Cannabis Edibles: How Long Do They Take to Kick In?

If a sweet and crunchy cannabis-infused chocolate chip cookie sounds like bliss right about now, you’re not alone. Cannabis edibles are one of the most popular—not to mention one of the most delicious!—ways to reap all the benefits of cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

But for those of us used to the “old-fashioned” way of getting them (that is, by smoking it), or if you’re new to cannabis in general, working with edibles can be confusing at first. No surprise that one of the most common questions we hear at our medical and recreational dispensaries is:  “How long do edibles take to kick in?”

In today’s post, we’ll answer this and other important questions around cannabis-infused edibles. By the end, you should have all you need to enjoy this tasty and rewarding way of getting your cannabinoids.

The Facts of Cannabis: How Long Do Edibles Take to Kick In?

There’s nothing particularly mysterious about cannabis edibles: Familiar foods or beverages infused with cannabis extracts. But to understand why their effects feel different than smoked or vaped cannabis, it’s important to understand how our bodies process them.

When you inhale cannabis, “active ingredients” such as cannabinoids and terpenes are processed through the lungs. This is a fairly efficient way of accessing those compounds, offering roughly 30% bioavailability of THC. In other words, about 30% of the cannabinoids end up circulating in your bloodstream.

“Bioavailability” is a measure of how well our bodies absorb medically active substances. And THC, of course, is the cannabinoid most directly responsible for the cannabis plant’s euphoric experience.

But, when you consume an edible, the cannabinoids are processed through the liver and stomach, not the lungs. Interestingly, while the bioavailability actually decreases—in some instances to as low as 4%—the apparent dosage, or subjective strength of the THC, tends to increase, for a variety of reasons. The dosage in edibles will feel stronger than it will for an equivalent dosage of inhaled cannabis.

With that out of the way, let’s turn to the main question: How long do edibles take to hit?

The short answer is: Typically between 30 and 90 minutes.

That’s a pretty wide time range, and there are several factors that influence it. These include your body mass index (BMI), your age, and your experience level with cannabis.

If you’ve searched “how long for edibles to hit on a full stomach,” the easiest answer is “longer than on an empty one.” Again, it’s a difficult question to answer with precision since everyone’s metabolism is unique. While taking an edible on an empty stomach will tend to speed up the process of absorption, those who are unfamiliar with edibles’ more intense effects may find it a little disorienting. That’s why we counsel our customers—particularly those new to edibles—to consume at least a little food before taking an edible.

How Long Do Edibles Stay In Your System?

Just as edibles take longer to take effect, their subjective effects tend to last much longer in our bodies. Again, it’s impossible to make a specific, one-size-fits-all prediction, but in general:

The effects of a cannabis edible tend to last approximately 2 – 6 hours, as opposed to 1 – 2 hours for inhaled cannabis.

Edibles Basics: Wrapping Up

Worried about taking too much of an edible? If the effects of having too much THC can be unpleasant, it’s rare that they’re actually dangerous. In the majority of cases, any unwanted side effects subside after a couple of hours at the most.

Still, we’d like you to have as positive an experience as possible! Consider taking a low dose to begin with and giving your body ample time to digest before taking more; you can always take more cannabis later, but you can’t take less!

With locations in Illinois, Massachusetts and Michigan, our knowledgeable staff would be more than happy to share with you the variety of edibles we currently have in stock. Of course you can always peruse our live online menus from the comfort of home, too!

If you have any other questions about “how long do edible take to kick in,” just ask! We’re always here to help.