If you’re interested in trying edibles, it’s important to know how long their effects can last. Edibles provide an experience that’s different from other consumption methods, such as smoking or vaping. Our guide will help you to understand what you can expect from edibles and will explain how long they stay in your system.
How long do edibles last?
Edibles are a fun and easy way to consume cannabis. Infused with cannabis or cannabis extracts, these food products come in many forms, including candy, gummies, and cookies.
So how long do edibles last? Because of the slow digestive process of the gut, edibles can last for several hours. Research tells us that some edibles can in fact last for six hours or more, so it’s important to plan accordingly before ingesting (1).
The longevity of an edible’s effects will depend on a few factors, including dosage, your metabolism, your body size, and your tolerance. The impacts of the same edible might only last for four in one person but could linger for twelve hours in another person.
When do edibles first kick in?
When you eat an edible, it has to pass through the gut and be absorbed by the digestive tract before its active ingredients, e.g., cannabinoids, can reach the bloodstream and start to have their effects.
Studies have shown that, when ingested with edibles, CBD can take 1.5 – 3 hours before its effects start to peak in the bloodstream (2).
It’s important to refrain from taking another edible too quickly if you think the first one hasn’t worked. Edibles can take hours to kick in, so if you think your dose was too weak, be sure to wait a full 24 hours before taking another dose. You don’t want to accidentally increase your dose by too much.
Edibles and drug testing
If you’re taking edibles with THC then you might be concerned about potential drug testing. While cannabis has become more and more accepted in the US over the last decade, employers, sports bodies, and other institutions can require drug testing.
Cannabis drug tests typically work by testing urine. There are two main types of urine tests for cannabis:
- Immunoassay test (3): This test looks for the presence of THC-COOH, one of the main metabolites of THC. It will either show up as positive or negative for the metabolite, though it will not tell you how much of the metabolite is present. A certain amount of THC-COOH is needed to trigger a positive result in an immunoassay test – usually 15 ng/ml (4).
- Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (5): This test is a little more complicated and specific, analyzing all the compounds present in the urine and measuring the concentration of each compound. This test could be used to find out both whether cannabinoids are present in urine and how much are present. GC-MS tests tend to be used secondary to immunoassay as a tool to measure how much cannabinoid is present, after immunoassay confirms its presence (6).
The length of time it takes to pass a drug test after eating an edible will depend on your dosage and frequency of use (7). If you take edibles frequently, it may take up to 30 days before a urine test is passable, whereas occasional users may be able to see clean tests in as little as three days.
Effects of edibles
Most people turn to edibles due to their medicinal and psychoactive properties. These are the effects that you can expect to feel from the cannabinoids often found in edibles.
THC’s most famous (and infamous) effect is its ability to get you high. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the compound responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis. But THC also can induce a range of therapeutic effects such as:
- Reducing inflammation (8)
- Reducing pain (9)
- Improving PTSD (10)
- Improving sleep (11)
- Improving Appetite (12)
CBD is another ingredient often found in edibles. CBD can’t induce a high, so you don’t have to worry about any psychotropic effects when taking CBD-only edibles. CBD is a popular choice thanks to its range of potential therapeutic effects. Research has found that CBD might be able to:
- Reduce inflammation (13)
- Treat skin conditions (14)
- Protect the brain (15)
- Reduce anxiety (16)
- Improve sleep scores (17)
- Reduce pain (18)
- Reduce seizure frequency (19)
The amount of edible that you take will affect how long it lasts in your system, so it’s important to get your dosing right. The perfect edible dose will depend on your own needs. Factors that can impact dosing include:
- Symptom severity: The severity of your symptoms will impact how much edible you require. If the symptoms you are looking to alleviate are mild, then you might want to start with a lower dose.
- Body type: A general rule for medication dosing is that a bigger body requires a higher dosage. Therefore, if you’re petite, it’s probably best to start with a lower dosage and work your way up if you find you require more.
- Tolerance: Tolerance is also an important factor when it comes to figuring out your edible dose. If you’re new to cannabinoids or edibles, then it’s best to start with a lower dose and analyze your tolerance level before moving to a higher dose.
In terms of actual numbers, a standard dose of THC is considered to be 5 mg, and research often involves THC doses ranging from 0.35 to 90 mg (20, 21). CBD has been used in research at very high doses, with studies showing that doses as high as 1,500 mg per day can be used safely and effectively (22).
Side effects of edibles
Edibles can cause some side effects, and it’s important to be aware of these effects before taking any cannabis or cannabinoid product. As with any food product, edibles can also trigger a food sensitivity or allergy, depending on their ingredients. Ingredients that people often react to include:
Cannabinoids can themselves cause side effects, too.
One of THC’s main side effects is that it induces a high. While this might be desirable for many, in certain cases THC can cause confusion, paranoia, anxiety, or hallucinations. Other possible side effects from THC include (23):
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Reduced reaction time
- Impaired coordination
- Reduced motivation
- Increased heart rate
CBD can also cause some side effects, although these are usually mild (24). CBD is considered to have a strong safety profile, but it can lead to:
- Reduced appetite
Most side effects from edibles should subside with time. If you’re worried about any side effects that you’re experiencing, stop consuming edibles and contact a doctor, or call 911 if your symptoms become very concerning.
Because of the digestive processes of the gut, you can feel the effects of edibles for quite a few hours. Even after the effects of edibles wear off, they can stay in your system for days. Chronic users can test positive for cannabinoids as many as 30 days after their last usage.