MsAds

Cannabis Edibles

The Friendly Guide

The Friendly Guide to Cannabis Edibles

When it comes to infusing food, the largest challenge for both amateur and professional chefs is making sure that you’ll feel the right sensations, yet also remember the meal afterward. We cannot deny that delicious food is a big part of why we want to eat and make cannabis edibles. But this page is about consuming and making cannabis infused food. If you’re looking for recipes, click here. This page is meant to help you discover the right amount of THC for your edibles and ensure you are comfortable with what you put into your body.

This guided tour through the theory of eating cannabis, edibles and THC infused foods is extensive but it is not complete. There are a few rabbit holes that we did not want to lead you down as we didn’t think they would be helpful to anyone who just wants to make better edibles. Things we skipped include: the endocannabinoid system; a deeper look at the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes and; all the reactions that go on during decarboxylation. There’s still a lot of information in these pages, if you read anything, we hope it will be our 4 Rules of Edibles we list at the very beginning. If you’re new to edibles, start small and see how you feel before taking more. You can always have more; it’ll be very difficult to have less. Happy eating.

 

The Rules of Cannabis

Not everyone needs to know everything. Not everyone has the time to read a couple thousand words. We’ve distilled our knowledge of edibles down to four clear rules

blue outline weed leaf icon

1. We are all special snowflakes

Everyone will react to cannabis in their own way. You may need a little, you may need a lot.
black oven icon great for cooking edibles

3. Decarb your weed

Cannabis needs to be “decarbed” to work. Chemicals in cannabis must be converted using heat to get THC.
red outline hat icon ready to cook with cannabis

2. Start small and work up

For your first few times, take a little (like 5mg THC) and work your way up to a lot. You can always eat more; it’s difficult to eat less.
black mixer icon to get perfect THC dispersion

4. Strap in, chill out

Edibles are not a quick trip, the effects can last 2-6 hours. Clear your schedule.

Eating Cannabis Infused Foods and Edibles

About Eating Cannabis

Cannabis edibles, or infused food, are treats, snacks and meals that have been infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or some other cannabinoid chemical like cannabidiol (CBD). There are many different types of cannabinoids that can be extracted from cannabis; however, it is THC that is of main interest since it has psychotropic effects that often give you a feeling of calm and euphoria. It is important to keep in mind that “psychotropic” does not mean “psychedelic”. Cannabis and THC can cause an intensification of ordinary sensory experiences which are often confused as hallucinations. THC does not cause psychedelic effects in a person, meaning they do not cause visual or auditory hallucinations. Although you may feel an altered state of consciousness and experience new perspectives on life, this is not considered to be a psychedelic effect, at least medically.

Edibles can be purchased from licensed businesses in ready-to-eat forms and more types are becoming available every day. If you’re not the type of person who eats take-out for every meal and you can navigate your way around a stove, then edibles are very easy to make at home too. While ready-to-eat edibles are convenient, the advantages of making your own infused food means you can ensure quality ingredients, variety of flavours and personalized dosing. Buying a pre-made edible means you’re stuck eating convenience store quality food with a level of THC that could be too strong or too weak.  In this guide, we’ll discuss what you need to know about edibles, what’s great about them, some important considerations and how to enjoy edibles at home.

Is It Different Than Smoking?

The most well-known way to get THC into your body has been smoking it or vaping it. When you inhale smoke or vapor, the active chemical enters the lungs, where it is absorbed by the alveoli and pass into the bloodstream. Your lungs have a lot of surface area for adsorption of THC and a rich blood supply enabling rapid onset and high bioavailability (more on these terms later). This translates into a quick delivery to your brain where THC works with endocannabinoid receptors to produce that ‘high’ feeling.  Through your lungs, absorption into the bloodstream occurs quickly, and the effects are felt anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. The experience typically would last between 1-3 hours but could be longer or shorter depending on the amount of cannabis that you consume.

Get the full text in a PDF eBook!

how THC travels through your body when you smoke it
THC that is inhaled through smoking or vaping first enters the lungs where it is rapidly absorbed into you blood stream and circulated through your body. Within seconds, THC reaches receptors in the brain that produce the feeling of enhanced well-being, relaxation and an intensification of ordinary sensory experiences. As time passes, the THC circulates through your system until it is metabolized out by your liver and kidneys. It takes several hours after your last puff to metabolize down to ineffective concentrations in your bloodstream. Some people may feel groggy or worn down after the whole experience, although that sensation disappears after some practice.

The story of eating cannabis is thematically similar, but it takes you on an entirely different journey. Smoking will hit you faster when compared to eating cannabis. Lungs to blood is very fast. You peak quicker and consequently it is out of your system quicker too. Even for a first time smoker of cannabis, there’s a pretty good chance that by hour 4 they will be feeling normal again.

The following graph shows data from a 2003 study that looked at the impact of THC depending on consumption method [1]. The plot shows us the subjective rating that test subjects provided the researchers over time for about 4 hours. For the smoking route, we clearly see the effect start within seconds to a few minutes, reach a maximum after 15–30 minutes, and taper off within 2–3 hours.
Plot of relative effect rating on THC consumption
After eating the cannabis, psychotropic effects set in with a delay of 30–90 minutes, reach their maximum after 2–3 hours and last for about 4–12 hours, depending on dose [1]. It’s important to keep that in mind when experimenting with edibles; you are committing yourself to an afternoon or evening of this experience, so it’s good to plan accordingly. Later in this section, we’ll go into details about why eating cannabis is so different, but the early message is that you should expect them to be different and treat them as such.

Bioavailability and Tolerance

Although we showed a nice graph for onset of effects, in reality it represents an average of many experiences. The variability can be fairly drastic between onset and peak feeling for different people. The cause for this variability isn’t intuitive either and has little to do with body weight or a person’s age. What causes the variability is something called bioavailability. This is a term that describes how two people can take the same amount of THC and hit their peak-blood concentrations at different times, as well as have a different intensity of experience. Bioavailability is closely linked to a person’s unique metabolism. Some people have a fast metabolism while others have a slow one. Metabolism isn’t consistent either. Just because you can crush a half-dozen cheeseburgers and not gain any weight doesn’t mean you’ll metabolize THC quickly too. How your body processes the things you ingest or inhale can change from substance to substance just as easily as it changes from person to person. Think about how your body reacts to drinking caffeine, eating sugary foods, drinking a glass of wine, getting sedated at the dentist or eating asparagus. You may feel the effects from all of these things instantly, or not at all. While many of us will react similarly, we know that they won’t all impact everyone the same.

Plot of relative effect rating on THC consumption
Bioavailability is best visualized in the data from a 1992 study that looked at the THC blood level after smoking a 0.5 gram cannabis pre-roll cigarette with 3.25% THC [2].

The six coloured lines represent different test subjects for this study and we can clearly see that despite the same method and amount of THC consumed, there are at least 4 distinct profiles of onset. But every person has a unique time of peak blood THC and/or overall level of THC in their blood. The only thing that is common to each person in this study is that by 4 hours, the THC had been scrubbed from their system by their liver.

Seemingly similar in practice is the concept of tolerance. Tolerance is the effect of requiring a higher dose of THC in order to feel high. Bioavailability and tolerance are separate forces at play. While the bioavailability of THC in your system might be large, you may have also built up a tolerance to THC, meaning that you do not feel the sense of well-being that anyone else with that same level of THC in their blood would expect. While bioavailability is inherent to your metabolism, tolerance is something that you can build up over time. The more you do it, the more you need to take to get the same effect. It is important to note that THC tolerance builds faster than tolerance to other substances like caffeine and it builds no matter if you’re smoking or eating it. Overtime you may find that you need to adjust the dosage to get the desired experience. A 5 mg edible may put you on the edge of your seat today, but within a few weeks of regular use, you could be demanding something with super-high potency to feel the same effect.

A person’s tolerance typically starts out low, but some may find that they have a natural resistance to THC’s psychotropic effects. While this is not the common experience, a natural tolerance to cannabis is still very normal. If it appears that cannabis doesn’t work for you, it may not be that you were doing it wrong or that the cannabis was bad. The explanation could be as simple as a high natural tolerance. If you’re interested in consuming cannabis and experiencing the relaxing new perspective that it brings, you may want to consider progressively increasing the amount of THC that you consume until you find an effective level. We strongly discourage you from drastically increasing the dose just to get it to work. Being overloading by the effects of cannabis is not pleasant. Whenever you’re trying something new, start small and see how you feel before taking more.

You can always take more, but it’s difficult to take less.
Personalize your THC infused food
Oil and butter making kit

Oil and Butter Infuser

Easily make edibles and infused foods at home once you’ve infused oil or butter with the Friendibles Oil and Butter Infuser. Quickly make treats with 1mg or 100mg… all while being more efficient with your cannabis.

Absorbed in Your Guts

We’ve been learning about how eating cannabis is so different than inhaling cannabis, now it’s time to get down to the why. The adsorption of food through your digestive tract depends on the nature of the food. Water and sugars are adsorbed rapidly in the stomach while carbs, proteins and fats need to breakdown further before they can be absorbed too. THC is no different. Cannabinoids dissolve in fats, and are adsorbed in the same places of your gut as fats and oils. Eating cannabis means it has to pass through your stomach and into your digestive tract, before being metabolized by your liver, pass into your blood stream, hit your brain and finally get you high.

The speed of absorption in the guts limits the onset of the effect from THC and is why it can take anywhere from 30 mins to 90 mins for some people to feel the effects of an edible But that doesn’t explain all of it. Adsorption of THC through your guts into your blood is a much slower, but more regulated process. This is why it takes so long to hit you and why the time can vary so much. If you consume an edible after a big meal, it will take even longer for it to work its way through your system. Think of it this way: empty stomach, faster onset, full stomach slower onset. Unfortunately, though, eating THC will never have as fast an onset as inhaling it.

 

 

how THC travels through your body when you eat it
Eating THC may mean a slower onset, but it also hits your system more evenly over a longer period of time, and why you stay high so damn long. The effects of an edible can last between 3 and 10 hours. While we can blame some of this on the way THC is absorbed into our bodies from edibles, a lot has to do with some extra chemistry that is going on.

Did we mention chemistry? Maybe you haven’t already been told, but raw cannabis doesn’t actually have much THC in it. Anyone who told you that they got high when they accidentally ate a bag of dried flower was lying to you, either about being high or about how much bud they ate. Raw cannabis flower has an infinitesimally small amount of THC in it, but it is full of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). When THCA is subjected to high heat, it decarboxylates (“decarb” for short) into Δ9-THC. When people talk about THC, what they mostly mean is the Δ9 version. Δ9-THC is psychoactive, but THCA is just flavouring for a bunch of plant fibre. The two oxygen atoms and hydrogen atom that come off of THCA in a decarb are the only difference between getting high and a pile of dung. This is a similar situation for most of the cannabinoids in cannabis, including CBD.

When THC is eaten, it is metabolized in your liver from its Δ9 form to another chemical in the THC family known as 11-OH THC, which is a much more potent version of the drug. Where you only get Δ9 from smoking, eating cannabis delivers a cocktail of 11-OH and Δ9 to your brain. Not only does 11-OH THC pass through the blood-brain barrier faster but it also possesses 3-7 times the psychoactivity of regular THC. That means it gets to your endocannabinoid receptors first and just puts the pedal to the floor. This more potent form of THC is why many people will describe their experience with edibles as more intense than when they smoke, especially if they are taking the same amount of THC. This isn’t a rule, there will be exceptions. Just because you have had a great time smoking cannabis doesn’t mean you’ll have a great time eating it and vice versa. Just because you have had a high tolerance when you smoke cannabis also doesn’t mean you’ll have a high tolerance for edibles. We must stress again that everyone should find their own sweet spot when it comes to effective levels of THC, whether you’re smoking or eating. Start with a little, work your way up to a lot. Working your way down from a lot will guarantee that you’re going to have a few terrible experiences.

With infused foods, it is extremely tempting to eat more while you wait for the effects to hit you. This is an easy trap to fall into, remember, the 11-OH THC is several times stronger than the smoking version of THC; meaning you don’t need to take as much to get the same effect. If you are tempted to eat more, you’ll likely end up being much, much higher and for longer than you wanted.

Making Cannabis Infused Foods and Edibles

Chemical reaction of decarboxylation for THCA to THC

Decarboxylation

Cannabis has a very potent taste and aroma. Putting it directly into your food will flavour it strongly like dried weed, but it doesn’t guarantee any THC infusion. The sublime effects of edibles can’t be achieved by eating cannabis raw. It is missing a very important step. Like we said before, that’s because raw flower doesn’t contain much THC, it has THCA. In order to get THCA to turn into THC, cannabis must be decarboxylated.

Decarboxylation is a fancy science word for a chemical reaction which removes a carboxylic acid (COOH) from THC, releasing carbon dioxide in the process. In the curious case of cannabis, decarboxylation turns THCA into the active ingredient THC. Drying or curing the cannabis can cause a small amount of decarboxylation to happen, but it’s still not very much.

Next time you buy some dried cannabis, just look on the packaging. It’s unlikely that there’s much more than 1% THC displayed on the label. But there’s a secondary number on the label, Total THC. This is the total THC + THCA amount determined by advanced chemical analysis. This number is required by government regulation and gives you the best idea of how potent the weed is. We have a fictional example from Health Canada cannabis package labelling requirements showing THC% and Total THC% [4]. The same values for CBD may also be displayed.

Health Canada cannabis package labelling requirements showing THC% and Total THC%
Decarboxylation starts at 90°C and is basically caused by applying heat over time [3, 5]. When you smoke or vape your bud, a high heat will cause the decarboxylation to happen almost instantly. Then, when you inhale the heated vapor or smoke, you feel it’s effects. Unfortunately, Total THC doesn’t translate directly into THC that you can realistically decarb and then consume. This is because there’s a chemical battle going on for your THC. At 85°C, THC starts to degrade into cannabinol (CBN) from oxidation. CBN is a super weak version of THC and makes you sleepy. At 157°C, THC evaporates and unless you’re constantly inhaling this means you’re losing it to the sky. One scientific study discussed in a report by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) observed that decarbing reached a peak THC concentration at 145°C after 7 minutes [3]. But after 40 minutes, half of that THC had been lost to degradation and evaporation. Going for a high decarb temperature is dangerous to your THC because you need very even heat distribution to get results like in these scientific studies. When you’re doing it at home, either in a bong or an oven, how can you guarantee that the middle of your bowl is the same temperature as the edges? Are you over converting one part while barely decarbing another? To visualize the relationship of time and temperature, we’ve reproduced a graph from the EIHA report on decarboxylation of THCA into THC below.
Complete decarboxylation of THCA into THC
What does this all mean for you? Take for example, 1.0 g of cannabis that has a Total THC content of 15% (or 150 mg/g). If you were to decarb perfectly, the maximum THC you could make is 150 mg. Perfect decarb means perfect heat distribution throughout the cannabis and no oxygen present in the air. This isn’t realistic for anyone. In real life, the cannabis is probably being smoked, but is it rolled, in a pipe or being vaporized in a Volcano? Every method has a different efficiency of converting the THCA into THC depending on the time and temperature relationship. Vaporizers are very controlled and are advertised by manufacturers to achieve up to 80% conversion efficiency [6]. For the 1.0g of 15% bud, that means you’re able to pull out 120 mg THC. Compare this to a joint or pipe where the burn temperature can be as high as 900°C [7]. Even if you’re practicing proper puff-puff-pass etiquette, you would be lucky to get a 50% efficiency and 75 mg THC.

 

To get the best decarb efficiency and extract your money’s worth of THC from the cannabis, you need to use appliance decarburization. Wait, “appliance”? That’s just another fancy term that essentially means the oven in your kitchen. With modern temperature control in convection ovens, you’re capable of achieving 80-90% efficiency in your decarb. There are some specialty appliances like the LEVO that claim you can get 100% recovery, but considering the scientific evidence we already discussed, that claim is hard to believe. Since the LEVO is not considered a medical device and doesn’t require US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approval, the manufacturer is not required to provide any data to back up their claim. Ignoring wonder-product claims that are too good to be true (and probably are), 80-90% THC recovery from cannabis is amazing, equaling or better than top-of-the-line vaporizers. With only your oven. Obviously, if you’re decarbing with your oven, you shouldn’t smoke or vape it afterward. Double decarbing is essentially the same thing as decarbing for too long or too hot. Appliance decarburization means one thing. You want to make edibles and eat your THC.

 

 

Here’s our recommended method of decarbing your cannabis

To decarb your bud, grind it up semi-finely so that all the pieces are about the same size and spread them out on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 220°F (~104°C). Bake it for 45 minutes (up to an hour if you’re feeling dangerous) and then let it cool. It’s that simple. We’ve verified the effectiveness of this method to be ~ 90% efficient using the combo testing kit available from CB Scientific. Fair warning, baking your cannabis can release a strong odour into your kitchen. If the smell makes you uncomfortable, we suggest you turn on the exhaust fan above the stove if you have one, or open a window.

If you easily understood all our talk about time and temperature, you can also try a considerably higher temperature and shorter amount of time. This could potentially allow you to preserve certain terpenes and secondary cannabinoids which would just evaporate away with longer times. This takes a lot of trial and error and we can’t provide any guidance on how much THC you’ll end up with.

 

Man grinding cannabis onto a baking sheet to be decarburized in an oven
Get the full text in a PDF eBook!

THC Extraction

You’ve successfully decarbed your cannabis, but unless you’re interested in crunching on cooked flower, you need to do an extraction to take the THC out. Ideally, you want to extract the THC into something more usable like butter, olive oil, coconut oil or duck fat. These things all have one important thing in common, they’re fats and oils. This is hugely important because all cannabinoids are hydrophobic. Hydrophobic means that cannabinoids (like THC) cannot dissolve into water, they will only dissolve in oils and fats. This is the same for terpenes too. THC will also dissolve into some organic liquids also like ethanol (a.k.a. drinking alcohol). The higher the proof the better. Spirits with 40% alcohol means that the other 60% is still water. Water that doesn’t want anything to do with cannabinoids. Getting THC to dissolve into alcohol is more complicated and takes some practice. We suggest focusing on butter or olive oil if you want to easily make great edibles and infused food. To make the next few sections simpler, we’ll only use the term butter, however you could substitute any other cooking oil or fat and still get great results. Cannabutter is a common term that you may already be familiar with, but it gets confusing if you’re not using butter. Canna-oil, canna-fat, it doesn’t always matter what it is, as long as it is THC infused. We prefer to use the universal term “Cooking Canna” to simplify communication, however since we said we’ll focus on butter, we’ll say “cannabutter” for familiarity.

Extracting THC from decarbed cannabis into butter
To extract THC, you need to soak the decarbed cannabis in the butter. Extracting THC from decarbed cannabis into butter is easiest in a double boiler where you can’t burn the butter or the THC. The cannabis is contained within a tea bag to make clean-up easier and to prevent any bits from lingering in the butter once the extraction is finished. Extracting THC can happen at room temperature as long as the oil or fat is liquid, otherwise a little heat may be required. You only want a little heat because you don’t want to double decarb. If you don’t have a specialty appliance, a double boiler is the most foolproof method of adding a little bit of heat to melt your butter. If you don’t have the parts to setup a double boiler, a small saucepan is good enough, but you might want to supervise the whole time to make sure you don’t boil or burn it. Doing an extraction this way is very similar to steeping tea. So similar in fact, that you could even use a metal tea steeper or fillable tea bags to make clean-up faster.
We return to the concept of time and temperature again for the extraction. You need to give the melted butter time to saturate all the decarbed cannabis bits and pull out the THC. If you have an oil that is already a liquid, this will take much longer at room temperature than it would with a little heat. Using the double boiler method, we suggest letting the cannabis steep in the butter for 1 hour. You could also let it soak in olive oil on the counter for 12 hours, kind of like cold-brew coffee. If you didn’t use a tea bag, you can either try to filter out the remaining bits, or just leave them there and be careful when you get to the bottom of the batch. To make dosing easier later, it’s a good practice to measure out exactly how much butter you’re going to use for the extraction.
We find that 0.5 cup (120 mL) of butter is easy to measure out and is a good amount for dilution into recipes.

Dosing THC into Food

By now you should have a THC infused butter (a.k.a. cannabutter). Now its time to figure out how much THC you want to eat in your food. A common mistake is to add all of the cannabutter into the recipe. Going back to our example of 1.0 g of 15% cannabis that we decarbed and then extracted, we would have 135 mg of THC concentrated into our half cup of butter. For some heavier cannabis users, or those with a higher natural tolerance, 135 mg of THC might be the perfect amount to add to a single meal or snack. But for many first timers and people who like to enjoy casually, 135 mg might incapacitate you for many hours. It’s not very enjoyable to have to settle for a nibble of a cannabis infused edible that is too strong. With some simple math, 135 mg THC in 120 mL means our butter has a THC concentration of 1.1 mg/mL. If you want to divvy this out using a kitchen scale or an eye dropper, that number might be meaningful, otherwise our preference is to convert it into a teaspoon basis (5mL), or 5.6 mg/tsp. Measuring spoons are much more common in the regular kitchen and a regular teaspoon is close enough in a pinch. Knowing this number, you can infuse 11 mg THC into your meal by adding 2 tsp of your cannabutter to your recipe. When you make a concentrated infusion, you will only need to add a small amount of it to cooking recipes for effective levels of THC. Based on the typical purchasing amounts of cannabis at 1.0 gram and 3.5 grams; we’ve put together a helpful chart to quickly approximate the concentration of your cannabutter by the teaspoon (when you’ve used 0.5 cup of butter for the extraction). If you prefer to be more precise with your dosing, try out our online THC and edibles calculator.

A quick reference dosing chart for infused fats and oils is shown below. The black numbers provide the approximate concentration of the infusion per teaspoon (5 mL). Find your teaspoon concentration by matching up the amount of cannabis (1.0g or 3.5g) that you used during extraction and the Total THC value of your cannabis. The chart requires that you have used 0.5 cup of fat or oil for your extraction.

 

Dose THC by the teaspoon
Knowing how much cannabutter to add to your recipe is only part of it. You also need to be conscious about when you’re adding it to your recipe. Infusing THC into your butter, fat or oil instantly makes it “delicate” if it wasn’t already. Delicate refers to the inability of the fat or oil to withstand heat without burning or losing flavour. Examples of delicate fats and oils are: butter, hemp seed oil, flaxseed oil and sesame oil. Infused oils instantly become delicate not because they’ll be easier to burn or will lose flavour, but because you don’t want to lose the THC. We’ve mentioned the term “double decarb” a couple times before. This is where you’re destroying or losing the THC when you subject your cannabutter to high temperatures a second time. If you want to get the best utility from your infused butter, you should avoid adding it to high temperature cooking methods like BBQing, frying or sauté. Most baking will not impact the THC, but you should also avoid roasting or broiling. That doesn’t mean that you can’t infuse fried or roasted food. Do your high temperature cooking first with regular cooking oil. Add the cannabutter to the hot food after its cooked, either letting it slowly melt and smother your food, or mix it in for a better THC distribution.

The final consideration when properly dosing edibles and infused foods is portioning. Sure, you have proficiently decarbed your cannabis and extracted the THC into a half cup of butter. You’ve also successfully figured out how strong the cannabutter is by the teaspoon and you want to have about 10 mg of THC in each “serving”. If you’re just feeding yourself and you’ve only made one serving, you need 2 tsp of the cannabutter. But what happens when you’re feeding 4 people and your recipe caused you to make 6 servings? The answer will depend on what you’ve made. Some things are inherently portioned, like cookies or candies. You divide out the recipe as a requirement to make each piece. In this case you would add all of the required cannabutter to the master batch already knowing how many portions (or servings) the recipe will create. This scenario has been detailed out in Example 1 in the next section.

Maybe your recipe isn’t inherently portioned but its very easy to portion the food out evenly. Things like soup, cake or pie might fall into this category where its very straight forward to serve out 1 cup of soup per person, or cut the cake into 8 evenly-sized pieces. This scenario has been detailed out in Example 2 in the next section.

The most difficult food to do THC dosing well are items that you need to measure out separately and pre-portion. This is essentially anything where you could not add the cannabutter from the start. This might happen if you wanted to use a high temperature method like grilling on the BBQ (burgers) or if there’s no cooking at all (salad). This scenario has been detailed out in Example 3 in the next section.

Choose your own THC strength
Cannabis Infuser

Oil and Butter Infuser

It’s time to choose your own strength. Personalize the concentration of THC in your infusion and infused foods. Simple and effective for both beginners and experienced users.

Dosing Examples

 

 

Example 1 – Inherently portioned food (ex. cookies)

When you make cookies, recipes should always advertise how many cookies you can expect to make. Our recommended cookie recipe makes 24.

Cannabis properties for dosing example 1
Concentration of infusion after extraction into ½ cup of unsalted butter: 17 mg THC per teaspoon (using the quick dosing chart for 3.5g of 13% THC cannabis)

To get 5 mg THC in each cookie for our recipe that makes 24 cookies, we need 120 mg THC (24 cookies × 5 mg). To get 120 mg THC from our cannabutter, we need 7 teaspoons (120 mg THC ÷ 17 mg THC / tsp).

Don’t just add all of this extra butter to your recipe. Substitute normal butter for how much cannabutter you need to add. E.g. recipe calls for ½ cup normal, unsalted butter. Take out 7 tsp and replace it with 7 tsp of cannabutter.

Example 2 – Easy to portion food (soup)

A good recipe should tell you how many servings will be made, either in some measurable unit like cups, or by a relative unit like “servings”. Gourmet or ‘rich’ versions of a cream soup recipe will call for heavy cream as an ingredient. Heavy cream is a prime candidate to extract THC into. Imagine you are making a cream of broccoli soup that requires ½ cup of heavy cream and makes 6 servings.

Cannabis properties for dosing example 2
Concentration of infusion after extraction into ½ cup of heavy whipping cream: 8 mg THC per teaspoon (using the quick dosing chart for 1.0g of 21% THC cannabis)

To get 10 mg in each serving of soup, we need to add 60 mg THC (6 × 10 mg) to the entire 6-serving recipe. To get 60 mg THC from the infused cream, we need 7.5 teaspoons (60 mg THC ÷ 8 mg THC / tsp).

We can either substitute the infused cream from the amount of regular cream that recipe asks for, or we can just add the infused cream on top of the ½ cup of regular heavy cream. The extra cream in this case won’t make any significant change to the texture or flavour of the soup. In cream soups, the cream is typically blended into the recipe near the end of cooking because heavy cream is already sensitive to heat.

Example 3 – Pre-portioning food (hamburger)

Figuring out the servings for hamburgers is pretty simple; one patty + one bun = one serving. A great trick for something like a sandwich or hamburger is to add the THC infusion as a topping or a spread. Don’t bother trying to put it into the meat. In this example, we’ll make 5 infused hamburgers.

Cannabis properties for dosing example 3
Concentration of infusion after extraction into ½ cup of olive oil: ~23.5 mg THC per teaspoon (we had to approximate using the quick dosing chart for 3.5g of 18% THC cannabis. Cannabis with 18% Total THC lines up just over halfway towards “25” from “21” on the 3.5g track.)

To get 9 mg THC in a hamburger, we need to add 45 mg THC (5 burgers × 9 mg THC) using our 23.5 mg/tsp infused oil and we’ll need to pre-portion it out. Add 2 tsp of the infused olive oil to 2 tbsp of mayonnaise and whip it together. The mayonnaise is now infused with 47 mg THC. Divide up the mayonnaise into 5 equal portions (47mg THC ÷ 5 = 9.4 mg THC). Spread one portion of mayonnaise onto the toasted buns of each hamburger. After you add the burger patty and the other toppings, you now have 5 hamburgers that are infused with ~9.4 mg THC. Since you’ve already toasted the buns and cooked the patty, the infused mayonnaise won’t see any extra heat and the THC will be left intact.

Turning a low dose into a high dose

Start low, go slow is the mantra often repeated by government and the cannabis industry but rarely do they provide useful context. If you find out that you have a natural tolerance, or if you’re a heavy cannabis user already, starting low doesn’t do anything for you so there’s no choice but to go slow, or not at all. Taking a recipe that calls for a low dose of THC and turning it into a recipe with a high dose of THC is straight forward. There are three methods to easily increase the amount of THC in your edibles recipe.

Option 1

Increase the amount of cannabutter that you add to the recipe. In example 1, if we substitute more of the regular butter with the cannabutter, we’ll end up with stronger cookies.

Option 2

Choose a more potent strain of cannabis. In example 1, if we choose a strain of cannabis with 25% Total THC instead of the one with 13%, we would have cannabutter that is 33 mg THC per teaspoon. That’s almost double!

Option 3

Decarb and extract more cannabis into your infusion. In example 2, we only extracted THC from 1.0 g of cannabis. If we increased that to 3.5 g of cannabis, the heavy cream we extracted into would have ~27.5 mg THC per teaspoon. That would increase the dose in each serving to 35 mg THC from 10.

Home Grown Cannabis

Knowing the potency of cannabis that you buy at the store is easy. It says right on the label. But what if you’re growing your own, you would have to get it tested to know what the Total THC value of your home-grow bud is. Not only that but potency is known to vary from plant to plant, even if it’s the same strain. To be precise, you would need to get each batch tested, which can be expensive and a hassle. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet to be able to do precise THC dosing in edibles with home-grow flower. The best we can suggest is a qualitative assessment based on how potent you think the cannabis is when you consume it. We know that not a great method, but if that’s all you have, that’s all you have. In our experience, a “weak” home-grow could contain anywhere from 3 – 10% THC, a “medium” potency home-grow could have between 10 – 20% THC and a “strong” home-grow bud would probably have more than 20% THC. A glance at the quick dose chart tells us that an error margin of ± 5% THC is a huge swing in the potency of cannabutter. We strongly advise against using home-grown cannabis with an unknown potency to make edibles for first timers and anyone who is not intimately aware of their tolerance for THC.

References

[1]         F. Grotenhermen, “Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Cannabinoids,” Clinical Pharmacokinectics, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 327-360, 2003.
[2]        M. A. Huestis, J. E. Henningfield and E. J. Cone, “Blood Cannabinoids. I. Absorption of THC and Formation of 11-OH-THC and THCCOOH During and After Smoking Marijuana,” Journal of Analytical Toxicology, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 276-282, 1992.
[3]        K. Iffland, M. Carus and F. Grotenhermen, “Decarboxylation of Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) to active THC,” Europena Industrial Hemp Association, Hurth, 2016.
[4]        Health Canada, “Cannabis Regulations SPR2018-144 Section 90(1),” 2018.
[5]        WangMei, WangYan-Hong, AvulaBharathi, M. RadwanMohamed, S. WanasAmira, v. AntwerpJohn, F. ParcherJon, A. ElSohlyMahmoud and A. KhanIkhlas, “Decarboxylation Study of Acidic Cannabinoids: A Novel Approach Using Ultra-High-Performance Supercritical Fluid Chromatography/Photodiode Array-Mass Spectrometry,” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 262-271, 2016.
[6]        C. Lanz, J. Mattsson, U. Soydaner and R. Brenneisen, “Medicinal Cannabis: In Vitro Validation of Vaporizers for the Smoke-Free Inhalation of Cannabis,” PLOS ONE, vol. 11, no. 1, 2016.
[7]        R. R. Baker, “Temperature distribution inside a burning cigarette,” Nature, vol. 247, no. 5440, pp. 405-406, 1974.
Get the full text in a PDF eBook!