Cannabis capsules are marijuana in pill form. They can contain many forms of cannabis, including oil and decarboxylated flower. They can contain single cannabinoids or the full spectrum of compounds the source cannabis plant has to offer. Typically, cannabis capsules are labeled by their cannabinoid contents, such as THC capsules and CBD capsules, for example. Compared to other cannabis products and consumption methods like vaping or smoking cannabis, capsules are easy to dose and consume. Medical marijuana patients sometimes opt for pills because they can provide a potent dose with long-lasting effects.
How capsules interact with your body
Immediate-release capsules work identically to edibles. Cannabinoids enter your body through your mouth and get absorbed by your stomach. In the case of THC pills, your liver then metabolizes THC into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which can last longer and have a more sedating effect than THC.
Time-release capsules follow the same route of digestion and metabolization, but the effects may be delayed or drawn out. Capsule shells engineered with liposomes and drug-polymer conjugates — like hydrogels — allow for the timed release of their contents. These protective and inert ingredients neutralize stomach acid for slower release of THC or CBD into the bloodstream.
How to take CBD and THC pills
If you’ve tried cannabis edibles, then you already have a solid understanding of the experience you can expect from THC pills. If you’re new to both of these cannabis products, know that every individual’s liver metabolizes compounds differently, which is why edibles and THC pills can produce different effects in different people. The effects of THC pills can range from sleep-inducing and pain-relieving to focused and euphoric, depending on the capsule’s ingredients. The entire experience can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the individual and the potency of the THC pills.
Meanwhile, CBD pills may cause only the slightest shift in consciousness or a wave of pain relief, depending on the dose and other ingredients. Finding the right dose and cannabinoid profile for you takes some trial and error, so start with 5 milligrams (mg) of THC or less and wait at least two hours before taking more. If you’re trying CBD capsules for the first time, start with 25mg of CBD or less.
Types of CBD and THC pills
There are many types of marijuana capsules to choose from. Here are the common terms you’ll find on capsule packaging and what they mean:
Ground, decarboxylated flower. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis flower to activate certain cannabinoids. Cannabis flower requires decarboxylation to turn non-intoxicating THCA into intoxicating THC or inactive CBDA into active CBD. Ingesting decarboxylated weed in capsule form allows you to experience the entourage effect without having to smoke weed.
Crystalline. Crystalline is a powdered substance that resembles table salt or sugar. Crystalline capsules contain nearly 100% pure powdered cannabinoids, often in THCA or CBDA-only formulas that allow medical patients to ingest weed without the intoxicating effects associated with THC. The extraction process used to create crystalline essentially strips cannabis of terpenes, minor cannabinoids, and plant matter, leaving behind only the desired molecule.
The Effects of THC Pills
THC’s psychoactive effects have been received with ambivalence in the US since the early twentieth century. However, recent research from the University of New Mexico has discovered that the cannabinoid’s role in marijuana’s medical efficacy is more important than its reputation suggests. The authors of the Scientific Reports study came to this striking conclusion:
“Despite the conventional wisdom, both in the popular press and much of the scientific community that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits. In our study, CBD appears to have little effect at all, while THC generates measurable improvements in symptom relief.”
Consumers of THC pills may experience one or more of the following beneficial effects anywhere from 30 minutes to up to 2 hours after consumption. These effects may last up to 8 hours:
- Enhanced mood
- Decreased social reticence
- Pain relief
- Increased appetite
- Creative thought
However, it is possible to overconsume THC. Too much THC can induce the following adverse reactions:
To avoid these effects, consume THC pills with no more than 10 mg of THC and wait at least two hours before consuming more THC. You can slide your dosage up or down the scale based on how this initial experience feels. If the high is too potent, you may need to consume less THC or CBD only products in the future. If you want more relief, you can consider increasing the THC concentration by small increments until you find a dose that works for you.
The Drawbacks of THC Pills
Potency. The overconsumption of THC can trigger extremely uncomfortable physical and mental responses. One of the greatest drawbacks to ingesting cannabis orally is the difficulty in titrating the dose to mitigate the likelihood of such an episode. There is far more control over inhalable cannabis since consumers can simply stop their smoke session and save the rest of their product for another time when they’ve reached an optimal level of relief. Once a pill is swallowed, there is little you can do to alter the potency of the high.
Delayed onset of effects. Another disadvantage to using THC pills is that you may have to wait up to two hours to experience the apex of the cannabinoids’ effects. Like edibles, THC pills are absorbed through the digestive system. That means that a pill must make it all the way to small intestine before releasing cannabinoids into the bloodstream. Conversely, inhaled cannabis is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs in a matter of seconds.
Inhaled vs Cannabis Capsules: Understanding the Differences
When we inhale smoked or vaped cannabis, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are absorbed close to instantly through our lungs. But with cannabis capsules, because our bodies metabolize them through the liver instead, the cannabinoids take much longer to take effect. It also tends to last a lot longer. This is one key factor that makes them a great choice for those needing steady, long-term relief from symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety, or digestive issues.
How long exactly? In general, you can expect cannabis capsules’ average onset time—they time until the cannabis takes full effect—to be around 90 minutes. How long does it last? The average duration is from 5 – 12 hours. That’s not to say you’ll feel the full psychoactivity of THC for the entire time, but it does tend to stick around in our systems about twice as long as inhaled cannabis.
Know also that these times are averages, influenced by such factors as your age, your cannabis experience, what you recently ate, and any other medications. For instance, consuming fatty foods or beverages around the same time as a cannabis capsule can reduce the onset time and increase the medicine’s duration. For that reason, we always recommend you wait at least 3 hours before taking another dose.