What Are Edibles?
For the purposes of this article, edibles are orally consumable products containing a given amount of activated cannabis.
Why Consume Cannabis Edibles?
Edibles produce a ‘high’ without the consumption of vapour or smoke. In other words, they are a vehicle for psychoactive experiences, with a uniquely distinct psychotropic character. Upon consumption of an edible cannabis product, you are receiving a potentially potent dose of cannabis via your gastro-intestinal tract.
Commonly Cited Pros Of Edibles
- No need to smoke or vaporise
- Produces a qualitatively different, yet equally enjoyable high
Commonly Cited Cons Of Edibles
- Deceptively strong
- Harder to obtain
- If made incorrectly, you can waste a lot of weed
The Pharmacology Of Edibles
Edibles work by delivering THC to the brain and body through the mouth, stomach and intestines.
Despite what you might think, THC doesn’t actually exist naturally in raw cannabis. As the plant grows it produces THC-A, the chemical precursor to THC. THC-A must be converted to THC for any psychoactive effects to be produced in your body.
One way of doing this is to smoke it. By heating cannabis (or in this case, burning it), you convert its THC-A into THC. This process is known as decarboxylation or ‘activation’.
This process is what happens to your reclaim from your dry herb vaporiser – which means your Already Vaped Bud can also be used to make activated butter. Be sure to keep that stuff around for any potential canna-baking session.
What Is Decarboxylation?
You really must decarboxylate your bud to get any desired psychoactive effect from your culinary creations. It is possible to gain some of the medicinal effects of cannabis without decarboxylating, but you won’t get stoned.
Below is a table which shows ideal times and temperatures for decarboxylation of your cannabis. Use it as a guide!
Break the bud up, but don’t grind it. The fingernail of your pinkie is a good indicator for how big the pieces should be for a nice, even decarboxylation.
Setting your oven to just below 120 degrees Celsius (or 248 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes will give you the best results.
If you decarboxylate your cannabis for too long, it will reduce the volatile cannabinoids in the end product. This means you may actually reduce the THC levels in your bud. Oftentimes leaving the bud for too long will increase CBN levels – a cannabinoid responsible for sedative effects. Most modern ovens keep a fairly consistent temperature; however, a thermometer in the centre of your bud will always ensure you can keep track of the temperature. You don’t want to destroy those precious cannabinoids.
The ‘idiot proof’ way of working out whether you’ve done the right thing is the colour of the bud.
Your bud should be golden brown and completely dry. This is a process; try not to jump the gun and pull out the bud while it’s still a little green. It will be sure to lead to some not-so-potent results.
How To Dose Cannabis Edibles
Many first-time edibles users have a similar experience;
“I ate a whole edible, became uncomfortably high, and have avoided them ever since…”
This kind of report is all too common. With accurate dosing and a bit of good old hazard reduction, these unpleasant experiences can very easily circumnavigated.
There are a few things to take note of when dosing edibles;
- Edibles (on a per milligram basis) are stronger than smoking and also have a far longer-lasting effect
- Edibles often have a deceptively high THC content
- Are known to have a slow initial release – which is why you shouldn’t reach for a second or third after 30 minutes!
This wouldn’t hold in all cases, of course… but let’s assume the average ‘sesh’ includes a 50 milligram dose of THC.
50mg THC per serve
We must then guess-timate our raw flower THC content. Today, it is fair to assume that mid-range, average quality street weed has a 10-15% THC content. For this write-up, we will assume that you have access to some nice dusty flower, which tests at 15%.
Average 15% THC
Given these assumptions, 1 gram (1000mg) of cannabis must contain approximately 150mg of THC.
150mg / 1000mg
15% x 1000mg = 150mg
So, from these calculations, you can see that 1 gram of cannabis contains 3 individual servings.
150mg THC per gram / 50mg = 3
Picking a Solvent For Cannabis Edibles
Now that we’ve worked out how many milligrams of THC are in 1 gram of our bud, we can choose what we want to dissolve our THC in, so that it can be eaten.
Dissolving THC into a liquid increases its bioavailability, which is a fancy term for how and whether your body can utilise a given drug. Deciding on a liquid should be done when you know what you’re making – you wouldn’t use alcohol as a solvent if you were making brownies, for instance.
Common Liquid Solvents
- Butter – Ideal for baked goods (any food is basically compatible with butter!)
- Vegetable Oil – (Usually Coconut Oil)
- Vegetable Glycerine – Good for Gummies and Vape juices
- Alcohol – Good For Tinctures
Whatever solvent you decide on, there are some factors you must consider. You will have to think about potency. Let’s say you’re making brownies. The recipe makes 25 servings.
The recipe requires 250g of butter. Therefore, every brownie will have 10g of butter in it.
Assuming again that a standard THC dose is 50mg, we know that we will need at least 50mg of THC per 10 grams of butter for this recipe
250g of butter / 25 servings = 10g per serving
You must ensure that your cannabis matches your recipe’s requirements. Too much butter in your mixture, and the edibles will not be strong enough.
Knowing this, 25 servings x 50mg = milligrams of THC needed for this recipe
25 x 50mg = 1250mg
1250mg / 150mg (per gram) = 8.333 grams of cannabis required
A Quick Rundown On Edibles
What makes the difference with edibles? Without being overly simplistic, it’s almost always down to your ability to follow the steps of the recipe. It’s so important to make sure your dosages are as accurate as possible. Besides that, good quality bud and a few hours are all it takes to make some pretty killer edibles.
You’ll more than likely get between 2-3 strong doses per gram of bud. Be careful to follow your recipe’s directions – and most importantly, test your edibles by eating what you consider to be half a dose and waiting at least 90 minutes.
The author of this article finds that edibles can take between 35 – 110 minutes to kick-in. This seems to change from batch-to-batch. Your onset will generally be the same for edibles that come from the same batch.
A common question is edible shelf life. Generally speaking, the THC will outlast the food you’ve put it in. Freezing will likely help keep the THC (and the food itself) fresher for longer, whereas heat will degrade the product and shorten the shelf life.
Have any other questions you’d like answered on the topic of edibles? Leave a comment below and let us know; we’ll try and get back to you.