Everything you should know about buying edibles

Despite the perks, edibles tend to occupy a divisive corner of the cannabis world. Not only do brands struggle to comply with soul-shattering legal and political scrutiny like dosing caps, ingredient restrictions, and child-proof packaging laws, the edibles themselves don’t exactly have the best reputation with novice users

Deep down, there’s a sense of fear that surrounds the use of edibles, spurred by countless Maureen-Dowd-esque horror stories from confused newbies who accidentally ingested way too high a dose, and were then locked into navigating an unmanageable high for an uncomfortable amount of hours. 

What these people don’t know, it seems, is that edibles have come a LONG way from the magic brownie space cakes of yesteryear. In fact, edibles are technically the safest way to control the level of your high, with their extremely clear dosing restrictions and growing focus on microdoseable products. 

In hopes of clearing the antiquated stigma that’s tainted people’s perception of a really great way to experience cannabis, here is our guide to everything you should know about buying edibles.

Introduction to edibles

Prior to 2016, Prop 64, and the veritable dismantling of the edibles industry, the edibles market was a very different place. Funky mom and pop brands regularly rolled out fun products like dosed ice creams, 1000 milligram coffee cakes, cannabis lattes, and anything else you could possibly concoct. Creativity flowered as these little companies branded their magic products in wild packaging. It was a beautiful time. 

Flash forward to now, none of those brands exist. Along with legality came a slew of restrictions on edibles in California, namely a 10 milligram per serving dosage cap, a ban on any products with dairy or that require refrigeration, and packaging laws stringent enough to deflate any marketing team’s attempts at artful presentation. 

The edibles market today is made up of a handful of brands that managed to weather the storm and is mitigated mostly to products that fall into the following three categories: chocolates or caramels, baked goods, and gummies or hard candy. 

What dose works best for you? 

Nothing is more important than dosing when it comes to choosing an edible, especially for those nervous about getting too high. To better understand dosing, let’s cover the main types of edible doses you’ll encounter: 

Microdose: 1 milligram — 5 milligrams THC

Microdosing is the key for novice users looking to explore the world of edibles. These products, like Kiva’s Petra Mints and Dosies Sublimes, offer 1 milligrams — 5 milligrams of THC per serving, making it virtually impossible to take too much when following instructions. 

The most prominent trend in the edibles of today, microdosing is about feeling good, not getting obliterated. They’re great for productive workdays, family obligations, first dates, and anything else where you want to take the edge off yet remain focused. Start with 2.5 milligrams of THC and work your way up SLOWLY, meaning every 2 hours adding to the dose if you feel so inclined. If you’re completely new to cannabis, not just edibles, start with 1 milligram of THC. 

Medium Dose: 5 milligrams —10 milligrams THC

This level of dosing is great for anyone comfortable with being a bit stoned. Blurring the line between wellness tools and recreational pot products, medium-dose edibles like CHILL Chocolates are for getting high enough to feel distinctly, well, high, without feeling like you’re out of control. Great for hanging out with friends, going to a concert, hiking, and all those kinds of activities we can’t partake in for a while. 

Macrodose: Anything above 10 milligrams THC

Stoner psychonauts, assemble! Macrodosing is reserved for people who are extremely familiar with getting high, and extremely familiar with the high of edibles in particular. Under no circumstances should a person new to edibles take a dose over 10 milligrams. If you’re not new to edibles, however, Punch Edibles and Madame Munchie are great go-tos for an extra-terrestrial experience.  

What makes a good edible?

Now that we’ve mastered the art of dosing, it’s time to talk about what to look for when you’re choosing an edible to buy. What makes one edible better than another seemingly similar product? There are two main factors at play here.

  • The first, and perhaps most important, is the ingredients. Though it’s easy to get blinded by persuasive budtenders and cute packaging, always check the ingredients on an edible. If you can’t pronounce what’s in it, don’t put it in you.
  • The second factor to look at is price point. When it comes to edibles, you get what you pay for. If a product seems unusually affordable, there’s a reason it’s so cheap. To ensure a fun trip, spring for a quality product. A higher price means better ingredients, better weed and thus, a better high. 

How to save money on edibles

The best way to save money on edibles is to make them yourself. While the process may seem daunting, it’s actually quite simple, and can be a lot of fun.  

While there are a million recipes for cannabutter online, some brands have taken the work out of baking with cannabis with products like Heavenly Sweet’s 2000mg THC butter, Madame Munchies 100mg THC peanut butter or chocolate hazelnut spread, and Vireo’s infused olive oil.  

If you’re the DIY type, or just find yourself unusually bored in isolation, there are also machines like the LEVO Oil and MagicalButter that can weedify any carrier (like oil, butter, honey, etc.) with the mere push of a button. These devices are life-changing, and sure to open a whole world of weed-infused DIY products to spice up your lifestyle. 

4 Tips for Maximizing Cannabinoid Distillation

Separating cannabis extracts into their component molecules is a nuanced process. Here’s how to optimize results.

Components of the refinement process can cause isomerization during distillation. To mitigate this, it’s important to refine extracts prior to distillation.

Cannabis extraction and refinement create different raw materials for formulation. They are critical processes that separate cannabis extracts into their component molecules. Cannabinoid distillation is a particularly complex stage of the extraction and refinement process that involves a nuanced interplay among component boiling points, heat and vacuum. 

Here are some tips and tricks producers can use in their distillation protocols to optimize their results. 

1. Aim for highly refined and clean material. 

Limit the number of substances that interact during the distillation process and components that can negatively affect the performance of the equipment. For example, certain fatty acids have boiling points near cannabinoids and will often polymerize, which diminishes product purity and increases system maintenance. Also, components of the refinement process (i.e., clarifying agents) can cause isomerization during distillation. To mitigate this, refine extracts prior to distillation. Refinement processes include winterization, clarification and scrubbing filtration. 

2. Fully decarboxylate and degas the material. 

A simple way to increase the throughput of the distillation process is to decarboxylate and degas the cannabis extract before distillation. Decarboxylation and degassing are the processes of converting the acid form cannabinoids to the neutral forms and removing volatiles, respectively, by applying heat and agitation. By undertaking those two processes, the vacuum operates under reduced load and more cannabinoids are distilled per unit time. 

3. Use a well-designed vacuum system. 

The atmospheric boiling points of cannabinoids are not known to any degree of certainty because these heavy molecules tend to degrade before they boil. However, by removing atmosphere, the cannabinoids can be encouraged to boil at a lower temperature. Their boiling points under vacuum (i.e., 5×10-3 Torr)—as documented by Adams et al. in 1941 and Gaoni & Mechoulam in 1964—are between 155 and 160 degrees Celsius. That’s why it’s important to have a substantial vacuum system to reduce the heat required to vaporize cannabinoids and minimize the risk of degradation. An ideal vacuum system for this application is a dual-stage rotary-vane pump designed to pull to 1×10-4 Torr with a diffusion pump to increase the depth and stability of the vacuum under load. It’s also important to correctly size the tubing and seal the connectors.

4. Maintain short heated-surface contact. 

Heat can degrade or isomerize cannabinoids. Use a system that can deliver heat to a thin layer of oil to minimize total heat exposure. Wiped film or centrifugal systems are ideal for this because the oil’s contact with heat is several seconds compared to several hours. Finally, stainless steel heating surfaces (i.e., still body or centrifugal plate) increase the efficiency of heat transfer and the throughput of the distillation process.