Ever eaten too much of an edible and find yourself on a rollercoaster ride you weren’t quite prepared for? Sure you have, we all have, even several police officers have after raiding cannabusinesses, which have produced some hilarious stories and videos. Check Youtube if you haven’t seen it already. It’s no secret that smoking cannabis and ingesting edibles are far different experiences, but why is that? Essentially it comes down to how the human body processes these different forms of medication.
When you smoke a joint or a bowl, the THC molecules are carried through the smoke into the lungs. There, the THC is absorbed through the alveoli, which are tiny air sacs that allow for rapid gaseous exchange in the lungs. The alveoli transport the THC molecules directly into the bloodstream which gives them quick access to the brain, hence why you feel the effects so quickly after smoking cannabis. These effects are generally short lived and last anywhere from 3090 minutes before beginning to taper off.
Now, let’s say you just got home from the dispensary, you open up that brownie and down the hatch it goes, what happens next? Let’s do this Magic School Bus style and take a look at what goes on inside your body after THC is ingested. Once the brownie lands in your stomach it’s on to the GI tract where the body goes to work processing and converting the main psychoactive component of cannabis delta-9THC . Your liver begins to secrete enzymes that convert the delta-9-THC molecule into a completely different molecule known as 11 Hydroxy Metabolite (11-OH-THC), which some say is up to 5 times more psychoactive than when THC is absorbed through the lungs when smoked. This is where your liver and GI tract work together in a biological phenomenon known as “first pass metabolism.” As the edible breaks down, your blood is flooded with THC, all blood from the GI tract passes through the liver before entering general body circulation. Meaning your liver is already secreting the 11-OH-THC and kicks that into even higher production as the blood full of all the THC goodness passes through it into the general blood circulation of your body. This biological process takes some time and is responsible for the lengthy onset of the effects of edible cannabis.
Historically, the majority of the research that has been done on 11 Hydroxy Metabolite has been for the purpose of proving these cannabinoid compounds are produced in the human body and, of course, to figure out how to detect it in blood and urine samples, a fancy way to say drug testing. I mean, hey your employer doesn’t mind if you get blackout drunk all weekend so long as you show up to work on Monday, but if you had an edible two weeks ago, they’re gonna get you by golly! Silly silly people, but I digress. In early animal testing of 11-OH-THC, there was very limited availability and testing proved difficult as the animals never got stoned enough to tell the scientists what effects they were experiencing. With time, these compounds became more widely available for testing and in 1972, a test administered subjects via IV with 1mg of THC and 1mg of 11-OH-THC at different times and asked the subjects to rate their stone on a scale of 1-10. Subjects reported an average of 8 out of 10 on the highness scale regarding the administered dose of 11 Hydroxy Metabolite vs an average of just 3 out of 10 for the administered dose of THC. The proof is in the pudding folks (who makes infused pudding, that sounds amazing) 11-OH-THC is our heavy-hitting champ.
What does this mean for me?
So how does this apply to you as the consumer? Be cautious, especially if you are new to edible consumption of cannabis, it’s a whole new ballgame compared to smoking. Find brands in your cannabis market that you like and are reliable. There are still a lot of ways to infuse edible products and they certainly are not all created equal. There is a range of folks in the market, from those who just want to sell their product to those who are working hard to provide superior edibles which use high quality ingredients, some are even crafted with the vegan community in mind. Start small, note your ingestion time and give it at least 45 minutes to an hour before you go back for the next bite. Talk to your bud tenders, tell them what experience or pain relief you are looking for and let them guide you to a trusted product. Last but certainly not least, don’t ever, ever, one more time, ever dose your friends with edible cannabis unbeknownst to them. While it may be funny to you, it can be a frightening experience and furthermore it may turn that individual off from the many wondrous benefits of cannabis. A few laughs for you isn’t worth potentially ruining someone’s perception of cannabis. Consume responsibly and if and when an edible does get the best of you, always remember: if you’re in too deep, lay down and go to sleep.
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