Let’s talk edibles! Edibles are foods infused with cannabis that offer an alternative to smoking and vaping. You may have heard horror stories of too-potent gummies, weak homemade brownies, or of people taking a second edible before the first one has fully hit and getting extra extra stoned. Or you may have some crazy edibles stories of your own! We always recommend people start slow and low with edibles to make sure they find their optimal dose and don’t overdo it. It can sometimes be difficult to anticipate how quickly and how intensely edibles will hit, but why? Read on for details on what factors impact edible activation time and potency, so you can be fully prepared for your next experience.
First, let’s talk about why you may choose to ingest cannabis rather than smoke it. Edibles offer a ton of benefits. They are discreet and convenient, they often produce a stronger and longer lasting effect than inhaled cannabis, and usually they taste pretty good. (The ones we carry sure do!) They’re easy on the lungs and don’t leave behind that telltale dank smoke cloud.
There are also multiple kinds of edibles. From DIY firecrackers, to brownies, to gummies and hard candy, to beverages, and even olive oil, there are a plethora of ways to consume. An important distinction to recognize is the one between THC that is absorbed sublingually and THC that is actually eaten and digested. Sublingual edibles include things like lollipops, tinctures, hard candy, mints, and breath strips. These infused treats melt or dissolve in your mouth before swallowing, and the THC is absorbed directly to your bloodstream through the soft tissue mucous membranes in your mouth. Activation time for sublingual edibles is typically much faster than traditional edibles, but not as fast as smoking or vaping. The effects often also do not last as long as traditional edibles.
So how do traditional edibles work? Without getting too technical, edibles work by traveling through your digestive system. After they are eaten, the edibles go through your typical digestive process where your body sorts out which ingredients it can use and which to filter out as waste. Active ingredients, like THC, enter your bloodstream from the digestive tract then travel to the liver, where they are metabolized before being released back into the bloodstream and entering the brain. In the liver, THC is converted into another compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which is thought to be even stronger than standard THC. This is why the high from edibles can feel very different than smoking, even for frequent canna-consumers. When 11-hydroxy-THC travels out of your liver and hits your brain, you will begin to feel its effects. It’s important to note that the potency of the onset of your high may be very different from how it feels when your high is at its peak.
There are quite a few factors that can impact activation time for traditional edibles, and for some people in rare cases, edibles may not work well or at all. Commercial edibles are required to quote estimated activation times on their packaging, so this is a good rule of thumb to go by when setting your expectations. Typically, you can expect traditional edibles to take effect within thirty to ninety minutes, often reaching peak THC blood levels (and thus peak high) around two to three hours after administration. The high from an edible can last anywhere from four to twelve hours, so make sure you know what you are in for and start with a small dose at first.
The factors that affect edible activation time include the dose and concentration of THC, what other non-cannabis ingredients are present, when and what you last ate, how fast your metabolism is, your cannabis tolerance level, as well as biological factors like sex, weight, and general digestive function. These same factors can also affect the duration of your high, so a cautious trial and error approach is typically recommended for each person to figure out what works best for them. If you have questions or concerns about edibles, or are looking for a recommendation, check in with your local Timber Cannabis Co. budtender! Our knowledgeable staff can provide personalized recommendations based on your preferences and experience level. Stop in to one of our Timber Provisionary Centers to learn more and explore our selection.