Marijuana was used as medicine in ancient China and India and was introduced to Western medicine in the early 19th century. Edible applications, such as tinctures, were prescribed to treat various conditions, from chronic pain to digestive disorders.
Edible marijuana products were also used to relieve stress and induce euphoria, similar to alcohol.
Bhang, a beverage made from a mixture of the leaves and flowers of marijuana plants, has been consumed for centuries during religious festivals, such as Holi, a Hindu festival of love and color.
In the United States, recreational use of edible marijuana products became popular during the 1960s, and today, many different types of edibles are available, both legally and illegally, depending on state laws.
For example, gummies, candies, chocolates, capsules, teas, and oils are some of the edible marijuana products sold in both legal marijuana dispensaries and through the illegal marijuana market.
Edibles enthusiasts also make their own weed products by infusing butter or oil with marijuana and mixing it into baked goods and other recipes.
Potential side effects and downsides of eating weed
Though edible marijuana products may benefit many conditions, some potential adverse effects may occur.
The main issue with edible marijuana products is that it can be very difficult to determine an appropriate dosage. Concentrations of THC vary widely depending on different factors, such as where the product was made and the quality of the marijuana used.
Additionally, unlike smoking weed, edible marijuana products have a long latency period, meaning it can take a while — sometimes hours — for it to take effect.
When marijuana is smoked, THC reaches the brain and takes effect within a few minutes. The effects peak at around 20–30 minutes after smoking and begin to wear off within 2–3 hours.
In contrast, the psychoactive effects of edibles usually take 30–90 minutes to kick in. The high feeling lasts much longer and typically peaks at about 2–4 hours after ingestion.
The effects of edibles can last for many hours, depending on how much was ingested, as well as your body weight, metabolism, gender, and other factors.
The combination of the highly variable THC concentration and the long latency period of edible marijuana products makes them very easy to unintentionally overconsume, which can lead to unwanted symptoms, such as paranoia and impaired motor ability.
Additionally, though rare, there have been instances of cannabis-induced psychosis, a condition usually related to overconsumption of edible marijuana products that results in symptoms like paranoid delusions, extreme sedation, hallucinations, and confusion.
Other side effects related to edible marijuana products include dry mouth, sleepiness, and changes in visual perception.
Edible marijuana products can also interact with alcohol and certain medications, including blood thinners and antidepressants. Therefore, you should avoid consuming edibles with these products.
Another concern is that edible marijuana products often resemble regular candies, cookies, and other baked goods, posing a risk for children, pets, and other adults.
In fact, between 2005 and 2011, marijuana-related calls to U.S. poison control centers increased by 30% per year in states that decriminalized marijuana. Many of these calls were related to accidental ingestion of edible marijuana products.
Is eating weed safer than smoking it?
Though smoking weed is not often considered harmful, research has shown that inhaling marijuana smoke can negatively impact health, similar to cigarette smoke.
Both cigarette and marijuana smoke contain toxins, such as ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that may damage your lungs and increase your cancer risk.
Currently, some research shows a weak link between smoking weed and certain types of cancer.
Yet, scientists emphasize that it’s unclear whether or to what extent smoking marijuana influences cancer risk, as many available studies are of low quality, and confounding variables, such as cigarette smoking, affect study results.
Smoking weed has also been associated with lung inflammation, bronchitis, and even impaired brain function.
In contrast, edible marijuana products have not been shown to negatively affect lung health or cancer risk.
Therefore, if you’re concerned about the possible health risks associated with smoking weed, you may want to use edible marijuana products as an alternative.
However, because most marijuana research focuses on smoking weed, the long-term health implications of consuming edibles are still unknown.
Nevertheless, ingesting marijuana is likely safer than smoking it.
Will Raw Weed Get You High?
If you were hoping to get high after eating some raw flower, you’re in for a disappointment. Raw weed will not get you high. To understand why, you have to be familiar with a little bit of cannabis chemistry.
Cannabis is full of naturally-occurring chemicals called cannabinoids. When you consume and metabolize weed, these compounds enter your body and interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system.
These interactions trigger all sorts of activity and changes in your body, affecting things like mood, appetite, sleep, pain perception and much more.
The sensation of being high is one of these effects. But you’ll only feel that way if your body gets active THC, and as it turns out, raw cannabis doesn’t actually have THC readily available.
Instead, raw cannabis contains the non-psychoactive cannabinoid THCA. Interestingly, when cannabis is exposed to heat, the THCA is converted into “active” THC, which then makes you feel high.
This process is called “decarboxylation.” This is exactly what happens when you ignite bud, or when you heat it to the point of vaporizing. It’s also why before an edible can get you high, the weed must at some point be decarboxylated.
But when you eat raw weed, this crucial step is missing. As a result, all you’re getting is THCA, not THC, which means you won’t get high.
What Happens When You Eat Raw Weed?
If you’re dead set on eating raw weed, don’t worry. Although you won’t get high from eating raw weed, you still may get other health benefits from eating some leafy green.
In fact, a growing number of people claim that eating raw cannabis can be a great way to access the therapeutic and health benefits of cannabinoids without experiencing any of the psychoactive effects.
Dr. William Courtney is one of the leading proponents of consuming raw cannabis. He believes that ingesting the plant raw is one of the healthiest ways to consume it.
“I believe this plant, having evolved over millions of years, is put together to support that system. It’s clear that this plant is incredibly important for cell health, which at its best prevents disease.”
Courtney regularly recommends raw cannabis to his patients. To date, he said he’s encouraged somewhere around 8,000 patients to give it a shot. And so far, he’s reported positive outcomes.
“My experience day in and day out is overwhelmingly positive with patients who are using it,” he said.
Juicing Is Best
For many people interested in the health benefits of raw cannabis, juicing is the best option. This approach allows you to get all the cannabinoids and other vitamins and minerals contained in the plant without having to process the fibrous plant matter, which can be difficult to digest.
Many people say it also tastes much better, especially when you mix your cannabis juice with other juice or add it to a smoothie.
Additionally, if you mix your cannabis juice with other healthy, vitamin-rich fruits or vegetables, you can give yourself a super-charged health drink.
To juice raw cannabis, you’ll obviously need a juicer and raw, un-decarboxylated weed. Fortunately, you can juice every part of the cannabis plant, buds, leaves, and all.
Roughly chop your plant matter and add it in batches to the juicer. From there, add whatever other fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens you’d like and enjoy.