Smoking is not the only way to consume cannabis. One of the most popular alternatives is the oral route, where edibles or other ingestible cannabis products are taken by mouth.
When should your customers choose this method? What should they know? Here’s an evidence-based look at oral cannabis consumption.
Oral delivery is the most common way of using medicines and supplements. It’s quite simple: all you have to do is take the preparation by mouth. For cannabis, edibles are the most popular oral product but there are other options as well.
You can also take cannabis capsules or pills, ingestible oils and tinctures such as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), and cannabis-infused beverages.
Although these products might look and feel different, they all have to pass through your digestive system and the liver before the active ingredients are absorbed and begin to work.1
As a result, oral delivery has the longest-lasting effects of any cannabis consumption method and takes longer to start working and reach its peak. Anecdotally, many people also report feeling more of a body high from edibles.
The key advantage of oral cannabis delivery is that the effects last for a long time, typically over six hours.2
This makes it a popular option for sleep and any other situation where you want to feel the effects of cannabis for the longest time.
This method is also convenient and can be pleasant if you’re using edibles or drinks. Additionally, it provides an alternative for people who don’t want to smoke or vape.
Many people also find that edibles have stronger effects than smoking, despite studies consistently showing that THC has low oral bioavailability, which means only a small percentage (4-12%) is absorbed.3
One possible explanation is that taking THC orally leads to more of it converting into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent form.4
The first downside of oral cannabis products is that it’s more difficult to take the right dose due to the variability of the effects, particularly if you’re using edibles.
Meanwhile, the biggest disadvantage is that oral products take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to kick in, depending on when and how much you last ate. That’s why there are countless stories of people eating too many edibles and getting uncomfortably high.
However, product manufacturers are starting to experiment with various technologies to get around this.
So far, the most promising approach is to use nanoemulsion technology to break cannabinoids and other active cannabis compounds into a tiny size to improve their absorption.5
If effective, this would lead to cannabis edibles and beverages with effects that are faster, stronger, and last shorter than regular products.
Are Oral Cannabis Products Right for Your Customers?
Generally speaking, edibles and other oral products should be recommended for people who want the longest-lasting effects and already have some experience with cannabis.
They’re also a good alternative for those who don’t want to smoke cannabis or are looking to try something different.
If the customer is new to oral products, they should start with a small dose (1-3 mg) and wait at least two hours to see the effects to avoid taking too much. This is especially important for edibles.
Want to find the perfect ingestible product for your customers? Our Producer Connect platform makes it easy to search through hundreds of cannabis products.
4 Schwilke, Eugene W., et al. “Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 11-hydroxy-THC, and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC plasma pharmacokinetics during and after continuous high-dose oral THC.” Clinical chemistry 55.12 (2009): 2180-2189.
5 Cherniakov, Irina, et al. “Piperine-pro-nanolipospheres as a novel oral delivery system of cannabinoids: Pharmacokinetic evaluation in healthy volunteers in comparison to buccal spray administration.” Journal of Controlled Release 266 (2017): 1-7.