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Cannabis Absorption Rate: What It Means, How It Varies and Why It’s Important

Cannabis Absorption Rate: What It Means, How It Varies and Why It’s Important

Whether you’re a nonsmoker looking to narrow down your options or a cannabis smoker seeking some alternatives, you need to understand how different products work and how your body will react to them. There are several scientific studies that assess the “bioavailability” of the different forms of cannabis. Roughly translated, bioavailability means how long it takes for you to experience the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and how long those benefits last. Your Revolutionary Clinics Patient Consultant will help you understand the proper dosage of THC and/or CBD but a number of different factors such as your age, weight and diet can affect how your body processes cannabis.

At Revolutionary Clinics, we’re all about one-on-one conversations and working with patients to understand and dial in the right treatment. For these reasons and to keep this post simple, we’re going to talk about the different ingestion methods and their absorption rates in broad terms rather than percentages or statistics.


  • When you feel the effect = seconds/minutes
  • How long the effect lasts = 1-3 hours

Inhaling cannabis smoke is one of the fastest ways to feel its effects. How long these effects last depends upon how long you hold the smoke or vapors in your lungs before exhaling as well as how many puffs you take per minute. Since smoking, vaping and dabbing takes a bit of practice, beginners are likely to experience shorter durations of effect.


  • When you feel the effect = 1-3 hours
  • How long the effect lasts = 4-6 hours

In addition to being more discreet, convenient and easier to take, edibles such as capsules, chews, chocolate bars or baked goods you make at home also deliver longer-lasting therapeutic benefits. The speed with which you feel these effects can be increased by consuming your edibles with foods that are high in saturated fats. This is why baked goods are a popular choice for cannabis edibles, especially baked goods prepared with coconut oil which accelerates the absorption process.


  • When you feel the effect = seconds/minutes
  • How long the effect lasts = 4-6 hours

Cannabis tinctures deliver the best of both worlds. When you place the prescribed dose of a tincture under your tongue (known as sublingual method), it absorbs into your bloodstream almost as quickly as smoke or vapor inhaled into your lungs. After holding the dose under your tongue for a few seconds, you swallow it where it is processed by your digestive system which in turn, increases the duration as if you’d consumed an edible.


  • When you feel the effect = 30 minutes – 1 hour
  • How long the effect lasts = 6-8 hours

Just as nicotine patches deliver a consistent dose of nicotine over the course of an entire day, a Transdermal CBD Patch delivers a consistent dose of CBD. Because it is applied to your skin, the dose is continuously absorbed into your bloodstream. What you give up in slower bioavailability, you gain in the longest-lasting therapeutic benefits of all ingestion methods.


  • When you feel the effect = 10-15 minutes
  • How long the effect lasts = 6-8 hours

If you’re going to endure the inconvenience of a suppository, there better be some serious benefits, right? Absolutely. Not only do cannabis suppositories have the same all-day duration of a transdermal patch, they take effect almost twice as fast. If you’re using cannabis for pain /management, those extra minutes of relief could very well be worth the discomfort of using a suppository.


When it comes to choosing the right cannabis product for you, the speed with which you start to feel the effect and the number of hours you enjoy the therapeutic benefits are extremely important. The more you understand about bioavailability, the better decision you’ll make. As always, we’re happy to share our knowledge with you and answer all your bioavailability questions. Give us a call at 617-213-6006.

4 Responses

  1. I own a CBD store and have always been told to hold the sublingual drops under your tongue for 45 seconds till they are absorbed. After absorption the oil was released into the bloodstream. Since it was not digested, the oil was almost completely biodegradable.

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