A brief history of oral cannabis consumption
Despite what you might think, there’s really nothing new about edible cannabis. The concept dates as far back as early human history. In fact, the earliest known written records of cannabis consumption can be linked to the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung. These records date as far back as 2727 B.C. (Before Christ).
Even before then, cannabis seeds and oils were used for food in China as early as 6,000 BCE (Before Common Era). Further, evidence has been found to support the cultivation of cannabis for food and fibre in China as far back as 1,500 BCE. Between 900-1000 AD, Scholars debated the pros and cons of eating hashish – a derivative of the cannabis plant – as its use spread throughout Arabia.
Today, the edibles culture continues with a range of cannabis products being made for ingestion. This cannabis consumption method provides a lot of benefits to modern users, making it a solid alternative to smoking the crop.
Modern Oral Consumption
Since the legalisation of marijuana in certain parts of the world – Uruguay, Canada and parts of the U.S.A. (United States of America) – cannabis consumption methods have become more versatile and creative. Aside from traditional smoking, cannabis can currently be consumed in an assortment of ways which can easily suit an individual’s needs. Some of these ways include vaping and, in line with ancient practices, through oral ingestion – popularly known today as edibles.
What Are Edibles?
Edibles refer to any items of food, drink, baked or candied goods that contain cannabis which can only be ingested – not smoked or vapourised. They’re predominantly baked items or sweets, including cakes, candies, chocolate bars, muffins, cookies and brownies. While brownies are the most common form of edibles, almost any food product and condiment can be infused with marijuana – even drinks.
Marijuana can be infused into foods in a number of ways. These ways include:
- Direct infusion – where the marijuana leaves or flowers are placed directly in foods. Cannabis can also be eaten raw.
- Marijuana-infused cooking oil
- Marijuana-infused Butter
Cooking oil vs cooking butter: The better option?
Cannabis can be infused into foods and drinks via cannabis oil and/or cannabis butter. There are often debates concerning which infusion method works best for cooking with cannabis. The answer, according to Cheri of Cannabis Cheri, is simply ‘it depends!’
According to Cheri, you can feel free to use whichever of the two you want. It’s based on what you think works best for your recipe, and it’s entirely up to you. However, Sheri does point out that some edibles work better with butter, and others with oil. But given the range of edible fats that can be infused with cannabis – virtually all – your choices are plentiful and you can feel free to explore to find out what works for you.
Advantages of edibles over smoking
Consuming cannabis via edibles presents a number of advantages, inclusing:
- Stronger effects
The psychoactive effects of cannabis are stronger when cannabis is ingested. When marijuana is ingested, enzymes in the digestive tract convert and release a usually inactive form of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects – called Delta-11 THC. Delta-11 THC produces a unique set of psychoactive effects which are very pleasurable to consumers.
- Longer effects
The effects of ingested cannabis are known to last longer than other methods of cannabis consumption. On the average, smoked cannabis can have psychoactive effects lasting between 1-4 hours, depending on the amount smoked. Edibles, on the other hand, can have psychoactive effects lasting between 2-8 hours, depending on the amount and product ingested.
- Healthy alternative to smoking
Ingesting cannabis is a much healthier alternative to smoking simply because harmful carcinogens produced by combustion can be avoided. When cannabis is smoked, it releases certain harmful chemicals due to the combustion and interaction with rolling papers. Edibles bypass the combustion phase, skipping the harmful chemicals created by smoking.
- Excellent source of vitamins, fibre and minerals
When consumed raw or in edibles, cannabis is a very rich source of vitamins, fibre and minerals. Some of these vitamins and minerals include: Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Folate, and Iron, among others.
Disadvantages of ingesting cannabis via edibles
While there are strong advantages to ingesting cannabis via edibles, it’s important that consumers keep in mind the few disadvantages to this method.
- Delayed effects
Unlike smoking and vaping, the effects of marijuana when ingested via edibles can be delayed – anywhere between 45-90 minutes before they begin to manifest. For consumers looking for more immediate effects, edibles will not satisfy their needs.
- Harsh effects for beginners
The effects of ingested cannabis can prove a bit too much for cannabis newbies to handle. The delayed effects of edibles can take beginner consumers by surprise, invoking feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
With edibles – especially baked goods – it’s difficult to know how much you’re ingesting. This difficulty can either lead to overdosing or under-dosing in individuals, depending on the amount ingested. It’s advisable to eat edibles in smaller quantities, wait for the psychoactive effects to show up, and then increase the dosage as necessary.
Final words – are edibles safe for me?
Edibles are generally safe to use. Consuming cannabis in this manner is growing rapidly because it adds flavour to a consumer’s taste palate, along with variety. A study by Dalhousie University in 2017 found that 46 percent of Canadians said they would try cannabis-infused food products if they became available on the market, and 39 percent would be willing to try it in a restaurant. That being said, edibles are obviously a trending experience for cannabis consumers. Just remember to be mindful of your dosage.