Edible cannabis products — food items that have been infused with cannabis extracts — are now legally available for sale in Ontario. We look at how they work, the pros and cons of consumption, and what to consider when shopping for these products.
- Edible cannabis products are now legal to produce, sell and purchase in Ontario.
- Edibles are a smoke-free alternative to consuming dried cannabis.
- Because it has been reported that the onset time to feel the effects of edibles is typically longer than when inhaling cannabis, there is a greater chance for overconsumption.
It’s now legal to produce, sell and purchase edible cannabis products in Ontario, but what exactly are edibles? Here’s a rundown of what they are and how they work in the body, the ways they differ from other forms of cannabis, the pros and cons for using them and what to consider when shopping.
What Are Edibles?
Edible cannabis products are foods and drinks, such as brownies or beverages, that have been infused with cannabis extracts, or concentrates, all of which contain active ingredients such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
How Do They Work?
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, THC and other active ingredients in edible cannabis products are absorbed into the body through the digestive tract. They enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver, where they are metabolized and released back into the bloodstream. These active ingredients then enter the brain and the rest of the central nervous system, potentially producing an effect.
How Are Edibles Different from Other Types of Cannabis?
The main difference between edibles and other forms of cannabis is in how the body processes the active ingredients. It has been reported that when cannabis extract is ingested, it can produce effects that are similar to those experienced when cannabis flower is smoked or vaped. When cannabis is inhaled, its THC is absorbed by the blood in the lungs and moves quickly to the brain, producing an almost immediate effect, possibly within minutes. However, when cannabis is digested, the effects will likely be delayed — from 30 minutes to 4 hours or more. It can take up to 4 hours to feel the full effects.
As with consumption of any form of cannabis, the intensity and longevity of the effects depend on many factors, such as your weight and gender, how much food you’ve eaten that day and how quickly your metabolism works.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Consuming Edibles?
Because the onset of effects can be delayed, there is the potential for overconsumption when ingesting edibles. To minimize the risk of consuming too much, start with a very small amount (2.5 mg of THC or less), especially if you are trying a new product, and wait at least 2 hours to see how it affects your body.
The effects may also be stronger and last longer when cannabis is consumed (12 hours or more) rather than inhaled (six hours or longer). However, edibles are a smoke-free alternative to inhaling dried cannabis, which can come with potential risks to lung health.
What to Consider When Shopping for Edibles
Before you purchase an edible product, read the label or the information available on the product page at OCS.ca so you know how much THC and CBD it contains. If you are trying edibles for the first time, choose a product with a low level of THC or a high amount of CBD, which can counter the unpleasant effects of THC. Learn more about the potency and safety of edibles here.