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Edibles 101

Your guide to the wonderful world of weedy edibles.

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Most pop culture buffs will remember the scene in the 1999 movie “Never Been Kissed” when Josie “Grossie” Geller tries her first ganja cake. You know, the cake with vitamins A, B and THC. For a lot of us, ganja cakes were our first introduction to the wonderful world of weed. But new technologies and advancements in growing have changed the edible game forever. So, we invite you to take a moment, and maybe a bite of cake, while brushing up on some of the biggest edible developments of 2021.

Edibles

Food that incorporates a variety of Cannabis infusions to create a product that tastes as good as its effects are. These products are orally ingested and metabolized through the liver, which is a distinctively different mechanism of action from inhalable products. Expect a slower onset of effects, a more robust body effect, and significantly prolonged effects compared to consumption methods such as smoking or vaping. These products include anything that can be made using oil or butter.

11-OH-THC (11-hydroxy-THC)

This compound is a metabolite that is derived from the metabolization of Delta 9 THC within the liver. Enzymes in the liver convert the Delta 9 THC into 11-OH-THC when we orally ingest Cannabis, and this conversion accounts for edibles exponentially high potency and prolonged effects when compared to inhalation. 11-OH-THC is approximately five to 10 times more potent than Delta 9 THC, and is only created via liver metabolization.

Dosing Guidelines

Low and slow is the rule for all Cannabis products, and this rule is even more important for proper edible dosage. Due to the notoriously potent effects of edibles that result from the conversion of Delta 9 into 11-OH-THC, dosing recommendations start at 1mg for first-time users. From there it is recommended to slowly increase your dosage until you find the dose that is comfortable for you and your needs. Consumers often get too high from edibles because they try to match their smoking dosage to their edible dosage, without realizing that eating a gram of Cannabis is significantly more potent than smoking a gram of Cannabis. Your lifestyle, medical needs and product access will help you determine the best dosing regimen that supports your personal relief, with regard to your daily schedule.

Decarboxylation

Decarboxylation is a necessary pre-process in the creation of edibles that involves heating up your Cannabis product (flower or oil) to 220º F to break off carboxyl units from Delta 9 THCa, thus converting inactive THCa into active THC. This process happens naturally when smoking or vaporizing, however, edibles require decarbing prior to product creation. Decarbed Cannabis can then be infused into an edible product.

Edible Infusion

When Cannabis oil is mixed with an oil or butter, this is considered an infused product. Generally, THC is infused into an oil or butter in a known quantity, and then that butter or oil is incorporated into a chef’s favorite recipe to create an edible Cannabis product. Ethanol can be used to extract THC and then evaporated directly onto sugar, salt or pre-made products to create infused products, however, these are not as stable or consistent compared to something infused with butter or oil. Infusions are most commonly made from solvent-based extractions like hydrocarbon, CO2 and ethanol. The quality of the infusion is a direct result of the quality of the extraction process, as well as the extraction input material.

Solventless Infusions

A trending subset of infusions that utilizes Cannabis oil derived from a solventless process. These products typically contain the most robust amount of cannabinoids and effects possible, particularly compared to their solvent-based competition. These are typically infused with hash and rosin products, and are generally considered to be a FECO product (full spectrum extract Cannabis oil).

Emulsifier

Because Cannabis is infused into oil/butter and many edible recipes require the use of water, emulsifiers are used to create many edible products. As you probably remember, oil and water do not mix. An emulsifier is a compound that is added to oil/water concoctions so that they can blend together in a homogenous solution, and is an essential step for many edible products.

Nano-emulsified

There are hundreds of types of emulsifiers that can be used to create products, depending on the nitty-gritty details of your product development. A sonicator is a tool that utilizes ultrasonic frequencies to break up particles on a molecular level. When utilizing a sonicator with an emulsifier, you can lower the amount of emulsifier needed, as well as increase the bioavailability of the cannabinoids in the product. Thus you create a nano-emulsified product that, in theory, produces a higher quality effect with less active ingredients used.

Edible vs. Ingestible

Edible’ typically refers to a food-based product, whereas ‘ingestible’ can refer to any product that is consumed orally. Ingestibles include drinks, tinctures and tablets, which are also processed through the liver and share the same mechanism of action as edibles, just with varying degrees of potency/onset. An edible is more traditionally thought of as a brownie or cookie, but today can include anything from a gummy, to a jerky, to a savory pie, to a steak dinner.

This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue of all Leaf Magazines.

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