Fast acting cannabis edibles offer an attractive alternative to smoking during Covid-19
Covid-19 has brought on a new age of stress, anxiety and boredom. So it’s hardly a surprise that many are using cannabis as they struggle through 2020. Cannabis – which has been recognised as an essential business by many states during the pandemic – has seen a big increase in sales since quarantines began last March. Still, many doctors warn that smoking (the most popular way to enjoy cannabis) may increase risks for the novel coronavirus.
So what is a cannabis consumer to do? For some, it may be time to stop smoking and start eating. Cannabis edibles, particularly new fast-acting varieties may be the ideal solution for making it through this difficult time.
Recommended For You
As the pandemic continues, it’s not just cannabis sales that are increasing. There has also been an increase in edibles sales, which traditionally have only made up a small part of the cannabis market – with some estimates between 16-20%. But in recent months, many cannabis companies are reporting increased edible sales – suggesting that many consumers may be deciding to forgo smoking cannabis and instead use edible options during the pandemic.
Still, those shifting to edibles from smoking may notice big differences in how they are affected by the drug. Studies show that cannabis edibles have a markedly different effect profile than cannabis when it is smoked – with many preferring the experience from smoking.
There are several reasons for this difference.
To understand why, it’s important to know that different methods of using cannabis metabolize differently. When you smoke cannabis, its main active ingredient delta-9 THC (along with many other compounds in the plant) is processed quickly through the lungs and goes directly into the bloodstream. This creates the well known cannabis ‘high’ from smoking.
But when cannabis is eaten, it needs to be processed by the liver. In the liver, delta-9 THC is converted into an entirely different chemical 11- hydroxy THC. This chemical can have a more intense set of effects – and some studies have found it is significantly more psychoactive than delta-9 THC. This means that using cannabis edibles, even at similar dosages to smoking, often result in a more intense and disorienting high.
To add to this, the onset time for edibles is also significantly longer. While smoking tends to lead to effects within 20 minutes, edibles can take hours to start working. This can lead to big problems in dosing.
“Many of us have the experience of eating one edible, waiting for an hour and then eating another, just to realize the first one hadn’t kicked in yet.” Explains John Houston, the CEO of Kushla, a company that makes a fast-acting edible ingredient called REACT for other cannabis brands. “When it does, the effects are much stronger than intended” he adds, explaining that “while cannabis is extremely safe and impossible to overdose on, a high dose can make the user uncomfortable.”
The combination of the long wait-time, difficult dosing, and more intense psychoactive high can leave some cannabis consumers less than satisfied with traditional edibles, and makes it difficult to replace smoked cannabis.
But fast-acting edibles like those made by Kushla, and other popular brands like Kiva, Kanha, Satori, and more may be shifting that. These products are quicker acting and designed to be absorbed in a way that doesn’t lead to large amounts of 11-hydroxy THC. So the effect is more similar to what you’d experience from smoking.
Some brands, such as Kushla and CannaCraft, use nano-emulsion to achieve these results, a process which allows cannabis’ ingredients to become smaller, water soluble and easier to absorb.
“Once cannabinoids that are formulated with a nano-emulsifier hit your saliva and stomach juices, it spontaneously emulsifies into millions of microscopic ‘bubbles’ of emulsion droplets” explains Matt Elmes, Director of New Product Development for CannaCraft which makes Satori and it’s line of fast-ccting edibles. Elmes has a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology and says that “the cannabinoids reside inside tiny lipid droplets and they ‘trick’ your body into eagerly absorbing as much as possible, as quickly as possible. “
Houston says these fast acting edibles “are a great alternative for people who prefer to smoke or vape because the pace of the experience is very similar. The user feels the effects immediately and can choose whether to consume more.”
Others, like Peak Extracts don’t take advantage of nano-emulsion but instead use methods that rely on tablets or oils which are designed to be held in the mouth and absorbed through the mucosal membranes there.
Katie Stem, CEO at Peak Extracts explains that they use lecithin to help fat-soluble cannabinoids dissolve evenly into tinctures and chocolates. “The solution (melted chocolate in your mouth, or MCT oil in the case of our tinctures) can make a lot of contact with the membranes of your mouth and digestive tract, where the cannabinoids readily pass through into your bloodstream.”
But regardless of the type of fast-acting edibles, they all offer an attractive alternative for cannabis consumers looking to cut down on smoking – a quick onset, easy to dose edible that can replace smoking.