Back to Scientific Advancement

How Long Do Edibles Stay in Your System? (Plus Exclusive Tips)

It’s no big secret why cannabis edibles are among the most popular items in our family of dispensaries. Potent, discreet—and delicious!—they’re also the longest-lasting form of cannabis. So how long does an edible stay in your system for?

Prepare yourself: While everyone metabolizes cannabis somewhat differently, we’re talking multiple hours. It pays to know exactly what you’re dealing with so you can plan accordingly, get the results you want, and not be caught in an awkward situation where you’re not quite as together as you’d like to be.

Today’s guide is designed to help. We’ll discuss the ins and outs of cannabis edibles, including:

  • How do cannabis edibles work?
  • How long do edibles take to kick in?
  • How long does an edible stay in your system?
  • Are the effects of edibles different from other forms of cannabis?
  • How long can edibles be detected by a drug test?

…And other questions still. Ready to go deep? Let’s dig in.

Cannabis Edibles: Why They’re So Different from Smoking

When you consume a cannabis edible, you’re consuming the same “active ingredients”—the cannabinoids such as THC and CBD—that are found in all cannabis products. But edibles also work somewhat differently than do other forms of cannabis consumption like smoking or vaping. Here’s how.

When we smoke or vape cannabis, the cannabinoids are absorbed through the lungs and take effect very rapidly, typically within 10 minutes at the most. But when we consume an edible, those cannabinoids are instead absorbed through the stomach and the liver. For one thing, they take much longer to be absorbed compared with inhaled cannabis, and for another, the effects are somewhat different.

gourmet truffles

Why? When we consume THC—the cannabinoid most directly responsible for the psychoactive “high”—it’s metabolized into a form known as 11-hydroxy-THC. Though it’s 2 to 3 times more potent than THC, not much 11-hydroxy-THC makes it to our bloodstream when we smoke or vape cannabis.

But when we consume edibles, an interesting thing happens. In the liver, a process called “first-pass metabolism” occurs, releasing significantly more 11-hydroxy-THC into the bloodstream. We’ll explore that topic—and what the subjective effects of consuming edibles are—in more depth in a moment.

Edible Onset Times, Duration, and Tips For Having a Good Time

As we mentioned a moment ago, the onset time of inhaled cannabis—whether as smoke or vapor—is fairly rapid, usually taking 10 minutes or fewer. Edibles are different, thanks to their detour through the stomach and liver. This means that you can expect edibles to have quite a longer onset time, usually 45 – 90 minutes at a minimum and sometimes up to 2 hours.

That’s why we always caution our customers to wait at least 2 hours before consuming another dose of edibles. Here at Green Goods, we’ve heard all too many stories of people thinking the original dose somehow hadn’t worked and taking another, only to find they’d taken twice as much edibles as they intended to! And given how long edibles stay in your system, this is a problem you don’t want to have.

How long does an edible stay in your system? Including the aforementioned onset time of roughly 45 – 90 minutes, the effects typically peak at about the 4-hour mark and wear off after 6 – 8 hours. But some people report feeling the aftereffects of edibles a full 12 hours after taking them. If there’s something important you need to be doing—such as getting behind the wheel—it’s crucial that you plan accordingly.

Here’s something to consider: If that onset time feels like too much, you have a couple of faster-acting options. Check the menu of the Green Goods location nearest you and search the live menu for items labeled “nano” (such as these yummy gummy cubes). “Nano” or “nanomolecular” edibles are produced using a special process that makes the cannabinoids far easier to absorb. If a long-lasting, delicious edible with an onset time in the 15-minute zone, try one today!

Also: one study suggests that when we consume edibles in the form of hard candies, the onset time is reduced, often falling in the 45 – 60 minute zone. Why? It’s most likely due to sublingual absorption. As we’ve written before, the blood vessels under the tongue are especially good at absorbing the cannabinoids in tinctures. So you’ve got not one but two options for faster-acting cannabis edibles!

Are the Effects of Edibles Different from Other Forms of Cannabis?

In short: yes. Remember how we mentioned 11-hydroxy-THC a moment ago? Because it’s so much more potent than THC, the effects are stronger—and far more long-lasting—than with inhaled THC. As studies suggest, the subjective effects of consuming a gummy are far different as well.

This is what you might call a double-edged sword. For the countless people who swear by cannabis edibles and their ability to deliver long-lasting symptomatic relief—or hey: just to keep the party kicking a little bit longer!—they’re the only way to fly.

But cannabis is also associated with some negative side effects, including dry mouth and eyes, anxiety and paranoia, and increased heart rate, among others. If you’re concerned about the potential for these negative side effects, it’s best to start with the lowest dose possible, for instance, half of a 10 mg THC gummy.

How Long Edibles Stay in Your System: Factors Affecting Drug Testing

Even if cannabis is legal in your state, some of us must undergo drug testing for job-related or other reasons. If you’ve consumed an edible recently, how long can you expect to test positive?

As with many cannabis-related topics, there’s not one single answer to this question. Factors such as dosage, frequency of use, metabolism, and even your percentage of body fat have an effect on your test results. We’ll break these variables down one by one and then share estimates of how different test methods compare.


As we referenced earlier, the effects of edibles—or any cannabis consumption method—are directly dose-dependent. If you consume more cannabis, it’ll stay in your system longer. It’s worth noting that the most common single-serving edible dosage we see is 10 mg of THC.

Frequency of Use

If you’re a regular cannabis consumer—meaning twice a week or more—a drug test will tend to come back positive for longer.


Everyone’s a bit different, and some of us simply have faster metabolisms than others. Those who do can expect THC metabolites—the chemical markers that flag a positive drug test—to be excreted more quickly. Still, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically pass a drug test after just a few hours or days. It just means you might not test positive for quite as long as others who consumed the same amount would.

Body Fat Percentage

Because THC and its metabolites are stored in body fat, those with a higher percentage of fat will tend to test positive longer than those with a lower percentage.

How Long Can Edibles Be Detected By a Drug Test?

Drug tests usually take the form of urine, saliva, hair, sweat, and blood samples. Here’s a rough guide to their efficacy:

Explore Edibles and More at Your Local Green Goods

As we’ve seen, edibles function very differently than inhaled cannabis does. Because edibles are processed through the stomach and liver, you can expect their effects to last anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on factors such as dosage, frequency of use, your metabolism, and other variables.

How might this affect a drug test? So far as we know, edible cannabis doesn’t appear to trigger a positive result any differently than other cannabis products. Use the guidelines we provide above, remembering that they’re only a rough guide—not an ironclad rule.

As one of the nation’s favorite families of dispensaries, Green Goods is excited to offer our customers the kind of real-world, authoritative cannabis knowledge that helps them make more informed purchases. If you enjoyed today’s post, you might enjoy our guide to another high-tech way to consume cannabis: Through THC and CBD vape pens.

If you have other burning questions—just drop us a line. We’re here to help!