There’s no question that patients entering their first medical marijuana dispensary will immediately notice the wide range of available products. Simply learning the difference between common varieties of flowers takes time, but becomes a rewarding journey once their benefits are discovered. Similarly, marijuana infused edibles open up a world of possibilities for patients with particular needs. In this article, we’ll explore how cannabis edibles work and discuss tips on using them safely and properly.
What Are Edibles?
Medical marijuana edibles include a broad range of orally-administered products including baked goods, drinks, candies, lozenges, capsules, tinctures, and more. Each product contains a specified quantity of medical marijuana which is digested in the stomach or absorbed into the gums, depending on the product type. Although many varieties exist, almost all edibles are made using a process called decarboxylation, which is required in order to activate the medicinal properties of the plant material. Some benefits of edibles include:
- Convenience: Most edible products are easy to carry and administer when the patient requires medication.
- Discretion: Edibles offer an easy way of medicating without attracting attention or producing the aromas associated with smoking or vaporization.
- Symptom Relief: Edibles provide long-lasting symptom relief resulting from gradual digestion.
- Value: Edibles are a medicinally efficient way of administering cannabinoids, meaning that strong effects can be achieved at a reasonable cost to the patient.
How Do They Work?
Unlike inhaled cannabis, edible products allow cannbinoid content to enter the bloodstream through digestion in the gastro-intestinal tract. This process is much slower than inhalation, but produces very strong effects. The experience after consuming edibles can be very different than that of smoking or vaporizing cannabis, so patients are encouraged to exercise caution to avoid becoming overmedicated.
Tips for Consuming Edibles
Proper Dosage: One 10 mg dose is a commonly recommended starting point. This is the most you should consider consuming if you’re new to edible products. Make note of the potency listed on the packaging and be advised that many edible products contain more than one dose.
Patience: Edible products will usually require at least 30-60 minutes to take effect. Make absolutely sure you’ve given the product time to digest and begin taking effect before deciding whether or not to consume more. Since you likely won’t experience the full effect for at least an hour, additional consumption during that window of time can easily lead to overmedication.
Tolerance: Patients who are experienced with smoked or vaporized cannabis don’t always build up a strong tolerance for edible products. Don’t assume that you’ll require a large dose simply because you use other cannabis products frequently.
Effects: Edibles are metabolized differently than inhaled cannabis products and produce a different effect. Benefits such as improved mood, appetite, and pain relief may still occur, but the physicial sensation could be different that what you’re accustomed to. Do not plan on driving or engaging in other behaviors in which impairment could compromise your safety. The effect of an edible dose can often be felt for several hours. This can be very beneficial for patients seeking long-term symptom relief, but it can be inconvenient if you haven’t planned and prepared for the experience.
Eat First: Like other medications, consuming edibles on an empty stomach may intensify the effect and cause discomfort. It’s best to take edibles along with other non-medicated foods.
Ask questions: Staff at the dispensary are available to provide specific information on available products. Potency may vary from one manufactuerer to the next, so don’t hesitate to inquire before sampling a product that’s new to you.
Product Types: Be aware that some edible products work differently than others. For example, products such as baked goods that are digested in the stomach will require more time to take effect than products like tinctures that are absorbed under the gums.
Ingredients: Be mindful of the ingredients listed on the package and be sure to doublecheck all products before consuming if you have food allergies.
Storage: Be sure to check the product label for storage and expiration information. Edibles should be stored properly and safely out of reach from anyone who is not intended to consume the product.
Adverse Reactions: If too large a dose is consumed, the patient may experience discomfort including upset stomach, anxiety, and disorientation. Overmedication can be unpleasant, but the effects will wear off and do not cause lasting harm. If you find that you’re experiencing symptoms of overmedication, the best thing to do is relax and remember that the effect will begin to subside within a few hours. Medical assistance should be contacted in the event of a serious reaction.
The popularity of marijuana infused edibles demonstrates the diverse options available to patients with a wide range of individual treatment needs. When used properly, these products can offer strong symptom relief with long-lasting effects and provide many patients in pain with a helpful treatment option. We’re committed to curating a selection of the finest edible products in the District and our staff is always available to help you choose the right product for your needs.