How Long Do Cannabis Edibles Take to Kick In?

Find out how long it takes for cannabis edibles to take effect.

Use caution: There’s no definitive timeframe to feel the full effects of cannabis edibles. Image Credit: By Israel Patterson on shutterstock.

Cannabis edibles have come a long way since the days of prohibition and bootleg brownies. Today — in states where legal — you can buy a whole range of edibles. From commercial cookies and candies, to tinctures and cannabis-infused drinks, the list is never-ending. Of course, there are products that you can buy or even make from scratch.

For cannabis novices, the burning question revolves around how long it takes for edibles to kick-in. Time and time again, people will complain about not having enough, or having too much cannabis in their edibles.

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might have hoped. But, depending on what you’re eating, the cannabis dosage in the edible, portion control, and your own metabolism, there’s an average timeframe to work against.

Average Time for Cannabis Edibles to Take Effect

There really is no consistent or reliable onset time. It can vary and will depend on the dosage per portion, your weight, and the rhythm of your own digestive system. The rule of thumb for THC-infused edibles is they can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours for the average person to start feeling an effect and 2-3 hours for edibles to get into the system entirely (this is when you will feel the full THC “high”).

Those who are new to cannabis edibles often make the mistake of being impatient, they don’t feel “anything,” and so they eat more right away or go for a stronger dose. In order to avoid an uncomfortable result, it’s critical to be aware of the late onset of edibles and not be tempted to ingest more. Overindulging can result in an unpleasant experience — causing the THC to kick-in at double the strength and last longer than desired.

What’s the Best Dosage for Cannabis Edibles?

The most common dosage of THC when you purchase edibles is 10mg — but inspect the label closely. Some edibles will come in multiple portions of 10mg each. If you purchase an edible that’s 100mg, opt to eat a tenth of it at any one time. Otherwise, you may be wishing that you hadn’t eaten any of it. Beginners, or those who are highly sensitive, may want to start with 5mg of THC, or a combination of THC and CBD for a more mellowing effect.  

Best Advice for Taking Cannabis Edibles

Experts and frequent cannabis consumers will tell you that it’s best to start with a low dosage edible and go slow. Start with the 5mg dose recommended above, and wait 2 hours before you take more. If it’s one of your first experiences eating edibles, the effects may hit you sooner — or you may not experience any effects at all. It’s unknown as to why, but anecdotally many consumers who are starting out with cannabis edibles say they don’t feel any effects.

Can Eating Edibles on an Empty Stomach Get You High Faster?

There’s some confusion and much debate over whether eating cannabis edibles on an empty stomach gets you high faster — and no research to conclusively prove it either way. Some reports have found that eating cannabis edibles on an empty stomach can slow digestion by 50 percent. Other research shows that people who had eaten before consuming edibles absorbed a higher concentration of CBD and THC and it took effect faster.

What is known is that THC is fat soluble, which is one of the main reasons it can stay in your system for up to 3-4 weeks. This can mean that if you consume it on an empty stomach there’s nothing for it to bind to and you won’t get the full potency of the THC. So while the jury is still out on this point, many feel that eating an edible along with food that contains fatty calories — such as pizza or fries — will help your liver process more THC. Similarly, if you wait an hour after taking a cannabis edible of 10mg and aren’t feeling the effect, eat something along these lines with fat in it before you take another edible.

Metabolism also comes into play, and can determine how quick or how slow an edible will take its effect. Coffee and green tea can help edibles take effect a little quicker, because their chemistry naturally increases metabolism.

Remember that edibles affect everyone differently, so the best recommendation is to experiment — starting with low doses (5mg) — and carefully testing your way to find the dose that’s right for you

Nicola Bridges
Nicola Bridges
Nicola Bridges is an award-winning writer and editor who’s covered health, wellness, and women’s lifestyle for the past two decades. The former editorial director for and editor in chief of Working Mother, she is currently a regular contributor to Parade Magazine and The Fine Line where she writes about trends in modern health.

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