For many, cannabis edibles are a dosing enigma. Sometimes, biting off the head of a weed gummy bear might knock us out one day, while eating a whole weed cookie might not do anything for us at all. A lot of cannabis users don’t even know the answer to the question of “how long for edibles to kick in?”
Edibles, like cannabis flower and any other cannabis product, can affect everyone differently. After all, all of our bodies are different! However, the majority of negative experiences with edibles happen either due to inexperience or just plain impatience.
We get it; nobody wants to wait to get high!
The biggest advantage of smoking and vaping weed is that their effects hit you almost instantly. However, the same can’t be said for weed edibles, which begs the question: how long for edibles to kick in?
Before we can go ahead and answer that question for you, it’s essential to first understand how edibles work in the first place!
How Do Cannabis Edibles Work?
The differences in effects between edibles vs smoking are well known. To begin, one involves decarboxylation and inhaling the THC-infused smoke produced to get high, while the other involves eating the THC instead.
Compared to smoking cannabis, eating cannabis edibles has long been touted as the healthier and safer option for obvious reasons.
For starters, you’re not damaging or irritating your lungs with weed smoke. Oral ingestion of THC edibles also allows for much more accurate and precise dosage, practically eliminating the risk of greening out, as long as they’re consumed properly, which they rarely are.
Unlike smoking cannabis, edible cannabis operates by acting on the body’s digestive system.
When weed is smoked, the inhaled THC-infused smoke is inhaled into our lungs, where it can enter into our bloodstream and eventually bind to the receptors in our endocannabinoid system.
This diffusion from our blood to the ECS usually happens within seconds, which is why we feel the effects of smoking weed almost instantly.
However, it’s different for edibles.
Instead of being absorbed into the blood through our lungs, the THC within cannabis edible first has to be digested and metabolized by our digestive system and liver. When this happens, our liver changes the THC into a completely different compound known as 11-OH-THC or 11-Hydroxy-THC, a metabolite of THC.
Compared to regular THC, 11-OH-THC is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier much more quickly and efficiently, making it several times more potent than regular THC. A low dose edible of 10mg THC can make it feel like you’re smoking flower with THC levels far exceeding that.
Their strong potency and delayed onset of effects combined with the impatience of many cannabis users ultimately culminate in a bad time for everyone involved, especially if users don’t end up double or triple-dosing themselves, believing that their cannabis products don’t work.
How Long Does it Take For Edibles to Kick In? 3 Factors to Consider
How long edibles take to kick in depends on many factors. In the above section, we explored how and why edible cannabis products produce delayed effects. Since edibles affect the digestive system, how long edibles take to kick in depends entirely on a variety of factors, including your metabolism, your age, and even your sex, so the answer isn’t as cut and dry as we’d like.
Usually, the edible high will take anywhere from half an hour to two hours to activate, with the effects themselves lasting anywhere from 7 to 12 hours.
Not all edibles are made equal, so tokers should take these numbers with a grain of salt. Some cannabis edibles, such as tinctures and lozenges, utilize sublingual absorption through the mucous membrane beneath the tongue, which can activate in as little as fifteen to thirty minutes.
Baked goods such as brownies, hard candy, and lollipops kick in much slower since they have to be metabolized instead of absorbed. However, other factors beyond your metabolism can influence how fast and how hard the psychoactive effects from edibles hit you. Here’s what some of them are:
What You Ate
Believe it or not, what you ate (or didn’t eat) can affect your taking edibles. If you’re consuming cannabis on an empty stomach, you’re likely to feel the effects much harder and faster than you would after a meal.
While the onset of effects for smoking won’t be much different, edibles will hit you much faster on an empty stomach than a full one since your stomach has nothing else to metabolize but the edible itself.
If you want your edibles to hit you faster and sooner, eating them on an empty stomach is one of the best ways to achieve this. However, we warn novices against the practice since it can easily lead to a cannabis overdose and may lead to greening out.
How long do edibles take to kick in depends on you and your body.
Your weight, age, metabolism, diet, gender and cannabis tolerance will all play a role in how well you metabolize the THC’s effects. People come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all blanket timeline when it comes to figuring out how long it takes for edibles to kick in.
Our advice? Start with a low dose and wait a few hours for the effects to ‘peak’ before going ahead and consuming a second dose. As you do this, make a mental or physical note of the onset time and serving size of each amount that you consume- you can use this edible dosage reference to guide future experiences.
Following this advice on cannabis consumption might not help you achieve the desired effect right away, but you also won’t be uncomfortably high for hours on end!
How long it takes for edibles to kick in can also depend on the type of edibles they are and what was used to create them.
Baked goods, fatty foods, and infused sweets can be made with cannabis butter, while gummies, hard candies, and other confectionaries are usually made with weed oil and weed distillate. THC is non-water soluble and needs to bind to fat or a lipid to be bioavailable. In other words, our bodies can’t absorb it if it’s not bound to fat.
On the other hand, cannabis concentrates such as oils and distillate a ready-to-eat cannabis product with a higher dose. They don’t need to be bound to a fat in order to work and are often more pure and potent than their fatty counterparts.
So what does this all mean? It means that different types of edibles will hit you differently. One person’s stomach might be better suited towards digesting lactose products such as butter and milk, while another might metabolite distillate and oil better.
Unfortunately, the only way to really determine the onset time of effects for various edibles is to keep experimenting until you find one that works with you!
Eating Edibles for the First Time? What You Need to Know
If you’re eating edibles for the first time, here’s a couple of quick tips to keep in mind before you embark on your cannabis journey.
- Start slow, go slow.
- Eat beforehand
- Know your edibles dosage
- Have a plan before, during and after
For more advice on proper edibles dosing and what you should look out for, check out the guides we wrote below!
THC levels in blood peak, on average, three hours after consumption so if you’re still not feeling the effects of your first edible, you can try consuming another dose to see if there’s any effect.
If you’re still not feeling anything, you’re either immune to the effects of 11-OH-THC or you have a bag of faulty edibles. We can’t do anything about the former but if you’re suffering from the latter, hop on over to Herb Approach for the largest selection of low dose and high dose THC edibles, CBD edibles and everything in between!
Until next time, happy trails!