Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on December 9, 2020

Edibles are some of the most well-liked cannabis products on the market, and have been even before weed’s legalization in some states and other parts of the world. But while many love consuming them, edibles are often misunderstood in terms of how they work. Many who don’t take them regularly have had bad experiences where they either haven’t felt the high or the high was too intense. But those who take edibles frequently usually find them indispensable.

In this article, we’ll discuss all about the high you get from edibles and we’ll clarify why it takes longer to feel the effects, as well as discuss how long they keep you high.

How Long Do Edibles Take to Kick In?

Even though edibles contain the same components as any other cannabis product, and even though they produce more or less the same effects, they are very different in the way that they work. This often causes confusion among users who are only used to smoking or vaping, but once you get the gist of what’s going on, you’ll see that they have their own perks.

When you eat edibles, they need to go through your digestive system just like any other food. So, they travel to your stomach where they get digested and the main cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the ingredient responsible for the psychoactive effects, and CBD (cannabidiol) get broken down. From there, they travel through the bloodstream to the liver where they get metabolized. This is where the THC is converted to another version of itself, before re-entering the bloodstream and starting to affect the body and the mind.

How Long the High Lasts Can Depend on Several Things

Typically, the high from edibles is longer-lasting compared to smoking and vaping. An average dose of an edible can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, with the peak being around 3 hours after ingestion. In fact, the high lasts longer and is generally more powerful because the cannabinoids are fat-soluble and they bind to the fat cells in the body, making them stay for longer.

The main modulator is the dosage, however, apart from this, there are a variety of factors to consider when talking about how edibles will affect you individually, and how long the high will last.

  • Your physiology – everyone’s tolerance to the effects of cannabis is different, everyone will have a different reaction to edibles because their metabolism will process the edibles differently, which is why there’s no universal guide to taking edibles;
  • The kind of edibles you’re taking – edibles that are taken sublingually, like lozenges, lollipops, and gums, will work a little faster. This is because they are absorbed through the mucus membranes in the mouth rather than the intestines, so they don’t have to go through the process of digestion. Chewable edibles, like gummies, brownies, and cookies have to be swallowed and digested. As we mentioned earlier, this is a longer process, which is why it takes a while to feel the high.

The Benefits of Cannabis Edibles

There are a few reasons why edibles have remained so popular for such a long time:

  • They’re great for people whose lungs are prone to inflammation, or for those who just want to avoid the risks associated with smoking as smoke contains various irritants that can cause respiratory issues;
  • Since they don’t involve any smoke or aroma, they’re discreet enough to be used anywhere;
  • The effects of an edible lasts much longer than the high you get from smoking or vaping, making them a top choice for medical marijuana users who need it for pain relief;
  • Dosing is easier with edibles than with smoking or vaping, especially for people who have learned how much they need, so the risk of overdoing is minimized.

Edibles Dosage Mini Guide

Dosing can be controlled fairly easily with store-bought edibles as most manufacturers have the amount of THC and CBD per serving printed on the label. However, some manufacturers include cannabinoid content of the whole package, rather than just per serving, and this is where you’ll need to be more careful. Similarly, with homemade edibles, like weed brownies or weed butter, for example, it’s hard to know how much THC and CBD the edible contains.

Generally, it’s recommended you start low, with the lowest dose possible if you’re a beginner. Most edibles contain 10 mg to 15 mg of THC and these are okay for users who are used to the effects of marijuana. However, for beginners, doses between 2.5 mg to 5 mg would be the safest THC levels to start with until they build up tolerance and get used to the high. (Barrus et al, 2016) The most important thing is to give the edibles time to start working, which means waiting for at least 90 minutes before taking another dose.

Possible Side Effects of Edibles

Marijuana edibles are great because of two things: one, they’re a practical way to use cannabis without the lung irritation that comes with smoking cannabis, and two, you will always know just how much THC you’re ingesting, provided that you’re using dispensary-bought edibles that have the THC content printed on the package.

However, edibles are also incredibly easy to go overboard with because they are just as tasty as any other non-cannabis treat and they take longer to kick in. For inexperienced users, this could be a problem, especially with homemade edibles, as you can never know upfront how much you’ll need.

If you’re not informed about how long they take to start working, you can misjudge and take another bite or piece thinking that the first one isn’t working, when in reality it needs more time, you may experience an intense high along with some side effects.

Heightened anxiety and even paranoia are common, as well as increased heart rate and sometimes nausea. Mind you, these side effects are really unpleasant, but they’re temporary. Experiencing dry mouth and bloodshot eyes are also very common, even with lower doses.

Therefore, keeping your doses small is always recommended, and should you take one too many, then focus on finding a comfortable spot, hydrate yourself, and give it some time. 

Conclusion

Edibles are a very attractive way of consuming marijuana, but may often be used incorrectly by inexperienced weed enthusiasts. This is mainly because many people don’t realize that edibles take a lot longer to kick in compared to smoking and vaping because they need to go through the digestive system and be metabolized by the liver.

The edible high lasts longer and is more powerfully felt, making it necessary to be mindful of the dosage. Starting with a low dose, especially for those who take edibles for the first time is highly recommended in order to avoid any unnecessary side effects.

Additional Sources

Barrus DG, Capogrossi KL, Cates SC, et al. Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles. Methods Rep RTI Press. 2016;2016:10.3768/rtipress.2016.op.0035.1611. doi:10.3768/rtipress.2016.op.0035.1611

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