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Why Don't Edibles Work On Me?

Madison Heady

Do cannabis edibles not work on you? Are you special, haha? Let me share common stories and explain what might be going on.

It's a nice day out and you go on a walk with some friends. One of them passes out some cannabis edibles to share. Everybody says "cheers" and eats their edibles. Edibles have never really worked on you, but you decide to partake anyway. After about an hour or so you hear your friends giggling, having a great time, obviously very high. But there is a problem… YOU AREN'T! Maybe you didn't eat enough? Maybe you got a bad piece? Or maybe they just do not work on you? Well look no further, because we may have an answer for you. And no, you are not crazy! For some reason some people just do not get any sort of feeling off of their edibles, so you are not alone.

All of this boils down to everyone's individual digestive process. When we consume edibles it goes through a slightly different process than when you smoke your cannabis, and sometimes this can lead to not being able to feel the effects. So today, let us dive into why edibles don't work for you!

The Digestion Process

Let's start from the beginning. When you consume any kind of THC, whether it is delta-9, delta-8, or delta-10 they all go through the same process.

Stage 1

First things first on the THC’s fun process through our bodies, we must eat it! The first stage of digestion actually begins in the mouth. As we eat we salivate, and the saliva helps the beginning process of helping break down that yummy edible.

Stage 2

Next! Down to the tummy she goes! A huge misconception about THC is that if you eat it on an empty stomach, you get “higher” which is actually not true. The whole point of eating (silly to talk about I know) is to fuel our bodies and absorb the things that keep us functioning like vitamins, minerals, and so on. Our bodies already only absorb a small amount of what you just ate and if you eat an edible on an empty stomach, your body isn't focused on absorbing the THC, so it trashes most of what you just ate. If you ever had the skunk poops after an edible, that is probably why . Because THC is fat soluble the best way to consume a cannabis edible is shortly after a good meal or even just with a snack that has a good amount of fat in it! THC sticks to those fatty lipids in our food and tricks our bodies to absorb all that good fat and take the THC with it. A piece of pizza, avocado toast, PP&J, or even some butter popcorn does the job! 

Stage 3

Now off we go to the liver! Once we get there it's breakdown time. Our bodies when we break down this THC turn it into 2 different chemicals, 11-OH-THC and 11-COOH-THC (bare with me here I believe in you). The symbols of C, O, and H in the names stand for carbon, oxygen and hydrogen as part of a chemical chain description by the way. For most humans our bodies produce more 11-OH-THC than 11-COOH-THC. Both of these chemicals are only found in the body because they are metabolites and are not found in the cannabis plant itself, we are our own little alchemists in a sense. By the way, if you have ever had to take a drug test, these are the metabolites they are looking for. After our body breaks down the THC and turns it into these fun chemicals they get spread all throughout our body, and one of them specifically packs a very hard punch. 11-OH-THC is the guy that gives you the classic edible feel that everyone loves, and the 11-COOH-THC can have some anti-inflammatory effects, but it does not get you high.

digestion diagram

STAGE 4 and 11-OH-THC

Once our body throws those chemicals into your bloodstream, it travels all around your body until it finds its friends, the CB1 receptors. The CB1 receptors are responsible for the “head high” we get from THC’s and are found all over our nervous systems and brain. CB2 receptors are responsible for the “body high” and are found all over the body including our immune system. Because 11-OH-THC fits so easily, almost like a glove, in our CB1 receptors, it runs right into them hard and gives us a good run for our money acting 7x stronger than delta9-THC.  As the 11-OH-THC is stimulating our CB1 and CB2 receptors we achieve effects such as a deep body euphoria, creative thinking, mental relaxation, positive mood, anxiety relief, nausea relief, enhanced sleep quality,  and a great amount of pain relief. However, you must be careful about the amount of THC you consume in an edible because of the high potency of 11-OH-THC. You don't want to overdo it. Remember you can always take more, you can never take less, so be mindful and start low and slow. 

More About 11-COOH-THC

So what does the other chemical (11-COOH-THC) have to do with all of this nonsense? The main point to remember is that 11-COOH-THC is NOT psychoactive. It has been shown to help with some anti-inflammatory effects, but that's not what most people are hoping for when they consume a cannabis edible. So? Why doesn't this get you high? Unlike the 11-OH-THC that fits into our receptors like a glove, 11-COOH-THC doesn't fit very well at all in our receptors.

Why Edibles May Not Work On You

Every human is different which means that we all process things in our tummies differently too. With some people, their bodies produce more 11-COOH-THC (the non-psychoactive guy) rather than 11-OH-THC (the guy that is responsible for the classic edible effects).  This is a huge reason why a portion of people don't feel the effects from an edible at all or have to eat an insanely high amount of THC to feel even the slightest effects. Some other reasons for not being able to feel the effects of a cannabis edible can include things such as: active or past history of eating disorders, certain health conditions, body weight, diet, genetics, and even gender may play a role in being able to digest and absorb THC from edibles. For some people, sadly to say, it's just not gonna happen. Although do not be alarmed! Nowadays there are plenty of ways to consume cannabis! People who have a hard time getting effects from edibles may benefit from alternative ways such as smoking, vaping, capsules, tinctures, dabs, and topicals. In some cases for folks who can only feel the effects of extremely high doses of edibles, nano-emulsified drinks (a.k.a. water soluble) may suffice. 

So! What Did We Learn?

  1. No, you are not crazy if you can't feel the effects of edibles while your friends are on the floor talking about world peace and nachos like a bunch of hippies.
  2. There are some cool metabolites our bodies make.
  3. Some people's digestive systems are just different and that's totally normal.
  4. There are in fact plenty of other ways to enjoy cannabis products!
  5. Lots of fun big words to impress your friends with (take all the credit, blow them away with your new vocabulary).


Why Don't Edibles Work On Me?
Ever wonder why some people say cannabis edibles don't work for them? Learn all the reasons why edibles work better or worse on people!
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Why Don't Edibles Work On Me?
March 11, 2024
CBD Education