When buying marijuana flower at a dispensary, it’s not difficult to find something tailor-made for your needs: Sativas for energy and focus, indicas for pain relief and sleep, hybrids for something in between. Try out the same formula for pot-infused edibles, and your options are (for the most part) only distinguished by flavor, with nothing said about how it will treat you. The truth is, cannabis edibles are still miles behind flower when it comes to predicting what kind of effect it will deliver.
While the iconic pot-brownie has been around since the ’60s, that form of cannabis food was typically created via the D.I.Y. method of cooking pot into butter and then infusing that butter into a snack-cake. Most edibles on the shelves today are made using highly sophisticated instruments that employ CO2 or butane to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material, a process that is still in its infancy and isn’t without its critics. And no matter how it’s made, the resulting substances themselves haven’t enjoyed nearly the same amount of scientific, peer-reviewed studies that smokable marijuana has.
“The main biological difference is that cannabinoids consumed in edible form go through ‘first pass metabolism,’ which means they pass through the liver,” says Kent Hutchison, a neuroscience professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Center For Health and Addiction. Hutchison says that when you smoke pot, you’re getting more of the cannabinoids into your blood, and you’re getting them a lot quicker than you would with infused foods. And when consuming marijuana as a food, there is a larger variance of effect from one person to another based on their biological makeup. There is also this issue: Marijuana that is engineered for a specific effect is done so with smoking in mind, and there is debate as to whether those characteristics even make it into food.
In the past, the flimsy leaves surrounding a marijuana plant — known in the industry as trim — were often discarded because of their low THC content. But with the rise of commercial-scale grow operations, trim became a cost-effective product that could be sold to manufacturers, still leaving the flower to sell to those who prefer smoking and vaporizing. When companies get their wholesale trim, it’s often purchased from multiple growers who bag up their remnants (indica, sativa and hybrid) without attention to grouping it by type.
“Most edible companies generally don’t separate the indica (trim) from the sativa,” says Max Montrose, who used to work as a courier of trim between growers and edible manufacturers. “And even if they did separate their trim, it’s possible that the trim could be reintroduced into other mixed trim. So it’s a smorgasbord.”
If edibles are made after thorough processing of the flower and with the help of delicate cooking (when the temperature doesn`t ruin chemical components of the plant, for instance), it is possible to deliver good Indica vs. Sativa edibles to weed dispensaries. Unfortunately, though it is possible to preserve cannabinoid profiles in edibles, terpenes profiles are almost always lost.
On some labels of products that sell separately as sativa or indica, it usually doesn’t specify what effects you’ll experience. Typically, the labels only read “indica” or “sativa”. However, would you be able to tell a difference if you had no clue which is which?
As a matter of fact, the results of this test can vary due to your perception. For example, say you are someone who only feels uplifting effects during the day. If you take an edible during the afternoon, and it boosts your mood and energy level, you’re going to assume it’s a sativa. However, if you consume the other edible at night and it knocks you out, you’re going to assume it’s an indica.
Everyone’s body is different, so the best way to figure out if an edible works for you is to start with a smaller dose (5-10mg) and see how you feel after 1-2 hours. Certain edibles may make you sleepy, while others may give you energy–take note of what works best for you and listen to your body!
If you have questions about edible dosing come speak to one of our Cannabis Consultants or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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