Busting 5 Common Myths About Cannabis Edibles
Edibles, drinks, powders – there’s no shortage of creative and delicious products under the edibles category. But ingesting cannabis is quite a different experience from inhaling it or applying it to your skin. Understanding how they work is crucial to ensuring a positive experience. To help you make the best decisions at the dispensary, we’re shedding light on five myths about edibles .
Myth #1 – Cannabis edibles should take effect right away
Cannabis edibles generally take effect slowly. This stands in contrast to inhalable cannabis products, which typically take full effect minutes after you consume them. So if you ate an edible and don’t feel anything in a few minutes, don’t take more right away: You might end up getting too high.
This slow onset occurs because these products are processed through your digestive system, rather than entering your bloodstream through membranes in your lungs. Instead, to enter circulation, edibles are broken down in your stomach and processed by your liver. This process takes time, gradually introducing phytocannabinoids like THC into your system.
There are other factors that can affect the onset and duration time of edible cannabis products, including:
- Whether or not you’ve eaten: edibles consumed on an empty stomach are generally going to take effect faster and can be felt more strongly than those consumed on a full stomach. That’s because, on an empty stomach, there is less material competing with the infused edible for digestion and absorption. With a full stomach, it may take longer to kick in, and the effects may be milder.
- What you’ve eaten. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble, which means they need fat to absorb into your body. That’s why infused oils and butter are so common in edibles. Consuming edibles with fatty foods may enhance the bioavailability and subsequent effects as well1.
- Product type: Edibles digested through the stomach and liver, such as gummies or beverages, usually take about 45 to 60 minutes to fully kick in2. Edibles like tinctures, which are absorbed under your tongue (sublingually), will take effect much more quickly as the cannabinoids enter circulation directly after consumption. That’s due to the biphasic effect: Part of the tincture enters your bloodstream through your mouth tissues, and part ot it gets into your digestive system.
- Amount: Edible products with more than around 10mg THC per serving, known as high-dosage edibles, are likely to take effect more quickly than low-THC products.
Most edible cannabis products are not going to take effect right away. Always follow the “start low and go slow” method: begin with what you expect the lowest effective amount of THC you think you need and wait up to an hour to see how it affects you. If you need to consume more, gradually increase the amount until you meet your preferred consumption experience. Always wait and see how edibles affect you before consuming more.
Myth #2 – All cannabis edibles offer the same effects
Edibles are a broad category of cannabis products that includes things like cookies, brownies, gummies, drinks, and beverage powders, each of which offer their own unique properties. Some of the significant variables between these products include:
What matters more than THC percentage is the full spectrum of compounds found within the cannabis product, particularly other cannabinoids and aromatic compounds called terpenes.
- Onset time: Sublingually edible cannabis products like lozenges, gum, and lollipops kick in faster because they are absorbed directly into your bloodstream, sometimes as quickly as 15 minutes. Other edible cannabis products like gummies and baked goods will have onset times close to an hour as they need to be processed through the digestive process before entering your bloodstream3.
- Duration: Infused edibles’ durations of effects vary significantly from product to product and from person to person. Duration is also dependent on the amount of THC in the edible. For example, 10 mg THC can last for six hours or more, and you may still feel residual effects for up to 12 hours4. Consuming a smaller amount, like 1.25 mg THC, could result in a shorter and less potent experience.
- Potency: All cannabis edible products vary in potency. Most states, including Maryland, mandate a maximum serving size of 10mg THC and a per-package limit of 100mg THC, unless the product has been approved otherwise by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission5. In Massachusetts, edible products can only contain up to 5mg THC per serving with a total package limit of 100mg6. Always follow the edible dosage information on the labeling to ensure you feel the desired effects.
- Compound profile: Just as with cannabis flower, cannabinoid and terpene profile of an edible product will affect your experience. Edibles with different compound profiles will offer different experiences and therapeutic applications. If you’re not sure how to choose the best compound profile for your needs, talk to an Ethos associate about your goals so they can help guide you.
Myth #3 – Everyone experiences edibles the same way
It’s not just the variety in edibles that matters, but who is consuming the products. Cannabis consumption is a highly individualized experience, so just because your friend responds to an edible a certain way doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience. Although an Ethos associate can help provide choices that may meet your needs, there is a bit of trial and error to determine which is the best edible product for you.
The individualized nature of cannabis edibles comes down to two major factors: tolerance and body chemistry.
- Tolerance: Your tolerance can play a significant role in the onset time of cannabis edibles. Some folks have naturally higher or lower tolerances, and how often you consume edibles can increase or decrease tolerance as well. Generally, if you have an edible every day, you’ll be much less affected by a low-dose edible than others who only try edibles on occasion.
- Body chemistry: Your digestive system and overall body composition factor into how edibles can affect you. Those with faster metabolisms, for example, may feel the effects quicker, as your body can digest and process the edible faster7.This affects how long it takes to kick in, how long it lasts, and how strong the effects will be.
What about ediblocking?
“Ediblocking” is a phenomenon in which some people do not feel the effects of cannabis edibles. The hypothesis is that those who are “ediblocked” have unusual variations of a key liver enzyme that could essentially be too efficient at processing ingested THC. As a result, your body may “turn off” the THC before it ever gets into your bloodstream.
While ediblocking still needs more research, researchers know that not everyone experiences cannabis edibles in the same way. In addition to starting low and slow, we always recommend speaking with one of our pharmacists or associates for further guidance on products that are right for you.
Myth #4 – You have to eat an entire edible at once
Most edibles come in pre-designated serving sizes that are broken up in smaller amounts. Eating the whole chocolate bar might be a mistake, especially if that product is designed to contain a serving size per piece, not per container.
Always refer to a product’s label or packing before consuming any edible cannabis product. In general, the product labeling should include information on the total milligrams of THC and the suggested serving size. For example, a 100mg THC candy bar split into ten squares has a serving size of one 10mg square. If you prefer a smaller serving, you could break that square into halves to create 5mg THC pieces.
As for how much is the right serving, that depends quite a lot on your goals. For example, microdosing is when folks ingest a very small amount of cannabis – as low as 1mg – and that’s the amount that’s right for them.
Microdosing is ideal for consumers that want to avoid the intoxication associated with THC while still benefiting from the relief cannabis offers them. A 2020 study showed that people who consumed 1mg of THC experienced significant pain decreases compared to placebo, even when they didn’t experience any noticeable psychoactive effects8. In the example above, a consumer may break the 10 mg THC square of candy into quarters (2.5 mg THC pieces) or even eighths (1.25 mg THC pieces) to microdose.
Myth #5 – If you smoke or vape a lot, your edible tolerance will be high too
Generally, inhaling or vaping tolerance is not the same as edible tolerance. Even if you have a very high tolerance to vaping, it does not mean you’ll have a high tolerance to edibles. Even the most seasoned cannabis consumers may find edibles affect them very differently from the inhalable products they’re used to.
The biggest difference between edibles and inhaling, chemically, is that when THC is ingested orally, your liver metabolizes it and converts about 50% of activated THC into 11-hydroxy tetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC or 11-hydroxy-THC)9. While not found in the cannabis plant, 11-hydroxy-THC is converted from THC by your body and is considered more potent than its precursor. As a result, edibles may be particularly potent for many consumers.
For the typical consumer, it’s best to refer to an edibles serving size guide when consuming edible products or cooking with cannabis. Of course, there are also those who have a high tolerance to 11-hydroxy-THC naturally; if that applies to you, then gradually increase the amount you consume over time until you find an effective amount.
Choosing the right edible cannabis products for you
Choosing the right edible cannabis products starts with visiting a licensed dispensary with a wide selection of quality products. At Ethos, we understand that every consumer is different, and we’ll work with you on your cannabis journey to identify the best possible choices for your goals and needs. Visit an Ethos dispensary location today to get expert insight from our knowledgeable and compassionate team.
We want to hear from you. Whatever you think. At Ethos, you’re at home and your voice is heard.