We’ve come a long way since the pot brownies of your dorm days. Thank goodness. In fact, the entire U.S. edibles market is projected to reach $3.4 billion by 2022, according to BDS Analytics, a cannabis research firm.
But it’s easy for beginning canna-consumers to get confused about what to buy and how to achieve a safe and pleasant high. To help you sort things out, we recruited renowned cannabis chef Laurie Wolf, founder of the Oregon-based edibles company Laurie + MaryJane. In addition to authoring four cookbooks on the subject, Wolf has won multiple awards at the prestigious Oregon Dope Cup (wouldn’t you love to have that trophy on your mantle?) and is popularly known as the “Martha Stewart of Marijuana Edibles.”
Wolf points out that there are many advantages to eating cannabis, including not having to inhale smoke. Plus, it’s more convenient and discrete. Gummies are the top-selling edible for both those reasons, accounting for 39% of all ingestible dollar sales in California, Colorado, and Oregon through the first four months of 2019. “You can pop an edible anywhere without anyone knowing,” says Wolf.
But there is one potential drawback to eating cannabis, and that is the issue of potency. While smokers usually notice weed’s effects within a few minutes, eaters can wait 45 minutes to three hours before feeling anything, says Wolf. This digestive lag time can be problematic for the impatient and inexperienced. “I find that an edibles’ high lasts considerably longer, too, usually four to six hours,” she adds. “And the feeling is more holistic; it’s a sense of well-being throughout my body rather than just in my head.”
“If after a while you feel a little high and it’s pleasant, stop there. If you don’t feel anything, don’t immediately eat more because you can get really fucked up.” — Laurie Wolf, founder of Laurie + MaryJane
For these reasons, be extra attentive to the potency of the weed and how much of it you’re eating. “Start super low, between 2.5 mg and 5 mg per serving,” says Wolf. “If after a while you feel a little high and it’s pleasant, stop there. If you don’t feel anything, don’t immediately eat more because you can get really fucked up. To find your perfect dose, it’s better to wait until the next night and eat 10 mg, but no more.” Keep adding 5 mg each night until you find your sweet spot, which Wolf points out, is different for everyone regardless of body type.
Here are some other pro tips from Wolf:
• Buy edibles from a reputable company and dispensary: Insist on having complete and accurate ingredient information, especially the potency per serving.
• Use full- or broad-spectrum products: Wolf says these are generally made the “old-fashioned way,” by decarboxylating buds without chemical solvents in a low-temperature oven. This method activates the THC while preserving the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils. This delivers all the therapeutic benefits of cannabis—the so-called “entourage effect.”
• Don’t overheat cannabis: Never cook above 340º F, says Wolf. High temperatures destroy the terpenes. “So if you’re making cookies that would normally be baked at 375º, cook them longer but don’t go over 340º,” she explains.
• Infuse your accoutrements: Say you’re making cream puffs, pizza, or a Caesar salad. Instead of trying to incorporate cannabis in the entire item, which is challenging, infuse just the cream, pizza toppings, or croutons. Wolf sautés her croutons in cannabis-infused butter or oil, and lets her dinner guests choose if they want to sprinkle some on or not. (To calculate the potency of butter/oil infusions, use our handy THC calculator, which will tell you how many milligrams you'll get per serving: www.thenaturx.com/calculator.)
• Spice it up: Cannabis has a distinctive taste, which Wolf admits many people don’t like. To disguise it, be prepared to add more flavor, be it cinnamon to baked goods or pepperoni to that pizza.
• Sip smart: Marijuana beverages are also a growing part of the edibles market, ranging from infused waters to teas, cocoa, and bevies. The same cautions apply here, with the additional caveat of never mixing alcohol and cannabis.
• Anticipate the munchies: That’s right. Even though you’re eating, you may still get hungry. “I tried a strain the other day that was crazy,” says Wolf. “I could have eaten my cat.” So plan for the munchies by getting rid of those Girl Scout mint cookies in your pantry and having healthy choices at hand. “When you’re high, a lot of things that normally may not taste great become like, ‘Wow, I had no idea lettuce was this good!’” she adds.