March 22, 2021

THC Edibles: Everything You Need to Know

THC edibles are any sort of food infused with cannabis. Whether in concentrate or flower form, you can infuse cannabis into your edible creations. Or, thanks to distillate being available and advances in the cannabis culinary arts, you can easily buy any number of THC-infused edibles, including beverages, baked goods, brownie, cake, and cookie mixes, cooking oil, THC gummies, CBD mints, THC candy bars, and more—all that give you those cannabis effects you know and love without any smoke.

Obviously, that’s the main benefit of consuming THC edibles: no more need to vaporize or smoke concentrates or flower while reaping the benefits of cannabis. And unlike needing to learn how to roll and joint or use a dab rig, it’s simply and intuitive to use weed edibles, because everyone knows how to eat.

Duration is a double-edged sword with THC edibles. These weed-infused treats can last in your system between 4 and 6 hours. For most users, that longer-lasting time frame is a benefit, especially for overnight relief of insomnia and pain. But for other users who don’t want to cope with a “high” feeling for too long, THC edibles are less convenient.

But the biggest drawback to consuming cannabis-infused edibles is—the delivery method. Convenient though it is, the need to eat them and absorb the THC through the GI tract means effect potency increases gradually—and it can take hours for the effects to set in. And while effects can be felt as quickly as 20 minutes, onset can be as slow as 3 hours with THC edibles.

Read on to find all of the answers to frequently asked questions about THC edibles.

THC Edibles: FAQ

How to Dose THC

THC edible potency is measured differently than cannabis concentrate or flower which features that cannabinoid strength in a percentage you’re used to seeing. Instead, with THC edibles, the potency of the entire edible product in milligrams of THC and/or CBD is shown, usually along with the milligrams per serving.

For example, a whole cannabis brownie may contain 50 milligrams of THC and 0 milligrams of CBD. If you are aiming for 10 milligrams as your desired dose, you should divide the brownie into 5 pieces which are each 10 milligrams.

A wide range of CBD-to-THC ratios occur in THC-infused edibles in dispensaries today. Edibles with higher CBD concentrations tend to be less intoxicating, but this depends almost entirely on the total amount of THC consumed.

What Edible Dose Is Right For Me?

Each individual person is unique, so the right dose of THC edibles is different for everyone. Particularly if you’re new to cannabis, it’s been a while, or you’re trying a new product, start with a low dose. Even more than with other herbs, supplements, and medications, every person’s response to edible cannabis can really be very different.

A standard dose for a THC edible is 10 mg, but someone with a sensitivity, a low tolerance, or who is new to cannabis should start with no more than half of that. In fact, for beginners the recommended dose is 1 to 5 milligrams of THC. Intermediate users can aim in the range of 5 to 20 milligrams of THC, with THC edibles over 20 milligrams reserved for experienced users.

There are numerous factors that affect how any given body will interact with the cannabinoids in THC edibles. This is why these dosing recommendations are for definitive quantities, but ranges instead. Always start with a low dose and move up slowly. The very best experiences are the result of cautious, trial-and-error.

How Do Edibles Work?

After you consume THC edibles using your mouth, your gut absorbs them and the liver metabolizes the absorbed compounds. The THC and its metabolites that remain in the bloodstream circulate until they reach the brain and produce the effects that cannabis is famous for. Because the body does metabolize THC, most urine testing and other forms of drug testing for cannabis look not only for THC but also for metabolites such as THC-COOH.

How Long Does It Take For Weed Edibles To Kick In?

The liver metabolizes THC into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. This more potent compound can be very sedating and has a longer half-life. This entire liver mechanism can span 45 minutes to 3 hours and is what causes edibles to produce different benefits for many users.

How fast edibles will kick in varies based on the product, and also depends on your other behavior that day and your metabolism. For example, in terms of behavior, users who consume edibles on an empty stomach will feel the effects much more quickly, while using edibles on a full stomach will mitigate the effects. In terms of metabolism, people with faster metabolisms feel the effects of THC edibles sooner because they complete the digestion and metabolism processes sooner, whereas people with slower metabolisms take longer to feel effects.

How Long Do Weed Edibles Last?

The real answer to this is that it varies based on the edible. In general, though, THC edibles produce effects for 5 or 6 hours, although that varies widely based on the type of edible consumed, the dose, and the individual user’s biology. There is also a window for a peak “high” or euphoria that is typically between 1 and 3 hours, depending again on the product consumed and the user.

Onset And Duration: How Long Do Edibles Stay In Your System?

Compared to vaping, smoking, or sublingual cannabis use (administering drops underneath the tongue), edibles produce a delayed onset because they are absorbed through the digestive system. However, the flip side of this is that edibles also provide more lasting effects compared with other consumption methods, although they can take 20 minutes to 3 hours to really come into play for the user.

What Should I Do If I Ate Too Much THC Edibles?

The first thing to remember should you ever become high enough to be uncomfortable is this: a cannabis overdose can’t kill you, and it’s not even very dangerous on it’s own. It’s potentially disorienting, scary, or uncomfortable though, so be aware of what to do should you ever experience it.

Rest in a comfortable, safe spot. Listen to music that soothes you and rest your eyes if you can. Engage in some slow, deep breathing. Drink water and stay hydrated. Get fresh air and eat well when you are able to do so.

What Types Of Edibles Are At Dispensaries?

Depending on where you are and how many suppliers are in your area, there could be almost any kind of cannabinoid-infused foods or drinks. Marijuana edibles can be mints, brownies, candy bars, cookies, pasta, gummies, and more. Any recipe that includes oil or butter can easily be infused with cannabis, so there are many possibilities.

What Are THC Gummies?

THC gummies are the THC-infused version of those sweet and fruity treats with that chewy, gummy texture we all love. Typically, THC gummies contain just 10 milligrams, so you can easily ramp up your consumption or keep it under control and pace yourself.

These sweet THC edibles taste amazing, are readily available almost everywhere, and do not leave a yukky, conspicuous mess behind. It’s also hard to tell the difference between THC gummies and the regular version, making them a very discreet option.

Since THC gummies can come in a wide variety of shapes, textures, and flavors, keep a few things in mind as you shop. The strain or type of cannabis, added terpenes, cannabinoid ratios, and whether or not the product is full-spectrum all impact your experience.

For example, indica-dominant gummies are more likely to be relaxing or sedating, while sativa-dominant gummies are more likely to energize. This may be related to terpenes, the organic compounds that lend all plants including cannabis their taste and smell. Full-spectrum THC gummies also add more effects for users, as small amounts of CBD along with THC in a gummy can enhance the existing benefits and reduce THC side effects.

Can I Make My Own THC Edibles?

Yes—but it takes some work. You can make cannabis-infused oils and butter—or cannabutter—at home from scratch using dry flower. To infuse fats such as butter with cannabis you merely heat the dry plant matter in the fat that will suspend the active compounds at low temperatures to extract the cannabinoids slowly over time. Strain the fat and what is left if your infusion which you use just like regular butter or oil at a 1:1 ratio in your recipe.

So beyond the hassle of infusing in the first place, the biggest challenge in making homemade THC edibles is probably in getting the right dose. To ensure that your taste, effects, and dosing are consistent, consume edibles from the dispensaries—after carefully reading the label to know what you’re getting.

Do Different Strains Affect Edibles?

How do THC edibles made from different strains of cannabis differ in effects from one cultivar to another? Just as you’d expect with marijuana you smoke or vape, sativa edibles tend to have less of a body high than indicas and a much more uplifting effect, while indicas tend to produce that stronger body high and be fairly sedating.

Are THC Edibles Sativa Or Indica?

Potentially both or neither. THC edibles are simply food or drinks infused with some type of THC. However, edibles as a broader category tends to include any kind of food or beverage such as candy, chocolates, drinks, oils, capsules, or baked goods infused with cannabinoids. In general, you will readily find edibles that are sativa only, sativa-dominant, hybrid (a balanced mix of sativa and indica), indica-dominant, and indica only as well as THC and CBD or CBD only in most well-stocked dispensaries.

Why Use Edibles?

When you eat your cannabis in edible form, cannabinoids enter your bloodstream via your stomach and liver. This delays the onset of effects but also increases their potency and lengthens how long they last—usually stretching from 4 to 6 hours.

Users love THC edibles for many reasons, but here are some of the biggest ones:

  • Avoiding smoking; no need to inhale toxins, pollen, or particulate matter
  • Precise dosage and ability to maintain that potency level over a longer period of time
  • Control over ingredients
  • Discretion—just pop it in your mouth without gear, a smell, or smoke
  • Longer-lasting effects
  • Insight into what you’re consuming when you make your own recipes

What Should I Look For On A Cannabis Edible Label?

Since the FDA has yet to regulate cannabis products, there is a lack of consistency from product to product in terms of dosage and labeling that can make shopping a challenge. Look for clearly labeled products and the correct dose and portion size for your needs, remembering that one brand will label things differently than another.

How Are Edibles Made?

THC edibles you buy in dispensaries are made using cannabis distillate—a flavorless, odorless oil—hashish, or pure cannabinoid crystals. These substances are infused by the edible maker into a fat such as an oil or butter. Since different cannabis concentrates can yield different effects, it’s important to recognize what form of cannabis concentrate was used to create your edibles.

Distillate is typically used to make intoxicating weed edibles. It’s a popular choice among producers of commercial edibles because during the distillate production process the cannabinoids are completely decarboxylated.

Crystalline contains a single cannabinoid, often CBD, and blended with wet or dry ingredients when baking or cooking or sprinkled right on foods. Distillate is a very sticky oil and must be blended with liquids or other moist ingredients.

What Happens If You Eat Weed?

Usually nothing, because for cannabis to produce intoxicating effects, decarboxylation must occur. In the decarboxylation process, THCA, which is present in raw cannabis, is heated at a low, precise temperature over time to transform it into THC. The human body cannot make this process happen on its own; decarboxylation must convert THCA to THC before cannabis can intoxicate. This is why eating raw cannabis in any form won’t have intoxicating effects, no matter how you consume it.

What Is Decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation, also called decarbing, uses steady heat over time to convert THCA into the intoxicating THC by releasing carbon dioxide and water. As cannabis ages this process occurs naturally; it also happens immediately when cannabis is vaped or smoked.

Decarbing is essential to creating THC edibles. However, raw cannabis that contains only THCA and has not been decarboxylated also boasts health benefits, so some supplements and edibles do contain THCA. Just remember that THC on the label of an edible means that it will have intoxicating effects, while THCA does not.

What Does an Edibles High Feel Like?

You may have heard that you can achieve a very intense high through using edibles. This is true, and there are two basic reasons behind this.

First, is simply the fact that users frequently consume more THC edibles than they are aware of. It takes longer for effects to set in since edibles are processed through the digestive system, so often, the user eats a bit more as they wait to feel something—or even as they get bored waiting. Once they really start feeling those effects, they have bitten off more than they can chew, so to speak.

The other reason is that it takes longer to metabolize edibles so the high lasts much longer than the high you feel from vaping or smoking cannabis. This longer time window gives you a more intense experience than the shorter-duration, faster-acting effects from vaping or smoking.

Final Thoughts on THC Edibles

We hope this has been a useful introduction to the world of THC edibles—and it really is a whole world, too! These days there are so many cool options when it comes to THC-infused edibles that there’s no reason you can’t have exactly what you need in the way you love to eat it.