Know Your Medicine: Cannabis Edibles Vs. Flower

When Kiva Confections was started in 2010, its founders believed that cannabis was the future of medicine. They saw a growing need for a consistent, delicious edible that would not only help patients in their heal­ing process, it would make them happy. Since that time we have witnessed many advancements in the research, industry, and politics surrounding marijuana, and observed a new growing need emerge: the need for accessible, educative content around cannabis. 

With that in mind, we would like to welcome you to Kiva Confections’ Blog, where we hope to dispel the myths, disperse the facts, and detail all the ways that this miraculous plant can help you and those you love. Welcome to a higher chocolate experience. 

Many patients that we meet at collectives are long­term cannabis aficionados who absolutely love their flowers. And why shouldn’t they? The variety of strains available is staggering. Ask most people who were using cannabis a decade ago, and they will tell you tales of low grade, brown, seedy ‘schwag’ they begrudgingly overpaid for because it was all they had access to. Today’s flower is a new breed- fluffy, fragrant and downright beautiful. The evolution of edibles has been no less extraordinary, but unfortunately many patients are none the wiser. This is where we come in... 

One of our greatest challenges at Kiva is to provide edible re-education for patients. I say re­-education because many patients have misconceptions around eating cannabis, usually founded in some harrowing episode from their past where they consumed way (WAY) too much for their tolerance. Whether you are a novice, intermediate, or recovering edibles user, this breakdown of the major differences between eating and smoking your medicine can help you determine what’s right for you. 


“Edibles” refers to food that is infused with cannabis. There is a wide variety of edible options that go beyond your average brownie,­ including sodas, snacks, gummies, oils, pizzas, chewing gum and tinctures. These products can be made with flower, oil, hash, and kief, using sativa, indica or hybrid variety cannabis. Some companies are even offering vegan, sugar­free, and gluten-­free products. Bottom line: you’ve got options. 


There are a number of great reasons why you may want to ingest your cannabis instead of smoking it. It’s no secret that smoking can be hard on your lungs. Even though marijuana smoke has been found to be less harmful than smoking cigarettes*, burning paper, butane lighter fumes, and inhaled smoke can still be harsh on delicate lung tissue. If you are asthmatic, have E.N.T. problems (Ear, Nose, Throat), or are concerned about lung disease­, edibles may be a perfect option for you. Edibles are also odor­less, more discreet, and more portable than many other cannabis options. Medicating when you’re on the move or around non­users can be tricky­- but it becomes infinitely less so using edibles. 


Another huge benefit to edibles is that the effects can last from roughly six to eight hours (with an appropriate dose)*. This is 2­5x the duration that most patients report feeling effects through smoking flower.* This increased duration means less time and money spent on your medicine- less time on administering it, and less money because of the increased potency and duration of edibles. If you are dealing with a serious health condition like cancer or lupus, edibles are an easy way to get stronger doses of medicine into your body, with longer­lasting symptom relief. This prolonged effectiveness can come with a trade­off though... 


While the effects of smoked cannabis are felt almost instantaneously, most edibles must be digested in your body like any other food. During this process the liver breaks down the edibles’ THC (the compound in cannabis that creates psychoactivity) into a new compound, 11 hydroxy­THC, which results in stronger, longer­lasting psychoactivity and symptom relief.* For this reason edibles’ effects can generally take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours to be felt. This timing depends on a few factors­ including your height, weight, metabolism, and the last time you’ve eaten. If that seems like too much of a waiting game for you... here’s a helpful tip! 

With soluble edible products like Kiva’s chocolates, you can let them melt in your mouth­, preferably under your tongue or next to your cheek. This sublingual application means that the THC will hit your bloodstream faster than if you ate and digested your chocolate.* This can also help you to reach your ideal dosage faster, since it is highly recommended that you wait until you’re feeling the full effects of your edible before consuming more. 


Most people know when they’ve reached their threshold when smoking cannabis, and realize it’s time to put down their pipe. Taking edibles is an entirely different dosing experience. Edibles potency can range from 5MG all the way to 1000MG THC. With such a wide berth in product dosages, it is absolutely essential to know the dosage that is right for your body and condition. In Colorado, where recreational cannabis use is legal, they have set 10MG of THC as one dose. However, many marijuana novices will find that 10MG is an overwhelming dose for them... while seasoned "dabbers" (concentrate users) may not feel the effects of an edible unless they consume many times that amount! For this reason, we encourage playful experimentation. Your first few sessions of using edibles should be about research and discovery to ensure that you don’t over­consume your medicine. 

The good news is, there has never been a verified report of death, or permanent impairment, from overdosing on cannabis in any form.* However, it can be an extremely unpleasant experience when it comes to edibles. Some patients report dissociative, psychedelic experiences that last hours, while others become dizzy and faint, or even vomit. The important thing is to remain calm, stay hydrated, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery, and relax until the effects dissipate. 


Cannabis compounds like THC exhibit “biphasic” properties­ meaning that small and large amounts of it can produce opposite effects.* This is why lower doses of cannabis can be stimulating while generous amounts can be sedative. A lower dose of edibles (called ‘micro­dosing’) can produce effects similar to, and sometimes indistinguishable from, smoked cannabis. Micro­dosing ensures that you don’t overconsume your medicine, and it helps keep your tolerance in check over a long period. Plus, by taking a small amount of cannabis initially, you give yourself the ability to slowly build your dose across a length of time, and figure out the minimum amount of medicine needed for your condition, called your "M.E.D." (Minimum Effective Dose).


We’ve saved the best news for last! If you are a flower smoker still on the fence about taking edibles­ you should know that you don’t have to choose between them. Taking cannabis edibles and smoking flower can work synergistically together in the right amounts. Many patients like to smoke immediately after ingesting an edible, timing them together so that by the time the effects of smoking begin to wear off... the edibles experience begins kicking in. You may also find that a micro­dose of edibles gives you a subtle psychoactivity that you can then build on by smoking flower. As we mentioned before, you’ve got options!
We hope we’ve given you a better understanding of the value of choosing cannabis edibles as your medicine, and that the next time you visit your favorite collective, you are even more amazed by the variety of options that patients have today.