Ask Cheri

How To Speed Up the Effects of Edibles 

By Cheri Sicard
April 15, 2020

Dear Cheri,

I have a question. I did not grow up smoking weed but now I’m 58 years old and have arthritis and severe nerve damage in my body. My doctor recommended me getting a medical marijuana card which I did.  

I do not like smoking anything but I do follow you and have taken your online course on making edibles.   

My question is about how to speed up the effects of edibles.  Why does it take 4-5 hours for me to feel any effects from them?  I’ve even bought edibles at the dispensary and have the same issue, so I know it’s not an error in my cooking.   The other day I used some of my cannabis oil that I made and it took 4 hours for me to feel anything.  Could this be just how my body metabolizes food?

You are correct.  To a large degree, that's just the nature of the beast with edibles.  It takes longer to feel their effects.  However, there is a positive trade-off, those effects usually last much longer than inhaled cannabis.  While you might feel the effects of smoking or vaping for an hour (and often less), it's not unusual for an edibles high to last 4-6 hours or even longer.

That said, it does not usually take 4 hours to feel the effects.  Most people feel edibles’ effects in about 2 hours.  Your metabolism must be a bit slower than most.

If you know that your body consistently responds this way to marijuana edibles, that’s OK.  You know how long it takes so you can time it accordingly.

Everyone responds differently to marijuana.  People need different doses.  The onset may come on differently, as you just experienced.  And, they feel the effects differently -- a big reason why strain reviews should always be taken with a HUGE grain of salt.  What affects me one way may or may not do the same to you.

Tips on How to Speed Up the Effects Edibles

Yes it will take longer to feel edibles effects, but there are things you can try to speed up the onset of their effects.

Consume Marijuana Edibles on an Empty Stomach -- Consume edibles on an empty stomach for the fastest onset.  You may also find you feel them more strongly this way, I know I do, so dose accordingly.

Consume Edibles with Caffeine -- A lot of people report that taking edibles with something caffeinated, such as coffee or tea, brings on the effects quicker, this is probably because caffeine can stimulate metabolism.

I realize not everyone has the luxury of eating an edible for breakfast with a cup of coffee, but if you can, try it and see if it makes a difference.

Try Sublingual Instead

Lastly, for the fastest effects from oral ingestion, you might want to skip edibles entirely and instead use a tincture sublingually.  This means you place a few drops of tincture under your tongue.

While the onset of effects is not quite as fast as smoking or vaping, sublingual effects will come on far faster than edibles because they are absorbed through the mucous membranes rather than digested through the liver.

The downside to that speed of onset is similar to inhaled cannabis, meaning the effects do not last as long, an hour or two if you are lucky.  The effects of marijuana edibles, on the other hand, can last for 4-6 hours.

marijuana edibles and a woman holding a clock

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About the author

Cheri Sicard is the author of Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women, and The Easy Cannabis Cookbook.  Her online courses at have educated 1000s of students about marijuana, cannabis cooking for home cooks, and making infused topicals.

  • I have found that eating decarbed flower works better for all my pain relief better than any other type of edible. No extra calories or wasted flower. Waiting 4-5 hours for pain relief is unacceptable.
    Good Luck,

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