuana edibles outweigh the disadvantages, but this is a personal decision you should make in conjunction with your doctor.
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Tips for Consuming Cannabis Edibles Safely
There are ways you can avoid the disadvantages of edibles while still engaging in this popular consumption method. First, stay hydrated and drink at least 16 ounces of water with your cannabis edible. Drinking adequate water may prevent any cotton-mouth feeling and help keep your body in a more balanced state.
Also, be prudent about where you purchase cannabis edibles. Any type of cannabis, including joints and vape pens, should always come from a licensed dispensary. Buying cannabis on the “black market” means that the ingredients may be of lower quality or inaccurately measured. Essentially, buying edibles from anywhere but a legitimate dispensary represents a wild card and an unnecessary risk you are taking with your health.
As with any drug, avoid sharing your prescription with others or consuming the edibles prescribed to another individual. If you’re preparing homemade edibles, pay close attention when you measure ingredients and later when you divvy out portions. Furthermore, avoid mixing marijuana edibles with alcohol and prescription drugs as the effects can be unpredictable.
Finally, if you have consumed too many cannabis edibles, stay calm. Refraining from panicking will help you get through the overconsumption (not overdose) as you remind yourself that cannabis is not lethal.
Using Cannabis Edibles for Your Health
The keys to consuming cannabis edibles safely are appropriate dosage and pacing. Slow, moderate consumption of marijuana edibles may offer an advantage over other methods of using cannabis, especially smoking and vaping.
A qualified physician can prescribe a customized dose of cannabis edibles for you. Reach out to Leafwell’s on-call doctors to apply for a medical marijuana card and start enjoying the benefits of marijuana edibles.
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