You’ve probably been warned to be very careful with THC-infused brownies and cookies, and you may even have a THC-infused gummy pack on your nightstand right now, but there are ways to make even the most elegant, Michelin-star-level dishes infused, too. The growing legalization of marijuana is allowing chefs and at-home bakers alike to expand their knowledge of edibles. Whether you’re brand-new to the world of weed, have had brief experiences with it, or regularly visit a dispensary, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about edibles. And if you’re a cannabis veteran, sit tight as we review some basics.  

Lesson 1: Cannabis Strains

When choosing a strain of cannabis to purchase, you may need to consider what effect you're trying to achieve. The three major strains include indica, sativa, and hybrid. Indica strains, according to Leafly, cause sleepiness, help with relaxation, and stimulate hunger.

Conversely, sativa strains are described as “energizing,” allowing users to experience a high and function throughout the day while working, hanging out with friends, and the like.

Finally, as one can assume, hybrid strains incorporate both sides of indica and sativa. If this sounds daunting, fear not! Budtenders at your local dispensary can help you find the right strain for you.

Lesson 2: THC vs. CBD

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both cannabinoids — the fancy word for the chemicals found in the cannabis plant — but serve different purposes when consumed.

CBD, which does not contain psychoactive elements, is often used to aid in sleep, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and in medical settings, to help with pain. Beyond CBD gummies and even sparkling water brands, this widely-legal cannabinoid is readily found in beauty products and even pet treats.

THC, however, is a legally tricky little guy. Some states offer full recreational use, while others only permit medical use, and even still, a handful of states criminalize its use. All in all, THC is the chemical that causes the psychoactive high that is readily displayed by the likes of the That ‘70s Show characters, Harold and Kumar, and almost any Seth Rogen character ever created. It can cause everything from a relaxed sensation where you just happen to get a major Doritos craving, all the way to complete euphoria. For some, THC can cause feelings of anxiety and irritability, especially if you eat a bit too much of an edible.

Lesson 3: What is an edible?

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Whether you’re infusing cannabis into a batch of Duncan Hines brownies or buying a pack of THC gummies to microdose, edibles combine an array of science and flavor to offer a completely unique high.

Unlike smoking cannabis, which quickly acts when passed from your lungs to your bloodstream to your brain, eating cannabis takes a very long time to act as it is processed in the liver. “Anything that you're gonna actually eat, chew, swallow [goes] through your digestive tract to be converted in your liver,” said Rachel Burkons, a plant connoisseur and founder of Altered Plates Hospitality, a cannabis fine-dining experience brand. “The THC is going to be converted in your liver to a more potent compound called 11-hydroxy-THC.”

Since your body is metabolizing this like it would any food, the high lasts longer and may feel more intense, rather than quickly passing through your bloodstream. So eat up, but be careful about the amount you take if you’re new to the world of weed and edibles.

Lesson 4: Dosing

Ever heard of the term “greening out?” It refers to having too much cannabis and leading you to feel sick or super anxious, unable to remember or focus, and can even lead to mild hallucinations. If you start greening out, make sure you have a friend nearby, drink tons of water, and lie down.

Leafly, the leading digital legal cannabis marketplace, has a handy dandy little dosage chart for new and veteran users to determine what amount is best for them. THC mints are often the best little treat for microdosing at around 1 to 2.5 milligrams per candy. Additionally, it’s recommended to bite a corner of a gummy before eating the whole thing when experimenting or trying a new brand.

Photo via Leafly

“Finding a product that you like and a dosing that works for you can take some experimentation, so be patient and start small. It is usually suggested that you wait one to two hours for the full effect,” said Raw Garden co-founder Khalid Al-Naser. “Edibles can be a great entryway into cannabis for new users, as they offer precise doses. If you feel like you want more of an effect, try increasing your doses in small increments.”

#SpoonTip: You are not invincible, do not eat a whole edible if you don’t know how it will impact you.

Lesson 5: THC Gummies

Gummies may be the best way to dip your toes into the world of edibles, as they may be easiest to dose. These are easily accessible at your local dispensary or vape store and offer a wide range of dosing options.

Gummies serve a variety of purposes, whether it’s to relax after a long day of work, alleviate pain, reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, or facilitate better sleep.

Photo via Raw Garden

“Many people find that cannabis edibles can provide a consistent and reliable way to consume cannabis for those people who are looking for a repeatable, controllable experience,” Al-Naser said.

Lesson 6: Cooking with THC

Okay, so you’ve read all the basics and are ready to get baked by cooking and baking.

“There are so many different ways that you can make infused foods, and it's really, really simple,” Burkons said. “If you're lucky enough to live in a legal market, it's really easy to make your own edibles even with just a store-bought tincture [cannabis-infused liquid]. So, it doesn't have to be this big scary thing once you go through the educational process.”

One thing to remember when making any baked dishes at home is that cannabinoids are hydrophobic. “That's why you end up making things like butters and oils because the cannabinoids bind really easily to those substances,” Burkons explained.

She recommends adding oils to your coffee, cocktail foam, or sour cream (you were probably going to eat Taco Bell, anyway). You could even stir a little infused oil into your Cacio e Pepe.

Lesson 7: Baking with THC

Laurie Wolf, cannabis enthusiast, cookbook author, and founder of Laurie + MaryJane, considers herself an expert on baking edibles. Between at-home baking and pre-made goods, there is a whole creative array of treats to try. All you have to do is make sure not to keep your heat too high or your precious cannabinoids will disappear.

“Let's say you wanted to make cream puffs, and you bake them at 425º F. What I would do is infuse the fillings,” Wolf explained.

You can also have a milkshake or smoothie with an infusion for an after-dinner treat, too. “A blender is a great way to emulsify or incorporate,” she said. “So, if you're making a smoothie, and you want to put a teaspoon or two of your infused coconut oil, there won't be separation.”

Photo via Laurie + MaryJane

Laurie + MaryJane offer a wide array of 4/20-friendly sweets across Oregon including cookies, truffles, fudge, gummies, brownies, cake bites, and beyond. 

If you’re living in a state where cannabis is recreationally legal, you may be able to stop at a cannabis bakery or ice cream spot, too. For example, a trip to Chicago’s Wake-N-Bakery may or may not make you feel more chilled out all day.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Wolf offers an array of at-home cookbooks that will guide you through various infusion recipes you can make in your own kitchen, including these lovely brownies.

Photo via Laurie Wolf

Cannabis remains a federally illegal substance in the United States. Possession and consumption depend on your state of residence and your age. Only consume cannabis if you are of legal age and in a state where possession and consumption is legal. The intoxifying effects of cannabis can be delayed and you should not consume cannabis if driving or operating machinery. The information provided in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only, the accuracy of which has not been.