Cooking with cannabis is becoming one of the most popular ways to ingest herb. Since edibles are smoke free, many patients and enthusiasts are choosing to spare their lungs and eat cannabis using a variety of cooking and baking techniques.
When preparing cannabis edibles at home, cannabinoids are drawn to fats, oils and alcohol which allows the THC and other compounds to become active. This is why there are many infused butters, olive oils and concentrates.
No matter what cooking method you choose to use for your recipe, it's important to first understand edible basics and precautions before consuming. Edibles can be extremely powerful. Eating too much can leave you in a miserable state. The best approach to a desirable high begins with education, self awareness and smart dosing. Remember the golden rule - Go Low, Start Slow.
Smoked versus Eaten
Understanding the differences between smoking and eating cannabis and the psychoactive side effects is crucial if you are considering eating an edible. Smoking cannabis is not the same as ingesting it. Even though you may have a high tolerance for smoking, this does NOT mean you'll have a high tolerance for eating.
When smoked or vaporized, cannabis passes through the lungs before entering the bloodstream. THC and CBD go directly to the brain. Effects can take place as fast as 30 - 90 seconds. The high can last between 1 - 2 hours depending on how much was inhaled. Generally, the effects of smoked or vaporized cannabis come quicker and diminish faster.
When eaten, cannabis passes through the stomach and metabolizes in the liver which converts THC to 11-hydroxy THC causing a more intense high. Effects can be felt within 1 - 2 hours so knowing your metabolism and being patient is key. The high can last for up to eight hours depending on how much is consumed so be sure to be mindful about your surroundings and never drive after eating an edible.
Milligrams Consumption Guide
Below is a suggested guide to milligram dosing based on user experience. Determining the accurate THC content at home is not an easy task. If you've never experimented with edibles before, do not consume more than 5 milligrams. Try a tiny piece and see how your body reacts. Remember that you might not feel side effects for a couple of hours so be patient. Do not eat more!
1 - 5 milligrams: Recommended for cannabis newbies or lightweights. Know your metabolism before consuming. When using The Herb Somm recipes and pairings, only use half of the serving size. Go low, start slow.
5 - 10 milligrams: Recommended for cannabis consumers that are comfortable using edibles and know how their body will react to a higher dosage. We still recommend cutting off the dosage at 10 milligrams as this is a full serving.
10 - 15+ milligrams: For edible pros or for medical use only. Do not eat this much unless you have a medical need or have experienced good results in the past. Safely dosing is crucial - do not over do it.
For edible dosing "best practices" at home, click here.
Decarboxylation and Solubilization
When cooking with cannabis, raw flower, shake or trim is generally non-psychoactive. Cannabinoids are found in the form of acid known as THCA and are attached to the carboxylic compound COOH. Cannabis must first be "activated" to change from its acid form into its nonacid form which creates psychoactive side effects. There are two processes you can use to activate CBD into its therapeutic form and to convert non-psychoactive THCA into psychoactive THC.
Decarboxylation is the chemical reaction that releases the carboxylic acids from THC. This is achieved by exposing dry cannabis to heat around 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 - 60 minutes. For CBD dominant strains, therapeutic effects are activated at 295 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating can be done by placing dry cannabis into the oven at a controlled temperature. Be sure to keep temperatures low to prevent burning off desirable terpene characteristics. To learn more click here.
Solubilization occurs when cannabis is mixed with fats (butter), oils (olive oil, coconut oil) or alcohol. The carboxylic acids are released similar to the decarboxylation method - the acid in THCA is converted to nonacid THC.
When cooking, ideal temperatures for solubilization range between 125 degrees Fahrenheit to 150 degrees Fahrenheit*. Keep the mixture on low heat for at least two hours. Be sure to never reach boiling point and remember THC is NOT soluble in water.
Clean Your Cannabis
Last but certainly not least, be sure to clean your cannabis before cooking with it. The cannabis marketplace has little regulation on cleanliness of flower buds so be sure to check closely for molds, fungus and insects. You'll also want to remove any pollutants and pesticides that might have touched the flower. To do this, wash dry cannabis buds with .05% solution of hydrogen peroxide and water*. Submerge the dry flowers into a container and shake for 1 - 5 minutes. Debris will form a thin layer on the surface. Use a spoon to remove the scum layer. Remove the bud and let it completely dry out before using it for cooking. To learn more click here.
Cooking with cannabis is fun and deliciously rewarding. Now that you know the edibles basics, be smart with your recipes and dose safely.
Peace, Love & Cannabis,
The Herb Somm
*Decarboxylation, Solubilization and cannabis cleaning information sourced from The Cannabis Encyclopedia written by Jorge Cervantes.