How Much Potency Can You Pack into Edibles?

Francis Cassidy June 10, 2019 1 comment

Edible potency is the thing of legend, but can there ever be such a thing as a 1000mg gummy bear?

Patients can medicate with cannabis in a variety of ways. But it’s perhaps its with the edible where we see the greatest variation in effect. For some, standard doses of edibles simply don’t do the trick. Redheads tend to fall within the disadvantages of this group.  This could be due to a mutation in the melanocortin-1 allele that gives them a very high tolerance to THC. There is no hard evidence of this yet, though.

Since the THC in an edible must be metabolized by enzymes in the liver before the effects are felt, there is more opportunity for things to go into ‘unexpected territory.’ There are even reports of CBD converting to THC in the stomach, an unexpected worry if you are dosing on CBD edibles. 

Furthermore, when THC passes through the liver, a great portion of it is converted to 11-hydroxy THC. This is a much more potent intoxicant. Even more precarious is that the conversion is not 1:1. Sometimes your body makes 300x more 11-hydroxy THC than THC!

Still, people play with edible recipes to increase the potency going in. But, just how high is it possible to go?

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How Much THC can you Infuse into an Edible?

Probably more than you’ll ever really need! But there IS a limit. If you start with cannabis that has THC levels of 20%, it means that one gram of flower equates to 200mg of THC. When infused with oil, typically infusion efficiencies come out at between 80-96% depending on the oil type and how the infusion was performed.

A study carried out with flower containing 800mg of THC, showed that it was possible to infuse up to 700mg of THC in one ounce of oil. This was the highest saturation point achievable in the study. As the amount of fat used in a particular recipe is finite, there’s a limit to how much THC can bind to it. 

So, although there are natural limits in place, there are a few tricks you can perform if you want an extra potent edible.

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Changing Potency of Edibles

Firstly, let’s get the basics right. If you’ve been cooking edibles at home and they haven’t met your expectations, then it’s possible that you fell at the first hurdle. When cannabis is not decarboxylated properly, then you can’t expect a potent edible to result. Additionally, if oven temperature is too inaccurate, then a portable oven specially designed for decarboxylating might help you convert close to 100% of the THCa and CBDa to the active cannabinoids. This helps ensure you get an edible of higher potency.

Through proper decarboxylation and proper cooking techniques, you can easily infuse more THC than you’ll ever need. But for those who want extremely potent edibles, then what further techniques can you employ?

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Start with Infused Fats

Some recipes call for both infused and uninfused butter or oil. Depending on the ratios, you can increase the amount of infused butter or oil and thus make your edible much stronger.

Use more Potent Cannabis

Potent starting material will lead to more potent edibles. With different strains bred for different cannabinoid and terpene ratios, those strains high in THC will have a stronger effect than those strains bred for high CBD.

Using lab tested cannabis can help you know for sure just how much THC or CBD you’re starting with. And this will give you a good sense of the potential potency of the final product. However, the more flower you add to an edible, the more negatively it affects the taste. It becomes a case of using just enough flower to infuse the maximum amount of THC possible, while ensuring you don’t create an overpowering taste.

Add in Some Concentrates

With a limit to how much THC can be infused in a set amount of oil, adding in some form of concentrate can lead to an extremely potent edible. Hashish, hash oil or a tincture can be added for this purpose. Kief can also be used, but just make sure to decarboxylate it first. When preparing your edibles, you can simply stir in the aforementioned concentrates. Just don’t forget to let everyone else know. The addition of concentrates results in even more potent edibles that some may not be prepared for!

Use Sunflower Lecithin

The addition of an emulsifier like sunflower lecithin will help with bioavailability. Your body will have an easier time digesting the compounds bound to it, one of which is THC. In addition, lecithin is known as a surfactant, which means that it helps distribute THC and cannabinoids more efficiently. This makes the potency higher on the receiving end. 

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How to Speed up the Absorption of Potent Edibles

You can spend money on highly potent edibles, or add expensive concentrates to your own, but by consuming them at the wrong times, then their effects will be less potent. Here’s how to ensure you make every milligram count.

How does the Empty Stomach Come Into Play?

With no food in your stomach, an edible will be digested and absorbed much faster. With less competition in the GI tract, you’ll absorb a much higher percentage of the THC. That said, there are some hacks you can use to increase absorption and bioavailability by eating the right foods at the right time.

Eat Some Mangos

In a study entitled Taming THC, Dr. Ethan Russo showed that the terpene myrcene has the ability to reduce selectivity in the blood-brain barrier. This decrease in selectivity enables THC to cross more easily and in greater quantities.

Myrcene can inhibit a neurotransmitter (GABA) that will result in a feeling of being buzzed. But, there is some question as to the bioavailability of this terpene after it meets the acid in the stomach. Basically, science says it would be more efficient to take puff than eat a mango, but the legend persists. Anecdotal reports swear by this method of increasing potency.

Wash Down an Edible with More Fat

THC binds to fat before being digested. Therefore, any fat you consume along with an edible may increase absorption. Whether its some whole milk, butter or coconut oil, it may help bind more of that THC.

Increase your Metabolism

By exercising prior to consumption, you temporarily increase your metabolism. The metabolic boost will prime your body to extract what it can from the edible. Other methods include consuming coffee or green tea as these also aid in increasing metabolism.

Respect the Entourage Effect On Edible Potency

Edibles made from whole plant extracts have the benefit of the entourage effect. For many, it may be fun once in a while to consume a 1000mg edible. Isolates are the only way to get to this potency level.  The medicinal benefits therefore, may be less pronounced than an edible of a lower potency made from a complete extract.

But, for those that dare to try regardless, just remember to strap in for the ride! It’s possible to make a 1000mg gummy bear, but it’s not going to be small enough to pop in your mouth.

Author avatar

Francis Cassidy
Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog

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1 comment

  1. Katherine Ramberg

    Looking for a recipe on how to make Groovy edibles ????????????