Cannabis has long been a popular supplement for people all over the world, from every walk of life. No matter where you’re from or where you live, cannabis has found its way to nearly every corner of the world.
However, the way in which we consume cannabis can differ from place to place and culture to culture. Of course, the most popular and stereotypical way to consume cannabis is through smoking it, whether it be in a joint, through a bowl, or through a water pipe. Relatively recently, we have expanded cannabis consumption mediums to include vaping, dabbing, and even eating it!
Edibles offer a way to consume cannabis that is more accessible to those who may not want to expose their lungs to smoke or vapor; however, they are known for their potency and heightened effects.
The History of Edibles
Edibles date back hundreds of years, with uses in Asia as early as the 10th century. Bhang was, and still is, a very popular concoction in India. It is a mixture of milk, hashish, and ghee, which was used as a sleep aid, appetite enhancer, and even as a religious supplement. Hashish, a form of cannabis, is made from the resin of the cannabis plant, and is characterized by a dark, sticky appearance. Hashish is one of the earliest examples of cannabis concentrates, formed by compressing the trichomes of the cannabis plant, and can often be extremely potent. It can still be found in India today!
Edibles became popular around the 1800s in the United States, with hashish-infused goods such as candies, food, and cough syrups. These cannabis-infused goods were mainly used for medicinal purposes, such as treating colds or alcoholism, insomnia, hives, and other ailments. They were ingrained as a normal part of society to the point where they appeared in Sears’ catalogs and on the shelves of corner pharmacies. However, this did not last, as in 1906, the government began to regulate cannabis products with the Pure Food and Drug Act, and later in 1937, cannabis was deemed federally illegal by the Marihuana Tax Act.
The rise of the edible can be traced back to the 1950s in the United States, particularly 1954, when an American-born, middle-class Polish Jew named Alice B. Toklas published a cookbook that included a recipe for “Hashish Fudge.” From there, edibles exploded in popularity, finding a prominent role in the hippie movement in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1990s, Brownie Mary was baking roughly 1,500 brownies a month for AIDS patients in the San Francisco bay area. Now, you can find edibles on nearly every dispensary’s shelves.
“Take one teaspoon black peppercorns, one whole nutmeg, four average sticks of cinnamon, one teaspoon coriander. These should all be pulverized in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of Cannabis sativa can be pulverized. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.”
Alice B Toklas’ Recipe for Hashish Fudge
How Are Edibles Made?
So, how do you make edibles? It really isn’t a terribly complex process. If you are using cannabis flower or plant matter, you must first make sure it has been decarboxylated. This simply means that sufficient heat has been applied to the plant matter in order to convert the naturally occurring and non-psychoactive cannabinoid THCa into the psychoactive form, THC. There is a great guide by Project CBD on how to decarboxylate your cannabis and the science behind it, if you would like to do so at home!
If you are using cannabis concentrates to make your edibles, your job is a little easier. You’ll still have to decarboxylate your concentrate, but you don’t have to deal with straining and disposing of plant matter. One point to note is that concentrates do provide a bit more difficulty in nailing down the dosage correctly when making edibles due to their potent nature. It’s good to follow a guide to make edibles with concentrates.
The Edible High – What it Feels Like to Take Edibles
The high from edibles is traditionally more of a body high than the head high associated with smoking or dabbing. This makes edibles particularly effective in treating some of the more physical ailments many use cannabis for, including chronic muscle aches and pains, joint pain, arthritis, and insomnia, amongst others.
The reason edibles are more of a body high is in the way the THC is delivered into your body. With smoking or dabbing, the effects are almost instantaneous, as THC and other cannabinoids are delivered straight into your bloodstream through your respiratory system, and are then delivered to your brain. You can feel the effects of THC within seconds from smoking. Edibles have a slower release due to the THC needing to be processed through your digestive system, where your liver metabolizes THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent and longer lasting form of THC.
This means that it can take a while for you to feel the effects of a cannabis edible, anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple hours, depending on if you’re on an empty stomach or if you’ve just had a big meal. This is an important reason why dosing edibles correctly is very important. Do not get impatient or think that “they are not working.” Wait at least 90 minutes before having more edibles if you want to increase your dosage. Always consume edibles and any other form of THC responsibly.
About Edibles Today
Edibles in today’s time have evolved from simple oils or infused fats to all sorts of products, confectionary and otherwise. Walk into a marijuana dispensary today and you can find chocolates, brownies, cookies, cakes, gummies, beverages, and a host of other goodies and some of the other best cannabis products.
Advancements in the cannabis extraction and infusing processes have allowed cannabis to be placed into pretty much any fat soluble cooking medium, mainly including oils and butters. These can then be used to cook almost anything! Many culinary pioneers have utilized this new knowledge in gourmet cannabis-infused cooking, creating more elaborate dishes such as pastas, meats, salads, and many more.
One particular avenue that has seen major innovation is in water-soluble THC. Traditionally, THC was required to be infused in some sort of fat – whether that be butter or one of the many various cooking oils available – due to its extremely low solubility in water, a paltry 0.003 mg/ml. For reference, this equates to a standard 10mg edible serving of THC in 3 liters of water. Not very efficient! However in the past few years, there have been promising advancements in emulsion technology, genetic modification, and cannabis chemistry that have made these types of THC edibles a reality.
Edibles offer a great way to consume cannabis for those who may have an aversion to smoking or vaping, or just prefer the high from a marijuana edible. Along with the rise of health awareness, edibles have been growing steadily in popularity over the years. Starting in March, due to the coronavirus pandemic, edibles have seen an even bigger spike as people prefer the discreet experience of consuming cannabis during quarantine and are extra conscious of any activities that may compromise their immune system, including smoking.
While edibles are a fun, novel way to consume cannabis, they are also a potent form of cannabis, and thus should be consumed responsibly. Always start in small doses and increase from there.
For any questions you may have about edibles, or just cannabis in general, feel free to reach out to the folks at Leaf 411! They are extremely knowledgeable, personable, and willing to answer any questions you may have. Thanks for reading!
 CannabisMD – The Evolution of Cannabis Edibles: Past, Present, and Future
 Student MMJ – Pure Food And Drug Act Of 1906 And The Start Of The Second Prohibition
 Way of Leaf – When Did Cannabis Become Illegal?
 Chowhound – How Cannabis-Infused Edibles Evolved Into High Art & Exacting Science
 Open Culture – Alice B. Toklas Reads Her Famous Recipe for Hashish Fudge (1963)
 Project CBD – Decarboxylating Cannabis
 Leafly – How to make cannabis edibles with concentrates
 Royal Queen Seeds -11-Hydroxy-THC And The Potency Of Edibles
 Pot Guide -What is Water-Soluble THC?
 New York Times – You Know What Else Has Sold Well During the Pandemic? Weed Edibles.