Edibles: How cannabis can work in its edible form

by Henrik Aulbach04.07.2023Knowledge

Cannabis can not only be smoked or vaporized, oral ingestion via digestion is becoming increasingly popular. Edibles can be particularly useful for therapeutic purposes. We hereby aim to write a comprehensive therapeutic edible guide for patients.

Dosage form Edibles: what exactly are they?

Edibles are foods and beverages that contain cannabis (extracts) and are intended for consumption. Thus, they contain cannabinoids or THC, which are not absorbed through the lungs but enter the bloodstream through digestion. Typical edibles are space cookies, hash cookies and cannabis brownies. From America you may know psychoactive gummy bears, chocolate or drinks with cannabis or THC.

If you want to make your own edibles, you do it mostly with cannabis butter, hash butter or cannabis oil. Since cannabinoids and the healthy secondary plant compounds from hemp are fat-soluble, a fatty carrier medium such as butter or oil is necessary. Industrially, other carrier fats or e.g. alcohol can also be used.

Important: If you want to make your own cannabis butter, you have to decarboxylate the cannabis flowers so that the non-psychoactive THCA becomes the psychoactive substance THC. In the case of hashish, decarboxylation usually does not have to be done separately because the heat from simmering the butter or baking it is sufficient.

Effect of Cannabis Edibles: When is consumption therapeutically useful?

Edibles are a therapeutically often useful dosage form of cannabis. Since they are absorbed orally through the gastrointestinal tract, the effect differs from absorption through the lungs. The following points should be mentioned:

  • Long-lasting effect: the duration of effect is drastically prolonged. For this, the onset of action can also take between one and two hours. Subsequently, the peak effect occurs about three to four hours after the start of consumption. The effect can last up to 12 hours, which can be particularly beneficial in cases of insomnia and chronic pain. Thus, edibles with cannabis have a stronger effect than smoking.
  • Optimal utilization of active ingredients: When burning and vaporizing cannabis, some secondary plant compounds and cannabinoids are lost. Oral ingestion is the gentlest and destroys the fewest cannabinoids. So if you want to get as much as possible out of your flowers into circulation, you should take them orally.
  • Discretion: Edibles can be taken quickly and inconspicuously, even on the go, without your surroundings noticing your cannabis use or having to break a smoking ban. Examples are the use in public transport or at work. A THC gum can be dispensed directly into the mouth without anyone realizing that cannabis is being consumed in the form of edibles. Once the gum is digested, they will exert their effects for several hours.
  • Precise dosing: Depending on how precisely Edibles are dosed, the consumer can take exactly as much THC as needed for the desired effect.
  • No lung damage: While smoking cannabis can cause lung damage and lung cancer, oral ingestion of Edibles is incomparably less harmful. Patients who need to take THC or medical cannabis on a long-term basis can be spared a lot.

How Edibles Work: 11-Hydroxy-THC

One major difference between orally ingested and smoked cannabis is 11-hydroxy-THC. This aspect is too often neglected. When cannabis is eaten, we absorb delta-9-THC into the blood via digestion. From here, this version of THC enters the liver. Here, the delta-9-THC is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC. According to studies, half of the delta-9-THC is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC over the course of one ingestion.

Unfortunately, there are only a few studies on this cannabinoid. However, it is interesting that some of these studies attribute strong psychoactive properties to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is why the cannabinoid is becoming more and more interesting therapeutically. This is how edibles work through 11-hydroxy-THC.

Is it possible to accelerate the onset of action?

Some factors can influence the effect of Edibles. For patients, it is usually quite interesting how the onset of action can happen as quickly as possible. For this purpose, consider the following points:

  • Stomach content: the emptier your stomach, the faster the onset of action. But: Strong edibles are not necessarily healthy for an empty stomach, so you should eat something beforehand.
  • Tinctures: Instead of dissolving cannabis in oils, you can also use alcohol and create a tincture. This can even be taken sublingually (under the tongue), which speeds up the onset of action. If you take cannabis oils of these dosage forms this way, you are taking sublingual edibles.
  • Infused Drinks: Drinks with THC work much faster than edibles, simply because edibles take longer to digest.

Finding the right dose of THC

You hear it all the time, "Hands off the Space Cookies!" Many overestimate themselves with edibles and experience some rough hours afterwards. The psychoactive effects of orally ingested cannabis can last hours, so you should proceed with great caution. Ideally, you'll talk through how to prepare and ingest Edibles and what dose is right for you with your treating physician.

1 - 2.5 mg THC

This dosage is suitable for beginners with low tolerance who want mild relief from physical symptoms.

2.5 - 15 mg THC

Please be careful to start with 2.5 mg rather than 15 mg. For this dose you should have a medium tolerance and already experience with edibles. Harder symptoms can get relief from such doses, first euphoric feelings can occur.

15 - 30 mg THC

This dose is already considered high. It can change your perception or cause strong euphoria. A high tolerance is assumed. If you are experienced with cannabis and edibles, you will often still experience too intense an effect from about 25 mg.

30 - 50 mg THC

Very high dose for people with high tolerance or for so-called large-scale users. Side effects occur as well as strong euphoria. Those who are experienced but not heavy users will usually experience a subjectively too strong effect with 50 mg THC.

50 - 100 mg

This dose is considered extremely high and should only be taken by patients with a lot of experience and high tolerance. Even for large users who take a few grams of cannabis every day, a dose of 100 mg provides a subjectively too strong effect. This dosage not only has a strong intoxicating effect, but also stresses the digestive tract.

Preparing cannabis butter yourself (incl. decarboxylation)

Making cannabutter is quite simple, so here we will show you the main steps. Here's how to make cannabutter correctly:

  • Cannabis decarboxylate: Grind the flowers and heat the oven to 115 - 120! C. Spread the barked flowers on a baking sheet with baking paper. Leave in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes, the flowers should turn nice and golden brown, but not lose too much of their inherent flavor. With hash, this step can simply be skipped.
  • Melt butter: Put enough butter in a pot or water bath and melt it.
  • Add the cannabis to the completely liquid butter and stir occasionally. Let the cannabis butter simmer on low heat. The longer it simmers at a low temperature, the better and more completely the ingredients will be absorbed. 2 - 3 hours is considered a guideline.
  • Strain the plant pieces from the butter and allow the butter to cool.

Conclusion: Edibles are an excellent delivery form for cannabinoids

As the article was able to show, edibles could be a good dosage form for many patients. The blood level of cannabinoids is kept relatively constant over a longer period of time. Nevertheless, as things stand at present, the German government envisages a ban on edibles. This ban is supposed to be in the name of youth protection. In a similar manner to how fruity or berry tobacco products are banned because they encourage younger people to consume them, edibles are to remain banned. We clearly feel that this should not happen because of the numerous benefits of edibles.


Written by Henrik Aulbach

Henrik Aulbach is a published cannabis specialist author with a passion for medicine, chemistry, and cannabinoids. Through Weed!, he contributes to breaking stigmas and myths surrounding the green gold and increasing the availability of cannabis medications for patients.


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