The rate of THC absorption into the human body has always been an area of discussion amongst cannabis connoisseurs. At what rate and to what extent does THC or CBD cannabinoids enter your body/blood?

In plain terms most people who consume cannabis choose to smoke it. Many try or enjoy an edible, tincture or topical application of cannabis but it is often not their first choice. Smoking is the most used form of consumption because of ease and immediate rate of absorption.

Factors of absorption: (this list will show your factors in absorption and their impact)

  • THC levels – Higher THC levels don’t increase absorption rather there is more THC to absorb
  • Trace cannabinoids like CBD – trace amounts of cannabinoids have not been linked to increased absorption but instead rather changes a nature of the “high”
  • lung health – healthier lungs and lung capacity will often increase absorption
  • Endocrine system health – weaker endocrine systems will increase absorption
  • Standing heart rate – increases in heart rates will increase absorption
  • Blood type – not known to affect THC absorption

Absorption via the lungs:

Smoking cannabis is a very fast delivery method of THC, So is Vaping!

From smoking a vape, one hitter, bowl, water pipe/bong, joint, or pipe, the absorption goes from 2%-56% while most experience something around 31% absorption. This means for every gram of pure THC in the product, roughly 2-56% reaches the bloodstream. (keep this in mind because we’ll be referencing the %s)

The common belief is that vaping is more efficient than cannabis smoking because flames will destroy much of the THC present. This is true but only on a small basis (less than 3-5%).

CBD has been seen to absorb in the blood at a 11-45% rate in comparison.

The average wait time for full absorption at these rates are less than 20 minutes.

Absorption via edibles:

Eating edibles such as pot brownies is known to make cannabis more fun and appetizing. It is important to know that you cannot simply consume buds and get high. A process called decarboxylation (via heating) is required to activate the psychoactive elements in THC and most terpenes and the temperatures required for activation on each varies.

It doesn’t matter the type of edible, the absorption rate is 10-20% and usually takes 30-60 to reach full affect which is a common mistake for most people. A lot of new edible consumers think it should work like smoking and they make the bad decision of consuming more while waiting for effects to kick in, resulting in taking way more than you should have taken. You want to consume it in very small amounts and wait at least 2 hours for effects to kick in. Taking the appropriate amount is the difference between a good high and a bad high.

Taking edibles can be quite nice and almost always leads to a full body high regardless of the type of cannabis used to make it.

CBD has not been reliably measured for it’s absorption in edibles, our estimate from personal experience is also about 10-20%.

Absorption via tincture or spray:

Not much is known as far as absorption rate. Although time for full absorption is almost instant and has been seen to take up to 6-7 minutes depending on what tissue in the mouth makes contact. This should be a very high absorption rate because it directly enters the bloodstream from the mouth unlike edibles.

Absorption via the skin:

Dermal application is also not very studied and measuring it has proven to be inaccurate. What we do know it is that absorption is relatively slow in comparison to edibles and tincture and takes much longer than absorption in the lungs. The skin has hundreds of layers and membranes of cells and a topical ointment or lotion can take time to penetrate. Our estimate is close to 1-5% absorption over 1-2 hours

Sources: Cannify
National Library of Medicine

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