What Are the Effects of Edibles? Your Complete Guide

One way to elevate your cannabis game is by exploring the effects of edibles. Eating or drinking an infused treat is one the most enjoyable ways to consume cannabis–whether it’s an on-the-go gummy, an elaborate pasta dinner for two, or a piping hot cup of THC hot chocolate. Edibles are also a great option for health-conscious cannabis consumers looking to protect their lungs.

If you’re new to the world of cannabis edibles, we get that you may have some questions. We’re here to answer them with this comprehensive guide, where we break down everything you need to consider in order to have the best edible experience possible. By the end you’ll have a solid grasp on:

  • How edibles work in your body to produce effects
  • The different types of edibles available at your local dispensary
  • Sativa, indica or hybrid: do these classifications even matter with edibles?
  • Figuring out your ideal dose
  • What to do if you’ve consumed too much THC

Ready? Let’s dig in!

So… What Are Cannabis Edibles?

To put it simply, edibles are foods and drinks infused with cannabinoids, most popularly THC and CBD, or a combination of both. Many folks choose THC for its intoxicating effects, and CBD for its potential therapeutic benefits without the characteristic cannabis “high.”

Today, you can find almost anything infused with cannabis! Edible products found in your local dispensary can include anything from classic brownies and chocolates to gummies, cookies, sodas, teas, sauces, gum, and more. It’s also possible to infuse your own foods and drinks to make homemade cannabis edibles yourself. Edibles vary widely in dosages, from as little as 5 to 500 mg, and the effects of edibles are notoriously different when compared to smoking or vaping.

Why Do the Effects of THC Edibles Feel So Different From Smoking?

First-time edible shoppers at our dispensaries often ask us about the effects of edibles and how they differ from the effects of other cannabis consumption methods. The most important thing we stress to our shoppers is that the effects of edibles can be a very different experience than smoking or vaping cannabis.

They Kick In Slower and Last Longer

When you smoke or vape cannabis, its contents are absorbed through your lungs and transported into your bloodstream. This results in almost immediate effects. When you smoke or vape cannabis, you can feel strong effects within minutes, with the high peaking after about 1 hour and effects lasting, on average, about 3 to 4 hours. However, when consuming THC edibles, the process is different.

Edibles produce delayed but longer-lasting effects in comparison to smoking or vaping. This is because edibles travel through the body’s digestive system, breaking down more slowly over time to be released into the bloodstream. When you eat an edible, you likely won’t begin to experience effects until somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours after you’ve eaten it. Edible effects usually peak around 2 to 3 hours after consumption, but they can last 6 to 8 hours—sometimes even longer!

Patience is key here. The slow and steady onset of edibles can be intense. That’s why it’s essential to start with as low of a dose as possible and see how you feel after a few hours.

They May Feel Stronger

If you’re planning on trying edibles for the first time, it’s good to take a small dose and expect a long-lasting, euphoric, and deeply pleasant body buzz.

Many people feel that edibles produce a more intensely euphoric and body-based experience than smoking. This may be thanks to one important difference between smoking and edibles, because the body metabolizes edibles differently. When THC is processed by your liver, it’s converted into a metabolite called 11-Hydroxy-THC which many people experience as being more potent than THC.

This longer, stronger buzz can be both advantageous and disadvantageous, depending on what you’re feeling, what you’re doing, and where you’re going. If you’re looking for a long-lasting high or therapeutic relief, edibles are great for getting you through an entire day or night.

However, if you’re short on time and just want to relax for a few hours, or if you’re looking to experience immediate effects, then smoking or vaping might be a better choice.

Nanotechnology in Edibles

Some edibles are made with the use of nanotechnology, an innovative method of speeding up onset and enhancing the bioavailability of cannabinoids. Bioavailability refers to the amount of cannabinoids that actually become available in your bloodstream. Some of the cannabinoids in edibles will be lost during digestion. Nanotechnology uses tiny particles that encapsulate cannabinoids to help absorb them faster and more efficiently, so you feel the effects quicker and more effectively than regular edibles

Sativa, Indica and Hybrid Edibles

In cannabis dispensaries, you’ll often encounter three key labels: indica, sativa, and hybrid. These terms refer to three different types of cannabis plants and the effects they’re associated with.

Sativa edibles’ effects are thought to bring on energizing and uplifting effects, while indica edibles’ effects are believed to be more relaxing and even sedative. Hybrid edibles’ effects are thought to be more balanced between the two.

But, is there really a difference between the effects of sativa, indica and hybrid edibles?

While indica, sativa, and hybrid classifications are often associated with distinct effects, everybody experiences cannabis products differently. The context shifts even more when it comes to edibles. Factors such as your individual endocannabinoid system (ECS), dosage, tolerance, how much you’ve had to eat, type of edible, and the specific strain used can influence the experience more than the classification itself.

How to Find Your Ideal Edible Dosage

It’s really important to be mindfull when dosing cannabis edibles. Eating too much is a common mistake, especially it can take a while for effects to kick in and folks mistakenly consume more. Ingesting too much THC can lead to unpleasant feelings of anxiety and paranoia, so if you’re new to edibles here are some tips for finding the right dose for you.

Start Low

If it’s your first time experimenting with edibles, or if you haven’t had one in a little while, a good rule of thumb is to buy an edible from a dispensary, ask a budtender what a nice, small dose would look like (there will also be guidelines on the packaging), and always follow the mantra: start low and go slow.

Don’t reach for the most potent edible on the shelf right off the bat. Try a lower dose first, and see how it makes you feel. If the cannabis edibles effects weren’t quite what you were expecting, eat a slightly higher dose of the edible next time.

Go Slow

It’s also important not to eat another dose until you’ve given the first one enough time to peak. Attempting to re-up your dose for stronger effects too soon can possibly produce an overwhelming high later on when the edible fully kicks in. If you really want more during the same session, wait at least 2 hours before taking more—and know that the total length of the effects will be extended if you take more.

What Can You Do If You Eat Too Much?

It’s worth noting that cannabis overdoses are not life-threatening. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there has never been a reported fatal overdose solely attributed to cannabis use.

With that said, consuming too much cannabis isn’t fun. You may feel anxious, paranoid and overwhelmed. While these feelings are unpleasant in the moment, don’t worry they will subside after a while. Luckily, there are some things you can do to keep calm and ride out the effects of cannabis if you do manage to eat a little too much for your liking.

  • Get Grounded: The most important thing to do is to work on staying calm in order to combat any feelings of anxiety or panic overwhelming you. Place yourself in a calm environment and try a grounding exercise like the 5-4-3-2-1 method.
  • Get Into a Relaxing Activity: Soothe your mind and body by doing something that relaxes you: listening to music, watching some television, taking a walk around your block, calling a friend, or eating something delicious.
  • Remember It Will Pass: Just remember, you’ll be feeling better soon. The effects will last a matter of hours, at most. Don’t worry–you got this!

Explore the World of Edibles with Mission

Now that you have this quick guide to cannabis edibles to get you up and running, you’ll be all set to find just what you need next time you visit a dispensary.

Understanding the different types of edibles and how they work in your body, especially when compared to smoking or vaping, is the key to navigating your options. Whether you’re seeking unmatched relaxation, long-lasting therapeutic relief, or simply something tasty to invigorate all the senses, cannabis edibles are a yummy, versatile and fun option.

Stop by one of our dispensary locations near you today to shop a wide variety of potent and delicious cannabis edibles. We stock all of the best cannabis edibles available in Massachusetts and Illinois, and we’re excited to help you find just what you need.

Or, check out our blog on edible dosing to take a deeper dive into dialing in the right dose for you.