As a result of the legalization of cannabis, there has been a rise in dispensaries around the world offering cannabis consumers a variety of cannabis products. Moreover, medical cannabis is gaining in popularity in a lot of countries around the world for its medicinal use. Weed and its products are used for pain management, even though they’re often not the standard FDA-prescribed CBD therapy issued by medical professionals.
The effects of cannabis products differ based on the method of consumption – smoking cannabis is, for example, different than consuming weed through edibles. The edible experience is more intense, and the high can last longer than when you inhale weed. Also, eating edibles isn’t as risky to the respiratory system as smoking marijuana is.
If you want to know how edibles work, how they affect your body, and how long after consumption until you start feeling the effects of weed, read on. Below we’ll go through the most common types of marijuana edibles, how they are absorbed by our bodies, as well as how long does it take to reach peak THC levels.
What Are Marijuana Edibles?
Edibles are marijuana-infused food products that contain cannabinoids (THC and CBD) and those can either be food or drinks – drinks containing cannabinoids are called liquid edibles or drinkables.
If you’ve ever considered making some homemade edibles or decided to buy pre-made edibles from your local dispensary, you might want to know the types of edibles you might find there.
Cannabis edibles come in different forms and the most common types include:
- Baked goods (like brownies, cakes, pies, cookies that contain cannabis);
- Chocolate bars and sweets (chocolates, truffles, gummies, chewing gum, lozenges, lollipops, and hard candy made with cannabis);
- Drinkables (beverages like coffee, tea, soda, alcoholic drinks that are infused with cannabis);
- Other products (cannabutter, sugar, syrups).
What Happens When You Eat Edibles?
Compared to smoking and vaping, where cannabinoids enter the lungs and are instantly diffused inside the bloodstream with users feeling instant effects, getting high on edibles takes a longer time. The reason why it takes longer to feel the initial effects of edibles is a direct result of the road they travel inside our digestive system. Edibles like brownies, gummy bears, and cookies enter the body via the mouth and into the intestines where THC starts to get absorbed into the bloodstream.
After the THC is released in the bloodstream, the liver metabolizes it and converts it into a more psychoactive compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. 11-hydroxy-THC later binds to the endocannabinoid systems throughout the body. After this, users start to feel the first symptoms of the high. Chewable edibles can have a longer onset time as a result of this.
In contrast, when consuming edible products like lozenges, gum, and lollipops, the absorption actually happens through the mucous membrane of the mouth. Because of this sublingual absorption, the effects of the high might appear faster since they bypass the gastrointestinal tract.
How Long Do Edibles Actually Take to Kick In?
The onset time of the high when consuming edibles isn’t as short as when vaping, smoking, or using tinctures. The effects of an edible can be felt as early as 30 minutes after consumption, according to Drugs and me, but you can expect to experience the full effects of the edible after 2-3 hours. On average, the high can last for a couple of hours, up to eight hours, or in some cases even up to 14 hours depending on how much you have consumed.
Because weed affects everybody differently, you should be aware of certain factors that can influence your edible high. So, before we dive into the question of interest, we must first look into the variety of factors that determine the beginning, intensity, and the length of the high.
Factors That Affect the High
The Amount of THC in the Edible
Depending on how much THC the edible contains, users can start experiencing the effects of weed earlier or later. If the levels of THC are higher, your high will kick in faster and it will probably last longer.
The Amount of Weed Consumed Per Edible
Edibles bought at a dispensary usually contain labels as to how many milligrams of THC and/or CBD a particular edible contains. Also, budtenders can give you more information about the appropriate dosage if you are a first-time user.
If you decide to make weed brownies at home, you should consider starting out with a lower quantity of cannabis butter or oil in your recipe, just to test things out, since it’s likely that this type of marijuana consumption will affect you more compared to smoking.
Metabolism and Body Mass Index (BMI)
Because THC and CBD bind to your fatty cells, people that have a higher amount of fatty tissues experience a more intense high, compared to people with lower amounts of fatty tissues. Moreover, people who have a higher metabolic rate flush the weed out of their bodies faster compared to people that have a lower metabolism rate.
Your Tolerance to Cannabis
Another factor that can also affect your high has to do with whether you are trying edibles for the first time or you have been using weed for a longer period. First-time or occasional users haven’t built up their tolerance to weed compared to regular weed consumers. That’s why first-time users should take it slow and consume lower doses because when consuming edibles, it takes a longer time for the symptoms to show.
Consuming Edibles on an Empty Stomach
The phrase “Never drink on an empty stomach” applies to weed as well. The effects of it can be heightened if you haven’t eaten prior to consuming edibles. As previously stated, weed initially gets digested in your stomach and absorbed in the intestines. Afterward, it circulates through the bloodstream, and that is why eating before consuming edibles helps you have a more pleasant experience. You will not only feel less hungry (since weed stimulates eating), but also, you will probably avoid feeling cranky and you’ll have a better experience overall.
Mixing Weed With Other Substances
Edibles, as well as other cannabis products, shouldn’t be mixed with other drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication. If you do that, you risk experiencing worse side effects, having a “bad trip”, and you’re also running the risk of your prescription medication not working properly.
How the Edibles Are Made
How long it takes for edibles to kick in also depends on how they’re made. The main methods used to prepare marijuana-infused foods include cannabutter, cannabis concentrates, or cannabis oils. Concentrates and oils can be more potent than cannabis butter, so you might want to check what kind of weed product your edible contains.
The Assessment of physical and pharmacokinetic relationships in marijuana production and consumption, done by the Colorado Department of Revenue in 2015 provides comparisons between the dosing effects of inhaled and ingested marijuana products. Edibles are significantly more potent, compared to inhaling marijuana.
The potency of edible products is measured by the milligrams of cannabinoids it contains, and knowing the accurate dosage of an edible, as well as consuming it responsibly is of vital importance. As weed edibles have different CBD-to-THC ratios, choosing one that will give you the best results is key.
And if you’re an occasional or a first-time user, you should start slow. Firstly, see how your body is affected after the first hour after consumption, and if you want a more intense high, you can maybe top off after 2-3 hours just to be safe.
To conclude, how fast your high will start when ingesting edibles can vary as a result of different factors. You may experience your first effects of the weed after 30 minutes, and the THC levels in your blood might peak at 2-3 hours after consumption.
If you want to have a good edible experience, make sure you consume edibles on a full stomach. Depending on your desired effect, you should moderate the dosage you consume. You should always start with a low dose and increase it after 2-3 hours if you find it necessary. That way you can avoid overconsumption, have a pleasant experience, as well as avoid some of the side effects.