Edibles, gummies specifically, are one of the most popular products in the cannabis industry. The soft and chewy texture complimented by a warm fruity flavor instantly makes them a fan favorite. Other edibles like baked goods have a sense of warmth and nostalgia as they come in the form of brownies, cookies, marshmallow treats, cakes, and more. Regardless of which edible you consume, you’re definitely in for a smooth and euphoric high in about an hour or two. However, the high from edibles tends to be quite a bit more potent than if you were to smoke a blunt or vape a THC cartridge. Why is that? The answer to that lies in the next few paragraphs, where we’ll be diving a bit deeper into how THC is processed in your digestive system and how this can deliver a stronger and longer-lasting high.
Dosage Amount For Edibles vs. Inhalables
The recommended dosage for an edible is usually dictated on the product packaging: ½ gummy or a full gummy, a single softgel, a third of a brownie, etc. The total mg amount is usually also listed on the product packaging, ranging from low amounts like 25mg up to higher amounts like 100mg. The consumer may be required to do a bit of basic math to figure out exactly how much is consumed per piece, but typically it’s easy to figure out how much you’re consuming in a single session.
Inhalables, on the other hand, will only give estimated dosages. For example, a standard “dose” is about 1-3 puffs. The problem is that there’s no way to determine how much of a cannabinoid you’re consuming in that one puff. Were your hits deep and long or short and quick? Were the hits consistent with each puff, as in were they all lengthy draws or did they vary? No way to know for sure, as each individual takes pulls differently based on their comfort levels at that moment.
Time It Takes for the Effects To Kick In & How Long Effects Last
The time it takes to start feeling the effects as well as the duration of the high will vary depending on if you’ve consumed an edible or puffed on an inhalable. Edibles tend to have a lengthy kick-in time once consumed, ranging from a quick thirty minutes to over an hour and a half to feel anything. Yet the high tends to last much longer, anywhere from 4-6 hours.
In comparison, inhalables will start to kick in as soon as five minutes from the time of your first puff. This is ideal for those who are impatient for the high to kick in or don’t have a lot of time to wait to feel the effects. The tradeoff is that the duration of the high is very short-lived, lasting about 1-2 hours before tapering off.
How The Body Processes Edibles & Inhalables
So why does the effects of an edible feel so much more intense than that of an inhalable? In order to better understand that, it’s helpful to understand how THC and cannabinoids are processed by the body. Let’s take a look at the important role your digestive system plays in the break-down process of both edibles and inhalables.
Edibles Are More Thoroughly Absorbed
If you’ve ever used an inhalable, you may have noticed the amount of vapor/smoke that is exhaled. The mere attempt of holding it longer than you’re comfortable with can result in coughing fits and chest discomfort. The excess smoke/vapor contains quite a bit of THC but is ultimately wasted due to the nature of smoking/vaping THC-infused cartridges. For example, let’s say you inhale about 5mg of your preferred cannabinoid. You’ll only absorb about 40% of that, equating to about 1-2mg of that cannabinoid.
Edibles, on the other hand, are not subjected to such waste. They enter into the digestion system, a closed system, where much of the THC content is processed and absorbed into your bloodstream. While it does take longer to process, you’ll be able to absorb 80% of the cannabinoid. For example, if you’re consuming gummies that contain 5mg, your body will absorb up to 4mg. The total amount will vary based on a variety of factors such as metabolism, personal health, other foods consumed throughout the day, and others.
The Role Of Your Liver
Ingesting cannabis-infused edibles requires them to be processed by your digestion system. The edible makes its way from your mouth to your stomach and finally to your liver, where it is metabolized. The liver converts the THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a metabolite that is estimated to be 5x stronger than regular THC. The 11-hydroxy-THC is also water-soluble, meaning it spreads throughout your body much faster. Once the newly converted 11-hydroxy-THC enters your bloodstream and reaches the brain, the effects are felt about five times stronger. Due to the digestion process, it is encouraged to consume a meal along with an edible to help soften the onset of the effects. Think more gradual and smooth high instead of a WHAM! You’re high! type of feeling.
First Pass Metabolism? What’s That?
A phrase was coined to accurately describe how some orally administered drugs are metabolized by your body: first pass metabolism. THC is one such drug that undergoes processing via first-pass metabolism within your liver. The process helps to reduce the total amount of the drug (i.e., morphine and alcohol) that could potentially enter into your circulatory system. With THC however, the potency is actually magnified through first-pass metabolism. As the liver metabolizes the THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, the effects feel stronger and more intense even though only trace amounts of the THC enter into the body’s systemic circulation.
How Much Is Too Much THC In Edibles?
The THC in edibles comes in a variety of strengths that can make it seem like a guessing game on how much to consume. Gummies, baked goods, and hard candies can range from a mere 5mg to a whopping 100+mg. A good rule of thumb is to start off with 5mg and work your way up until you’re comfortable. You can view the below chart to get an idea of how much is within your experience level.
Beginner - Light Effects
Intermediate - Moderate Effects
Experienced - Intense Effects
This guide is particularly helpful when trying unfamiliar cannabinoids for the first time. Delta-8 THC is usually a good hemp-derived compound to start with, but you can also try Farm Bill Compliant Delta-9 THC, HHC, or THC-O. Any edibles with raw weed (especially homemade treats) can be much more potent, so be extremely careful not to consume too much when sampling a new product for the first time.
If you’ve ever suspected that the gummies you ate gave a more intense high than the traditional joint you’re used to smoking, you’d make Sherlock Holmes proud! Edibles are indeed more potent than inhalables due to the way the body processes THC. As the THC is digested and reaches your liver, it undergoes an intense change into 11-hydroxy-THC. This water-soluble version of THC is about five times stronger once it enters your bloodstream and gets to your brain, thus delivering an incredibly potent high that can last for hours.
Inhalables do not ever reach your liver, but bypass the digestion system completely via the lungs to enter your bloodstream. The effects come on much quicker but aren’t quite as intense or long-lasting. In summary, if you’re impatient to feel the effects and don’t mind a short-lived and less-intense high, take a hit from an inhalable. If you’re willing to wait about an hour for the effects of edibles to kick in, your patience will be rewarded with a powerful high that is intense and long-lasting.
Here at TwoHawk Extracts, we proudly offer a delicious assortment of both edibles and gummies! Browse through our collection of Delta-8 THC, Farm Bill Compliant Delta-9 THC, HHC, and THC-O products at your leisure; we’re confident you’ll find something you love! In the event you’re not sure which product is right for you, we’re here to help. Feel free to reach out to our team of cannabis experts who will happily walk you through your options and help you select the best choice for you.
Whether it be soft and chewy gummies or a smooth puff from our vape carts, that blissfully euphoric high can be yours in just a few minutes. In our next article, we’ll be touching on a unique topic that you may have been wondering about: should you chew or suck your favorite gummies and edibles? The answer to that fascinating question and more will be tackled in the very near future, so be sure to check back soon for this and other in-depth articles regarding all things cannabis. We look forward to seeing you again soon.