How Long Do Edibles Take to Kick In?

Marijuana EdiblesAs marijuana becomes legal in more states and as those industries come online, more and more consumers are being exposed to edible marijuana-infused products than ever before. Taking an edible, however, is a different choice than smoking a joint

No matter how obvious this point may be, down to a biochemical level, the experience of eating marijuana is different than smoking or vaporizing it. Not only are smoking and taking edibles categorically different experiences, the amount of time it takes to feel the effects are remarkably different between the two routes. Knowing how long it takes for edibles to grab hold can help prevent over-consumption, which, if left unabated, can lead to a 12-hour nap.

So how long do edibles take to kick in? Let’s take a look at all the different factors to consider.

Though each and every person will react differently to a substance, as a species we are fantastic at drawing parallels between our experience and the experience of others. This empathic awareness allows us to study how substances, people, and places can change our experience. Scientific pursuits are established as a fortified front for such accumulated, testable knowledge; an absolute, but ever-changing repository for the parallels between your experience and everyone and everything else.

Through this process of reality testing, we are left with the hardened diamond that is the scientific process. And though hard facts on marijuana have been hard to get due to the status of the plant as an international narcotic, user experiences and emerging research suggest how long it takes edibles to kick in is related to three things:

  • Body Mass
  • Food Intake
  • Product Formulation

While the frequency with which one uses marijuana may play a role in tolerance, the rate at which the cannabinoids can be absorbed into the blood remains unchanged and is, therefore, a poor indicator of how long the edible will take to kick in. Additionally, tolerance acts a dampener, potentially capable of making the effects less pronounced even though blood concentrations of THC and other various cannabinoids are increasing.

Factors to Consider: the Industry-Wide Learning Curve

The marijuana industry has displaced the back-alley cannabis dealer in states where the plant has been legalized. A tantalizing effect of this transition comes from the stability it has given to cannabis quality. Laws requiring cannabis be grown without certain pesticides create an environment where plant testing is common, leading to increased exposure to information about various compounds found within the plant. THC and CBD, among other cannabinoids, are commonly tested for in the process.

Providing consumers at medical or recreational dispensaries the potency of their fresh cannabis highlights the cannabinoid profile of the strain, but also introduces a dimension not found in street-level dealings. Given the cannabinoid profile and potency, the pattern-recognition machine known as the human brain can begin to coordinate a further understanding of the effect of individual cannabinoids, distinguishing strain and cannabinoid characteristics and forming a point of reference for future dosing along the way.

Knowing how long edibles take to kick in is part of the learning curve for many consumers, and it has not been made any easier by the industry. As the marijuana industry continues to grow, such a learning curve is experienced most by consumers who had previously very little experience with marijuana and is, therefore, an important thing to be aware of when entering into any experience with the odd, green intoxicant known as marijuana.

As if to intentionally confuse, fresh flower and concentrates are measured by weight, oscillating between the metric system and British Imperial; results from lab testing display potencies in percentages, often reading something like “18.7% THC”; and edibles are sold in milligrams (mg).

If being able to measure your experience based on the potency of the strain is good, being able to understand the effect of individual cannabinoids to the exact milligram is on a different scale entirely. However, to the user who is accustomed to buying ounces and grams of products testing at 66% THC, 100 mg can easily be seen as a confusing metric.

Determining the Experience: Metabolism

MetabolismEdibles differ from smoked or vaporized cannabis because they are absorbed through the digestive system rather than the lungs. This means the amount of time it takes edibles to kick in is naturally more than the time it takes for a joint to produce its effects. Edible producers have attempted to expedite how quickly their products kick in by making them easily absorbed in the mouth. As a result, some edible products are designed to kick in sooner rather than later. In any case, edibles typically take more time than smoked or vaporized cannabis to kick in.

How fast your body processes things plays a huge role in maintaining healthy functioning of the body and mind. Metabolism can affect body mass and diet, two major factors relating to how long it will take for edibles to kick in. According to a study published in 2007, blood concentrations of THC and its metabolites were studied using multiple routes of administration. These included smoked or vaporized by mouth, by IV, as well as rectally. Researchers were able to show edibles and other orally consumed cannabis products kick in within an hour in most cases, with many of the initial effects being felt as much as a half-hour after consumption.

While this is a good general rule when it comes to how long it will take edibles to kick in, it is not absolute. Some users report that edibles can take two hours or more to fully kick in, often the result of how much the person had eaten that day. Others report never feeling anything at all, an effect of genetic variation expressed by a lack of certain liver enzymes necessary to metabolize THC, preventing it from ever entering the blood.


Article by: Joey Wells