Edibles are an easy and fun way to incorporate cannabis into your life. But eating edibles is quite a different experience from other ways of consuming cannabis, such as smoking. To help you be fully prepared to experience edibles, we’ve created this guide that will go over how long you can expect edibles to kick in.
What are edibles?
Any food or drink product that contains cannabis or cannabis extracts is typically referred to as an edible. Edibles come in all shapes and sizes; you can find candy, gummy, baked goods, sodas, chocolate, chewing gum, and lollipop edibles, just to name a few.
Edibles can usually be broken down into three categories: those that contain CBD, those that contain THC, and those that contain both. It’s important to be aware of the type of edible you are consuming because different types can have very different effects on the body.
THC is a cannabinoid compound found in cannabis. Research tells us that THC can induce some significant health benefits and may be able to help:
THC is also the compound responsible for cannabis’ high. So if your edible contains THC, you can expect it to get you high. Because of the psychotropic effects of THC, it is more tightly regulated than other cannabis compounds. THC edibles can only legally be purchased in states that allow either medicinal or recreational cannabis use.
CBD is another common ingredient in edibles. CBD is a popular choice for people wanting to experience some of the therapeutic effects of cannabis without getting high. Research into CBD’s effects has found that CBD may be able to help:
- Reduce inflammation (6)
- Reduce pain (7)
- Improve skin conditions (8)
- Protect the brain (9)
- Improve sleep scores (10)
- Reduce seizure frequency (11)
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is legal at the federal level in the US However, some states may have specific laws regulating its purchase.
How long does it take until edibles kick in?
Because edibles pass through the gut, you can expect them to take around an hour to start to kick in. After eating a compound, it takes quite a while for it to be absorbed into the bloodstream, as it must work its way through the digestive tract before absorption can even start.
The length of time before edibles kick in can vary depending on a number of factors. Studies have shown that cannabinoids can take 1 – 3 hours to reach their peak concentration in the bloodstream (12). Factors that can influence how long it takes you to feel the effects of edibles include your individual:
One mistake that people often make is assuming an edible hasn’t worked and taking another one. It’s important to remember that edibles can take hours to kick in, and taking additional edibles too soon can push your dosage too high. If your edible isn’t kicking in, it’s best to wait 24 hours before taking another.
Lollipops and chewing gum
Edibles that are sucked or kept in the mouth for a long period of time can hit you faster. This is because the area under our tongue is extremely permeable and allows compounds to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gut.
Edible products that could be felt faster thanks to sublingual absorption include (13):
- Chewing gum
- Hard candy
How strong are edibles?
The strength of an edible will depend on the concentration of cannabinoids present in the specific product. Concentrations will vary from product to product, so it’s important to read the label on your edible before dosing.
We also know that eating cannabinoids typically delivers mild to medium effects. Bioavailability refers to the percentage of a compound that reaches the bloodstream after being consumed. Because of the strong metabolic action of the gut, only about 6 – 20% of cannabinoids actually reach the bloodstream (14).
Offering medium-strength, long-lasting effects, edibles are a great option for people wanting a more sustained experience. Patients with chronic conditions, for example, might prefer edibles over faster, shorter-lasting consumption methods (e.g., smoking).
How much edible should you take?
An ideal edible dose will depend on a number of factors. Things that you should take into consideration when deciding how much of an edible to take include:
If you’re trying to alleviate certain symptoms with an edible, the amount of edible that you need will depend on the severity of the symptoms that you are looking to target. If your symptoms are relatively mild, you might want to start with a lower dose. You can always gradually increase your dosage until the edible strength is where you need it.
Tolerance to cannabinoids
Your experience with cannabinoids can also impact how much edible you should take. If you’re new to edibles or cannabinoids, then it’s probably best to start with a lower dose and gauge your tolerance. However, if you’re an experienced cannabis user with a high tolerance, then you might want to start with a larger edible dose.
Body size can have an impact on most medicines, and edibles are no different. The general rule is, the bigger the body, the higher the dose needed for effects to be felt. If you’re on the smaller side, it’s probably wise to start with a lower edible dose and see how it affects you.
Potential side effects
Edibles can cause some side effects, which may be felt more acutely in higher doses. Because of this, it’s important to analyze your needs and start with the lowest dose that is best for you. Edible side effects may be related to the cannabinoid compounds they contain or can stem from normal food ingredients.
CBD side effects
CBD is largely considered to have a high safety profile. Side effects from CBD tend to be mild but can include (15):
- Reduced appetite
We know that it is not possible to overdose on CBD, due to the lack of CBD receptors in the area of the brain that controls respiration (16). This means that even high amounts of CBD shouldn’t affect or suppress respiration, as is seen in overdoses with other drugs.
THC side effects
Because THC can get you high, the side effects that you should most be concerned about if you’ve taken too much THC are psychotropic ones. Possible side effects of THC can include (17):
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Reduced reaction time
There have been no reported cases of THC overdose. In most cases, any side effects from THC or CBD use should go away on their own. If you’re experiencing negative side effects from edibles, it’s best to stop consuming them and wait for the symptoms to dissipate. If you are concerned about your symptoms, reach out to a health professional or call 911.
Edibles can take quite a while to kick in due to the absorptive processes of the gut. You can expect edibles to take one to three hours to take effect, although this timeframe can be much shorter if you’re consuming edible gum or lollipops. It’s important to remember that it can take a while to feel the effects of edibles – don’t be tempted to take more and push your dosage too high.