Any food that is infused with cannabinoids. Cannabis edibles can be made into brownies, cookie dough, pasta and more. Any recipe that calls for butter or oil can be readily infused with cannabis. Edibles and their cannabinoids are processed differently than inhaled cannabis. An Edible’s cannabinoids enter the bloodstream through the stomach and liver, which incurs a longer effect time before its effects can be felt. This process also draws out the edible’s intoxicating effects, sometimes causing them to last between four to six hours.
“That brownie edible was amazing, I couldn’t even taste the cannabis”
“If you’re looking to avoid combustion and vaporization, stick to ingestible methods like edibles and tinctures.”
“Try this edible. It’s got 50 mg of THC, so you’ll be able to receive the therapeutic benefits without smoking.”
More about Edibles
History of Edibles
The history behind cannabis edibles is a fascinating one. Historians have traced modern-day edibles back to 1500 BCE, India where people prepared beverages known as bhang by combining ground buds and leaves, ghee (clarified butter), and spices.
Not too long thereafter, cannabis climbed in popularity across Europe, spurring on the fifteenth century Italian scholar, Bartolomeo Platina, to publish the very first cookbook, On Honorable Pleasure and Health (1474), which featured a cannabis edible recipe that read:
“To make cannabis yourself more commonly used as flax for thread, use a mallet to crush clods collected after a good harvest. Add cannabis to nard oil in an iron pot, crush together over some heat and liquefy into a health drink of cannabis nectar. Carefully treat food and divide for the stomach and the head. Finally remember everything in excess may be harmful or criminal.
–On Honorable Pleasure and Health (1474), Bartolomeo Platina
Edibles remained a part of cooking around the globe, but it took the legendary Alice B. Toklas, an expatriate living in Paris with her partner, Gertrude Stein, to prove that edibles did not need to be cooked to be enjoyed without the intoxicating effects. Her friends were undoubtedly treated to her delightful creations, including Ernest Hemingway, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. Toklas’ famous recipe achieved canonization in the 1954 volume, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook as “Haschich Fudge,” which contains neither chocolate nor hash.
“Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverized in a mortar. About a handful each of de-stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of cannabis sativa can be pulverized. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.
-The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954), Alice B. Toklas
The legend of Alice B. Toklas ascended yet further with the arrival of “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!,” a famous Peter Sellers flick in which Sellers’ character devours hash brownies and marries a hippie instead of his bride. The silver screen’s portrayal of pot brownies in this 1968 film immortalized them in cannabis cultures across the globe.
Why Enjoy Edibles?
Edibles are enjoyed for a multitude of reasons, from avoiding the inhalation of particulate matter to seeking a specific level of potency maintained over a longer period of time. Further benefits include:
- Precise dosage
- Control over ingredients
- Avoiding pollen and other plant particulate matter
- Longer-lasting effects
- Peoples ability to make their own recipes, so they know exactly what they’re consuming
On the molecular level, eating cannabis also mitigates users’ exposure to potentially damaging respiratory afflictions.
Decarboxylation is the most important step in preparing cannabis for consumption. In short, decarboxylation is a specific chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group from a molecule. In cannabis, decarboxylation, or decarbing for short, removes the carboxyl group from THCA, thereby releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O), which ultimately converts THCA into the intoxicating THC. This process occurs naturally when flower ages, or more quickly when cooked in oil or butter; it can occur instantaneously when users smoke.
Decarbing is an integral step in the edible creation process. Consuming non-decarbed cannabis will result in no intoxicating effects for the consumer, though all the therapeutic benefits of THCA will still be available. Cannabis used in capsules, topicals, and elixirs, among a host of other treatments, must be decarbed beforehand in order to convey its intoxicating effects.
Note: If you see THC on the edible’s label, the effects will be intoxicating. If you see THCA, they will not.
Today, the three most conventional methods of creating edibles with cannabis utilize decarboxylated flower, tinctures, distillate, oils, or butters — unless you’re shooting for the original Alice B. Toklas recipe.
The most recognizable method of infusion is using decarboxylated flower, or dried cannabis bud that has been activated to release the intoxicating effects of THC. Vaporized cannabis can also be used during this process.
Cannabis resin is soluble in alcohol, which makes tinctures an incredibly effective method for infusing food with cannabis. Additionally, cannabis tinctures can derive their cannabinoids from leaves and stems soaked in alcohol, not just flower.
Utilizing oil as a vehicle for the transport of cannabinoids allows for the easy and simple infusion of cannabis into baked goods. Chefs need only to mix cannabis flower with heated oil, simmer, and then strain.
The third technique uses cannabis-infused butter, commonly known as cannabutter. Chefs may heat cannabis in raw, melted butter — a method very similar to that of creating cannabis-infused oils — to create this versatile ingredient.
Ingestion and its Effects
The ingestion of edibles is a two-edged sword. As noted above, eating cannabis offers users a variety of benefits, but some can also adversely affect consumers. Ingested cannabis is absorbed through the digestive system, which means that its intoxicative effects may take hours to set in, and even more time to pass through the body. Another aspect of edibles users must navigate is finding the right dose. From 1 mg of THC to 500 mg and beyond, dosing edibles correctly can require trial and error, even if users are accustomed to smoking or vaping cannabis. Weight, gender, age, genetics — each of these traits, and more, can affect how your body metabolizes cannabinoids. Everyone is different.
To cover digestive specifics, edibles enter the body through the mouth and are absorbed through the gut for metabolization in the liver. The liver turns THC into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent than THC on its own, has a longer half-life in the body, and can convey sedative effects; 11-hydroxy-THC is also particularly effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier, which results in stronger potency and longer-lasting effects. The mechanism in the liver that converts THC into 11-hydroxy-THC is chiefly responsible for the varying effects of edibles in most people.
How to Dose
Due to edibles’ delayed onset and their duration, users must find their way with trial and error. First, consumers must read the packaging to understand its dosing information. Edible packaging includes milligram dosages by serving and by package to fully inform the consumer of what they’re ingesting.
A rule of thumb for beginners is to start with a single dose of 1 to 5 mg of THC. Consumers should then wait 2 to 4 hours to evaluate its effects before consuming more.
Where to Purchase Edibles
Depending on location, people can find edibles in local dispensaries or pharmacies — wherever cannabis is legally dispensed, people should be able to find edibles unless their sale is prohibited by law. Some CBD-infused products can be found in health-focused grocery stores.
Those who seek a particular brand of edible can utilize Weedmaps Brands to quickly locate edibles nearby. Edibles come in a slew of types, from premade cookie dough to THC strips that melt on your tongue for sublingual absorption. In the world of cannabis edibles, the kitchen is your oyster.
How to Make Cannabutter at Home
There are multiple ways of making edibles at home. Since cannabinoids are fat-soluble, cooking them in fatty substances allows for their easy absorption into a multitude of foods, including baked goods, sauces, and candy. Below, we’ll cover the creation of cannabutter.
One of the simplest methods of creating a cannabis edible is by way of cannabutter. Infuse the butter with cannabis and then treat it as you normally would in any recipe.
- Fine-mesh strainer
- Rubber spatula
- Slow cooker
- ½ lb. butter (1 /2 lb. = 226.8 grams)
- ½ ounce decarbed cannabis (1 /2 oz = 14.17 g)
- 1 1 / 2 hours
- Set the slow cooker on the lowest setting and add ½ lb. (226.8 g) of butter.
- Stir the butter until it has coated the bottom and some of the sides of the slow cooker, to protect your flower from charring.
- Once the butter has completely melted, add ½ ounce (14.17 g) of ground cannabis.
- Pour it into the center and stir gently.
- Allow the butter and cannabis to simmer for 1 hour, but keep an eye on the mixture and stir it every 20 minutes to ensure even cooking.
- Pour the completed mixture through the fine-mesh strainer into a receptacle.
- Place the receptacle in the refrigerator and allow it to chill overnight.