The popularity of marijuana edibles has grown with the legalization movement. But many people don’t know how the different types of edibles affect them.
A new study found that a CBD-laced brownie revved up participants’ heart rates and caused them to have higher levels of 11-OH-THC (the active THC metabolite responsible for strong drug effects) in their blood. The combo brownies were also more impairing than THC alone.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of 113 phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant. It interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to regulate mood, anxiety, and appetite. It also acts as a natural pain reliever and can help with insomnia. It’s found in the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa and Cannabis ruderalis), but it’s less potent than THC, which is found in marijuana plants.
A lab specializing in testing weed-infused edibles has developed a method to extract and analyze the cannabinoid content of gummy bear candies and brownies. The technique allows fast and accurate analysis, even in complex matrixes like these edibles.
Cooks infusing food with weed still need to be careful about the dosage. Before lab testing was available, calculating how much cannabinoid to add was often guesswork. Now, chefs using tabletop vaporizers to infuse their meals can use online potency calculators and home potency-testing tools to ensure they’re serving precisely dosed foods. This helps ease some of the fears of eating a homemade edible.
THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, binds to CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors in your brain, sending signals that create euphoria, relaxation, or in some cases, hallucinations. THC can last up to eight hours when ingested.
Once marijuana is smoked, the THC is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and reaches the brain promptly. With edibles, the chemical enters your digestive system and undergoes several steps before being metabolized into another chemical that eventually reaches your brain. This is one of the reasons it takes so long to feel high from cannabis edibles.
Home cooks who bake double chocolate weed brownies often don’t know the THC potency of the cannabis they use. THC infusion is a haphazard science at best, especially for recreational stoners who follow boxed brownie recipes or make their own.
THC clings to fats in foods, manipulating potency testing results and making it difficult to measure your edibles’ THC content accurately. This could mean that a brownie or gummy bear labeled as 10 milligrams of THC may have far more, leading to an unpleasant experience that could even land you in the emergency room with hallucinations.
Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. They support our body’s endocannabinoid system by binding to the same receptors as endocannabinoids. Still, they can also produce psychoactive effects and other medicinal benefits that the endocannabinoid system cannot.
Most cannabinoids in marijuana brownies are fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve well in fatty substances like butter and oil. That’s why all weed brownie recipes call for cooking the marijuana in butter before making the brownies; it allows the cannabinoids to be more easily absorbed during digestion. Skip this step, and you’ll likely end up with a batch of weed brownies that won’t do much or be digested by your gut bacteria before being flushed away.
Beverages like teas, juices, and coffees contain water-soluble cannabinoids, which are more quickly absorbed by the digestive tract than baked goods or other edibles that require longer digestion times in your stomach and gut. This is why beverages are more fast-acting than weed brownies, which typically take an hour or so to kick in.
Concocting your pot brownies has long been a haphazard and inexact science for recreational stoners. Instructions vary from recipe to recipe, and DIY cannabis cooks often pay no attention to how much weed goes into their creations.
But calculating the dosage of edibles is getting easier. Knowing the exact amount of THC in a brownie is possible with lab testing. The outcome of your experience can be significantly affected by this.
Scientists are discovering the advantages of flavanols, compounds in plants like flowers, leaves, and fruit. They are thought to be in plant stress-response mechanisms, but the precise role is unknown.
Scientists are also learning more about the way flavanols affect our brains. They can modulate cerebral vasculature  similarly to their peripheral effects and appear to improve cognitive performance under certain conditions. But these studies need to be well-controlled and prove that the vascular and cognitive benefits are linked.
The other cannabinoids in weed – including the rare and powerful CBCV and CBG – are not well-studied. But they may have significant medical benefits that are yet to be discovered.
They could be a factor in how long it takes for the effects of ingested cannabis to reach peak intensity. This is because dietary cannabinoid products are digested and metabolized by the gut. This slows down the endocannabinoid system and increases the time it takes to reach maximum effect.
Some chemists are experimenting with ways to put marijuana-infused foods in edible form. They’re testing out different recipes and cooking methods and extracting and measuring the potency of the ingredients.
Most weed brownie recipes start with cannabutter. This fat-soluble ingredient can be infused with the weed of your choice. It isn’t challenging to make cannabutter at home, and it’s a must-have for all pot brownie recipes. It requires a stove with low heat, some pot, and something to filter the finished product through (like cheesecloth). You can find lots of home-style cannabutter recipes online.