Edibles are food infused with cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis. Because they’re easy to consume, discreet, and often delicious, edibles are a great choice if you want to give your lungs a break from smoking, vaping or dabbing. Brownies are the stereotypical standard for edibles because chocolate is great for smoothing over the bitter taste of cannabis butter and oil, but there are many other edible options available such as dairy-free, gluten-free, and kosher.

Because the THC in edibles has to go through your stomach to reach your bloodstream, it takes longer to feel the effects compared to smoking or vaping. It can take up to an hour or more after eating before you feel anything. Overall, edibles are stronger and last longer than other marijuana products, with a duration of around three to six hours. Due to the higher potency and delayed onset, it’s important to start small and follow the golden rule of edibles: You can always eat more, but you can never eat less.

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Why choose edibles?

For cannabis-lovers of a certain age, their first experience with edibles was buying a pot brownie in the parking lot of a concert—no dosage guidelines, no certified potency, no food safety guarantees. Wild times, for sure, but thankfully there’s now a wide variety of edible cannabis options available that offer all of the advantages of eating your weed with none of the shady drawbacks.

Smoking flower and vaping are the most popular ways to consume cannabis, but they’re not for everyone. Whether you want to keep your lungs smoke- and vapor-free, or you’re sick and need to give your lungs a break, eating cannabis products is a healthy alternative. Edibles also deliver stronger results compared to smoking, and they last much longer, making them the perfect option for concerts, festivals, amusement park trips, and other activities where pipes, joints and vape pens aren’t welcome.

Types of edibles

Edibles have evolved far beyond brownies, but brownies and other chocolate-based products are still quite popular because chocolate does an excellent job of covering up the slightly skunky taste of cannabis. But now, even fruit-flavored gummies can be made with only trace amounts of that signature taste, especially the sour versions. Other types of edibles include:

  • Cookies
  • Candies
  • Mints
  • Gum
  • Beverages
  • Powders
  • Edible oils

It goes without saying that any edibles you buy should be stored safely away from minors, especially gummies and candies that look like the non-cannabis versions.

How edibles work

Unlike smoking and vaping, where the THC enters your body through your lungs, edible cannabis delivers THC through your gut—the absorbed cannabinoids are metabolized by the liver into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which is far more potent than regular THC and has a longer half-life. That’s why edibles come on stronger and last much longer than smoking, and also why they take so long to kick in—the THC has a long way to travel through your body before it can deliver your high.

Slower onset, longer duration

Because THC has to work through your gut and bloodstream before taking effect, you’ll have to wait a bit for the effects to emerge. The entire absorption process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours, with the potency gradually increasing to a peak. How long it takes to reach that peak also varies, but in general the overall duration for edibles is about 4 to 6 hours.

Determining the right edible dose

Figuring out the right dose for edibles isn’t complicated. While flower or concentrate labels list cannabinoid strength in percentage terms, edible dosage is measured in milligrams of cannabinoids present. Edible packages typically list the total milligrams, plus the milligrams per serving. For example, a cannabis chocolate bar that has a total of 50 milligrams of THC can be easily broken into 10 pieces of 5 milligrams each.

So how do you know how much you should eat? If you’re new to edibles, it’s a good idea to stay in the 1 to 5 milligram range and see how it goes. Intermediate users can level up to 5-20 milligrams per dose, while experienced edible eaters can go with 20-plus milligrams per dose. Erring on the side of caution is always a good idea, and it’s important to remember the golden rule of edibles: You can always eat more, but you can never eat less.

How to make homemade edibles

Professional edible manufacturers use a range of methods to create their treats, such as using cannabis distillate or cannabinoid crystal infusions, but the process can be replicated by any home cook with a load of dry flower and common baking ingredients. All you need to do is cook flower (or cuttings if you grow your own plants, but the end result won’t be as potent) in butter or oil, strain out the plant material, then use the infused fat at a 1:1 ratio in any baked good recipe.

However, you’ll need a significant amount of dry weed—up to a half-ounce per cup of butter or oil—and achieving consistent potency among the doses (each brownie or cookie, for example) is quite difficult. Messing up the recipe can be a very expensive mistake, which is why it’s better to rely on the experts and buy pre-made edibles instead—they’re cheaper, tastier, and offer consistent results.

Edibles at Balboa Ave Cooperative in San Diego

Edibles are a tasty, healthy way to consume cannabis, and they’re also available in dairy-free, gluten-free, and kosher options as well. To see the edibles available at Balboa Ave Cooperative, check out our edibles menu on Weedmaps!

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