It’s that magical time of year where the marijuana decor comes out, we get together and celebrate the wonderful world of weed. 4/20 has become a lot more than just one of the holidaze - it kicks off a Spring/Summer of cannabis-fueled fun, relaxation and better physical & mental health. 4/20 might just be a 24 hour period where we share plants and swap stories while making new memories, but it often leads to many weeks of weed-induced fun.
What are your plans for this 4/20 season? Are you hosting an epic shindig of a party with your stoner bros & sisters? Maybe you’re just keeping it quaint with some mindful meditation and quietude? Or perhaps you’re the type who indulges in a smorgasbord of canna edibles and weed foods of every flavor?
No matter what kind of 4/20 celebration you’re having, everyone could use some canna edibles on their plates. Thankfully, cooking with weed is at an all-time high in popularity - not to mention the easiest it’s ever been to learn how to make weed foods at home. Since so many stoners are starting to cook with weed on their own, we thought it’d be a good use of this time leading up to 4/20 to review some of the risks of edibles and how to safely make your own weed foods.
First we’ll discuss the many kinds of canna edibles you can make at home, then we’ll go over the risks of making edibles yourself. Finally, we’ll detail the top five safety tips for cooking with weed so that you can have the best possible culinary cannabis experiences.
Before we sift through the risks of edibles cooking on your own, we need to talk about the world of weed food in all its glory. Even if you’re an experienced canna edibles user, you might not know all of the unique types of cannabis edibles out there - from sweet & salty snacks to nutritious cannabis-infused supplements, to beverages and fully fledged weed meals.
We’ve categorized weed foods and canna edibles into the following groups to help summarize all of the variety in the wide world of weed:
The most popular - and most obvious - kinds of edibles that most people consume for their daily doses of weed are candies and baked goods (pun intended). Anything meant for dessert like cakes, tarts, brownies, cookies and other pastries can make for a sweet or savory delivery mechanism for cannabinoids like THC or CBD. Gummies, candies, lozenges, chocolate and other treats are also very popular modes of canna edibles.
The next best thing for convenience factor or affordability to sweet canna edibles has to be weed food snacks. Chips, crackers, granolas, pretzels, breads, dips or even cannabis infused appetizers can turn your downtime into a heightened experience with THC or CBD. Cannabis snacks aren’t as common as sweets/treats, but they serve the function of giving you a potent dose of cannabinoids on top of satisfying your munchies. Talk about two stoners with one bird…
From brewed canna teas to CBD sparkling beverages, there are a ton of drinks that can provide your daily dose of dope. Some cannabis beverages aren’t the best testing things you’ve ever gulped down - cannabis flower tea, oil-infused coffee, hemp or cannabis kombucha, etc - but there are also many consumables that come in every flavor imaginable.
Once you’ve learned how easy cooking with weed is, it means that any kind of food can become a form of canna edibles. Cannabis oils in your pasta sauce? Delicioso! Weed-garnished stir fry? Yes please! A salad with cannabis leaves and extracts in the balsamic dressing? Yum! Every breakfast, lunch or dinner can be infused with cannabis to become an edible creation of your own. The only limit on weed-enhanced meals is your creativity.
Supplements are less sexy than a tasty cannabis edible/meal, but they are a very practical way to get your cannabis efficiently. Protein powders, greens mixes, shakes, vitamins and medicines can contain cannabinoids & terpenes to support good health & fitness.
We’re almost ready to review the safest, best ways to make your own cannabis edibles and cannabis cuisine at home. In advance of whipping up a fresh batch of pot cookies or blending your buds into a smoothie, we should refresh our memories on the risks of edibles for those greenhorns. Whether you’ve been out of the edibles game for a while and aren’t sure about the latest & greatest, or you’ve never been comfortable enough to try edibles until now, here are some of the risks associated with consuming cannabis edibles:
One of the most obvious risks of edibles from a store has to do with inconsistencies in batch quality. From one batch of cookies, gummies or beverages to another, the potency can fluctuate, the flavor can be bland, the aromas weak, or the way it hits (or doesn’t) can vary greatly. This problem rears its ugly head more often than you think, as stoners are forced to return batches of gummies with no discernable THC/CBD contents in them, while others are overwhelmed by more cannabinoids than they bargained for.
You can’t fix batch quality issues - the only thing you can do is return the product and get another product when you buy store-bought canna edibles. Cooking with weed to make your own batches of edibles means you can avoid the risks of batch inconsistency problems, just make sure you’re mixing the product thoroughly, pouring/dividing it effectively and storing it properly.
The most noticeable and downright risky risks of edibles have to do with potency issues. Whether you think you know your tolerances to cannabinoids or not, edibles can take you by surprise and overwhelm your senses. Potency values for edibles are all over the map - some listed at 10 mg THC, others at whopping 500 mg! These large ranges might lead you to have to experiment with a number of concentration levels before you target your ideal dose.
Weed foods and beverages also present the issue of having to be digested before they’re absorbed into your system. This creates a delayed effect that make canna edibles particularly unpredictable - ingesting a gummy or two might not hit you until hours later, leading some people to take more thinking it will speed up the process. The risks of ingesting the wrong potency of edibles might lead you to waste an evening waiting for weak ones to kick in, or losing your mind as wave after wave of hallucinations wash over you.
The best way to avoid this is to follow the golden rule of dosing: start low and go slow.
Speaking of tolerance issues… Everybody’s experiences with edibles can be unique to their biochemistry, their genetics, their tolerances to psychoactive substances, their diet, fitness level or a number of other factors. Even if you have a handle on your usual tolerance levels to cannabis, sometimes a new strain, cannabinoids mix or terpene profile can throw you for a loop and lead you to get higher, quicker or experience no effects at all.
On top of these risks of edibles experiences varying from person-to-person, you can’t always expect the same experiences when you’re high on THC. Even if the weed foods you’re eating are from the same crop, batch or package as last time, there is still the chance that you feel totally different from last time. Suffice it to say, canna edibles always run the risks of being inconsistent, so you have to be prepared for anything whenever you’re ingesting cannabis infused goods.
This isn’t necessarily a risk as much as it is a persistent problem, but the quantities or volumes that edibles come in can vary to the point of making them obsolete. Some gummies are so small and have such little cannabinoids in them that it’s beyond a microdose. In other examples, a giant chocolate bomb might have way too much THC in it to make it a viable edible for one person, let alone a group.
Some packages list doses in terms of ‘multiple units’, when concentrating the THC or CBD into bigger chunks would make a lot more sense. On the flip side, having all your cannabinoids in one, big food item means you can’t split the dose up - or if you try, you’ll have no way of guaranteeing what potency factor you’re ingesting. This is why many stoners prefer easy-to-distribute edibles like a pack of gummies or box of chocolates - because unlike what Forrest said, you know exactly what you’re gonna get.
We’ve categorized the majority of canna edibles and weed foods. We also discussed some of the major risks of edibles that people have stumbled upon over the years. Now it’s time to learn how cooking with weed can change your relationship with edibles forever. When you make your own weed foods and beverages, you get to say how strong, how much and what flavors/aromas.
Whether you’re a foodie with a real nose/eye for stunning cannabis cuisine, or you just happen to have one of the best ooey-gooey chocolate chip recipes handed down from your ganja-loving grandma to you, here are some tips to safely baking or cooking with cannabis:
Genetics matter. The strains you choose to cook or bake edibles with is the first-and-foremost important decision you have to make. Working with a strain of buds you’re unfamiliar with can lead to a number of problems - some of which can be catastrophic for you and your guests. Understanding the typical cook times, decarboxylation procedures and dosing can be entirely dependent on each strain. This means you should try the strain yourself first - whether that’s smoking, dabbing, ingesting oils or even pre-made edibles before making your own.
Don’t raw-dog it. This has less to do with safety as it does with ensuring you have an effective cannabis edible experience. Simply put, raw cannabis does nothing for you in the psychoactivity department - it can provide some nutritional benefits in addition to some less noticeable positive effects, but without decarbing your buds the acidic forms of cannabinoids (THCA, CBDA, CBGA, CBNA etc) aren’t activated. You might’ve seen deer or wildlife eating raw cannabis buds and noticed that they’re acting funny. Animals have much different sensitivities to cannabinoids & terpenes than humans do - it’s never a good idea to base your plans on that of another species’ experiences… just saying. So, don’t listen to your dog and avoid raw-dogging cannabis without activated those valuable cannabinoids first.
Decarb, decarb, decarb! How do you activate cannabinoids? Heat, pressure and time of course! Decarboxylation isn’t as complicated a process as the name suggests. In fact, we wrote a helpful blog on the subject for you a while ago. You can find our guide to proper decarbing of buds here.
The Golden Standard. We already talked about the golden rule of dosing earlier in this article, but it bears repeating because of how important it is. When you start with a lower dose and slowly monitor how it makes you feel, you can safely ingest edibles every time. With the golden rule of dosing your cannabis creations, you can slowly increase the concentration of THC, CBD or other cannabinoids as you become more familiar with their effects on your mind & body. You also need to be cognizant of how your cooking methods will break down the cannabinoids - i.e. if you’re using a cannabis oil for cooking with, be careful it doesn’t burn away all the good stuff, as this will undoubtedly make your edibles less potent.
Label! Lock! Learn! You could easily call this “TIP #1!” because it’s one of the most important, but we didn’t rank these by significance. The number one safety tip for cooking with weed is to label them clearly, lock/store them in a safe place, and document or record how your experiences were. There’s nothing more dangerous than leaving cannabis-infused foods or drinks in the fridge for some unwitting person in your household to accidentally consume them. Getting high and not knowing you’re high is where you’re at your highest risk for bodily harm or traumatic experiences.
Locking up your weed in proper storage is equally important. Store your cannabis edible creations up high, in locked cabinets, in a fridge with a key-code or inside an lockable, sealable container. Finally, it’s hard to remember how edibles make you feel the next day if you don’t take notes or record yourself while under the influence. This isn’t necessary for everyone, every time you do edibles - some people have no issue with memory recall when they’re high. That being said, if you’re trying to find the right dose of THC or wanting to detail how your edibles make you feel then this kind of journaling is a very good idea.
Almost any kind of cannabis flower, cannabis oil or plant product can be cooked into canna edibles. Certain extracts or concentrates should be avoided because of the potential toxic residual chemicals - i.e. organic solvents, pesticides, processing agents, etc. For this reason, it is recommended to stick to buds and oils when cooking with weed.
When you’re cooking weed food, specifically meals with meat and cannabis in them, be sure to cook your meat thoroughly first before adding the plant materials - this is to ensure that no contaminants are spread to the cannabis before it too is cooked. The risks of edibles include contamination, bacteria, food poisoning and psychoactive toxicity in addition to usual meat-borne health risks.
Whenever you’re making canna edibles in the oven you can expect pungent, lasting odors or cannabis flowers to persist - the terpenes will be released aromatically and fill your kitchen with the delicious array of smells of your buds as they’re decarboxylated.
Oil is not an absolute must for cooking with weed foods, but it is one of the best methods to prevent singing in addition to capturing any trichomes that become detached/cooked off of the flowers during the process of cooking/baking. Oils are also thought to help in absorption/activation of cannabinoids in humans, so this added benefit makes cooking with weed oils a very popular option.
Boiling weed is one of the risks of edibles that you should avoid - in most cases, the plant materials will break down to the point of being destroyed before you can consume them. Steeping weed tea can certainly produce an effective canna edibles beverage, but your cannabis flowers should not be added to the boiling water before it has reached its boiling point.