Edibles are substances that stay in your system for at least 3 to 12 days. In contrast, a single marijuana joint stays in your system for about 7 days only.
But the exact length depends on how much you consume, and whether you’re an occasional or habitual user; it can take up to 30 days for marijuana to leave your system if you use it regularly.
Today I’ll be giving you a round-up on how long weed edibles stay in your system, how they differ from smoking if they are detectable by drug tests, and why some people think they’re not safe.
For those of you who aren’t very familiar with what I’m talking about, let me briefly introduce you to what weed edibles are, and then we’ll move on to the heavy stuff.
What Are Marijuana Edibles
Edibles are eatables made using cannabis flowers or concentrates. Thanks to developments in the cannabis culinary industry, you can now find a wide variety of high-grade baked foods, beverages and CBD treats, such as mints and gummies that will give you the same desired effect of cannabis that you get from smoking .
Edibles have also been found to assist in treating anxiety and chronic pain, and as an additional benefit, they don’t present any risks to the respiratory system (unlike smoking).
If you have a sweet tooth, then you’re in for a treat, because brownies are one of the most common edibles infused with marijuana.
And here’s another interesting fact: in addition to adding marijuana directly to food, marijuana-infused cooking oil is also available for frying and searing food. And so is marijuana-infused butter, which you can conveniently spread on your toast and enjoy a weed-enriched breakfast!
Eating Edibles vs. Smoking Weed: The Difference
The first question that naturally comes to mind is this: when smoking is such a convenient method of weed intake, why should you go for edibles?
The main difference lies in metabolism. Let me explain.
Vaporized or smoked marijuana is absorbed through your lungs, from where it goes directly to the bloodstream and brain and is metabolized by the liver. This is second-pass metabolism.
On the other hand, anything that passes through the stomach goes into the liver first, and then enters the bloodstream. This process is called the first-pass metabolism.
To simplify: when cannabis is eaten, it is firstly metabolized in the liver, and delta-9 THC (the most common marijuana active metabolite that is also detected in drug tests) is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC – a substance that produces more psychedelic effects than regular THC.
Bottom line: the ‘high’ you experience from edibles is more intense and long-lasting as compared to smoking marijuana.
How Long Does It Take for Edibles to Work
Edibles generally take about 30 to 60 minutes to start showing their effects. However, this ‘onset’ time depends on many factors, such as:
|Amount of active ingredients||If the edible has a high concentration of THC, the effects will kick in faster.|
|Where inside the body the edibles are broken down and absorbed into the blood||Products like lozenges, chewing gum, and lollipops aren’t swallowed, meaning that THC absorption takes place through the mucus membranes of the mouth. So, the effects of these edibles will most likely appear faster. Gummies and brownies, however, are swallowed and might take longer to kick in, since they are first broken down in the digestive tract, from where the active ingredients are transported to be metabolized in the liver and released back into the blood. They then enter the brain and exert their effects.|
|Lifestyle habits and general makeup||Your rate of metabolism, gender, weight, and overall tolerance to cannabis|
Remember: since edibles take some time to kick in, don’t be tempted to take more right after your first dose. Always wait for at least 24 hours before taking a second dose.
How Long Do Edibles Stay in Your System
Like onset time, the duration of the edible ‘high’ depends on a number of things. There isn’t an exact science to this, but here are some of the influencing factors:
- Dose ingested
- The potency of THC in edible
- Whether the product was chewed and swallowed or absorbed orally
- Body metabolism and chemistry
- Weight and Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Tolerance to cannabis
A general answer to this question would be that the effects of an edible can last from about two to 24 hours.
And again, quite, generally speaking, the THC from an edible can be detected in your blood, saliva, or urine for 24 hours to up to three months.
Before I elaborate on the edible products further, do bear in mind that these time estimates vary a lot from individual to individual, and depend mainly on the dose of the edible.
|Brownies, cookies, gummy bears, or other food items absorbed through the digestive tract (gastrointestinal absorption)||These products will take longer to set in, about an hour to an hour and a half, but they will stay in your system for longer and have prolonged effects – eight hours in certain cases.|
|Marijuana tinctures, hard candies, lozenges, or other edibles that you keep in the mouth for a while and absorb through the mouth’s mucus membrane (oral absorption)||These are the fastest-acting edibles, hitting your system in 15 to 20 minutes or less. However, their effects last only for two to three hours.|
|Cannabis drinks||These are a rather new form of edibles that provide both oral and gastrointestinal absorption, so their effects are set in rapidly and last for about five to six hours.|
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Do Edibles Stay in Your System Longer Than Smoking?
This is interesting.
Generally, smoking weed hits your system harder and cycles out faster as compared to edibles. As explained in the beginning, this is because smoking sends THC directly to the brain, making you high immediately, along with subsequent effects of muscular relaxation, stress and anxiety relief, etc. so, smoking cannabis sends more THC into your system as compared to when you eat edibles.
But here’s the catch: if you smoke daily, and that too at larger doses, it will take about the same amount of time to cleanse your system of THC as it would if you ate large doses of edibles more often!
Do Edibles Show Up on Drug Tests?
This section is particularly important for everyone stressing over an upcoming drug test while eating weed edibles.
The answer is pretty simple, and obvious; because of how edibles are metabolized by the body, drug tests may be able to detect THC levels for longer periods as compared to if you only smoke weed.
That’s a bummer, I know.
So here are some general periods:
Type of Test
Time of Detection of THC
|Blood||casual user: up to three daysheavy user: up to seven days|
|Saliva||24-72 hours; in rare cases up to a week|
|Hair||up to 90 days|
Why Do Some People Prefer Edibles
There are many reasons (other than the instant and intense high):
- Helps avoid the adverse impact of smoking on health.
- Where smoking is prohibited, edibles can be consumed discreetly.
- Better pain and anxiety relief as compared to smoking.
- People have discovered that they experience a more calming and relaxing high with edibles as compared to smoking weed.
Why Do People Say Edibles Aren’t Safe?
Where there is support there is always criticism and concern. Since it’s hard to assess the exact strength of an edible before it’s consumed, this causes a misjudgment of their power, resulting in a stronger effect than expected.
According to some experts, edibles must be consumed with precaution and care, since they may have the following adverse effects:
- The risk for cannabis-induced psychosis, which can cause hallucinations, confusion, and paranoia.
- Risk of panic attacks or hyperemesis syndrome (repeated, severe bouts of vomiting) after consuming edibles.
- Older adults consuming cannabis edibles in high doses could have a cardiac event or related issue.
- Greater risk for cognitive impairments, coordination issues, or negative drug interactions.
- In pregnant women, THC can reach the baby’s brain, potentially impacting its development.
So if you’re thinking of shifting to edibles rather than simply smoking weed, remember to check out all these important points. Staying safe and healthy must be a priority – recreation doesn’t mean risking your life!
Factors that affect how long do edibles stay in your system
Percentage of body fat of the individual
THC and its metabolites are lipophilic, meaning that they bind to fat. People with more body fat will inevitably hold onto more THC in their bodies and eliminate it at a slower rate.
Exercise compels fat cells holding THC to release it into the bloodstream. People who exercise regularly will eliminate THC faster than those who do not.
Children and the elderly have a slower metabolism rate. As a result, they will metabolize THC in edibles at a slower rate.
The potency of the edible
Cannabis edibles with higher THC amounts will last for a longer time in the body.
How are cannabis edibles metabolized?
Edibles move from the stomach through the intestines and end up in the liver where they are metabolized.
Here, delta-9-THC is broken down into active metabolites before it has even had a chance to bind to any receptor. The most prominent THC metabolite is 11-hydroxy-THC.
Afterward, both delta-9-THC and 11-hydroxy-THC will get to the heart and into circulation, reaching the brain at the same time.
This process will take between 30-120 minutes. It is after THC and its metabolites hit the bloodstream that you will begin to feel their effects.
But this entire wait is worth the while because the buzz that comes afterward is stronger and lasts for longer as compared to smoking weed.
Why do edibles give a more intense high
When you consume cannabis edibles they first hit the digestive system before finding their way to the bloodstream. For this reason, it will take a longer time before you can begin to appreciate the effects of edibles.
Because THC has undergone metabolism, most of it is present in a metabolite form known as 11-hydroxy-THC which is more potent than THC.
This is what causes the powerful buzz experienced with cannabis edibles. It also follows that marijuana patients prefer cannabis edibles because the effects will are long-lasting.
With the background given above, let us now look at how long edibles will last in your system.
A few tips on taking edibles
Many newbies fall into the trap of taking too many edibles at once, not knowing that the effects start to kick in two hours later. When this happens, the new stoner may get paranoid and anxiety struck. So before this happens to you, here are a few tips that will keep you safe.
Start slow and go slow on edibles.
It is recommended that a new user should begin with 5mg-10mg of edibles before proceeding to stronger dosages.
Never mix alcohol with weed
No matter how tempted you might be, never mix these two. Alcohol has the ability to magnify the effects of THC resulting in an exaggerated hit.
Never take edibles on an empty stomach
Just like with alcohol, taking cannabis on an empty stomach will exaggerate negative symptoms.
Never panic when you overdose on edibles
Should you find that you have taken too much, do not panic. Practicing some relaxation techniques will go a long way in reducing your negative symptoms. Remember that the symptoms will wear off in about five hours.
A few tips on flushing edibles out of your system
In case you need to “get off the high” here are a few tricks that you can try out.
CBD is the natural antidote to THC. Studies have shown that CBD blocks THC from binding onto CB1 receptors. Taking cannabis with high amounts of CBD and trace amounts of THC can help to counter this effect. Harlequin is a strain with a 5:2 CBD to THC ratio.
Exercise releases endorphins into the brain that help in relieving symptoms of intoxication such as paranoia.
It will also trigger the breaking down and release of THC metabolites from fat cells. As much as this may cause a surge, it will quickly wear out as the THC is eliminated.
Water and cranberry juice act as natural detoxifiers. But be careful not to overdo it as you may go into hyponatremia.
Hey there! I’m Daniel. A Ph.D. in pharmacology and an owner of Green Fleets (former THC Detox). My mission is to help people pass drug tests and get their dream job.
My research into cannabis shows how cannabis affects health, including how cannabinoids can be used in the treatment of various diseases.