By / June 3, 2024

Some People Are Immune to Edibles, and Science Doesn’t Know Why

Edibles are often considered one of the best ways to experience the prolonged effects of cannabis, though sometimes with potent intensity. Consuming THC through food can produce a very intense euphoric state that can last from 6 to 8 hours, or even longer depending on the dosage of the edible product.

However, some people do not feel these effects with edibles. They can easily get stoned by smoking a joint, but feel nothing when consuming cannabis-infused foods. This phenomenon, known as “ediblocked,” is more common than one might think and is linked to our physiological makeup.

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Variability of Cannabis Effects From Edibles

Cannabis affects people differently. While some can get high with a small amount, others need a much larger quantity. An interview conducted in 2021 with Al McDonald, a cannabis grower from Ontario, Canada, highlights this issue. Mr. McDonald recounted how, despite consuming a significant amount of THC in edible form, he felt nothing while his friends were visibly high. It was only when he consumed about 700 mg of THC that he began to feel effects, a dose much higher than the standard starting point of 5 mg.

Similar stories reveal an immunity to edibles despite consuming extremely potent cannabis products. This immunity is not only disappointing for recreational users; it also complicates the dosing of medical cannabis, where precise effects are crucial for treatment.

Scientific Investigations

Scientists and doctors continue to explore the reasons behind this phenomenon. Dr. Staci Gruber, director of cannabis research within the neuroscientific discovery programs at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, suggests that some people might possess a variant of a specific liver enzyme that makes them “too efficient” at metabolizing THC when ingested in edible form. THC is then converted into an active metabolite, which is quickly transformed into an inactive form, preventing the euphoric effect.

The enzyme CYP2C9 plays a crucial role in how THC is metabolized. This gene is responsible for converting THC into 11-Hydroxy-THC, the main active metabolite of THC that forms in the body after consumption, which is then degraded into THC-COOH. People with certain subtypes of this gene may struggle to effectively metabolize THC in edible form.

“It’s as if they skip the intermediate step,” explains Dr. Gruber.

The Role of the Liver and Genetics

Genetics significantly influence how you react to cannabis. The liver, composed of enzymes that help metabolize drugs and other substances, plays a central role. The liver’s P-450 enzymes are responsible for the primary metabolism of medications and also contribute to metabolizing the cannabinoids present in cannabis. However, this process depends on how the variants of the CYP2C9 gene express themselves, which is already used to anticipate reactions to THC or determine your compatibility with cannabis.

Factors Affecting THC Metabolism From Edibles

Numerous other factors affect the metabolism of THC in the human body. Fat metabolism, body fat mass, age, genetics, frequency of consumption, and body weight all influence how long it takes to feel the effects of THC.

While a low tolerance to cannabis can be beneficial in many ways, there is still much to learn about why some people are ediblocked. Research is ongoing to understand if there are ways to modify gene expression to allow people to feel the effects of cannabis with less THC.

In the meantime, those who do not find edibles effective can, where cannabis is legal, consider experimenting with other forms of cannabis. Smoking or consuming concentrates may prove more effective in this regard.

(Featured image by Margo Amala via Unsplash)

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