Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction
Table of Contents
- What is weed?
- What is the difference between CBD and THC?
- What are weed/CBD edibles?
- CBD – infused spirits and alcohol (Dangers)
- How are weed edibles made?
- Potential benefits of Weed edibles
- Potential risks/side effects of Weed edibles
What is Weed?
Weed is another name for marijuana – the dehydrated stems, seeds, leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. It contains the mind-altering and often addictive chemical THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which elicits a pleasant euphoria and calm when ingested.
Weed is considered the least potent of all drugs and has been legalized in many U.S. states, leading to widespread use and abuse.
What is the difference between CBD and THC?
The predecessor of weed/marijuana is the cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis has many subspecies aside from standard marijuana; the most prevalent one is known as hemp. All categories of cannabis sativa contain over 540 different phytochemicals (chemical compounds), in varying amounts and ratios.
The two which have elicited the greatest interest in recent years are cannabidiol, also known as CBD, and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, oft shortened to THC.
CBD is not psychoactive – incapable of producing a “high”- while THC is psychoactive, and the chemical responsible for the signature high induced by marijuana.
The defining difference between marijuana and hemp is the amounts of THC and CBD they contain. Marijuana contains over 0.3% of THC and a miniscule amount of CBD, while hemp contains less than 0.3% of THC and significantly higher levels of CBD.
Most CBD products sold today are hemp-derived, and consequently contain far more CBD than THC. Although such products may contain some naturally occurring traces of THC, they are impossible to get “high” on. 
What are weed/CBD edibles?
In recent years, a thriving market of weed/ CBD edibles has evolved – and the demand for such products has exploded in tandem. Practically any food or beverage can be found laced with weed – you name it, it’s out there.
CBD can be found in baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and brownies, chocolates, candies and gummies, infused beverages, spirits, wines, lattes, infused foods, sprays, and lozenges.  
There is a plethora of websites   which sell base CBD oils and tinctures, allowing consumers to create CBD- infused products in the comfort of their own kitchens. The web abounds with easy CBD recipes, ranging from cookies to skirt steaks to spicy guacamole.
When browsing or purchasing CBD products, it is of utmost importance to be an informed consumer. Familiarize yourself with common terms and know what they mean – so that when you decide to try a product, you know exactly what you are ingesting.
Below are some frequently found terms used on CBD products:
“Isolate” Products = products which contain only CBD
“Broad-Spectrum” Products = products which contain CBD as well as other cannabinoids, except THC
“Full-Spectrum” Products = products which contain CBD, THC, and various other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids
Many believe that when CBD and THC are ingested simultaneously, they are far more effective than when taken alone. This is referred to as the “entourage effect”. CBD has also been said to significantly reduce the negative effects of THC when taken in appropriate ratios.
CBD – infused spirits and alcohol (Dangers)
The creativity displayed in the development of weed edibles and beverages is truly astounding. Recently, CBD has been found infused in various alcoholic beverages, such as alcohol and wine. Although health professionals dismiss most weed edibles as unlikely to cause any real harm due to their miniscule amounts of THC, this new trend has raised alarm in many medical circles.
Daniele Piomelli, director of the Institute for the Study of Cannabis at The University of California, likens CBD-infused spirits to “sledding on a very, very dangerous path” .
CBD alone may be harmless, and alcohol alone may be okay when ingested in responsible quantities, but mixing the two is risky and highly discouraged.
Overall, research has shown that combining drugs with alcohol causes the body to absorb far greater amounts of the drug than when taken alone. This prevents an individual from realizing how much they have actually consumed, significantly raising the risk of fatal overdosing.
A 2019 study evaluated 660 patients who experienced alcohol poisoning, loss of consciousness, or blackouts, and found that a mere 20% of them had been using alcohol alone. Additionally, the drug most used in conjunction with alcohol – by those users who experienced an overdose – was marijuana. 
How are weed edibles made?
Making CBD edibles is fairly simple. If one is cooking/ baking with a premade CBD oil, the necessary acids have already been activated. All that remains to be done is fully and uniformly infusing the oil into a base fat such as butter, avocado, or high-quality oil. CBD is a fat-soluble substance, so the better it’s mixed within an oil, the more it will adhere and retain its strength throughout the baking process. Once the CBD is infused, simply follow the recipe.
When baking with raw hemp flowers or buds, the CBDa (cannabidiolic acid) within the flower must first be activated before it can have any effect. CBDa is activated through a process known as decarboxylation (or decarb) = when CBDa is exposed to heat , loses its carboxyl acid group, and becomes CBD. Most recommend cutting the hemp flower into small pieces, spreading it evenly on a baking sheet, and baking it at no more than 230 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
Covering the buds during baking is not essential but recommended – it will both prevent pungent odors from spreading and trap all beneficial terpenes within your CBD. Once your hemp has been “decarbed” and cooled, it is ready to be ground into a flour and infused into your recipe. Be sure to avoid recipes that call for baking at temperatures above 350 degrees Fahrenheit, as extreme heat may burn the CBD and cause its acids to evaporate. 
One critical component of successful CBD cooking/ baking is properly dosing your edibles. Store-bought weed edibles are machine-made and have precise amounts of CBD in each serving. When working on your own, it is of utmost importance to accurately measure out your CBD oil/ flower/ butter, ensuring each portion contains a uniform and safe amount.
You will always require a precise kitchen scale and conversion calculator to calculate the amount of CBD you have, the number of servings you intend to make, and the amount of CBD that should be infused into each serving. Many suggest beginning with 25 milligrams per serving – especially if you are a novice in the CBD edible field.
It is also wise to begin with recipes that have been developed especially for weed edibles, since the proportions have all been carefully calculated to ensure that each serving contains both a safe and effective amount of CBD.
Potential benefits of Weed edibles
Much hype has surrounded the CBD market in recent years. CBD has been touted as a miraculous cure-all that relieves aches and pains, eases stress and anxiety, alleviates insomnia, boosts the immune system and metabolism, and improves overall health and performance.
Although the validity of many of these claims is highly debatable, some health benefits have been found in connection to cannabidiol.
CBD (and THC as well) is said to enhance the functioning of the endocannabinoid system, a complex network of cellular receptors than spans our body and brain. The EC system impacts a range of bodily functions, including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and fertility/ reproduction.  Accordingly, evidence shows that CBD may ease many conditions, including:
- HIV/ AIDS
- Opioid dependence
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBD)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Anxiety 
Any testing/ use of weed as a remedy is still in the experimental stage, with no conclusive results. In addition, many CBD products are of questionable quality and are marketed with wholly unproven medical claims. Great discretion must be used when choosing and ingesting any CBD product.
Potential risks/side effects of Weed edibles
Although various studies have been publicized to prove the efficacy of CBD, there are an equal (if not greater) number of surveys which demonstrate its adverse effects. Weed edibles may cause:
- Appetite changes
- Somnolence (drowsiness)
- Mood changes
- Nausea and dizziness
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Liver damage
- Gastrointestinal distress 
In addition, those who use weed-derived CBD edibles with significant amounts of THC will be subject to many risks that normally accompany marijuana use. These include impaired short-term memory and judgement, impaired coordination, and impaired cognitive development. THC has also been proven to affect the function of the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, which deal with formation of new memories and shifting attention.
In summary, CBD is a legal, non-mind-altering chemical that is widely distributed and used. It can be found in virtually every form – including edibles, which can easily be made at home. However, its health benefits are at best dubious and unproven, and it should be taken out of necessity, with restraint, in responsible portions.
Any substance use can easily lead to addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction, reach out today! Avenues Recovery admissions is standing by to help you find your way home.
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