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Medically Reviewed

How Long Do Edibles Stay in Your System?

- 10 sections

Medically Reviewed: November 9, 2023

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA

medically-verified

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Edibles are food products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance found in marijuana. Instead of smoking marijuana to experience the effects of THC, people eat a concentrated form of it in foods like brownies or lollipops. However, some of the effects of edibles can slightly differ from smoking marijuana and are often more potent.

When you consume edibles, the THC is converted into a much stronger substance when it reaches your liver before it gets to your bloodstream and brain.[1] This is why edibles seem to be more potent than smoking marijuana.

If you or a loved one frequently abuse edibles, you might be wondering how long they stay in your system. Exactly how long edibles remain in your system completely depends on personal factors, like how fast your metabolism is. However, the effects of edibles typically subside within 4 to 12 hours after consuming them.

What are the Different Types of Edibles?

Edibles come in various forms, from lollipops and chocolate bars to brownies and cookies.

The main types of edibles include:

  • Baked goods like brownies, cookies, and even muffins
  • Gummies
  • Chocolates
  • hard candies like lozenges or lollipops
  • Beverages like sodas
  • Frozen treats like ice cream
  • Dried fruits
  • Tinctures that you drop in your mouth

All edibles will cause similar effects, such as drowsiness, euphoria, and increased talkativeness or laughter. However, some people who consume edibles experience adverse reactions, like anxiety, increased heart rate, nausea, dizziness, and feelings of paranoia. As a result, you should always be careful when consuming edibles.

How are Marijuana Edibles Metabolized in the Body?

Smoking marijuana causes the THC to enter your brain and bloodstream immediately while swallowing or drinking THC edibles causes a much more involved process. When you consume edibles, the body metabolizes them in several stages.

The stages your body goes through to metabolize edibles include:

  • Saliva – when you consume an edible, your saliva will begin to immediately break down the THC.
  • Stomach – after your saliva breaks down some of the THC, it will enter your stomach.
  • Small Intestines – after entering your stomach, the THC will move to your small intestines. This is where most of the THC enters your bloodstream, as it is absorbed through the walls of your intestines.
  • Liver – Once the THC and cannabinoids are in your bloodstream, they will circulate into your liver. This is when your body breaks the THC down into a chemical known as 11-hydroxy-THC, which causes potent and long-lasting effects.
  • Urine – Once the THC has moved through your liver, it will be eliminated via your urine.

How Long Do the Effects of Edibles Last?

When you smoke marijuana, you can begin to feel the effects seconds to a couple of minutes after ingesting it. The longest the effects of smoking marijuana can last are up to 6 hours, however, some residual effects may remain for 24 hours.[1]

On the other hand, eating a THC edible can cause the effects to last longer. Upon consuming an edible, it will take 30 minutes to two hours to begin affecting you. The effects of edibles can last up to 12 hours, with residual effects sometimes remaining for 24 hours after your last dose.[1]

Factors that Influence How Long Edibles Stay in Your System

There is no way to determine exactly how long edibles remain in your system. However, it is important to be aware of the factors that influence how long it takes your body to eliminate THC that you eat or drink.

The factors that influence how long edibles stay in your system include:

  • The dosage of the specific edible
  • Your tolerance for THC
  • How fast your metabolism is
  • How frequently do you use THC
  • Your body fat percentage

First, the dose of the THC edible can significantly impact how long it remains in your system. Typically, edibles come in 5 or 10mg pieces, however, some people consume over 100 mg at once. This is why it is so difficult to determine how long edibles remain in your system.

Additionally, THC is fat soluble, which means it is stored in your fat.[2] Someone with a higher body fat percentage might retain THC in their bodies longer.

How Long Are THC Edibles Detected on Drug Tests?

While it is difficult to pinpoint how long THC remains in your body, it is possible to determine how long they are detectable on drug tests. Each type of drug test will have a varying detection time because of what area of the body is being tested.

Urine

Urine tests can detect THC in your system for up to three days. However, chronic edible users might test positive for THC longer, sometimes for several months.

Blood

Blood tests can only detect THC in your system for up to two days. This is because THC is eliminated from your blood faster than your urine.

Saliva

Saliva tests detect THC by looking for its metabolites in your saliva. Because this is the first area that THC is metabolized in, saliva tests can only detect THC for 24 to 48 hours.

Hair

Hair tests can detect any substance in your hair follicles for up to three months or 90 days.

Find Help for Edible Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one frequently abuses THC edibles, it might be time to consider professional treatment. When you are addicted to marijuana edibles, suddenly stopping using them will result in withdrawal symptoms, so it’s beneficial to seek help from a medical detox center.

To learn more about our marijuana detox program, contact Charlotte Detox Center today.

References:

  1. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA): Cannabis: Inhaling vs Ingesting, Retrieved November 2023 From https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2019-06/CCSA-Cannabis-Inhaling-Ingesting-Risks-Infographic-2019-en_1.pdf
  2. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications, Retrieved November 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570572/

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