How long do edibles stay in your system? The answer depends.
More Americans than ever are trying cannabis. But it’s not just smoking flower that’s gaining traction—cannabis edibles are gaining market share every year. This has led many people to ask, “How long do edibles stay in your system?”
It’s a valid question. Whether curious about the way cannabinoids interact with the body or concerned over a potential drug test, consumers should be educated on marijuana edibles from every angle.
It turns out there is no clear answer to how long edibles stay in your system. Everybody is different, and there are myriad factors that determine how an individual processes cannabinoids. It may take weeks or even months to fully clear tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from edibles.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to estimate just how long cannabis will remain in your system. However, for people whose jobs (or freedom) could be in jeopardy if THC shows up on a drug test, the best thing to do is abstain from edibles altogether.
What are edibles?
Cannabis edibles, such as gummies, baked goods, beverages, and savory snacks, are foods that contain cannabis extract, either in oil, powder, or butter form. They provide a convenient way to consume cannabinoids without the need to smoke or vape.
When it comes to edibles dosing, a typical starter dose is 2.5 mg to 5 mg of THC. Some products may come in higher doses, including 10 mg, 25 mg, or even more. For people experimenting with these products, it’s imperative to begin with a small dose and work up or titrate from there. Many people may not feel effects for two hours (more on that below).
Edibles and the body
The way edibles work is far different from smoking or vaping. This makes careful trial and error even more important.
Inhaling cannabis sees the active ingredients (aka cannabinoids) quickly processed through the lungs. Edibles, on the other hand, must make their way through the digestive system before kicking in. This means that the effects of edibles are delayed; onset may occur anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours after that gummy is eaten.
The “high” from edibles may also feel far stronger than smoking. In the gut, delta-9 THC is converted into a more potent compound called 11-hydroxy-THC. This chemical reaction does not happen when cannabis is smoked or vaped.
Not only can the psychoactive effects of edibles be more pronounced, but they may also be prolonged. Some people report feeling edibles up to 24 hours after ingestion. So, if you’re wondering how long edibles last, it’s better to play it safe and assume you could be medicated for a good chunk of time.
The individual factors are play
As previously mentioned, there are several variables that can determine when edibles kick in—and the length of time they remain in your system. Let’s explore some of these factors.
As you would probably imagine, the frequency of consumption can impact how cannabis edibles affect your body. People who eat edibles often may need a more potent dose for their desired effects, taking longer to completely clear them from their systems. On the other hand, those who consume infrequently may be able to detox far sooner.
Type of cannabis extract used
Concentrated cannabis comes in many forms. There is live resin (a form of butane hash oil), which is made by running plant material through a solvent to strip active ingredients like cannabinoids. Rosin uses water as well as heat and pressure instead of butane or CO2 to achieve the same effect.
Distillate is a refined version of solvent-based extract. The oil is processed with steam to remove any terpenes or flavonoids, leaving behind pure THC or CBD. This flavorless oil is often used in edibles to reduce any weed-y flavor.
Because these extracts contain various compounds, they hit differently. Many people report feeling stronger effects from edibles made with live resin or rosin versus distillate.
It’s not just the ingredients in cannabis edibles that determine how they affect someone—overall diet also plays a part. Cannabinoids are fat soluble, and may be processed more quickly if consumed with a meal that’s high in fat.
This is also why making cannabis butter is such an easy way to create your own weed cake and other goodies—the THC binds to the fat easily, and promotes bioavailability in the body.
A person’s metabolism is also an important key to determining the onset of edibles, and the time it will take the cannabinoids to leave the body. Slower metabolism also could mean edibles take longer to kick in.
Since cannabinoids are stored in fat, people with higher body fat percentage will have a more difficult time getting trace amounts of THC out of their systems. Interestingly enough, it is possible that people who regularly exercise and consume cannabis may have higher THC concentrations.
Edibles and drug tests
People who are subject to drug screenings should exercise extreme caution when it comes to cannabis edibles. Depending on the type of drug test, THC may show up weeks or even months after consumption. Even full-spectrum CBD products that contain minuscule amounts of THC should be avoided if a positive drug test could result in loss of employment or more serious legal consequences.
Urine tests are a commonly used for drug screening, wherein the sample is tested for metabolites of various drugs. Depending on the method of analysis and the individual, a positive test through urine analysis may happen anywhere from a few days to more than 30 days after consuming cannabis.
Mouth swabs are often used to detect recent drug or alcohol use. Most saliva tests can show a positive result for cannabis within a few days of use. However, one study of marijuana smokers detected THC eight days after consumption.
Blood draws are less common than urine tests, but are typically deployed by law enforcement (even if they aren’t wholly indicative of cannabis intoxication). According to a 2009 study, THC may be found in blood samples up to six days after use.
Cannabis and other drugs are likely to show up in hair follicles up to 90 days after use. However, these types of drug screens are often inaccurate, since second-hand smoke may result in a positive test. Further study indicates that just over half of hair tests correctly identified people who reported recent cannabis consumption.
Are edibles legal?
So far, 38 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical and/or recreational use. While individual regulations around edibles vary, the 23 states with adult-use cannabis have a variety of infused food and drink available.
For people in more restrictive states, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. This means that CBD, CBG, and hemp-derived delta-9-THC is more widely available than other THC products. However, it’s important to check local laws to determine if edibles are legal where you live.
How long do edibles stay in your system?
In addition to onset time, the number of days or months it takes to fully cleanse cannabinoids from the body ranges widely from a few days to many months.
With so many variables at play, people who undergo drug tests may want to think twice before eating a gummy or drinking an infused beverage. However, the rules around cannabis consumption, especially for medical marijuana, are changing every day. Therefore, patients should discuss options with employers (or probation officers) to see if they may be in the clear.