The umbrella definition of an edible can also extend to beverages, although these products are also commonly referred to as a cannabis-infused beverage or a drinkable. Common edible products include baked goods, gummy or hard candy, chocolate, butter, cooking oil, beverages such as coffee or seltzer or tea, truffles, gum, beef jerky, chocolate-covered espresso beans or pretzels, and cookies, to name a few.
The oil-solubility of cannabis extracts has played an important role in the rise in popularity of edibles, making it straightforward to create infusions that the body can naturally and easily absorb. Prior to legalization changes that help refine the regulation and manufacturing of edible products, people would traditionally make edibles in their own kitchens, often baking brownies or cookies that utilized cannabis-infused butter (also known as cannabutter). While some consumers still choose to make their own edible products in their homes the old-fashioned way, the industry has evolved tremendously in recent years. It is now commonplace to purchase pre-made edibles at a dispensary in legal states or hemp-infused edibles via online/national retailers and there is even a market for home kitchen appliances that make infusing butter, honey or glycerine as easy as pressing a button.
Edibles can be made in a variety of ways and most commonly isolate a specific cannabinoid, such as THC or CBD, although many edibles contain a ratio of both. When purchasing an edible at a medical-grade dispensary or in recreationally legal states, the options of edibles will often include THC-dominant and full-spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum means that it contains all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and fatty acids found in the cannabis plant, even THC. As such, they would be deemed illegal in states that haven't legalized THC. In states where marijuana is not legal, edibles are also commonly made with broad-spectrum CBD (including all cannabinoids beside THC) or CBD isolate (including only CBD and no other cannabinoids). You will also find hemp-derived edibles on the market and these extracts come from hemp plants containing 0.3% THC or less and are federally legal. CBD products derived from hemp and CBD products derived from cannabis are different from a legal perspective, even though the CBD molecule found in both is identical regardless of the source. Generally, hemp-derived edibles represent the more legal option, while CBD derived from cannabis plants often include a wider terpene and cannabinoid profile. Products made with whole plant extracts have shown to offer greater therapeutic potential in preliminary research. When purchasing edibles, it is important to view the ingredient list and take a closer look into the company whose product you're considering.
Edibles are a popular method for consuming cannabis for several reasons, including their low-maintenance nature making them easy to transport, consume and store, their dosage capabilities and the fact that you don't have to physically smoke it to feel the potential medical effects. Edibles often come in smaller concentrations of THC, ranging from 2.5mg to 100mg. Given the dosage range, edibles allow for consumers to customize their experience. First-time consumers or those who prefer microdosing are recommended to take smaller doses at a time, while more seasoned consumers may prefer to take a larger dose. The proper dosage varies by consumer and each result in a different level of psychoactivity when consuming THC edibles. For example, a 2.5mg dose may result in a mild effect that offers a relief of symptoms if taken medicinally or a subtle increase in calmness/euphoria while a 20mg dose will yield a much stronger effect comparatively. When it comes to taking edibles, it is recommended to start with a small dosage and work your way up, as well as give the product ample time to effectively kick in.
Edibles typically take around 30 to 60 minutes to yield an effect, although this depends on factors such as a person's tolerance and how the product is absorbed by the body. Edibles that are ingested, but not swallowed, such as gum or lollipops, will be absorbed by the body much quicker than those absorbed by the digestive system. Other factors such as diet, weight, tolerance to cannabis and metabolism also impact how quickly a consumer will feel the effects of THC-rich edibles. Edibles will stay in the bloodstream for around 24 hours and how long the psychoactive effects will last is dependent on tolerance, dosage and body weight. Commonly, the effect of a THC edible will last around 4 hours, but those with a stronger sensitivity could experience effects that last over 6 hours.
The culture of edibles is shifting quickly in tandem with the legalization movement. In some instances, edibles are helping change the social stigma surrounding cannabis usage and are serving as an entry point into the world of harnessing plant medicine. As the interest in cannabis edibles continues to grow, the market will continue to be refined and the surrounding culture will continue to evolve.