Cannabis edibles allow users to get the effects of marijuana without the necessity to smoke or vaporize their weed and concentrates. The effects are stronger, they last longer and there are no fancy gadgets or rolling skills required. You won’t end up coughing because you took too big a toke and the act of physically ingesting edibles is natural because we all know how to eat and drink, right?
Cannabis edibles can also be made at home from dried flower, cannabutter or cannabis oils. There are even ‘ready-for-purchase units like the LEVO I Oil Infuser that allow you to easily create cannabis infused oils and butter.
One thing you do need to keep in mind though is that the effects of eating weed are different than smoking it and deliver a more powerful body high. Cannabis edibles can sometimes have a bit of a learning curve, albeit it an easy one, and dosing needs to be understood to get the most out of the experience while not overdoing it.
Why Do Cannabis Edibles Deliver a Stronger High?
The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Once ingested, your body begins to metabolize delta-9-THC into its cousin molecule 11-hydroxy-THC which has increased psychoactive properties. The higher the percentage of the latter, the stronger you the effects you will feel.
Smoking Vs. Edibles
When you smoke cannabis, the THC arrives rapidly in the bloodstream via your lungs and you get high quickly. But because the delta-9-THC molecule is an oil-soluble compound, it doesn’t really metabolize well in the bloodstream due to the high water content of blood. This means that when you smoke cannabis, the THC quickly binds with the endocannabinoid receptors in the body and doesn’t have much of a chance to be metabolized into its cousin molecule, 11-hydroxy-THC. You feel the effects quicker, but they are not as strong and only last a couple of hours.
When you eat cannabis though, the THC is absorbed through your bodies digestive system in differing degrees, where it is metabolized by your gastrointestinal tract and then your liver. These are much more efficient at metabolizing delta-9-THC into 11-hydroxy-THC by binding it to a glucuronide compound, which allows it to pass through the blood-brain barrier much more easily. Metabolization has longer to occur which means the concentration of 11-hydroxy-THC ends up being much higher.
11-hydroxy-THC doesn’t have a lot of scientific research surrounding it, but it is known to deliver stronger, more psychoactive effects exceeding those of delta-9-THC. That’s why when you eat cannabis instead of smoke it, you end up with a more intense high that situates itself throughout the entire body.
Understanding Absorption Rates of Cannabis Edibles
A lot of people assume that the effects levels of all edibles are the same at equal doses. That needs to be cleared up right now because not all edibles deliver the same effects.
An edible like a brownie may take a lot longer to absorb, and it metabolizes differently than a product like a lozenge, candy or tincture. Metabolization varies due to different edibles having varying absorption rates which are caused by how they’re ingested. The absorption rate of a specific edible is determined by its bioavailability and how fully it metabolizes.
Bioavailability refers to the rate at which a drug is absorbed into the body’s circulatory system and is used to determine correct dosing guidelines. There are many things that can have an effect on bioavailability such as your metabolic rate, age, health, other drug or food interactions, even how much you’ve slept, but very important is how you ingested the drug.
Edibles which are absorbed through your stomach (cookies, snacks, pills etc.) are called ‘gastro-uptake edibles’ and require processing in your liver before they end up in your bloodstream.
After the THC has made it through the small intestine and then the liver, it will absorb into the bloodstream and attach to fat cells and other nutrients. This absorption method often requires more time before effects are felt but also delivers effects that may last a lot longer. Gastro-uptake edibles typically have a bioavailability score between 4 and 12 percent, meaning only a portion of the total cannabinoid content will actually make it to your bloodstream.
A more efficient edible (in terms of bioavailability) is called a ‘sublingual edible’. Examples of these are lozenges, tinctures, beverages and gummies because they mostly get absorbed before ending up in your digestive tract. This is because the tissue in your mouth is highly permeable and great at absorbing quickly, with under the tongue being the best.
Sublingual edibles, like tinctures, are felt in much less time (sometimes within minutes) and have a bioavailability score of between 50 – 75 percent. Sublingual dosing is more predictable and easier to manage because there are far fewer variables that can affect the outcome. Recommended standard doses for sublingual edibles are around 1 -2 mg compared to the standard 10 mg dose for gastro-uptake edibles.
Technology for Better Cannabis Edibles
Even though a cannabis edibles market is yet to be realized, there has been lots of research into creating better edibles. An example of this is a new type of cannabis edible from DeepCell Industries and Canadian Licensed Producer Indiva Ltd. Their revolutionary Crystal Fusion™ technology, branded as Ruby Cannabis Sugar™, mechanically fuses cannabinoids with sucrose to create a shelf-stable and water-soluble cannabis-infused sugar for use as a regular sugar substitute. It also allows for a huge diversity of cannabis-infused edibles and drinks that taste the same as their virgin counterparts. Crystal Fusion™ technology is game-changing and will modify the way we think about cannabis edibles.