WHY SHOULD WE THINK ABOUT EDIBLES?
One of the things I always do with patients is counsel about the effects of inhaling. We definitely know that smoking weed is bad for you. Doesn’t that suck?
For instance- we know for sure that smoking weed can cause or worsen COPD. What is less clear is its association with cancer. We are reasonably confident that it causes lung cancer and (weirdly enough) testicular cancer. There are reasons to think it causes other head and neck cancers, like tongue, throat and esophagus (1).
In states like Colorado and California that have had legal marijuana for over a decade, we can tell that consumers eventually drift towards edibles. It’s a pattern that has been seen over and over! People want to be healthy and often view edibles favorably as a healthier alternative to smoking (2).
Edibles are one of the main ways that marijuana users can avoid smoke exposure. I generally feel like newer patients gravitate towards edibles while people that have smoked for a while resist them. Smoking weed is still bad for you, even if you really really like it. Take it from a fellow stoner- we all need to think about our health.
My recommendation is always to make sure you aren’t just smoking or inhaling- work in some edibles! I have often promised patients in the past that the edible landscape in the midwest is changing- and indeed, it has changed.
This blog was written to take a look at some of the fast-acting products that are available out there right now!
WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EATING AND SMOKING?
The above graphic summarizes patient responses from a 2018 study (3).
I remember a new patient that I recently spoke with that simply assumed that she would be smoking- “I didn’t know I had any other choice!” This patient even had a history of asthma, but was still willing to smoke to get some pain relief. (side note: this is why medical providers need education on marijuana -doc)
I counsel all new patients on the differences between edibles and smoked marijuana. That’s because edible marijuana has the potential for serious side effects! Over-intoxication is common and most marijuana users have at least one story about getting way too messed up from an edible. I think that sentiment is echoed by the ‘cons’ patients noted in the study above.
General advice for patients taking edibles for the first time: Start at a low dose (like 5 mg for patients that have never used marijuana before) and give yourself an hour before taking additional medication. We have a guide for edibles available here!
One of the common issues I hear from patients (mostly from patients that normally smoke) is that traditional edibles take too long to work. This is true, especially if you have a high tolerance or smoke often.
Luckily, the product landscape has changed and we have several great options that are fast-acting! THC-processing technology allows for THC to enter your body’s circulation in 15-25 minutes compared to the usual 45-90 minutes. I want to highlight some of them, and hopefully convince a few of you to cheef just a little less.
WHAT PRODUCTS ARE FAST ACTING?
We are getting help from our friends at Consume and Mapleglen Care Center to give a sense of the faster-acting products that are already available in the Illinois market.
“We have many fast(er) acting edible options. Anything that comes in liquid form offers a swifter onset of effects,” says Janelle from Consume. Ashley from Mapleglen Care Center agrees, adding “Some of the more quick reacting products we offer would be our distillate gummies, tinctures and tonic water and seltzers.”
These products act more quickly due to how they are produced- they are “water-soluble,” compared to traditional fat-soluble edibles (think about extracting thc in butter to make brownies).
Processors make these by copying a pharmaceutical manufacturing technique. By making sure THC molecules are inside little spheres called liposomes, we can decrease the time it takes to work.
You might see these faster-acting edibles labeled “water-soluble,” “liposomal THC” or “encapsulated THC.”
Additionally, tinctures are edibles meant to be absorbed under the tongue- “sublingually.” These are also generally considered to be faster-working than edibles that have to be digested.
WHAT PRODUCTS ARE OUT THERE?
PTS- an Illinois-based company (yay) that produces edibles “incorporating sophisticated liposomal encapsulation technology to deliver relief far more quickly than traditional edibles. Available in Illinois and Michigan!