How Long Do the Effects of Edibles Last?

Edibles will peak after a few hours and last for 6 to 8 hours. But it’s crucial to know what dosage to take and what to do if you don’t feel anything.

Written by

Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson is the senior editor at CBD Oracle, and has been covering science, vaping and cannabis for over 10 years. He has a MS in Theoretical Physics from Uppsala...

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Medically reviewed byAbraham Benavides, MD

Medically reviewed by

Abraham Benavides, MD

Dr. Abraham Benavides is an international cannabis science advisor, health coach, and full-tuition merit scholar of the GW School of Medicine. Abe pioneered and published first-author research with the Cannabis...

CBD Oracle's Editorial Process

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A woman consuming a large cannabis edible
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Taking an edible is one of the most popular ways to introduce yourself to weed. If you’re interested in cannabis but don’t want to smoke, for example, eating a cookie, gummy or brownie and then waiting for the high to hit is a lot more enjoyable than coughing up a bong-hit. But edibles are a little different to smoking, because the dose will take longer to kick in, and many people report stronger effects.

But how long does it take to feel the effects? How long will you be high for? And is there anything you can do to make it last longer or be over more quickly?

We’ve collected all of the most important facts about edibles to guide your first experience.

The Effects of Edibles Will Last 6 to 8 Hours

The effects of edibles will last for around 6 hours, assuming a 20 mg dose and an average response to THC. However, different individuals will feel effects for different lengths of time and higher doses will produce effects for longer, with effects persisting for over 8 hours with a 50 mg dose.

A couple of different studies from the 80s (one Swedish study and another from the same group in collaboration with American researchers) give the most straightforward answer to this question because they both gave participants a cookie with 20 mg of THC and determined (among other things) how long they felt high for. The results of both are pretty consistent: feelings of being high increase from about 30 minutes onwards, peaking at around 4.5/10 after two to three hours, and then reducing to less than 2/10 after about six hours.

RELATED: How Long Does Weed Stay in Your System?

However, neither of these studies followed-up for longer than 6 hours, and people often report effects for longer than this (which was known even in older research). It’s also important to remember that this is only based on people subjectively rating themselves on a 0 to 10 scale – it’s totally possible that a 2 for them would be a 0 for you, or that it would be a 4. Other authors note that:

“Some users displayed impaired performance after ingestion of the 10 mg THC dose, even though, on average, this dose did not alter performance relative to placebo. In a similar vein, some users displayed little to no impairment following ingestion of the highest dose (50 mg THC), which produced drastic alterations in performance in the majority of users.”

This is basically a “science-y” way of saying that people can have hugely different tolerances. One person’s pleasant high is another person’s heroic dose. It’s worth noting that the people who took 50 mg in this study still reported substantial effects after 8 hours.

How Long Does It Take Edibles to Produce Effects?

It will usually take between 1 and 2 hours to feel an effect from edibles. However, this depends on many things, for example, if you’ve eaten anything else before the edible.

In the studies discussed in the previous section, participants reported some effects after as little as half an hour, but it took an hour until it was rated 2/10 or higher. Generally speaking, the peak of effects came between 2 and 4 hours after eating it, but in the Swedish study, one participant had peak blood THC levels after 5 hours, so this can vary substantially.

We spoke to Eloise Theisen, Nurse Practitioner at the Palliative Medicine Clinic in San Jose and previous president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, who commented that: 

“Age, weight, metabolism, gender and medications can all affect onset and duration of edibles. Some people will naturally be faster metabolizers of edibles and will feel the effects quickly and others will be slower metabolizers and not feel the effects for hours.”

So the answer is not so straightforward. Most of the time you’ll start to really notice the effects after an hour, but this could easily stretch to two hours or even longer depending on many factors. One important example is how much you’ve eaten, since this slows down the absorption of the THC and delays the peak of effects. 

How to Sober Up From Edibles, According to Science

While there isn’t much direct evidence, studies suggest that the best ways to sober up from weed are with CBD, black peppercorns, pine nuts and even possibly ibuprofen. As well as this, more generic tips like drinking water and taking a walk can help you feel more sober.

Eloise Theisen, NP, pointed out that while many of the methods for coming down from a weed high are basically stoner hearsay, there are some approaches with supporting evidence:

“While there are many recommendations on the internet to help reduce the THC high that comes with edibles, most of them are not evidenced-based and feedback from consumers is mixed. Recommendations range from drinking water with lemon, taking CBD, exercising, taking ibuprofen, and chewing on black peppercorn. There is some research to support the use of ibuprofen and black peppercorn to help quell the intensity of THC but nothing will make it go away quickly. Often it is time and patience that are most effective and taking less to start. “

In line with this, legendary cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo included a section on these methods to reduce a high in his “Taming THC” paper. This suggested several possibilities for coming down from a high using other compounds also found in cannabis, whether cannabinoids or terpenes.

  • CBD: The simplest suggestion is to use some CBD (without any THC, ideally), which has been shown to reduce the negative effects of THC in many studies.
  • Black peppercorns: Black pepper contains beta-caryophyllene, pinene and myrcene, all of which are known to counteract different components of a THC high. For example, myrcene has sedative properties that should help calm anxiety.  
  • Pistachios and pine nuts: Both pistachios and pine nuts contain pinene, which is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This approach for coming down from a cannabis high has been in use since the days of Pliny the Elder.
  • Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also have promise for reducing a THC high according to research. This is basically because some of the cognitive impairments it causes are linked to the induction of cyclooxygenase-2, which are inhibited by NSAIDs.

How to Enhance the Effects of Edibles

If you want to get more out of your edibles, the best thing to do is to eat a high-fat meal before dosing. This might seem counter-intuitive – and it does make the process slower – but research shows that this will maximize the amount of THC that makes it to your blood.

Enhancing the effects of THC is another area where there is more stoner hearsay than hard evidence, but there is one piece of advice that can help. According to one study with real users focusing on blood tests and another looking at the distribution to the lymphatic system in rats, eating high-fat foods alongside or before taking edibles increases the amount of THC that reaches your blood and the rest of your body.

There is a downside in that eating before an edible also makes it take longer to reach peak effects, so you’ll be more likely to have to wait up to 4 hours to really get the most from your dose. However, once you’ve done that, the peak in intensity will be higher. However, if you want a quicker spike and come-down, you can purposefully take the edibles on an empty stomach.

What Dosage of Edibles Should I Take?

First-time edibles users should take 5 to 10 mg, while more experienced users can take doses of 20 mg or even higher. As you might expect, this depends a lot on individual differences, so your personal experience (if any) with weed will be an invaluable guide.

One piece of research from the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University gave participants three different doses of cannabis in the form of brownies: 10 mg, 25 mg and 50 mg. The results showed:

  • 10 mg brownies didn’t impair users, but increased ratings for “drug effects” (i.e. any drug effect) and “good drug effect.”
  • 25 mg brownies increased both of these, but also “unpleasant drug effect,” “heart racing,” “anxious,” “sleepy” and “hungry/have munchies.” Alertness also decreased.
  • 50 mg brownies increased all “drug effect” ratings, along with “sick,” “heart racing,” “anxious,” “paranoid,” “sleepy,” “irritable,” “restless” and “hungry/have munchies.” Alertness decreased here too.

While this study certainly isn’t the only source of information on dosing, the results paint a clear picture you’ll see repeated elsewhere. Legal states tend to limit an individual dose of edibles at 10 mg, and from the results it’s clear that this is a pleasant level for a dose, with mainly mild and positive effects. Higher doses bring in the risk of unpleasant effects, but also cognitively impaired users and bring on more typical “high” symptoms like the munchies.

The bottom line is: 10 mg is a great starting point for new users, with 5 mg being a good alternative if you’re unsure. You can always increase your dosage in future. If you have some experience, you might increase up to 20 or 25 mg, and if you’re very experienced and want an intense high, raise the dose even more.

The golden rule of dosing for cannabis (or any other drug, really) is “start low, go slow.”  

How Do the Effects of Edibles Compare to Smoking Weed?

The effects of edibles last much longer but users rate themselves as less high at the peak, in comparison to smoking. However, many people report stronger subjective effects from edibles, so the situation here is a little complicated.

Despite this confusion, the science behind the effects of edibles is more or less understood. The key difference between smoking and eating marijuana is that if you eat it, it has to travel to the stomach and the liver before it reaches your system. The “first-pass” metabolism in the liver converts around 50% of the THC into 11-OH-THC, which is also psychoactive and is suspected to be even more potent than regular THC.

Eloise Theisen, NP, also pointed to this difference when we asked her why edibles have a reputation for stronger effects:

“Edibles are metabolized by the liver and they go through a chemical conversion that produces a much stronger metabolite. Inhaling cannabis goes directly into the bloodstream and bypasses the liver and therefore does not go through a chemical conversion. A person’s metabolism can also affect the intensity and some may feel the effects more while others do not feel the effects as much.”

This is one reason the effects of edibles might be considered stronger than smoked cannabis, but it’s more likely that inconsistent dosing is the reason for this perception. Not only will homemade edibles be inconsistent and only have a rough “target” dose, even professionally-made edibles are generally not accurately labeled. Because of this, it’s easy to take a lot more than you thought you would.

In the old studies which simply gave participants a 20 mg cookie and asked them to rate the effects, both found that the peak of effects was rated lower than for the smoked dose. However, they remained at peak “high” for around two hours, in comparison to around an hour after smoking.

So the short answer is: edibles won’t get you quite as high as smoking the same dose, but it will prolong the experience.

What If I’ve Taken an Edible But Don’t Feel Any Effects?

Wait for at least two hours before taking another dose. It’s better to focus on the dose you’ve taken rather than purely the time it’s been since you took it. If you’ve taken 10 mg, taking another dose in two hours is probably OK, but if you’ve taken 25 mg or more, prematurely doubling it could be risky.  

The time it takes for edibles to kick in is one of the most challenging things about taking them. Even worse, two people could take the same dose, but one feels the effects after an hour while the other doesn’t after two hours. With one person feeling giggly and likely approaching the peak of their high, the one with no effects will undoubtedly feel a little “left out,” and tempted to take more.

I have done this, personally, and most people who’ve taken edibles will have a story about this exact problem (even some Canadian cops made this mistake). You take more, but then shortly after – maybe half an hour, maybe more – the first dose finally hits you. Eventually, you realize that in another two or three hours’ time, the second edible will hit and you’re going to be super high – not fun high, like “can’t get off the sofa” high.

Eloise has some clear advice for these situations, “In a new, inexperienced user, I would recommend waiting a full two hours before taking another dose. If someone is really nervous about the possible effects of cannabis, then they can try increasing their dose every 2-3 days.”

In a study looking at “aversive” experiences with edibles, 62% of people who’d had a bad experience said they’d pay more attention to dosage next time. And this is really the best advice. If it’s one of your first times taking edibles and you’ve taken 20 mg, for example, you will almost certainly experience some effects from this dose, so you should wait.

If you’ve only taken 10 mg, though, and you don’t feel anything after a couple of hours, taking another dose probably won’t be a huge deal. Then your total dose over the evening will be more like 20 mg, so even if both end up hitting you, it won’t be quite so overwhelming. You can always eat another edible, but you can’t un-eat one.

For those with more experience who are taking bigger doses (e.g. 25 mg), the “wait then take more” approach is still OK, but the consequences for double-dosing are much bigger. Since the peak of effects could be anywhere up to 5 hours after the dose, really you should wait 3 hours before you even really think about taking more. However, actually waiting this long might not be too appealing depending on your plans and situation.

Eloise recommends keeping track of how different doses affect you personally to avoid such problems in future and find your ideal dose, “I recommend keeping a journal so you can record the dose, the onset, the duration and the effect of the dose. This will help the user better understand how cannabis works for them.”


Edibles are amazing fun, if you understand how they work and make some effort to make sure you have a suitable dose. Ideally, you’ll be on a fun, laughter-filled ride for something like 6 to 8 hours, with some lingering effects continuing after this. 

Things can get overwhelming if you take too much, though, so make sure to stick to a 5-10 mg dose for your first time, and only go above 20 mg if you already have some experience. 


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Last medically reviewed on August 11, 2023.