So you have purchased a cannabis edible and are wondering whether you should grab a sandwich before taking the edible.
That is totally up to you, and it depends on the high you want.
For most people, I would recommend having a bite beforehand. It will make the high last longer, but it will be a weaker buzz than if you ate it on an empty stomach.
Read on to discover how and why eating edibles on an empty stomach changes the buzz.
How Cannabis Edibles Are Absorbed In The Body
Cannabis edibles enter our bloodstream at different rates than smoking. THC reaches the bloodstream and then the brain in minutes when smoking or vaping.
However, when eating edibles, it takes a much longer time as it is absorbed in our bodies differently due to the digestive process.
After you consume edibles, it’s sent directly down to the stomach, where digestive juices will begin to break it down into manageable parts that will eventually get absorbed in the small intestine.
THC makes its way to the liver through the intestine, and here it is ultimately broken down into THC-COOH, which is excreted in your sweat, urine, and feces.
The THC is first also metabolized into the active metabolite 11-OH-THC in the liver, and this little thing is the key to getting high. It is about four times as psychoactive as THC!
The bioavailability of THC when it goes through the digestive process is pretty low at 10-20%.
This means that only 10-20% of the THC will successfully reach the bloodstream.
This may sound like a pretty low amount, but wait until you feel the effects compared to smoking a regular old joint.
After eating and metabolizing an edible, the THC metabolite 11-OH-THC enters the central blood circulatory system. It then makes its way to your brain and attaches itself to fatty tissues throughout your body.
Because THC binds with fatty tissues, this causes THC levels to remain in your body for an extended period ranging from 30 to 90 days. And no, not the buzz – just that THC can be detected for that long.
Of course, the length of time THC will linger in your body also depends on whether or not you consume cannabis again during this period.
If you have, you will likely still have some in your body because THC levels will accumulate if you keep using the drug.
What this means for you is that you will fail THC drug screening tests. So, if you need to pass one, be sure to give yourself a few months to clear out your system.
Should You Consume Edibles On A Full Stomach?
Eating edibles on a full or empty stomach or not depends on what you want your buzz to be like.
Your gastric emptying rate will be affected if you have a full stomach. Which is a fancy way of saying your stomach will take longer to empty.
This means it will take you longer to get high, and the effect will also be weaker. It is similar to when you drink alcohol on a full stomach.
A full stomach slows your digestive system down because the food needs to be processed before it will get to your “cannabis dessert.”
Therefore, if you want a mild high, be sure to eat something before taking edibles.
Alternately, if you want a more intense high, eat something fatty when consuming edibles.
Though this is anecdotal at the moment, since THC is highly lipid-soluble, the theory is that if you eat something with high-fat content, it will get you higher.
For instance, I find that if I eat milk chocolate cannabis edibles, I feel more intoxicated than if I eat a dark chocolate one.
But this effect has not yet been validated by science.
How long for edibles to hit on a full stomach?
It takes up to 4 hours for you to feel the effects of edibles when full.
The THC metabolite can usually be first detected in your blood between 30-60 minutes, with peak concentrations occurring one to two, sometimes even up to four or five hours if your stomach is full.
The time it takes for edibles to hit you on a full stomach also depends on age, weight, gender, and metabolism, and it is different for everyone.
I have seen huge men get wasted on 10 mg and a slimmer guy eat four whole chocolate bars (100mg+) without feeling a thing.
Remember, if you’re used to cannabis (e.g a medical marijuana patient), your tolerance to edibles will naturally be higher than average, regardless of whether you’re enjoying edibles on an empty stomach.
When a person doesn’t get high from an edible, it is usually because they didn’t take enough.
How much “enough” is depends on the person.
10-20 MG THC Is Enough For Most
Dosing also depends on other factors.
I have found my daily dose of an edible to be roughly 20 mg of THC taken during the day.
This prevents me from having too much THC, which can cause edible hangovers, and still provides me with pain and anxiety relief.
I always eat before consuming an edible because I don’t want to have a high that is too intense.
I want to feel relaxed but still be alert so that I can still work and function enough to let the creative juices flow and write content just like this piece.
For some people, this is a high dose, but for me, it isn’t.
This amount will have me feeling a strong full-body high for five to six hours for prolonged relief.
But for another person, this amount could potentially make you very ill, causing you to “green out,” often causing a rapid heartbeat and other incredibly uncomfortable symptoms.
That is why it is advisable always to go low and slow when eating edibles. If you accidentally consume too much THC, the entire process of taking medical marijuana edibles can be unpleasant.
Edibles On An Empty Stomach: You Still Need Patience
When someone first starts eating edibles on an empty stomach, they usually overdo it, and this is because they do not wait long enough and begin to eat more edibles.
All you are doing is wasting perfectly good edibles and increasing the risk of greening out.
It is a very uncomfortable experience, so avoid it at all costs.
That is why it is recommended to start with 5 mg and only eat more edibles in increments and after at least a few hours of waiting.
Ideally, have a fellow stoner with you when you first try edibles. You’d be surprised how it can creep up on you and how strongly edibles work.
Making edibles work for you can be tricky as you don’t know how your digestive system will absorb the active ingredients in medical marijuana edibles.
Taking Edibles On A Empty VS Full Stomach
Eating medical marijuana edibles on an empty stomach will hit you harder and faster.
You will also find that the climb to your peak will be much steeper, and the drop-off will be over in a much shorter period.
This is because edibles on an empty stomach will not have other things in your digestive system to compete with.
Many people like it this way, and if you fall in that category, you do you, and eat edibles with food as the norm and have an empty stomach when you want to rock out.
But in my experience, taking medical marijuana edibles on an empty stomach will reduce the time it takes for edibles to hit you by approximately 50%.
Here in Canada, medical cannabis sellers often state that if you take it on an empty stomach, you should lower your dose by at least 50% because your high will be more intense and will require fewer edibles to get the buzz you want.
Start at a lower dosage, and if after a few hours you’d like to feel the high more, add more THC edibles in increments. You will be surprised at how much faster and harder your high will hit.
But for others who want a more durable and longer-lasting buzz, you should eat edibles with a meal. It doesn’t have to be a big meal either.
Though, the more you eat, the longer it will take to hit you.
When I used to work in a medical dispensary, I would always recommend to my clients that eating the edible with a moderate amount of food would help stave off munchies by making them feel satiated by the amount of food they eat.
That way, you won’t be raiding the cupboards for a bunch of unhealthy snacks before you become couch-locked and bloated.
Should you eat edibles before or after dinner?
The best way to answer this is to list the pros and cons of eating food or having an empty stomach before edibles to see what you believe will work best for you.
When it comes to eating before ingesting edibles, the pros are:
- Longer lasting high
- Less likely to green out
- Slower climb to your peak buzz
- You come down slower, too
The cons when it comes to eating edibles after food are:
- Weaker effects
- It takes a while longer to hit
Then, the pros for eating edibles on an empty stomach are:
- Hits you harder
- Hits you faster
- More intense high
The cons of eating edibles on an empty stomach are:
- It may cause you to green out
- The buzz doesn’t last as long
- Harder to dose the correct amount
- Come down slower
Use your best judgment, and decide the best course of action to take when using cannabis.
Remember to go low and slow with edibles, and you should be fine.