How Long do Edibles Last? Answers to All Your Questions

by jessica Mckeil
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Before biting into a THC-packed brownie, did you ask yourself how long it’s going to last for? Whether you are dabbling with edibles for medicinal purposes or adult-use recreation, you’ll want to confirm (in advance) how long do edibles last.

If you’ve ever had questions about edibles and why their effects linger longer than other methods of consumption – this guide covers everything. From dosage calculations to suggested servings sizes, and of course, answering your question about “How long do edibles last?”

Whether you are dabbling in edibles for the experience or looking for powerful therapeutic value, you need to know how long do edibles last to stay safe. Remember, a predictable outcome is a happy one.

Straight Talk: How Long Do Edibles Last?

For both commercially produced and made-at-home, the average edible the following quick-guide applies. Keep in mind; these are estimates.  

Remember, there is no such thing as an ‘average’ edible. As we shall see, there are many influences over the length and strength of the high. 

According to Trip Safe, on average:

  • Total Duration of an Edible: Ranges between 4 to 10 hours.
  • Onset of Experience: Within 30 minutes, but often delayed for up to 120 minutes.
  • Peak Experience: Between 2 to 5 hours
  • After Effects: Upwards of 12 hours

These numbers should only serve as guidelines. The digestive tract is a very complicated organ, and cannabinoids aren’t always as predictable as we like.

What is a Safe Single Serving for Edibles?

A big bite or a little bite, how much should you start with? Always remember the edible mantra, “Start Low and Increase Slowly.”

First Timer: If you’ve never had an edible before, you’ll want to start with the lowest possible dose. If you are looking at a commercial edible, like a cannabis chocolate bar or gummy bear, these will always come in strict serving sizes, making the calculation easy.

First-timers should aim for less than 5 mg of THC. That might look like one piece of a chocolate bar or half of a gummy bear. For total newbies, look for products labeled as “Microdoses.” These tend to have less than 2.5 mg of THC.

Casual Consumer: If you have experience with cannabis, you’ll likely want to start with the standard edible dose of 10 mg. In some states, it’s the standard per-serving legislation. Keep in mind that different states may have different standard doses.

Advanced Edible Eater: If you use cannabis on a daily basis, a standard dose for the advanced consumer is 20 mg and over. This is for those who know they have a high tolerance to THC. Still, even folks who know edibles well have been caught off guard. Some edibles come with upwards of 100 mg per package, so it’s easy to see how you could accidentally overdo it. Always play it safe and start at the lower end of the spectrum.

What Influences the Length and Strength of an Edible?

No matter how you choose to consume cannabis, the experience is highly variable (no pun intended). Several critical factors will increase or decrease the duration and potency of the experience:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Tolerance
  • Metabolism
  • Strain
  • Dose size

In the article Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles, the authors found “Factors such as weight, metabolism, gender, and eating habits also contribute to how soon and for how long someone will feel intoxicated following oral ingestion.” Notably, the authors do not have suggestions about the variability between one person and the next.

Truthfully, researchers still aren’t clear about how physiological differences between one person and another impact the experience. However, even if we don’t yet understand the “why,” we do have evidence demonstrating the variances are real.

Even if genetic factors are challenging to predict, knowing personal tolerance, strain, and dose size can help. For example, personal tolerance plays a significant role in how long edibles last. If you are well-versed in cannabis, chances are you have a higher tolerance than a first-timer. You’ll find the experience probably doesn’t last as long as someone who has never tried an edible before. 

Strain selection also plays a role. Different strains contain different cannabinoid profiles that develop into different experiences. These compounds work together to create unique experiences under the Entourage Effect. As only one example among many, strains with a balance of THC and CBD produce a milder experience. The CBD balances out a powerful THC high.

If you bought the product at a dispensary, you should find a complete breakdown of serving size and cannabinoid content on the package. If you made the edible at home, you’ll want to follow along below to determine the total THC per serving.

Calculating Potency of Edibles Made at Home

Get started by making notes on your edible:

  • How many grams went into it? (g)
  • How much THC did the cannabis contain? (percent)
  • How much oil or butter did you infuse? (cups)
  • How many servings?

By working through the following calculations, you’ll find out (roughly) how long do edibles last:

  1. How many milligrams of cannabis did you have? 
    1. 2 gram x 1000 = 2000 mg of cannabis
  2. How many milligrams of THC does it contain?
    1. 2000 mg x 20 percent THC = 400 mg of THC
  3. How much THC per cup of butter or oil?
    1. 400 mg of THC ÷ 1 cup of butter = 400 mg of THC per cup
  4. How many servings per dish?
    1. 400 mg ÷ 20 servings = 20 mg per serving

Note: Adjust the calculation based on how much weed is in your infusion, and how much of that infusion you end up using within your recipe. 

The Science Behind an Edible’s Effects

Why do edibles produce a stronger experience than a smoked one, even if the dose remains the same? It all comes down to the way inhaled THC, and digested THC is absorbed within the body.

When someone inhales cannabinoids, these compounds travel within milliseconds into the lungs. They enter through the permeable cells of the lung lining to head directly into the bloodstream. From here, it’s a pretty straightforward path to the brain.

Edibles, on the other hand, don’t have a direct journey from point A to point B. Digested cannabinoids must first survive the gastrointestinal system, and the gut is a highly volatile place. 

The cannabinoids which survive, absorb into the bloodstream to travel to the liver via the portal vein. Once in the liver, cannabinoids transform through a process of metabolization. This process turns THC into the metabolite 11-OH-THC. Only then does this new compound travel through the body through the bloodstream. Eventually, it reaches the brain.

It’s the transformation from THC into 11-OH-THC, which experts believe leads to a longer and stronger psychoactive experience. From what we know so far about this cannabis-derived metabolite, it is much more psychoactive than normal THC.

Frequently Asked Questions About Edibles

How Long Does the High from Edibles Last Compare to Smoking?

The effects experienced from smoking cannabis are milder and shorter in duration than edibles. Smoking THC kicks in after roughly 15 minutes because the THC does not pass through the digestive tract. Although it varies from person to person, the effects can peak around one hour, and last for upwards of five. 

Edibles, as we have seen, take much longer to develop, sometimes up to two hours. The peak also hits a little later, after its completely digested. The lingering effects of an edible may last until the next morning, upwards of 12 hours later.

How Long do CBD Edibles Last?

Cannabis contains hundreds of cannabinoids, many of which are only recent discoveries. But out of all these presumably therapeutic molecules, only THC creates intoxication. Therefore, when we talk about the effects of CBD edibles, it’s not about a ‘high’ or some sort of intoxication. Questions around the effects of CBD edibles are very likely just about the medicinal benefits.

To date, there is not much research on how long CBD edibles last. THC and CBD operate quite differently within the endocannabinoid system, and therefore without any research on the subject, it’s hard to make any real conclusions.

At the very least, based on anecdotal evidence, we can assume the medicinal effects of CBD edibles are similar in some ways to THC edibles. Meaning because they are digested, they take a long time to kick in and longer acting than smoked versions.

How Long Does it Take Edibles to Kick-In?

What did you have for lunch today? This is a strange but critical question. The effects of an edible will kick in much sooner should you eat them on an empty stomach. 

On the flip side, they’ll take much longer should you take a bite following a hearty meal. Finally, cannabinoids are fat soluble. If you eat fattier meals, you may experience a faster onset. This is because your body finds it more manageable to absorb the cannabinoids in combination with fats.

There is not enough research yet to determine the specifics of this relationship, but it’s worth taking into consideration before you take a bite.

A Stronger Experience, With Long-Lasting Effects

Edibles last for much longer than just about every cannabis product. In some cases, you may even feel the lingering effects upwards of 12 hours later. There is not a perfect science to determine “How long do edibles last?” which is why it’s best to play it safe.

First and foremost, determine the per-serving THC content. Then ask yourself what your experience level is. Start with the lowest possible dose based on these factors, and only increase after two or three hours. 

Edibles are a fantastic way to reap the many medicinal benefits (and recreational fun) cannabis has to offer – but it’s easy to overdo it. If you want to know how long do edibles last, figure out as many influencing factors as possible beforehand.

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