Can Edibles Really Be Strain Specific?

March 7, 2022

When you think of edibles, you don’t often worry about what strain was used to make them. There isn’t much talk of Sativa or Indica edibles — but is there a difference? Does this affect the high that you’ll experience after consumption?

As it turns out, there are some unique aspects of the strain that can make it through the cooking and digestion process, but not very much!

The Science Of Different Cannabis Strains

man holding cannabis strain in handWhile most people attribute sleepiness to Indicas and creative energy to Satiavs in most cases, each of these types of strains actually offer much more diversity than these two simple effects. Some indicas are great for creativity and meditative sessions, while some Sativas are great for calming anxiety and nerves in social situations. Specific strains do have specific effects.

Strains can vary greatly, with each having unique terpenes, flavor profiles, and cannabinoids present that can alter the high that any specific plant will offer. The main differentiating factor that can affect edibles, however, is the terpene profile. The terpene profile will make up a great deal of the noticeable flavors and effects of a certain strain.

Do these terpenes make it through the prep and cooking (not to mention digestive) processes involved in making and consuming edibles, though? The short answer is no, they are mostly broken down at this point to their base constituents.

Studies have shown that a person would have to introduce 1.2g to 2.4g of terpene directly into their stomach—bypassing the mouth—to produce noticeable effects. The doses required to produce noticeable effects with edibles range from 20mg to 200mg per kilogram. This means humans would require an edible containing 1,200mg to 12,000mg to feel unique effects, which is definitely not realistic!

Usually, a 10mg THC edible contains insignificant amounts of terpenes. If the edible is from a strain-specific extract, then the terpenes will be present at a very small dose. If the extract is a high-terpene concoction, users will consume around 7mg per dose (which would taste horrible).

Even that is still almost 200 times less than the minimum terpene concentration that has been demonstrated to have a pharmacological effect via oral administration. This makes it very unlikely that any strain-specific effects will make it through the process and cause unique effects.

At its core, cooking and digestion break down strain-specific effects.

Consuming Edibles

This is even more obvious when you look at the mechanism of how edibles are broken down by the body. A cannabis edible must first travel through your digestive system. THC and other cannabinoids are eventually absorbed and partially metabolized by the liver before entering the bloodstream and making their way to the brain.

When you consume an edible, your body’s digestive system converts THC into a different chemical known as 11-hydroxy-THC. This chemical is five times as psychoactive as THC, which is why edibles feel like a unique experience from smoking. You are literally experiencing the effects of a different chemical!

The strain-specific edible is mostly just for marketing purposes. Consuming terpenes in an edible simply does not provide enough of the active ingredient to produce any type of unique effect. Not only that, but the cooking and digestive process are likely to break down everything except the THC (which it converts into 11-hydroxy-THC).

In the best possible (but worst tasting) scenario, a user would consume 200 times less than he or she would need to feel any terpene effect, and even then, there is no guarantee the terpenes wouldn’t be completely degraded by the stomach.

So, to wrap up, edibles will get you very high at the proper dosage but are unlikely to offer strain-specific effects. The unique effects you feel are more based on the method of production rather than the cannabis strain being used in the recipe. Whether the edibles were made from fresh Blue Dream or a ripe OG Kush strain, don’t expect one or the other to offer much of a different experience.

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