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One of the main allures to cannabis-based edibles is that they are generally much stronger than smoking marijuana flower. Tolerance is no longer a major determining factor with edibles, so how do they get us so high?
Join us as we look at how the human body absorbs THC, why it is a healthier alternative to smoking, and how to dose correctly.
Before we investigate how the body absorbs THC, we must investigate a crucial step before edibles are made. You have probably heard the term before, but decarboxylation is the necessary process that transforms inactive THC-A into its psychoactive form THC.
Decarboxylation occurs with increased heat. During the production of cannabis extracts, producers must increase the heat within closed-loop systems to adequately purge residual solvents from the product.
This rise in temperature simultaneously activates the THC within.
When making edibles with cannabutter or any other cannabis-based byproduct, you will need to activate the THC during the cooking or baking process, which is why most cannabis-based recipes call for lower-than-normal temperatures.
If you or an edible producer fail to activate THC-A to THC, then you will not feel a resulting high.
What Happens When You Ingest Cannabis
When you ingest cannabis, it is taken into your body via the bloodstream. There are two methods that we commonly digest marijuana: through the stomach and orally.
Orally Ingesting Cannabis
This method of ingesting cannabis is usually done through cannabis tinctures, suckers, and lozenges. Since this method does not require food to be broken down through the digestive tract, it usually affects us rapidly.
THC is quickly absorbed through the sublingual route. The sublingual route begins at our sublingual glands (also known as salivary glands).
These are found underneath our tongue and help us produce saliva. These glands also allow for THC to be diffused directly into our bloodstream.
Gastrointestinal Intake of Cannabis
When it comes to edibles, this is by far the most popular method. Edibles that are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract is anything that you eat: cookies, brownies, drinks, and pills. Anything infused with cannabis that you need to digest falls into this category.
This method is far slower than orally ingesting THC products because it needs first to be digested. The process of digestion is relatively slow, and it depends on each persons’ metabolism speed and thyroid function.
These are two factors that regulate everyone rate of digestion. The rate of digestion will determine how fast you feel the effects of cannabis-based edibles.
As THC is broken down in the stomach, it enters the blood through the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. Once flowing through your bloodstream, you will begin to feel the effects of THC.
From the time of ingestion to absorption into the bloodstream, it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours, which is why it is critical to patiently wait for the onset of the effects before ingesting any more.
The Reason Why Edibles Feel Stronger Than Smoking
One of the main reasons why cannabis-based edibles feel stronger than traditional smoking methods is because users tend to overeat.
Many people become anxious after a few minutes that they are not feeling anything since they have become used to the instant gratification that comes from smoking from a vaporizer or glass pipe.
It is common to hear stories about individuals who claim they had a terrible experience with edibles, and they usually say they ate far too much. It is crucial to dose cannabis-based edibles then correctly.
How to Dose Edibles Correctly
The best method for dosing edibles is by starting small. Especially if it is your first time, beginning at 1-5mg THC will allow you room to increase your dose. By eating the entire edible, you will soon realize why it is highly unrecommended to do so.
Starting small is of course relative, so always begin with a ¼ or less of an edible, or 1-5mg of THC. You can still increase your dose after 2-3 hours, but you cannot take the effects away if you overeat.
The only solution to over-dosing is by staying calm and waiting for the effects to subside; which in some cases can last over 8 hours.
Although it is impossible to overdose (in the traditional sense) on cannabis products, overeating edibles will lead to a negative experience. People that overdo edibles find themselves panicking because the THC has a delayed effect on each person.
Some people might not feel the effects of THC for 4-6 hours. Some may feel effects clear into the next day. These are all situations that show the variability of edibles.
Once you have dosed enough times, you will have a better understanding of how your body responds to the THC found within edibles.
What to Do If You Overeat Edibles
If you realize far too late that you just ate too much of an edible, it is time to find a comfortable place and relax. The first rule is to have water with you. It is essential to realize that your life is not in danger from overeating edibles.
Although it may be difficult, trying to take a nap is a good idea. It is best to stay put and never put yourself or others in danger by trying to drive.
Edibles: The Accessible and Healthy Alternative
Considering edibles and their THC are absorbed through the bloodstream, they are much healthier than smoking or even vaping. There are zero carcinogens found in edibles; thus, they do not affect your lungs or brain in a harmful way.
Although patience is necessary when it comes to ingesting cannabis-based products, the benefit of not introducing any toxic chemicals to critical organs is incredibly advantageous.
Not only are edibles healthier in most instances, but they are also more accessible to those who cannot smoke. Many ailments do not allow users to medicate via smoking, so ingesting tablets or infused-food is a much easier option.