Edibles are cannabis-based food products. They come in many different forms, from gummies to brownies, and contain either one or both of marijuana’s active ingredients: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
With the legalization of marijuana, 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 don’t 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.
Edibles also take longer than smoking or vaping cannabis to kick in, although many factors affect the timing.
Keep reading to learn more about edibles, including how long they take to kick in and how long the effects last, along with dosage, side effects, and precautions.
How long does it take before you begin to feel the effects of edibles?
Edibles typically take around 30 to 60 minutesTrusted Source to kick in. However, onset time depends on a lot of factors.
First, it depends on the product’s active ingredients. If the product contains a high dose or concentration of THC, it could take effect faster.
Keep in mind that CBD-only edibles are not psychoactive. They don’t cause the “high” typically associated with THC-infused edibles. As a result, it may be harder to identify when CBD products have taken effect.
For both types of products, onset time also depends on where in the body the edibles are being broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Lozenges, gum, and lollipops kick in faster because they’re absorbed sublingually
Some edible products, such as lozenges, gum, and lollipops, are ingested but not actually swallowed. In these cases, absorption occurs through the mucus membranes of the mouth. This is called sublingual absorption, and the effects are more likely to appear faster.
Chewable edibles take longer to kick in because they’re absorbed through the digestive system
Chewable edibles, 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.
Other factors affecting onset time
Other factors that can affect how quickly you start to feel the effects of ingested edibles are related to your habits and physical makeup. They include your:
- tolerance to cannabis
Since edibles don’t kick in right away, it can be tempting to take more soon after your first dose. This can lead to taking too much.
You should always wait at least 24 hours before taking another dose.
The downsides of being too high
Here’s where it gets real, though: Marijuana isn’t for everyone. Plenty of people have scary tales of bad trips or getting “too high.”
It’s impossible to immediately know if you’re prone to these less-than-pleasant experiences, but it’s true that people who are sensitive to substances may not enjoy their highs at all.
Just as every high is different, every instance of being “too high” is unique. Some people may experience such a strong high that they have to crawl into bed, while others may feel catatonic or out of control. These experiences can discourage people from ever trying edibles or smoking again (this usually applies to edibles).
A few of the known physical risks are:
- high blood pressure
- racing heartbeat
Common negative emotional and psychological effects include:
While a fatal overdose of marijuana is unlikely, getting too high can definitely be scary. Fear can be dangerous since it can cause panic and carelessness. That’s why it’s recommended that people who are under the influence of any drug not get behind the wheel.
The best way to avoid the worst of being high is to plan ahead
If you’re sensitive to substances or new to marijuana, start slow. Seriously. Even if your local dispensary sells edibles and other products with 10 milligrams of THC per dose, beginners will likely need to start with less.
Way, way less. We’re talking closer to 2 or 3 milligrams — and some people may never be able to take more than that. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to babysit you as well.
If you do accidentally get too high, the most important things to do are move to a place you feel safe and try to stay calm. Remember that the feelings are temporary.
Some people find that eating, getting properly hydrated, or even taking a whiff of black pepper can help them find balance, but the best thing you can do is stay in one place until the feelings wear off.
It is difficult to pin down the dosage of edibles, as numerous manufacturers make a different range of products. Additionally, the potency of the edibles will vary not only on the type of strain and THC content but also on factors such as cooking temperature and time.
Edibles can come in doses as low 0.5 milligrams (mg) THC. However, many consider 2.5–5 mg of THC to be the lowest effective dose and will recommend starting with this dose if the person has never tried edibles.
The average edible will contain 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 are generally not a good idea, as they may increase the risk of some unwanted effects from taking in too much THC at once. 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.
A review article notes that the THC effects of edibles can appear in some individuals at doses as low as 2.5 mg, while others need doses of 50 mg to experience any of the effects of THC. This range is very wide, reinforcing the idea that individuals should start with a low dose.