The consumption of cannabis-infused foods or edibles has grown steadily in the past few years, either for medicinal or recreational purposes. Its global adoption is due to the ever-changing opinions about cannabis.
Therefore, it has become a lucrative business for marketers as more consumers are dipping their toes in the fantastic world of edibles.
The Speciality Food Association (2017) predictions stated that marijuana would be on the top ten food trend list.
According to the statistics cited in Flow Hub (2021), currently, twelve states have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes only for adults above 21 years of age, and thirty-four states have legalized it for medical usage.
Research cited in Technavio (2018) highlighted that the value of cannabis edible products would plummet to $25.7 billion between the years 2018 and 2022.
Moreover, the edibles’ global market during the pandemic in 2020 nearly reached $3 million. It is also projected that it will go beyond $11.5 billion by the year 2025.
Although several individuals prefer inhaling marijuana, these cannabis-infused sweet and savory treats make up around 11% of the cannabis market.
A report cited in RTI Press (2016) stated that cannabis is making waves as several US states legalize it. Marijuana usage is more in youth (23.7%) than in adults (9.5%); plus, the numbers are escalating unfailingly.
Like other marijuana products, edibles are also not regulated by the FDA. Cannabis edibles and its effects on the human body are still not entirely understandable by the researchers because it affects each consumer differently.
For some people, edibles might deliver a euphoric high, while for others, they might give a long-lasting potent punch.
However, researchers do explain how edibles absorb in the body to provide satiating high. What’s more, the brands’ carefully designed edibles aim is to protect the consumers and to provide a high-quality experience.
But the issue is that you cannot always rely on edibles’ timing, duration, and potency because their effects on every individual are notoriously variable.
So before discussing its absorption method, let’s quickly tap into what edibles are.
Edibles are beverage or food products that are infused with cannabis extracts. These products are made with potent cannabis extracts or marijuana leaves.
These lung-friendly edibles are a safe and effective method of ingesting cannabis to achieve either intoxicating or therapeutic effects.
Moreover, edibles may contain CBD or THC or maybe both. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, while its infamous cousin, THC, is an active ingredient that creates a lingering high.
But what is the difference between medicinal and recreational cannabis usage?
A licensed medical professional prescribes edibles to alleviate medical issues like muscle spasms, chronic pain, epilepsy, etc. is called medical use.
In contrast, the recreational purpose is to enjoy the psychedelic and mind-altering effects of cannabis. In addition, several recreational users also use marijuana for self-medication.
Hundreds of different compounds are present in the marijuana plant that interact with the body. However, the most well-researched and popular cannabinoids are CBD and THC.
These cannabinoids imitate the organ and brain chemicals and produce diverse effects on the body.
Smoking is different from ingesting edibles because when these cannabinoids are inhaled, they go directly into the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Thus, resulting in an immediate high.
However, when you ingest edibles, they get digested by the body and then absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, the effects usually kick in after two to three hours, and they linger for about six to twenty hours.
These edibles take so much time to produce their effects because the stomach first processes the THC you consume.
The liver then metabolizes it and transforms it into 11-Hydroxy metabolite – a psychoactive chemical that is five times more potent than the notorious THC.
This chemical and other cannabinoids get absorbed into the bloodstream and land into the brain. Therefore, its effects hit harder than smoking after a while.
The effects of edibles might vary due to these certain factors such as different ingredients from which the edible is made, consumption on an empty stomach, and genetics.
Not to mention, not every edible product with the same amount of milligrams will deliver similar effects. Why? Because of the various ingredients.
Cannabinoids are not water-loving, and they readily dissolve in fats and oils. Therefore, the cannabis-infused drink will not provide potent effects than the buttery brownie. Why? Because the high-fat content in the brownie will increase the absorption of cannabinoids.
In short, different edibles labeled to have the same milligrams will not provide similar results because of their composition.
Researchers have tried to develop water-soluble cannabinoids like those present in tablets, sodas, and tinctures. They absorb directly in the mouth and produce instant effects that subside quickly.
Forbes (2021) mentioned that edibles had become a sought-after cannabis product that accounted for 22% of overall sales in 2020. Since marijuana legalization is expanding, there is an upsurge in cannabis edibles. Some of these products are as follows:
Sweets include hard candies and chewy edibles. They are made from fruit juices, honey, gelatin, and water-soluble cannabinoids; thus, they produce instant effects.
Gummies do not contain fat, but they are made from pectin, gelatin, sugars, and other flavors concocted with extracts from cannabis.
These items include brownies, cookies, pizza, and cakes. These baked edibles do not provide instant effects because they possess plenty of ingredients and complex structures.
Cannabinoids are usually infused with cocoa butter to enhance absorption. In addition, a good percentage of fat in cocoa butter increases cannabis bioavailability.
These edibles include sodas, coffees, teas, juices, energy drinks, and other drinks. These water-soluble cannabinoids mixed into the beverages do not take long to digest in the gut and produce quick results.
These include chips, nuts, ice cream, trail mix, condiments, dressings, sauces, oils, butter, etc.
Cannabis edibles make a person feel better by alleviating an unpleasant state or any physical condition or a symptom. Since cannabinoids are organic antidotes, these edibles provide various beneficial effects.
A study published in Perm J. (2019) showed that 79% of subjects with sleep or anxiety problems showed positive results after taking CBD. It significantly reduced their anxiety levels.
Edibles are also consumed by individuals who suffer from chronic pain. Since CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, it works great as a pain-reliever. In addition, it helps in treating neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, pain related to cancer, and arthritis.
The study cited in Pain (2018) showed that medicinal cannabis significantly improved sleep and alleviated pain in patients who reported chronic pain.
FDA has only approved medicinal cannabis for treating epilepsy. Plus, the ingestion of edibles is a great way to prevent epilepsy and reduce seizures.
J. Epilepsy Res. published research in 2017 that stated that CBD is pretty effective in treating specific severe epilepsy syndromes. The study also showed evidence that it helps in improving seizure control.
Moreover, muscle spasms are involuntary movements of one or more muscles that can cause unbearable pain. As a result, several health practitioners recommend using medicinal cannabis.
Besides that, cannabis edibles also mitigate other health concerns like appetite and weight loss among cancer patients.
Just because edibles are healthier than smoking and they don’t pose any danger to the lungs, it does not mean they’re completely risk-free.
Federally, these cannabis-infused goodies are not checked or regulated for quality; plus, their labels are often misleading.
Furthermore, some medications like blood thinners also interact with cannabis and can intensify THC effects, so chill on the pain pills you have weed my friend.
The other risk of cannabis edibles is prolonged periods of being intoxicated, especially with homemade ones. Many individuals are oblivious of how much they are consuming because it’s hard to know.
Plus, the effects of edibles can be unpredictable and inconsistent because it is kind of challenging to dose products for consumption accurately, especially without proper equipment.
Since the effects kick in after a while, novice users end up consuming more. This can lead to edibles overdose symptoms; which can be can be more severe than the smoking cannabis symptoms. These include hallucinations, nausea, panic attacks, paranoia, impaired mobility and you still want to eat MORE!
The complete science behind the edibles is still unknown and research is continued to learn more for healthier, safer experiences.
If you want to consume edibles, it is better to go for well-acclaimed brands that produce consistent edibles. In addition, their products undergo laboratory testing at multiple stages; making it easier for consumers because the product provides serving size and overall dosage.
However, these edibles are expensive because they require expertise and specialization to produce these high-quality cannabis-infused products.
Top-tier edibles need in-depth recipe research, best ingredients, potency, and taste. With that said, a top-quality edible is not always cheap and cheap products are not always good; so if you make them at home the do it right; but that’s another article. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you enjoyed the info!