What’s Up With Marijuana Edibles?

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Categories : Cannabis recipes

What’s Up With Marijuana Edibles?

The marijuana edibles market in the U.S. continues to develop.

There are many things that distinguish the U.S. marijuana market from the rest of the World right now – far apart from size. One of the more interesting developments is the impact and presence of edibles.

While still in its infancy in Europe, the edibles market, by some estimates, makes up half the entire legal market right now in the U.S. It is also shaping up to be one of the more controversial parts of an already non-conventional industry. In Colorado and Washington State, for example, edibles have frequently threatened to upset the entire legalization bandwagon itself.

The biggest reason?

Many marijuana edibles are produced in the form of sweet goods (cookies, brownies and candy). For this reason, there are many who fear that the drug, when packaged in this form, will become more accessible to children. But that is not the only reason edibles packaging and labelling has become quite controversial.


Edibles have in fact been around for as long as marijuana. During the early period of re-legalization (during the 70’s and 80’s for example), marijuana brownies were perhaps the most popular “edible” infused with cannabis oil or butter. Cannabinoids are fat soluble, which lends them well to baked goods. These days, all kinds of edible products are making their way into the market – from hummus to pizza and pasta and even hard candy.

Unlike inhaled cannabis, marijuana-infused edibles typically pack a stronger, delayed punch. When you consume marijuana in an edible form, the THC is converted to 11-hydroxy-THC. This metabolite is highly effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier, and in turn creates a more intense high. This is because it undergoes a different metabolic process – passing through the liver before traveling to the brain. This is also why the high obtained from edibles lasts longer.

An edible typically takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours to kick in. Thus, especially when first using them or unfamiliar with the product, go slow and eat small amounts. It is also far harder to control dosing, particularly when consuming a home-made rather than commercially manufactured product.

Edibles also vary greatly in their potency – even when commercially produced. This is also why it is much easier to overdose on cannabis when consuming it this way. Although no known fatal overdoses of edible THC have been reported, there have been some high profile accidents involving highly stoned individuals who have eaten too much of a product containing marijuana.

Much like other drugs, marijuana will be absorbed more quickly by an empty stomach.


Apart from the physical impact of the THC, the other reason consumers are turning to edibles, is that they represent a different and possibly healthier alternative to either smoking or vaping the drug. There are also many people who use cannabis as medicine, particularly those who have digestive disorders, who choose to consume their cannabis this way. It is also a more discreet form of consumption, since edibles do not produce the pungent aroma of burning herb.

First-time users should start with snacks or food that obtains no more than 10-15mg per serving.

There are several different types of edibles available for the discerning consumer. The first are those geared towards gastrointestinal uptake – which are absorbed by the stomach. This includes all cannabis-infused solid food. This type of edible takes the longest time to be absorbed by the body and has the most delayed high. The second type of edible is geared towards oral uptake (absorbed via saliva) and includes most tinctures, lollypops and gums. Unlike solids, these can begin to take effect relatively soon after ingestion, but they also wear off more quickly. There are also some edibles that fit into a hybrid category and can be absorbed both ways. This includes infused drinks and chocolate bars. Hybrids take effect somewhere in between the other two methods of ingestion.


While in most established U.S. state markets, at this point, the edibles industry is more or less regulated, it is always a good idea to examine the labels of the products you buy and know the reputation of the manufacturer. In the early days of the Colorado recreational market, for example, there were quite a few instances of inspectors finding non-suitable production methods used in the kitchens (like washing machines) made to manufacture the same.

There are several issues consumers should consider when selecting a commercially available edible product. The first is the purity of the marijuana itself. Just like the smoked kind, it is important to know that no harmful pesticides have been used to produce the raw ingredient. Furthermore, because it is almost still impossible to determine the quality of marijuana that goes into edibles, some growers get rid of crops contaminated with mites or mold by selling the same to edibles manufacturers. And remember, just because a product contains cannabis, other ingredients, like sugars and fats, are still not “healthy” food. Patients with food allergies, such as gluten and nuts, should be particularly cautious. The manufacturing kitchen could have used equipment contaminated with trace elements of the same.

In most U.S. states, perhaps the most regulated edibles market there is, manufacturers require nothing more than a cooking license to sell to dispensaries. Outside of the U.S., the market is even less regulated – mostly because of the lack of commercialization of the same. That is also likely to change as more and more medical markets develop, particularly in Europe.


Edibles are usually made from the leftovers of the plant. Because wholesale trim sold to edibles manufacturers is often, literally, a mixed bag of leftovers, edibles frequently contain cannabis extracted from many different types of plants. That said, it does not necessarily mean that the high will be different. By the time THC is extracted into oil, most of the differences in the smoked varieties are impossible to label from a scientific perspective. As the marijuana market becomes more sophisticated, this too may change. For now, know that the THC in that scrumptious looking brownie or chocolate bar is probably obtained from multiple varieties of plants.