Photo by SHAUNA SUMMERS
Let's discuss the process THC undergoes when digested rather than smoked.
If you’ve ever dabbled in infused foods, you’d know the edible high can be intense and long-lasting. It’s much stronger than smoking or vaping flower, and it lasts a lot longer.
Luckily, regulations in many legalized states are setting higher limits on the potency of edibles, meaning there’s more THC in legal edibles than ever before. However, this can be intimidating for those new to edibles, especially when you haven’t nailed your perfect dose.
Below, we’ve broken down the process THC undergoes when digested through the body in order to produce such a powerful high. Keep reading to learn more about the edibles experience.
Regarding how the body breaks down THC, inhalation and ingestion differ significantly. You must know this if you want to take control of your consumption and the effects you feel.
When you smoke or vaporize cannabis, it enters the bloodstream directly through vessels within the lungs. There’s no need for the THC to pass through the digestive system. This means the effects will hit you almost immediately and usually subside in 2-4 hours.
Eating an edible is a whole different story. In this case, THC moves through the entire digestive system. This means many metabolic factors contribute to the way you feel after consuming.
A standard starting dosage for edible THC is 10mg. But hey, even that’s too much for a beginner. For those completely new to THC, it’s best to start with 2-5mg and work your way up. If you’re a regular user but new to edibles, 10mg is a great start.
THC from ingested cannabis is slowly processed through the mouth, stomach, intestines, and finally, the liver, where it eventually makes its way into your bloodstream.
However, the resulting effects depend on many factors that new or inexperienced users often overlook. Taking an edible while dehydrated or on an empty stomach will likely cause the THC to hit your system all at once, making you incredibly high. This can be an overwhelming sensation for many.
On the contrary, eating THC after you’ve already eaten a meal will generally cause a delay in the edible’s effects. That means you might not feel it until 2+ hours after eating it, and the effect can last as long as it takes for your food to break down completely. In other words, the edible high can last 4-6 hours.
Depending on the natural speed of your metabolism, it could be a while until the effects of an edible go away. During this time, you might have some serious trouble tending to your daily routine or even staying awake.
Because edibles take so long to kick in and ware off, they’re best used in the evening when your schedule is free, and your only task is chilling out. Also, taking more THC before the effects kick in is a rookie mistake. You’ll get even higher, and sometimes, higher than you’d like to be.
You may experience heavy sweating, dry mouth, trouble breathing, or even anxiety and panic due to the high levels of THC in your system. That’s why starting low and slow is essential for finding your perfect dose.
Another reason the edible high lasts so long is that the body creates different THC by-products based on the method of consumption.
When inhaled, delta-9-THC (the main psychoactive cannabinoid) remains unchanged. It simply passes the blood-brain barrier and gets you high instantly. However, when eaten or drank, delta-9-THC becomes 11-hydroxy-THC, a faster-acting and more psychoactive form of delta-9 THC.
In other words, once your tasty edible has been digested, it’s essentially become a super-powered form of cannabis that’s totally different from what you’ve encountered through smoking. Stronger highs and even hallucinations have been reported.
The resulting 11-hydroxy-THC has the potential to remain inside your body for up to a day. In some cases, edible users (myself included) have experienced still being high the following day. Take that as a warning to be careful with edibles!
It’s important to remember that safety comes first with cannabis. Whether you’re using it for medicinal purposes or for fun, it’s in your best interest to be an educated consumer.
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