Cannabis edibles have been a go-to way to consume the plant for thousands of years. Also known as weed edibles, infused foods, drinks, and treats are a staple of the cannabis community.
Using cannabis extracts as the active ingredient, edibles have the ability to give you the benefits of the cannabis plant without the need to smoke or vape. In the old days, infused edibles were made mostly with hashish—nowadays, a variety of cannabis concentrates are used.
Edibles have skyrocketed in popularity in the age of legal dispensaries, with a never-ending range of products available. Weed gummies, in particular, have emerged as a top seller thanks to their convenience and ability to pack a punch in a tiny package.
But how exactly do weed gummies and other edibles work?
How weed edibles affect the human body
Consuming cannabis edibles, whether for wellness purposes or recreation, can be a lot different from smoking for a variety of reasons. They just hit different—and it turns out there are a lot of variables at play.
Smoking vs eating cannabis
When you smoke or vape, the active ingredients in cannabis (cannabinoids like THC and CBD) get into your bloodstream through the lungs. The effects are felt very quickly, nearly instantly.
Eating cannabis sees those same compounds processed through the stomach and liver. Effects may begin in as little as 30 minutes but it could take up to two hours. It depends on a number of factors, including dosage, what you’ve eaten before taking the edible, and your metabolism.
The phrase “start low and go slow” is popular in the cannabis space for this reason. Too many people end up overdoing it because they grow impatient waiting for their weed gummies to kick in—they take more thinking the first edibles they took aren’t working.
If you’re new to cannabis edibles, always start with the smallest dose available and wait at least two hours after consuming them to see how they affect you.
Why weed edibles hit so hard
When you eat weed edibles containing THC, you may notice the high is more intense than when you smoke or vape. It turns out there is some science behind this.
When edibles are digested, the liver metabolizes THC and turns it into a more potent version called 11-hydroxy-THC. Not only will the effects be stronger, but they will last longer than consuming THC through inhalation.
Does the type of edible play a role in how it affects you?
With so many different varieties of infused edibles on the market, you may wonder if the effects are consistent across the board. The type of food or drink doesn’t really matter (with the exception of tinctures since they’re sublingual) but the major differences come from the type of cannabis extract used.
There are several kinds of cannabis oils that can be used in weed gummies and other edible products.
Rosin, a solventless extract, tends to offer the strongest effects. Live resin is similar to rosin but is made using a different process involving solvents that are then safely removed. Distillate is a highly processed, flavorless oil that is a bit less potent.
How long does the high from weed edibles last?
Edible gummies and other infused products have effects that last much longer than smoking or vaping. As we mentioned above, this is mostly due to the way the body processes cannabis when you eat it.
The high from edibles may last anywhere from four hours to 24 hours. Many people wonder why the weed edible high lasts so long, and why it differs so wildly between individuals. Here are the main factors.
The rate at which your body processes food plays a big role in how quickly edibles kick in and how long they last. If you have a slower metabolism, it will take longer to feel the effects and vice versa.
A number of things affect your metabolism, including muscle mass, age, hormones, and genetics. As it turns out, your genes have a big part in how your weed gummies work.
In addition to playing a role in your metabolism, genes may also factor into how cannabis affects you overall. Every person has an endocannabinoid system; cannabinoids pass through receptors called CB1 and CB2 within this system, leading to the effects you feel.
Just like other parts of the body, the ECS varies between individuals. Your genetic makeup may play a part in how your ECS performs, including how edibles hit you.
How often you consume cannabis will also play a part in how long edibles last and their overall effects. People who very rarely smoke, vape, or eat cannabis will likely have a stronger reaction to edibles versus folks who consume every day.
This is why newcomers should always take a small dose of edibles their first time. A good first dose is 2.5 mg. Many edibles come in 5 mg doses but that could even be too much for novice users.
What you eat before you take an edible will also affect your high. It turns out a high fat meal can make edibles kick in faster since cannabinoids like THC bind to fat. Many people report that eating weed gummies on an empty stomach will make them have more negative side effects like anxiety.
Does the strain of weed in the edible matter?
Yes and no. While some edibles are marketed based on their strain or effect, the source material will determine if the strain’s properties will hit you the way you’d expect.
As we mentioned above, solventless rosin and live resin, like that used in STIIIZY gummies, are as close to the plant as you can get. Distillate on the other hand does not have as many of the plant’s compounds, which are the key driver of the strain’s effects.
Always check the label of edibles to see what they’re made of. This is a better indicator of how they’ll make you feel.
How long do weed gummies stay in your system?
Just like how long effects will last and the time it takes to kick in, the amount of time the cannabinoids in edibles stay in your system is highly subjective.
The main factors at play are cannabis tolerance and body type. For very occasional users, cannabinoids like THC will leave your body within a few days. However, heavy consumers may need up to a month to clear cannabinoids from their systems.
THC binds to fat cells, so those who have a lower BMI (body mass index) will likely see cannabinoids exit the body faster than those with higher BMIs.
Interestingly enough, weed gummies and edibles in general tend to stay in the body for a longer amount of time than when you smoke or vape. This is again due to the way the liver metabolizes the compounds within.
Most cannabis edibles perform the same within the body, but beverages and tinctures may kick in and leave your system faster than gummies, cookies, and other foods.
How much cannabis flower goes into weed gummies?
When it comes to making canna-butter or concentrates, the amount of flower that goes in can vary greatly. Extraction methods typically see about 30% - 60% yield. What really matters is the dosage within the edibles once they’re ready for sale.
Most infused cannabis products like gummies and chocolates contain a standard serving of 5 mg to 10 mg of cannabinoids like THC, CBD, or CBN. However, this can also vary—some companies offer “microdoses” of 2.5 mg while others cater to people with higher tolerances, offering 25 mg - 100 mg.
The majority of states where cannabis is legal limit brands to 100 mg per package. Medical patients may be allowed to buy weed edibles that are stronger.
How to pick cannabis edibles
Wondering which cannabis edible is right for you? First, try to determine your tolerance level. If you’re new, go with the lowest dose possible and work your way up. Moderate consumers may want to start with 5 mg. Heavy consumers may be able to take 10 mg or more but again—start low and go slow.
You may find that your tolerance changes over time. This could be due to fluctuations in weight and consumption habits. Always err on the side of caution with edibles.
Next, think about how you want to feel. If you are trying to be active, consider a sativa edible. Indicas tend to be more relaxing. Hybrids are a nice middle-ground.
Remember to only purchase edibles online or in-store from reputable, licensed dispensaries. This ensures your product is safe, properly tested, and effective.