The world of cannabis has expanded exponentially over the last decade. Long gone are the days when a joint or a bong were the only ways to enjoy the plant.
Nowadays, there’s a dizzying amount of product types available, offering literally something for everyone.
Cannabis edibles are among the most popular items on dispensary shelves. From sweets such as gummies or chocolates to savory snacks like corn nuts and shrimp chips and even drinks like soda and tea, there is a never-ending menu of edibles out there.
Containing cannabis extract, edibles allow people to consume the active ingredients within the plant in a simple and straightforward manner—through eating and drinking.
Demand for edibles has exploded, accounting for 13% of the overall market share. Infused foods and beverages raked in $3.6 billion in 2021 alone, and that number is expected to balloon to $8.24 billion in 2025.
A large number of the people buying edibles are newer consumers, who may wish to avoid smoking or vaping but want to reap the benefits cannabis has to offer.
If you’re curious about cannabis edibles (also known as weed edibles) and want to know which ones are right for you, this definitive guide has you covered.
The varieties of cannabis edibles
Back in the day, it seemed like the only edibles around were homemade cannabis brownies. Nowadays, the choices are seemingly endless. Brownies are still a popular option, but they aren’t the only infused goodie on the menu.
The simple “grab and go” nature of gummies given their precise dosing and small stature make them attractive to consumers of all types.
STIIIZY's cannabis gummies are always made from premium flower.
Chocolates, caramels, and fruit chews are also quite prevalent in the cannabis edibles section of any dispensary.
Mints, cookies, and cereal bars round out the list of most popular sweet edibles, but there are many more innovative products debuting all the time.
Infused ice cream and cookie dough have been making waves, alongside artisanal truffles and macarons.
Not everyone has a sweet tooth, however. Knowing this, more brands are introducing savory edibles to an increasingly hungry customer base.
Microwave popcorn, potato chips, crackers, and even beef jerky have all been spotted at cannabis dispensaries with more options debuting all the time. Infused olive oil is also a popular option, especially for people who want to make their own foods.
For folks seeking out a more health-conscious cannabis edible, gel capsules, tablets, and breath strips are a great choice.
Often available in an array of cannabinoid blends and potencies, these products tend to have more of a wellness focus than other edibles.
Cannabis beverages are starting to gain market share, with a growing number of infused sparkling waters, sodas, teas, and even spirits (alcohol-free, of course) on dispensary shelves.
It’s important to note that cannabis beverages are different from cannabis tinctures—tinctures are concentrated extracts meant to be taken under the tongue as opposed to drinking.
Cannabis beverages are starting to gain market share.
Why choosing cannabis edibles is so subjective
Deciding whether to try edibles can be a complicated decision. There is a multitude of factors at play when it comes to how an edible could affect you. Let’s explore some of the most common variables.
The cannabinoids in cannabis edibles are processed through the liver, as opposed to the lungs when smoking or vaping.
This means a person’s metabolism plays a huge role in how strong the effects of the edible will be. It also explains why some people feel no effects from eating cannabis but still get high when hitting a joint.
What you eat prior to having an edible can be a big part of what the outcome will be. A Canadian study showed that having a high-fat meal before an edible may delay the overall effects but could make them stronger.
Taking an edible on an empty stomach could see the cannabis kick in sooner but it may not hit as hard.
When deciding how many gummies or cheese puffs to eat, it’s important to consider how often you consume cannabis overall. If you’re an everyday smoker, you may be able to get away with a higher dose.
Folks who only dabble now and again should aim for something small. The average cannabis edible contains a serving of 5mg of THC but that number can vary, so always check the label to know what you’re getting into.
There are several ways to extract THC, CBD, and other compounds from the cannabis plant, and let’s just say they all hit (and taste) differently.
Distillates are another common cannabis concentrate used in edibles and while it does offer a more neutral taste, it doesn’t pack quite as much punch as other varieties.
Cannabis edibles infused with distillates don't pack quite as much punch.
The potential health benefits of cannabis edibles
Research on the health benefits of cannabis remains limited due to the fact that the plant is illegal at the federal level, but more studies are starting to emerge.
Early results and anecdotal reports show cannabis could have many potential benefits. Here are just a few of the ailments cannabis edibles may help:
The most common reason people use cannabis therapeutically is to help ease pain. There have been several small-scale studies showing the plant could be a viable treatment and many people see it as a positive alternative to prescription painkillers.
Another popular motivation behind eating edibles is to help with sleep issues. One 2008 study indicated THC may help people fall asleep and stay asleep by reducing dream activity. CBN (another lesser-known cannabinoid) has also been shown to have relaxing properties.
There has been a lot of interest in how cannabis could possibly help people suffering from mental health conditions like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Preliminary research has been promising, with one study seeing THC improve mood as well as overall quality of life.
Cannabis has also been shown to have anti-seizure properties, according to several clinical studies. In fact, the only FDA-approved cannabis medication is a concentrate for severe epilepsy called Epidiolex.
What to be careful of when consuming cannabis edibles
It is important to remember that edibles can be extremely potent depending on the variables mentioned earlier.
A good rule of thumb is to always start low and go slow, especially if you’re a newbie. Take a very small dose at first and wait at least two hours to see how you feel, as they could take a decent amount of time to kick in.
Refrain from mixing edibles with alcohol or other intoxicants and do not drive after you’ve imbibed.
Make sure to always purchase edibles from a licensed cannabis dispensary. This ensures you’ll get an accurate dose and that your product is free from contaminants or heavy metals since everything on a dispensary shelf is subject to lab testing.
The future of cannabis edibles
Legalization has brought about an explosion in the cannabis edibles scene, with more and more products being introduced seemingly every day.
As the industry continues to mature, there will likely be an entire grocery store’s worth of cannabis edibles on the market.
Advanced research and development will likely lead to even more precise dosing, additional cannabinoid blends, and improved flavors.
Infused multi-course dinners and cannabis mocktails are also gaining popularity—it’s only a matter of time before you see a cannabis edibles menu right alongside the drink list at your favorite bar or restaurant.
The statements made here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products described are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.