Where cannabis that you eat is concerned, it’s the $20,000 question: How long do edibles last?
In this article, the all-things-cannabis experts at Honest Marijuana tell you everything you need to know about this fun, easy, and long-lasting method of consuming pot.
What Are Edibles?
The simplest definition of an edible is this:
Anything you put in your mouth and swallow.
That definition encompasses an extremely wide variety of products/substances, including (but not limited to):
Basically, if it goes from your mouth to your stomach — as opposed to your lungs (smoking) or directly into your bloodstream (tinctures) — it’s an edible.
Now that you understand what an edible is, we can address the psychedelic elephant in the room: How long do edibles last?
How Long Do Edibles Last?
Most edible highs last from four to six hours.
A lot depends on the circumstances under which you nosh your special brownie (see the section Factors That Affect Duration below), but for the most part, you’re going to enjoy a good, long high.
In fact, some cannabis enthusiasts have even boasted of riding an amazing — and probably exhausting — 12-hour high from a single high-quality edible.
Whether you’re blessed with four hours or twelve, edible highs are some of the longest-lasting experiences possible with conventional cannabis products.
Coming in a close second with highs ranging from two to four hours, are products you take sublingually. These include the likes of:
Rounding out the top three with highs ranging from one to three hours are products you smoke/inhale, such as:
So why do edible highs last as long as they do? We’ll answer that question in the next section.
Why Edible Highs Last So Long
Edible highs last so long because of the route the cannabinoids take before they reach the receptors in your body and brain where they start to take effect.
Yes, we realize this is an overly-simplistic explanation, but do you really need or want to know every single stage of digestion? That’s too much even for us biology nerds.
That whole trip — from mouth to stomach to liver to bloodstream — takes time. And equally important, it doesn’t happen all at once.
Digestion is a relatively slow process to begin with. It’s not like the edible hits your stomach and is immediately converted into fats, carbohydrates, protein, and cannabinoids. Sure, some of those things dissolve off the surface right away.
But, then you’re left with a smaller blob of edible that slowly breaks down over time releasing cannabinoids into your system.
Let’s clarify this process by tracking it through from start to finish.
The action starts when the edible hits your stomach. Right away, the acid dissolves some of the cannabinoids and sends them to your liver. Your liver does its job and then passes those first cannabinoids on to your bloodstream.
Next, your bloodstream carries those cannabinoids through the 60,000 miles of arteries and veins to your brain and other parts of your body where the cannabinoids “make you feel kind of funny.” That may take an hour or more depending on your metabolism.
And that’s not the end of the story. Back in your stomach, you’ve still got this slowly dissolving lump of cannabinoids to contend with.
Over the next several hours, that edible continues to break down and release cannabinoids into your system. Those cannabinoids travel the same hour-long route as the first cannabinoids until they reach your brain.
Once your stomach finishes dissolving the edible, it’s like turning off the water to your garden hose. You don’t get the same force, but there’s still “stuff” in the lines that continues to trickle out until it’s all gone.
So, basically, it’s the combination of your relatively slow digestion and the distance the cannabinoids have to travel that makes an edible high last as long as it does.
But, to further complicate the issue, other variables also have an equally significant effect on the quantity of your edible high.
How Long Do Edibles Last: Factors That Affect Duration
The strain you use in your edible plays an important role in how long the high lasts.
Stronger strains — be they THC- or CBD-dominant — can make it seem like your high lasts longer because the effects are so much more intense.
But before you rush out to buy the strongest strain money can buy, keep in mind that with extreme highs come extreme lows and side effects.
2) Cannabinoid Content
Cannabinoid content contributes heavily to the high you experience from your edibles.
Breeders are growing whole bud that contains 25 percent or more of a specific cannabinoid (THC and CBD), and some extracts are even pushing the coveted triple-digit percentage (that’s 100 percent, boys and girls).
With these big-number products baked into your edibles, the highs may seem longer because the “distance” you have to travel from peak high to normal is so much greater.
Another factor that affects how long an edible high lasts is the quality of the strain in question.
The amount of edible you consume has a direct effect on the high you experience.
It’s only logical when you think about it: the more cannabinoids you consume, the more your body has to work with. And, as we’ve already established, your metabolism can only go so fast.
So the more cannabinoids you consume, the bigger the reserve and the longer the effects last.
That doesn’t mean you should mix cannabis into everything you eat at all three meals — that’s bad in itself. But, with a bit of trial-and-error, you can find a dose that gives you the effects you’re looking for over the time period you need.
For more on finding the right amount of cannabis to include in your edible, check out these helpful articles:
5) Your Surroundings
But if you’re running a marathon or dealing with a stressful project at work, your high is going to be shorter because you’re stressed and tense.
For the best and longest experience, find a relaxing environment where you can chill for a while without worrying about what’s going on around you.
Is Duration The Most Important Question?
For some people — we’re looking at you, medicinal users — duration is a crucial question because they need to know how long the edible high will last before their pain or their nausea or the O.C.D. returns.
But is duration the most important question of all? No, it’s not. Quality of effects is, in many cases, equally important as — if not more important than — the question of how long do edibles last.
Think about it this way:
Pick an exciting activity. Skydiving, bungee jumping, eating ice cream — it could be anything that blows your hair back.
Taken in small doses — once a week, for example — your favorite activity retains its excitement.
But taken in large doses — every day for hours at a time, for example — your favorite activity is going to lose its appeal pretty quickly.
The same applies to edible highs.
Which would you rather have: A high that feels really good, is gone in a few hours, and leaves you with some incredibly enjoyable memories (think, “Whoa, man, I’m one with the universe and all things!”)?
Or a high that starts out good, but, like your favorite activity done over and over again, then becomes bland and unexciting because it just keeps going (think, “Yeah, okay, I’m high. Now what?”)?
We’ll take the brief but intense and memorable experience over the drawn-out and lack-luster experience any day.
Again, we have to emphasize that medicinal marijuana users are a special case in point. They need long-lasting effects to get through the day.
But for the rest of use, we’d do better to worry less about how long do edibles last and focus more on the effects themselves.
Look for answers to questions such as:
- Was the high too harsh?
- Was it too weak?
- Did the edible high make you sad?
- Did it make you paranoid?
- How did you feel coming out of it?
- Were the munchies really intense?
- Did the high last long enough to be fun, but not so long that you got bored?
When you can answer those questions for yourself, and dial in the variables — strain, cannabinoid content, quality, dose, and others — you’ll be able to craft an experience that is worth its weight in gold.
For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100-percent all-natural marijuana products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.