For those of us who are used to smoking cannabis, it can seem a little strange to consider taking it in the form of a capsule. But while you’d miss out on the pleasure of inhaling all those flavorful terpenes we love so much, there’s a method to the madness. When it comes to delivering a precise, highly efficient dose of medicine, cannabis capsules are hard to beat.
We bet you have questions: What’s inside cannabis capsules? Are they made of the same ingredients as other cannabis products? Do they have the same effect as smoked or vaped cannabis? Sit tight. We’ll give you all the information you need to understand these new-fangled cannabis delivery systems, and why cannabis capsules might be a powerful tool to add to your self-care arsenal.
Cannabis Capsules: Cannabis Medicine, Reformulated
Cannabis capsules may seem like a high-tech invention, but at heart, they actually contain a fairly simple product: A highly refined cannabis extract in a neutral oil. While different manufacturers use different oils, many rely on a class called medium-chain triglycerides—or MCT—formulated for easy digestion and absorption. If you’ve ever used a cannabis tincture, you’ll know that we’re talking about essentially the exact same product.
While cannabis capsules do away with one of the most pleasurable aspects of cannabis—interacting with fresh, fragrant flower—there are significant advantages.
If you’re taking cannabis for specific symptoms or conditions or incorporating it into your self-care regimen, you probably know that it can be difficult to obtain a specific dose with inhaled or vaped cannabis. Capsules get around that problem by packaging an extremely precise dose of cannabinoids into a small and portable package.
But there are crucial differences between cannabis that’s inhaled and that which is swallowed in capsule form. Here’s what you need to know, specifically about onset time and duration.
Inhaled vs Cannabis Capsules: Understanding the Differences
When we inhale smoked or vaped cannabis, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are absorbed close to instantly through our lungs. But with cannabis capsules, because our bodies metabolize them through the liver instead, the cannabinoids take much longer to take effect. It also tends to last a lot longer. This is one key factor that makes them a great choice for those needing steady, long-term relief from symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety, or digestive issues.
How long exactly? In general, you can expect cannabis capsules’ average onset time—they time until the cannabis takes full effect—to be around 90 minutes. How long does it last? The average duration is from 5 – 12 hours. That’s not to say you’ll feel the full psychoactivity of THC for the entire time, but it does tend to stick around in our systems about twice as long as inhaled cannabis.
Know also that these times are averages, influenced by such factors as your age, your cannabis experience, what you recently ate, and any other medications. For instance, consuming fatty foods or beverages around the same time as a cannabis capsule can reduce the onset time and increase the medicine’s duration. For that reason, we always recommend you wait at least 3 hours before taking another dose.
What’s more, the effects of cannabis capsules tend to be somewhat stronger than with inhaled cannabis. Especially if you’re sensitive to THC, you should be aware of this and plan accordingly.