Why Don’t I Get High From Edibles?

Why Don't I Get High From Edibles?

Edibles are one of the most popular methods of consuming cannabis, with their ease of use and discrete nature. However, some people may not feel the effects of edibles as they do with other methods of consumption like smoking or vaping. This raises the question, "Why don't I get high from edibles?" In this article, we'll explore the science behind edibles, the factors that affect their potency, and why some people may not feel the desired effects.

How Edibles Work?

Before diving into why some people don't feel the effects of edibles, it's important to understand how they work. Unlike smoking or vaping, edibles are metabolized through the liver. The liver converts the THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent than THC and can cause a stronger, longer-lasting high. This is because the 11-hydroxy-THC can easily pass the blood-brain barrier, which means it can affect the brain more directly than other forms of THC.

The process of metabolizing edibles takes longer than smoking or vaping because the THC has to be digested and then metabolized by the liver. This delayed onset can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the individual and the potency of the edible. Once the effects do kick in, they can last for several hours, with peak effects typically occurring around the two-hour mark.

Factors That Affect Edible Potency

The potency of edibles can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. Here are some of the most important ones to consider:

Type of Edible

The type of edible can make a big difference in how it affects you. Gummies, for example, can be a more gradual release of THC compared to chocolate, which may hit you all at once. Other edibles like drinks and tinctures can be absorbed into the bloodstream faster than food edibles.


The potency of the edible is another critical factor to consider. Dosages can range from a few milligrams to hundreds of milligrams of THC per serving. The higher the potency, the more intense the effects will be, and the longer they will last. It's essential to start with a lower dosage to gauge how the effects will affect you before gradually increasing it to a more potent one.

Individual Tolerance Levels

Individual tolerance levels are another significant factor that affects how edibles will affect you. People who have been using cannabis for a long time may have a higher tolerance and require more THC to feel the desired effects. New users or those who don't consume cannabis regularly may feel the effects of a lower dose more acutely.

Body Weight and Metabolism

Body weight and metabolism also play a role in how edibles affect individuals. THC is stored in fat cells, so people with higher body fat percentages may feel the effects more acutely than those with lower body fat percentages. Additionally, people with faster metabolisms may feel the effects sooner than those with slower metabolisms.

Why Some People Don't Get High From Edibles

With all these factors to consider, it's not surprising that some people may not feel the effects of edibles at all. Here are some reasons why:

Insufficient Dosage or Improper Consumption Technique

One common reason why people may not feel the effects of edibles is that they didn't consume enough. Because the onset of effects can take a while, some people may consume more than they need, thinking the initial dose wasn't enough. However, this can lead to overconsumption, which can be dangerous. Additionally, if the edible wasn't consumed correctly, it may not have been absorbed into the bloodstream effectively.

Cross-Tolerance with CBD

Another reason why people may not feel the effects of edibles is because of cross-tolerance with CBD. CBD is another compound found in cannabis, but it doesn't produce the "high" that THC does. However, because CBD and THC interact with the same receptors in the body, consuming high levels of CBD can result in a tolerance to THC. This means that people who regularly consume CBD products may require higher doses of THC to feel the desired effects.


Genetics may also play a role in how edibles affect individuals. Some people may have genetic variations that affect how their bodies process THC. For example, some people may have a genetic mutation that affects the activity of an enzyme in the liver that metabolizes THC. This means that their bodies may not convert THC into 11-hydroxy-THC as efficiently, which can result in weaker or delayed effects.

Digestive System Issues

Digestive system issues can also affect how edibles affect individuals. People with gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn's disease may have difficulty absorbing the THC from edibles, which can result in weaker or delayed effects. Additionally, people who have had stomach surgeries may also have trouble absorbing the THC.

Types of Edibles

Edibles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Baked goods, gummies, chocolates, and beverages are some of the most popular varieties of edibles. The onset, peak, and duration of these effects may vary across types. Here is a brief:

Baked goods: Brownies, cookies, and cakes are the most common types of cannabis-infused baked goods. These edibles are usually made with cannabutter or cannabis oil.

Candy: Gummies, chocolates, and hard candies are popular types of cannabis-infused candy. These edibles are usually made with cannabis oil or distillate.

Beverages: Cannabis-infused beverages include tea, coffee, soda, and even beer. These edibles are usually made with cannabis tincture or syrup.

Capsules: Cannabis-infused capsules contain either THC or CBD and are usually made with cannabis oil. These edibles are popular for their convenience and precise dosing.

Tinctures: Cannabis tinctures are liquid extracts made with alcohol or glycerin. They can be added to food or beverages or taken sublingually (under the tongue).

Cooking oils: Cannabis-infused cooking oils are a versatile way to add cannabis to your meals. They can be used in salad dressings, marinades, and more.

Topicals: Cannabis-infused topicals are creams, lotions, and balms that are applied directly to the skin. These edibles are popular for their localized effects and pain relief.

Preparation and Dosage

The preparation of edibles can also affect the potency and the onset of effects. For example, if cannabis is decarboxylated before being added to the recipe, the effects may be stronger than if the cannabis is added raw. Additionally, dosage is critical when it comes to edibles. The article mentions that insufficient dosage can result in weaker effects, but it's essential to note that consuming too much of an edible can also lead to unwanted side effects.

Medical Uses of Edibles

While edibles are often consumed for recreational purposes, they also have medical uses. Edibles can be used to treat a variety of conditions, such as chronic pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. The effects of edibles can last longer than other forms of cannabis consumption, making them a popular choice for medical cannabis patients.

Legalization and Regulation

The legalization and regulation of cannabis can also affect the quality and safety of edibles. In states where cannabis is legal, there are regulations in place that govern the production, labeling, and packaging of edibles. This ensures that consumers know what they are consuming and that the products are safe to consume. However, in states where cannabis is still illegal, there may be no regulations in place, making it difficult to know the potency and safety of the products.


In closing, there is a wide range of possible outcomes when consuming edibles. Critical factors that can influence how an edible drug affects a person include the drug's type, its potency, the user's tolerance level, the user's body weight, and the user's metabolism. Possible contributors to adverse effects include insufficient dosing, poor consumption technique, cross-tolerance with CBD, genetics, and gastrointestinal issues. By being aware of these variables, consumers will be better able to determine the appropriate dosage and edible variety to achieve their desired effects.

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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