Edibles are cannabis-based food products. They come in many different forms, from sweets like gummies and brownies to savory dishes made with cannabis butters or oils. Edibles will contain one or both of marijuana’s active ingredients: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
With the legalization of cannabis, edibles are increasing in popularity. CBD-only edibles have even been found to help treat ailments such as anxiety and chronic pain. As an added benefit, edibles do not pose risks to the respiratory system; unlike smoking marijuana.
The edible experience tends to differ from that of other cannabis products. The “high” from edibles can feel more intense, and it may last longer than the high you get from smoking flower. Edibles also take longer than smoking or vaping cannabis to kick in, although many factors affect the timing.
Common forms of edibles
Edibles come in many different forms, and new products come onto the market almost daily. Common types of edibles include:
- Baked goods: brownies, cookies, biscuits, and waffles.
- Candy and sweets: gummies, chewing gum, lozenges, lollipops and hard candy, chocolate, truffles, fruit bars, and marshmallows.
- Beverages: coffee, tea and iced tea, soda, energy drinks and shots, beer, wine, and alcohol.
- Other products: jerky, butter, oils, sugar, and syrups.
Determining the right dosage
The potency of an edible is measured differently than cannabis flower or concentrate. Instead of stating the percentage of cannabinoid strength, the potency of an edible product is indicated by the milligrams of cannabinoids contained in the product.
An edible’s package will typically state the milligrams of THC and/or CBD per serving, plus the total milligrams in the entire package. For example, an entire chocolate bar may have 50 milligrams of THC. If the desired dose is 5 milligrams, the bar can be divided into 10 pieces of 5 milligrams each.
The average edible dose is 10–15 mg of THC. These doses are generally effective for a person who is used to cannabis and wants to feel the effects of the edible for a few hours.
A very high dose begins at about 20 mg of THC. Doses this high carry the risk of unwanted side effects from taking too much THC. However, some heavy smokers or people who are used to taking very high amounts of THC may use a very high dose edible to experience stronger or longer lasting effects.
When do edibles kick in?
In general, the effects of an edible start to kick in somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. However, this will vary depending on the type of edible, as well as a person’s age, weight, metabolism, and food intake.
For some edibles such as hard candies or suckers, absorption may begin while the person sucks on them, and therefore, the effects may appear faster. With this method, absorption occurs through the mucus membranes of the mouth. This is called sublingual absorption. Hard candies may kick in within 15–45 minutes.
Edibles you swallow, such as gummies, cookies, and brownies, may have longer onset times. This is because absorption first occurs in the digestive tract. From there, active ingredients enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver. In the liver, active ingredients are metabolized before they are released back into the bloodstream and enter the brain, at which point the effects appear.
In comparison with smoking or vaping cannabis products, edibles are slow to produce effects. It takes some time to notice the effects of an edible, whereas the effects of smoking or vaping THC products are almost instant.
Eating an edible means that the active ingredients, such as THC, have to go through the digestive system to reach the bloodstream, rather than the lungs. This process takes time.
People with faster metabolisms may feel the effects quicker, as the body can digest and process the edible faster. Eating an edible on an empty stomach may also lead to faster acting effects, as opposed to eating an edible with other foods or just after eating a meal.
Some people may experience a delayed effect from eating an edible. They may not notice the effects of the edible at all at first, and then the effects can come on fast and strong. That said, anyone who has eaten an edible and does not feel the effects should wait for at least 2–3 hours before deciding to eat more or use other cannabis products.
Everyone is different, and the effects may simply take longer to manifest in some people. Waiting helps reduce the risk of uncomfortable side effects due to very high doses of THC.
How long do edibles last?
While edibles take a long time to kick in compared with smoking or vaping, they also tend to last much longer. The average dose from an edible can last 6 or more hours, with the strongest effects occurring about 3 hours after ingestion. However, it is not uncommon for the high to last up to 8–12 hours if the person is sensitive but only about 4 hours if the person has a higher tolerance.
Again, this will vary depending on a few factors, such as dosage, metabolism, and tolerance levels. Taking a very large dose or a dose with very potent THC levels may cause a stronger, longer high, as the body takes time to process the THC out of the system.
Individual tolerance levels will also play a large part here. People who are not used to cannabis products may feel the effects more strongly and for much longer than a person who regularly uses cannabis products even if they take the same dose. Tolerance levels will also fluctuate depending on how much cannabis a person has smoked or ingested within a period.
Again, metabolism may also play a role, and a person with a very fast metabolism may not feel the effects for as long as someone with a slower metabolism.
Do edibles expire?
Edibles are a simple way to deliver cannabinoids to the body, but it is also important to consider their shelf life. While cannabinoids can degrade over time, it is the other ingredients in an edible that may make it more or less perishable. Food types will age similarly whether they contain cannabis or not.
For instance, a muffin or cookie may be more perishable than a piece of hard candy. Manufacturers put expiration labels on their weed products, similar to any other food.
Keeping an edible in the fridge or freezer can help extend its shelf life and prevent it from spoiling, especially if it contains ingredients such as dairy or eggs.
Too high from an edible?
Edibles can be deceptively strong. And sometimes people can make the mistake of not being patient enough to wait the 3 hours before taking more.
Taking in too much cannabis is not pleasant. Going over your limit can make you feel anxious, paranoid, nauseous, and just plain awful. So, what can you do when you need to sober up from too much cannabis? There are several ways you can counteract the effects of being too high. We have those methods thoroughly explained in our article: 11 Ways to Sober Up From Weed.