What are edibles?

Marijuana foods, also known as edibles, have become increasingly popular in cannabis culture. They include space cakes and hash brownies and are made from putting cannabis in herbal or concentrate form into food. This is a preferred method of delivering the cannabinoids from marijuana to a user that does not want to smoke or vaporize the cannabis. The names of edibles differ with the food that they are prepared with but different prefixes are added to the name to indicate that they contain marijuana. Terms such as special, hash, magic, special, spiked, and medicated are added, for example “special brownies” or “magic cookies.” Most users prefer to consume edibles in a sweet form such as cakes or cookies to mask the flavor of the cannabis.

Just as with smoking or vaporizing cannabis, the main active ingredient in edibles is THC. THC is a hydrophobic oil, meaning that it is insoluble in water and must be extracted with oil, fat, or alcohol. Users prefer to use oil, with olive oil being the main choice because it is the healthiest. During extraction, the cannabis must be decarboxylated to activate the THC in the edibles by heating it to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-25 minutes in oil, fat, or alcohol. This activates the THC extraction process and transfers the cannabinoids from the flower to whatever you are using to extract it. After extraction, the oil, fat, or alcohol contains the THC and the herbal residue is essentially useless. Then you simply mix the soluble liquid into whatever you are cooking and, voila, you have edibles.

This process of extracting cannabinoids and making edibles dates back to ancient India, when recipes called for cannabis to be sautéed in “ghee” (Indian clarified butter) before mixing it with other ingredients. This extract was usually mixed with milk and other spices into “bhang”, a traditional Indian cannabis beverage. The Sanskrit Indians were the first ones to realize that boiling cannabis in water was a highly inefficient way to extract the cannabinoids, and instead opted for ghee and milk.

Edibles are a better way to administer a proper and controlled dosage to a patient. Medicated edibles come with dosage labels indicating their potency so that users will know how much they need to consume to get the desired effects. Different edibles made from different strains cause various effects depending on whether it is made from an indica, sativa, or hybrid. Although the effects of smoking cannabis can be felt in a few seconds to a few minutes, edibles can take up to two hours for the full effects to kick in.

This article is an excerpt from our book Cannabis 101: Everything You Need to Know About Safe Marijuana Use. Check it out!

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