Almost everyone who has smoked marijuana either recreationally or for medical reasons has had the thought at one point and time: I wonder if I can eat my weed raw? The truth is a little more complicated than simply stating you can, but it’s not recommended. For one thing, it doesn’t taste all that good, and secondly, it will not be processed in your digestive system in a way that will get you high or alleviate your symptoms.
However, you can eat cannabis, just not in its raw form. Cannabis has been incorporated into cooking and into drinks for millennia. Before the legalization movement, it was placed into brownie batter and into cake mixes. Today, there is a lot more choice when it comes to edibles. Cannabis is now found in teas, sodas, coffees, gummy bears, candies, luxury chocolates, and of course, the old go-to, baked goods.
It is important to realize that eating an edible has a completely different effect than smoking or vaping your cannabis. If you’ve never tried cannabis before and are hesitant about smoking or vaping, edibles are definitely a way to go. Even those who have smoked or vaped cannabis need to be aware that edibles can affect them differently.
Why Doesn’t Raw Cannabis Have an Effect?
In order for marijuana to have the effects that most people are looking for, it needs to go through a process called decarboxylation. This is when the THCA in the plant is converted to THC the body can use. This is achieved by applying heat through a flame or a vaporizer. The best way to eat cannabis is infused in an edible, such as the ones that can be purchased at places like The Amsterdam.
When it comes to edibles, they are made using a few different processes. The first is when ground cannabis flowers are added to unsalted butter, heated and allowed to melt, then allowed to cool and harden once again. This butter can then be substituted into any recipe that calls for butter. The second process involves blending ground cannabis flower into cooking oil, which can then be used in cooking. When it comes to cannabis drinks, a few drops of concentrated cannabis oil are generally added to the drinks during the manufacturing process.
Marijuana cookies with a marijuana flower; image by Margo Amala, via Unsplash.com.
In any of these methods, heat is generally applied, releasing the THC and other cannabinoids into a form that the body can process and utilize.
How Edibles Work in the Body
In general, edibles work in the body much the same way that smoking or vaping cannabis does. The cannabinoids make their way into the bloodstream, where they cause the desired effect. However, edibles differ from smoking in a few profound ways.
Smoking or vaping allows the cannabinoids to be absorbed through the lungs and the effects are felt within five to ten minutes. Edibles, on the other hand, must be digested and then processed through the liver. Only then do the cannabinoids enter the bloodstream. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to feel the full impact.
Smoking and vaping may produce a more immediate effect when compared to edibles, but the effects do not last as long. Smoking or vaping effects tend to peak quickly and dissipate within about two hours. However, edibles can last for as long as three to four hours.
Dosage is pretty easy when it comes to smoking or vaping. If you’re getting your marijuana from a dispensary, you’ll know the percentage of THC or CBD is in the flower. You smoke or vaporize enough to feel your desired effect, stop, and come back when needed.
With edibles, dosing is a bit more complicated. Reputable dispensaries will have the amount of THC or CBD listed in milligrams on the packaging. The milligrams will sometimes be broken down on a per-serving basis, with the number of servings in a package listed. Some edibles will just list the number of milligrams per cookie or brownie, leaving it up to the consumer to cut the edible into the dose they desire.
Recommended eating dosages range from 2.5mg for newbies or those wishing to micro-dose to 10mg or more for those experienced with cannabis. Even those experienced with smoking or vaping cannabis should start low with edibles, due to the way that they are processed in the body. Too much to start and it can lead to an overdose, which has led to freak outs and stories of people calling 911 and admitting that they’ve eaten a whole marijuana-infused cookie or brownie.
A standard dose is considered to be 5mg. Begin with a 2 to 5-milligram dose to test your tolerance and wait for at least two hours before eating a second serving if needed. Remember, you can always eat more if needed, but you can’t take back what has already been digested.
How is eating and drinking foods that contain marijuana (edibles) different from smoking marijuana?
Because marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there are health risks associated with using marijuana regardless of the how it is used. Some of these negative effects include having difficulty thinking and problem-solving, having problems with memory, learning and maintaining attention and demonstrating impaired coordination. Additionally, frequent use can lead to becoming addicted to marijuana. However, some risks may differ by the way it is used.
Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana can lead to a greater risk of bronchitis, cough, and phlegm production. Whereas, edibles, which take longer to digest, take longer to produce an effect. Therefore, people may consume more to feel the effects faster. This may lead to people consuming very high doses and result in negative effects like anxiety, paranoia and, in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (e.g. delusions, hallucinations, talking incoherently, and agitation).
What to Do if You Ate Too Much
This can happen, particularly with those inexperienced with cannabis at all or those inexperienced with edibles in particular. It can lead to a bad time, but the good news is that no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. If you begin to feel too high, follow these steps:
- Relax. It will pass.
- Take some pure CBD, if available. CBD counteracts the high of THC.
- Drink cold water. This will help combat dry mouth. Adding lemon zest, ginger, or mint leaves can help to settle the tummy and combat some of the psychoactive effects.
- Netflix and chill. Otherwise, find a way to distract yourself from what you’re feeling.
- Sleep. Drink some water and get some quality shut eye. You may feel a little groggy when you wake up, but it’s nowhere near as bad as a hangover.
Edibles provide a good way to ingest marijuana for those who need longer-lasting effects or those who are just averse to smoking or vaping. A little preparation, knowing what you’re eating, and knowing the correct dose goes a long way into avoiding a potential overdose. Start small and work your way up to a higher dose and you’ll soon find the perfect dosage and, hopefully, your favorite edible.
Even though eating raw marijuana doesn’t get you high, there are many other benefits to eating the non-psychoactive form of the plant. If you do want to try this, make sure to start with a small amount in case it upsets your stomach.
There are also many ways for you to turn raw marijuana into an edible that can provide the effects you’re looking for.