The world of cannabis edibles is changing fast, with more transparency and insight than ever regarding the effects of cannabis, the benefits of cannabis use, and a better understanding of how cannabis is processed through the digestive system. As more people open their eyes to the benefits of the cannabis plant, the range of edible products on offer has grown as well.
With benefits like support for sleep quality, mood, and feelings of tension, mints, baked goods, gummies, and other edible offerings are becoming one of the most popular ways to experience cannabis.
Edibles are also a great alternative to smoking cannabis, offering many of the benefits of the plant without the harmful side effects of inhalation.
This article will help you learn about how edibles work in our bodies and what expectations you should have about the time frame for them to kick in, and how long they’ll last.
How long does it take for edibles to produce effects?
Unlike smoking and vaping, ingestingedibles has a delayed effect.
Many factors contribute to this delay, which we will discuss later, but on average, edibles kick in after about 30 or 60 minutes once they’ve moved through your digestive tract.* However, this is just a guideline as it can often take even longer to produce effects—an important point to remember to avoid overconsumption.
Edibles are their own category, affecting our bodies differently than other methods of cannabis delivery.
The onset of effects is not only slower, but most users report experiencing more intense psychoactive highs when consuming edibles, resulting from the liver processing the THC contained in the original product into a stronger form of THC.*
Do edibles take longer to start working than other methods?
Compared to other methods of consuming cannabis, edibles take longer to start working. The difference in onset time is due to the unique ways our bodies process different forms of cannabis.
When vaped or smoked, cannabis quickly enters the bloodstream through the lungs and has a near-immediate effect. Most people experience the intoxicating effects of THC within minutes, with peak intensity around the 30-minute mark and effects ending around four hours.
With edibles, this time frame is extended from start to finish. When consuming edibles, it is unlikely that any effect will occur within the first 30 minutes. Unlike smoking or vaping, edibles must first be digested in the stomach and liver before entering the bloodstream.
What factors impact how long edibles take to work?
When taking edible cannabis products, there are many factors to consider. Not only do we all have different experience levels, but there is a wide range of cannabinoids that each have their own unique effects.
On top of this, our bodies each work differently due to genetic and environmental factors, so how we experience edibles will be unique to each individual. Here are some of the top factors that impact how long edibles take to work.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to appropriate edible servings, especially when it comes to newcomers. Taking a larger serving size will not only result in a more pronounced intoxicating effect once it kicks in, but it could also speed up the onset.
Put simply, the more available THC or CBD you have in your system, the quicker your body will start absorbing it into your bloodstream. Most people will experience changes in mood or perception with as little as 2.5 mg servings of THC edibles, while increasing serving sizes will only add to effects and extend timeframes.*
Everyone’s body is different, down to our metabolism. People with a faster metabolism will typically experience the effects of edibles much quicker than people with a slower metabolism. This is because the stomach and liver break the edible down faster, increasing the speed at which THC is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Another factor to consider is how recently you’ve eaten. Edibles eaten on a full stomach will have a slower onset than on an empty stomach.
As cannabis users gain more experience with edible offerings, they tend to develop a tolerance, over time requiring larger servings for the same effects.
For a beginner, a serving as small as 2.5 mg can produce noticeable effects, while the pros may take serving as large as 50 mg or more. For someone with a high tolerance, the time for effects to kick in is typically longer.
Form of edible
A major factor to consider when consuming edibles is the form factor. Depending on the type of edible, effects can come on quicker or slower.
Baked goods such as brownies and cookies have a slower onset than some other edible types because they must first be digested in the stomach and liver before being absorbed into the bloodstream.
The 30-to-60-minute rule of thumb is based on these products. Gummies and taffies also fall under this umbrella and typically have a slower onset than other product types.*
Lozenges, lollipops, tinctures, mints, and gum are common edibles that don’t take as long to digest. As opposed to chewable edibles, effects from these products may begin within minutes.
How long do the effects of an edible last?
Compared to other methods of cannabis consumption, not only do edibles take longer to kick in, but they can also last much longer. It takes a little while for our bodies to absorb the cannabinoids contained in edible cannabis, and as such, it is present in our bloodstream for much longer than when smoked or vaped.
As the liver processes the THC from the edible, it converts the compound into a stronger form, with effects typically peaking around the four-hour mark. For some users, pronounced effects can continue up to 12 hours, with residual effects tapering off around 24 hours.
Remember this when planning your evening around an edible cannabis experience, as effects can often last longer than expected.
Should you take more of an edible if you aren’t feeling anything?
As we’ve learned, the high from consuming edibles takes longer to kick in, lasts longer, and can be more intense than smoking or vaping.
With the complex interaction of factors at play, including serving size, tolerance, metabolism, and delivery method, you may not feel the effects in the standard 30-60 minute time frame.
The adage “start low and go slow” is advisable when trying an edible cannabis product containing THC, for beginners and experienced cannabis users alike. Taking more of an edible when you aren’t feeling anything is not a good idea. We suggest you wait until the four-hour mark to take more, but you should do even this cautiously.
The effects of accidental overconsumption of edibles can have the exact opposite effect that we seek. Instead of relieving feelings of tension and discomfort or aiding sleep quality, overconsumption can cause paranoia, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, and fear.*
It is critical to read the packaging of any edible product to gain full understanding of the cannabinoid and terpene profile present. Although some mints and gummies contain servings as small as 2.5-5 mg, there are chocolate bars that contain upwards of 100 mg—a serving size that would be challenging for even the most experienced cannabis users.*
Unlike their unmeasured counterparts, baked goods and chocolates are rarely meant for consumption in a single session.
The bottom line is this: do not take more edibles within four hours after initial serving, or you may be in for a bad time.
What is a typical starting serving size?
We’ve recommended a low starting serving size, even for those with experience in cannabis.
This is because product formulations vary greatly depending on cannabinoid and terpene content, so it is always advisable to start with a low serving size and wait for the effects to kick in.
This approach is even more applicable to edibles with the potential for overwhelming highs that can cause physical and mental discomfort.
A serving containing 2.5 mg of THC, or even less, is a good starting point for anyone trying edibles for the first time. A serving of this size will produce the desired effects in most beginners without risking acute intoxication.
It's also a good idea to ensure you’ve eaten in advance to temper the effects. Try splitting a Beyond Sativa Full Spectrum Gummy in half for the perfect starter serving of 2.5 mg.*
As you gain experience with edibles, serving size can be slowly increased. Make sure to thoroughly review the ingredients label and certificate of analysis (COA) for a full understanding of the amounts of THC and CBD contained within the edible.
The bottom line
Edibles in all their forms are a wonderful way to experience the therapeutic benefits of the whole hemp plant.
As they have grown in popularity, more peer-reviewed studies have delved into understanding the complex ways they interact with our bodies and the endocannabinoid system.
But if there is one takeaway, time frames are longer regarding edibles, so proceed with caution as you begin this journey. Remember: always start small, and don’t take more until later.
As you build up to edibles containing THC, be sure to check out our range of full spectrum CBD gummies before moving on to delta-9 products.* They can help support a full wellness picture encouraging better sleep, improved energy, and a relaxed mind.