What are Onset and Duration When Consuming Edibles?

What are Onset and Duration When Consuming Edibles?

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For Canna-newbies, edibles can be intimidating. Understanding cannabis effects, when you can expect to experience those effects, and their duration is key to avoiding any cannabis mishaps. There are several methods by which you can consume cannabis and each method affects the body at different rates of speed, and different methods of consumption offer different cannabis experiences. 

What is onset?

A certain method of consumption’s onset of effects, or the time between initial cannabis consumption and the first feelings of cannabis effects, is useful in anticipating what your edible experience will be like. The graph below shows the onset of each method, as well as the duration of the effects you experience from each method. Inhalation - smoking or vaporizing, Oral Consumption - edibles or beverages, and Sublingual Absorption - melting edibles under tongue or tinctures, are the three methods of consumption; for this post, we will be focusing on Oral Consumption of edible cannabis products, which can be the most unpredictable in regards to onset and duration of its effects. 


What is Duration? 

The duration, or the total length of time in which cannabis effects are felt, of each method, is also shown on the graphic below. Duration varies from person to person and there are many variables that affect the duration of an edible high. The terpenes used in the edible you are consuming contribute to the duration of time you feel the effects, as certain terpenes metabolize in your system at faster rates than others, and each terpene will affect your body differently. In addition to various terpenes affecting your body differently, each individual’s body will process and break down edibles at varying rates. An individual’s THC tolerance, metabolism, and general health at the time of edible consumption significantly impact the onset and duration of an edible high.

The Difference Between Edibles and Smokables

The sensations individuals experience when smoking and consuming edible cannabis are similar, but the effects of consuming an edible are much stronger due to the way the THC in the edible is absorbed by the body. When using a smokeable product, the THC is absorbed through your lungs which is then delivered straight to your bloodstream with an onset of 30 minutes to an hour to feel the full effects. When consuming an edible, the THC is absorbed through the stomach and passes from the intestine to the liver, which then breaks down the THC and delivers the compounds to your bloodstream. This method of consumption’s onset of effects can take up to two hours. 


Each individual’s body chemistry is unique, which means each person’s edible experience will be unique as well! Consumer-safe cannabis edibles will have the proper dosage clearly marked on the edible package and “activation time,” or the average amount of time it takes for the edible and its effects to start taking place. At Canvast we like to say, “Start low and slow.” If you are new to cannabis and exploring which method suits you best, start by taking half of the suggested dosage and wait at least an hour to see how you feel - if you have not reached your desired feeling, you can take the other half of the edible. You are the best judge of how your body feels, and it is important to take things slow - you don’t want to overdo it! 


Interested in trying some of Canvast’s edibles? We have a full array of edibles from hard candies, to delta-9 caramels, to gummies


Onset + Duration Tips to Ensure a Great Edible Experience! 

  • Always eat a meal before you eat your edible - those amazing sweetheart ingredients that make the edible experience so fun needs other compounds to feed off of to work properly, so fueling up should always be step number one! 
  • Have plenty of water and snacks on hand - cannabis can cause you to experience dry mouth and dehydration, making water your best friend while taking an edible. 
  • The duration of an edible high can be up to 8 hours, so it’s important to make sure you take your edible at a good time!
  • Remember - start low and slow! 
  • In the event that you overdo it, stay calm, drink plenty of water, grab a snack, and lay down. 


Edibles can offer a convenient and discreet way to consume cannabis that is inhalation free, but it is important to understand how they work and how your body will process them. By understanding that edibles have the longest onset times of any cannabis consumption method and that the effects of an edible high are the strongest due to the way the body absorbs and metabolizes the edible, you can make the best decision of which method of consumption suits you best! Always purchase your cannabis edibles from a brand that provides clear dosage and activation time instructions, as well as providing full ingredient information. Make sure you start low and slow to ensure you have a great edible experience and do not have any cannabis mishaps! 


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