Going Beyond the Pot Brownie: A Nutritionist Talks Edibles

"The pot brownie is both an icon and a parody in the cannabis community," says integrative clinical nutritionist Laura Lagano. She introduces us to the budding culinary world of marijuana edibles

pot brownies: A image of ingredients to make pot brownies.

(Photo: Getty)

Remember when Snoop Dogg dropped by Martha Stewart’s kitchen for a very special baking episode to learn how to make her signature brownies? It got us thinking: on a good day, it’s hard to take a single bite of a regular brownie, so how do you make sure you don’t overdo it on a “green” one?

To answer all your edible questions, we reached out to Laura Lagano, integrative clinical nutritionist at Laura Lagano Nutrition and co-founder of the Holistic Cannabis Academy. Lagano schooled us on the art of edibles and how to consume them safely.

What’s the difference between inhaling marijuana and consuming it?

Well, with inhaling, you’re either smoking or vaporizing marijuana, and its cannabinoids travel into your blood stream faster, giving it a much quicker effect compared to oral consumption. When consuming marijuana in edibles, the high takes longer to take effect and may last longer.

Is there such a thing as a clean edible?

Opt for edibles that use organic ingredients. Sadly, there is no organic certification for cannabis, so know your farmer or grower or ask someone at your dispensary for more details. Look for products that are sugar-free, as well as free of artificial flavours, colours, preservatives and sweeteners.

Everyone knows about the stereotypical pot brownie. What are some new ways that people are incorporating marijuana into food?

Yes, the pot brownie is both an icon and a parody in the cannabis community. Nowadays, people are incorporating cannabis into basically every food from coffee to condiments and from miso soup to meatloaf. A great resource is The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook, for which my nutrition colleague and co-founder of the Holistic Cannabis Academy Donna Shields developed recipes. 

Related: Meet the Canadian Chef Helping Veterans Cook with Cannabis

Do you think it’s healthier to consume marijuana vs. inhaling it?

You can’t compare inhaling cannabis with oral consumption. These intake methods are different and both are appropriate depending on the individual. Two people with the same health goals may require different cannabis preparations. Cannabis is truly personalized lifestyle medicine.

What are your best tips for safely enjoying edibles to ensure a person doesn’t overdo it?

Start low and go slow! For newbies, that means trying an edible with a low amount of THC [tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, responsible for its psychological effects], such as 2 mg, and waiting for as long as three hours for any psychotropic effect. Most edibles that you purchase should have packaging and an information label on it, so you know what you are getting and don’t consume too much. You can get into trouble if you do not exercise good judgment and patience. 

What’s the best way to counteract a really intense high?

Drink plenty of water. Stay in a safe place with a friend. You can also take a supplement called citicoline, which can mitigate the effects of THC. [Just be sure to check with your doctor first, as citicoline can have some potential side effects of its own and the safety of its long-term use hasn’t been demonstrated in studies yet.]  

If you’d like to learn more, Lagano offers online education in “bite-sized bundles” at Holistic Cannabis Academy. 

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