Understanding Edibles

Soft Secrets
01 Jan 2021

 “The difference between smoking and using edibles can be so vast, that some people consider them be different drugs altogether”

...it’s all in the High...

Cannabis today is still most commonly consumed via combustion inhalation….aka smoking Flower. Vape’s have had a huge upturn in popularity but you may be surprised to know that in recent years it is edibles that have seen the biggest upward growth curve in both the legal and illegal markets. With this in mind we thought we would put together a guide as to what the differences are between inhalation and edible consumption, the science behind it and some advice on what to expect and how best to dose.   First things first, we all know someone who has a “story” about a crazy, usually unpleasant experience that they have had after consuming too many edibles! I know I have. A good one I heard recently was that of 2 Cops from Toronto in 2018 who allegedly ended up getting themselves suspended for being under the influence of cannabis whilst on duty. They had taken so many edibles that they had called the cops on themselves! When their fellow offices arrived at the scene they were so far gone they had to be taken to hospital to recover.   The main factor you need to understand about smoking and edibles is that the THC unleashed on your body will reveal itself in 2 very different ways. When you smoke cannabis the THC is absorbed through your lungs and into your bloodstream and is known as “Delta-9 THC”. When you eat an edible however the THC takes a different path and travels through your digestive system, eventually reaching your Liver and is converted into “11-hydroxy THC”.   It is the differences between these 2 forms of THC that can cause such dramatically varied effects. “11-hydroxy THC” is much more potent and psychoactive and has the ability to activate more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than the delta-9 form can. 11-hydroxy THC also behaves more like a synthetic drug and can encourage the more unpleasant side effects of cannabis, such as paranoia and anxiety if dosed incorrectly.    When you smoke cannabis the THC enters your bloodstream via the lungs and then travels around the body and to the brain. This is a quick route and as a result you tend to feel the resulting “high” in a matter of minutes. This is great if you feel you need something that can act quickly. With smoking or vaping the effect tend to peak within 30 minutes to an hour and then wear off between 2-4 hours later.   THC is an oil and oil does not mix or break down easily in water and water is  what most of your blood is made up of. This means that the THC inhaled from smoking in its Delta 9 form binds with any receptors in the body as quickly as it can and in smaller amounts as it cannot become fully soluble in the bloodstream. All in all this is why the THC effects from smoking in general appear to be milder and offer an over all more pleasant experience. The Delta 9 form of THC is taken in to the body in a moderate amount and goes on to bind with receptors to alleviate physical pain, inflammation and/or relieve stress and relax the body. The “receptors” we are talking about form a part of the body’s endocannabinoid system. This cell signalling system plays an important role in the body, helping to regulate functions such as mood, sleep, appetite, memory, chronic pain, stress and more.  Receptors are found throughout the body and allow cannabinoids such as THC to bind to them to signal that something needs to happen. For example cannabinoids may bind to a receptor in a spinal nerve to relieve back pain or may bind to a receptor elsewhere to relieve inflammation. Basically if an outside force throws off your bodies balance either physically or mentally then it can be re-balanced via the endocannabinoid system and the cannabinoids that bind to its receptors. Some of these cannabinoids are made naturally in your body and are known as “endocannabinoids” and some such as THC and CBD come from outside sources such as cannabis.   Obviously you can on occasion still go too far when smoking and feel unwell or “whitey” but this is nothing in comparison to how intense things can get when you consume too many edibles? In contrast to smoking, you need to wait longer to feel the effects of an edible kick in, hence why people often take too much. This can be anything from 30 minutes, to an hour or sometimes more, as like any food you have to give it time to break down and be processed through your digestive system.   Don’t be fooled though as when the THC does kick in it will hang around for much longer, on average between 4-6hrs. It will also pack a much heavier indica body stone along with varying degrees of cerebral effects which are not always pleasant! This is ideal if you are at home in a comfortable environment or want relief from chronic pain or a good nights sleep but not so good if you are at a party or a bar!  Once you start eating an edible your saliva acts upon it and immediately starts to break it down, this continues via the acids in the stomach and so by time it reaches the liver it is readily and easily converted into the stronger more psychoactive “11 hydroxy THC”.  Unlike smoking, when you eat an edible no THC is absorbed straight into the bloodstream, it is all contained by the digestive system until it hits the liver. This means that there is a much larger amount of THC that is being converted in to a much stronger form, that is about to be unleashed in a much more potent manner on your body and mind. When the THC is processed into “11 hydroxy THC” it becomes much more water-soluble than the inhaled “delta 9 form. This means that when it is finally released into the bloodstream it mixes better and travels faster and more efficiently around the body, attaching to many more endocannabinoid receptors in many more locations of the body. Additionally in this stronger more soluble form the THC has an easier time crossing the blood brain barrier, which is why you may experience more intense cerebral effects Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. The blood brain barrier is a protective boundary of cells and blood vessels around the brain that stops any potentially damaging levels of substances that have been introduced to the body from getting to the brain and causing unwanted or debilitating effects. Basically, this all explains why the effects of cannabis edibles can feel so dramatically different to those that you experience from smoking and why indeed it can feel like you have consumed 2 completely different substances.  Small amounts of THC can be beneficial and enjoyable to experience, as is the case with smoking. Consuming overwhelming amounts of THC through edible use however can cause varying levels of unwanted and long lasting effects such as drowsiness, nausea, paranoia, stress and anxiety to name but a few. There are of course other practical factors which affect why edibles may hit harder, even if you feel that you have not gone overboard or you have been careful. Some people’s metabolisms are just more sensitive than others.  Diet is a big factor too. Just like with alcohol, if you have not eaten much that day or you have a diet that is very low on starchy carbs or other essential nutrients then this can intensify the hit of the THC and make it feel much stronger.   Indulging in edibles alongside other prescription or recreational drugs such as alcohol can also shake things up (usually in a bad way) and mutate the effect that you get. It really can be a minefield trying to get the right dose especially if you are eating something someone else has made and you have no idea how much is in it or how strong it is. If you are able to buy legal product then do so as this is more reliably dosed and you know exactly what you are getting. Go for a product with a low THC mg content, anything that is 10mg or under per serving is considered low dose so this is a good place to start. If you do go overboard then there are several things that you can try that may help you out of the hole. If you can, try and sleep it off or at least find a quiet, comfortable place where you can at least shut your eyes, relax and drink plenty of water. A CBD Vape pen or other similar product could help to shorten the experience too as CBD is thought to be able to mitigate the effects of THC to some degree.  In summary, I am not going to tell you that you shouldn’t indulge in edibles as they can offer you a great experience both recreationally and medicinally when used responsibly. The key is to remember that smoking and eating cannabis are two very different beasts. When you first start with edibles, proceed with caution and use your common sense. Always know what you are eating and start small and wait to see the effects before you get carried away, in both the metaphorical and literal sense.

Soft Secrets