As the cannabis industry continues to grow, producers are creating new and innovative methods of delivery. Specifically, oromucosal and ingestible products, commonly referred to as “edibles”.
Ingestible cannabis products have moved far beyond the “pot brownie” to a wide range of options for patients who would rather not inhale the medicine. From capsules, tinctures and tonics to a wide range of baked goods, the choices can be overwhelming even for an experienced user. So, how can you determine if edibles are right for you?
Unlike smoking or vaporizing, the effects of ingested cannabis are not instantaneous. The effects of oral absorption (tincture or lozenge) and liver metabolism (cookie or beverage) of cannabis take much longer to be felt, typically 30-90 minutes for onset and 6 or more hours to be fully metabolized.
When cannabis is ingested, the main psychoactive component, delta-9 THC is converted to a much more potent compound, 11-hydroxy-THC. The effect on individuals varies greatly, due to a person’s size, whether or not they have eaten, and their bio-chemistry at the time of ingestion. As such, it is very important for patients to consume a low dose product when beginning to use edibles.
It is generally a good idea to start with a dose of 2-10mg. Maine law does not require that mg potency be listed on product packaging, so be sure to ask your caregiver or dispensary what the product’s potency is and how they obtained that information.
When choosing a product, select a single dose item to avoid any guess work in dosage. For example, try a 10mg capsule rather than a 20mg cookie that you have to cut in half. Finding the right product for you may take some trial and error.
Cannabis edibles are generally infused with fats, such as butter or coconut oil or with the extracted essential oil of the plant. There is currently some controversy in the industry as to which method is more therapeutically beneficial. But with limited scientific information to this point, it is a good idea to keep a journal of your symptom relief as you try new products.
If you are trying an edible for the first time make sure that you are in a safe place, and be prepared to feel the effects of your medicine for at least 6 hours. If you find that you have taken a higher dose than intended you may exhibit feelings of anxiety and distress. Don’t be alarmed, and remember that there are no reported cases of cannabis related overdose or death. Stay calm, call someone you trust or turn on a feel good movie.
Being careful to never ingest cannabis on an empty stomach will help to avoid accidental over consumption. Do not consume alcohol with cannabis, and always keep your medicine away from children and pets. Whether you are an experienced cannabis user or new to this therapy, please remember to start low and go slow.