What's the Deal With Edibles?
When it comes down to how long do edibles have an effect, things can get confusing. Last week’s weed gummy may have produced incredibly long-lasting effects, while this week’s weed gummy felt like it only lasted a few hours.
How could there be such a drastic difference in effects if you consumed the same cannabis gummies? The way that our bodies process edibles is complicated, and is much different than the way we process THC or CBD based products that are smoked or vaped. This is also assuming you have a tested and consistent product, and not a homemade edible, as consistency continues to be an issue within the cannabis industry.
In this article, we'll tell you what you need to know about the not so simple process of how long the effects of edibles last. We want you to have the best experience possible.
The Edible’s Long Journey
“Not until [the edible] reaches your gastrointestinal tract (intestines) will the majority of THC actually start absorbing into your bloodstream.”
To get a good understanding of how consumables are different, we need to understand how our body processes them. When you ingest an edible, such as a weed gummy or other, that gummy needs to travel all the way through your digestive system. You generally won't start feeling the effects for at least 30 minutes.
Not until it reaches your gastrointestinal tract (intestines) will the majority of THC actually start absorbing into your bloodstream. Once the edible is broken down, the THC is absorbed through the walls and lining of your intestines. The THC is released into your blood directly following, and the liver then modifies the THC and turns it into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which is 3-5 times more psychoactive than THC. Edible highs are also very different in general and everyone's edible experience is different.
The 11-hydroxy-THC will bind to the endocannabinoid system throughout your body. This is the point when you’ll probably start to notice the effects of the edible you consumed. This lengthy process can be circumvented by taking products that can be absorbed sublingually, which bypasses the GI and decreases your wait time. This does not however, get around urine tests or other drug tests.
Now let's compare the digestion process with that of smoking or vaping. When you combust cannabis or vaporize cannabis, the cannabinoids are inhaled into the lungs. Once there, the cannabinoids will immediately diffuse into the bloodstream. Quickly, the THC binds to endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body. This is why smoking or vaping provides nearly instantaneous effects.
Slow and Steady
“Edibles can sometimes take hours to hit you, and then come in waves that last throughout the day...because of the long journey through the digestive system...and the need for them to get processed by the liver.”
Consumables last so long because they need to be processed in the intestines. Digestion is a slow and complicated process that happens in an inconsistent manner. It’s inconsistent due to a variety of factors, but also because your digestion process depends on what you ate and when.
More than likely, you’ve eaten something before consuming a cannabis edible, and that can also slow down the rate at which the edible is processed. On the other hand, eating foods that are high in fat content can amplify the power of the edible, so proceed with caution and experiment with low doses! Eating edibles on an empty stomach can also provide different effects for different people.
Once the edible makes it to the intestines, the THC is absorbed into the blood and formed into balls called micelles.
THC is hydrophobic, meaning that it doesn’t ‘dissolve’ in water like salt, and instead, it clumps together with itself. Think of a drop of oil in water; it can move through the water, but it stays separated from it. That’s exactly what the THC is doing in the bloodstream.
Once the micelle is formed, the THC travels to the liver via the portal vein and then gets modified into 11-hydroxy-THC. This form of THC is more soluble in water and can be ‘dissolved’, making it move much faster throughout the brain and body.
This is why they can sometimes take hours to hit you and then come in waves that last throughout the day. Most people are surprised that an edible can last up to 8 hours! That's a stark difference from the regular 2- 3 hours associated with inhalation.
Awareness Is Key
Consuming edibles is one of the most enjoyable ways to partake in cannabis. However, it’s essential that you realize that THC from an edible can take much longer to kick in when compared to smoking or vaping.
Most cannabis consumers have had the experience of using an edible and feeling like it didn't work. They then eat a bit more and before they know it they have majorly overconsumed and are intoxicated for the rest of the day. This is not a surprise most people find enjoyable.
Hopefully, this article provides you with the information you need to avoid being blindsided by a cannabis edible. Keep in mind that they can take up to 2 hours to kick in and last for as long as 8. The best advice is to go low and slow until you know your dose.