For thousands of years, cannabis-infused edibles have played a fascinating role in human history. Referred to as “medibles,” these delectable treats and beverages contain activated cannabis, which has undergone chemical transformations to create psychoactive substances easily utilized by the body. Across Eastern Europe, cannabis candies were cherished by women and administered to children as medicinal remedies. In India, the early adoption of bhang, an edible preparation of psychoactive cannabis, dates back to 2000 BC, where it was embraced for its spiritual and therapeutic qualities. In today’s cannabis-progressive Western countries, a diverse range of food products now incorporate cannabis infusion, spanning from lemonades and sodas to pastries, chocolates, pasta sauces, and cooking oils.

Surprisingly, ingesting cannabis through edibles and inhaling it can produce distinct experiences. While both methods can elicit a psychoactive “high,” edibles tend to deliver a more potent and body-centered encounter, triggering alterations in cognition, time perception, memory, and movement. The potency of edibles may catch novice consumers off guard, emphasizing the importance of starting with conservative doses and gradually increasing them as one develops a tolerance to cannabis. Nonetheless, certain patients may prefer cannabis-infused foods over smoking or vaping, particularly when their medical conditions limit alternative consumption methods. Moreover, many individuals dislike the taste and throat/lung sensation associated with burnt cannabis.

The effects of edibles manifest at a considerably slower pace compared to inhaled cannabis. Inhaling cannabis can yield psychoactive and medicinal effects within approximately 15 minutes, whereas edibles necessitate more time, ranging from 30 minutes to two hours, before their effects become noticeable. The duration between consumption and the onset of effects varies from person to person, making it somewhat challenging to determine the appropriate dosage for THC edibles. Factors such as personal metabolic rate and whether the edible was consumed on an empty stomach influence the rate at which the body breaks down the edible. Once you establish how an initial dose of an edible affects you, you can gradually adjust the dosage over time.

Edibles exhibit a prolonged onset time, but their effects can last up to six hours when administered appropriately. In the case of consuming a particularly large quantity, residual effects of cannabis may persist within the first 24 hours. However, the peak experience typically occurs within the initial four hours following consumption. It is not uncommon to experience mild fatigue, lethargy, headaches, or a slight decrease in cognitive and motor function the day after consuming a high-dose cannabis edible. While these effects are generally mild, they resemble a cannabis-induced “hangover.”

The potency of edibles surpasses that of other cannabis forms due to the body’s metabolic processes. Inhaling cannabis allows the active compounds to be rapidly absorbed by the lungs and enter the bloodstream. They subsequently travel to fatty tissues, including the brain, where they bind to receptor sites on cell surfaces. Ingesting activated cannabis operates differently. Upon consumption, the edible undergoes digestion in the stomach and intestines. It then undergoes metabolism by liver enzymes before its effects are felt. These enzymes in the liver break down the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When cannabis is ingested, THC is converted into a more potent compound called 11-hydroxy-THC.

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