Cannabis capsules are marijuana in pill form. They can contain many forms of cannabis, including oil and decarboxylated flower. They can contain single cannabinoids or the full spectrum of compounds the source cannabis plant has to offer. Typically, cannabis capsules are labeled by their cannabinoid contents, such as THC capsules and CBD capsules, for example. Compared to other cannabis products and consumption methods like vaping or smoking cannabis, capsules are easy to dose and consume. Medical marijuana patients sometimes opt for pills because they can provide a potent dose with long-lasting effects.
How to take CBD and THC pills
If you’ve tried cannabis edibles, then you already have a solid understanding of the experience you can expect from THC pills. If you’re new to both of these cannabis products, know that every individual’s liver metabolizes compounds differently, which is why edibles and THC pills can produce different effects in different people. The effects of THC pills can range from sleep-inducing and pain-relieving to focused and euphoric, depending on the capsule’s ingredients. The entire experience can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the individual and the potency of the THC pills.
Meanwhile, CBD pills may cause only the slightest shift in consciousness or a wave of pain relief, depending on the dose and other ingredients. Finding the right dose and cannabinoid profile for you takes some trial and error, so start with 5 milligrams (mg) of THC or less and wait at least two hours before taking more. If you’re trying CBD capsules for the first time, start with 25mg of CBD or less.
Types of CBD and THC pills
There are many types of marijuana capsules to choose from. Here are the common terms you’ll find on capsule packaging and what they mean:
Ground, decarboxylated flower. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis flower to activate certain cannabinoids. Cannabis flower requires decarboxylation to turn non-intoxicating THCA into intoxicating THC or inactive CBDA into active CBD. Ingesting decarboxylated weed in capsule form allows you to experience the entourage effect without having to smoke weed.
Crystalline. Crystalline is a powdered substance that resembles table salt or sugar. Crystalline capsules contain nearly 100% pure powdered cannabinoids, often in THCA or CBDA-only formulas that allow medical patients to ingest weed without the intoxicating effects associated with THC. The extraction process used to create crystalline essentially strips cannabis of terpenes, minor cannabinoids, and plant matter, leaving behind only the desired molecule.
Distillate. Distillate is a runny liquid that is similar to crystalline in that a distillation process is used to produce it. Its purity can run anywhere from 85% to 95% of one cannabinoid — typically CBD or THC — and the cannabis plant’s terpenes are sometimes reintroduced into the final product. Distillate’s cannabinoids are decarboxylated and capable of providing consumers with some of the intoxicating effects associated with inhaling weed smoke or ingesting edibles containing THC. THC pills made with distillate typically contain just that — THC and no other compounds or terpenes.
CBD:THC. Capsules containing ratios of THC and CBD work to enhance potential medicinal effects and modulate intoxicating effects to meet patients’ individual needs. CBD-infused capsules can potentially deliver relief while mitigating THC’s potentially adverse side effects, making the medication more tolerable to new or sensitive patients.
Full-spectrum. Cannabis capsules labeled as full-spectrum include all of the cannabis plant’s available molecules — terpenes, cannabinoids, and everything in between. Full-spectrum cannabis capsules can contain decarboxylated flower or infused oil bases, and allow patients to feel the effects of weed without any additives.
Broad-spectrum. Similar to full-spectrum, broad-spectrum products have retained most, if not all, the beneficial compounds from the source plants. The key difference is that broad-spectrum products typically refer to CBD products that have been refined to remove all traces of THC.
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.
Benefits of Weed Pills
There are many reasons that THC pills are a good option for some cannabis users. Since weed capsules aren’t smoked, they are safer to use. Although it appears the risks of smoking cannabis aren’t as high as smoking tobacco, burning pot still produces unhealthy chemicals including carbon monoxide. THC capsules or pills allow the user to avoid the harmful substances produced by combustion.
The lack of smoke also makes pills or capsules a far more discreet way to ingest cannabis. The pills also don’t have the pungent aroma of good herb, enhancing their discretion even more.
THC pills can also make dosing more precise. Although it can be difficult to determine the amount of THC in a homemade weed capsule, most commercial options have been formulated and lab tested for potency. This makes it easy to know exactly how much THC is being consumed, which can be important for medical marijuana patients and those with a lower tolerance.
Also, the THC in pills or capsules doesn’t come with all the added fat and sugar commonly found in many cannabis edibles. This can be very important for diabetics and those who wish to limit their caloric intake.
Drawbacks of THC Capsules
Of course, there are some drawbacks to THC pills as well. Even in states with at least some form of legal cannabis, they can be difficult to find. Online sources are almost always illegal and can carry products of dubious quality.
Unless you make your own THC capsules, they can be a little pricey. A bottle of 20 pills can easily cost in excess of $100. But they are generally fairly potent and their effects long-lasting, so it doesn’t take a lot to get a good medicinal or recreational dose.
Also, like cannabis edibles, weed capsules can take a fair amount of time to kick in—45 minutes to 2 hours, or even longer. Before you feel the effects of the pills, your body converts THC into a different form known as 11-Hydroxy-THC. The high induced by this cannabinoid can be much more intense than smoking weed, so care must be taken not to take too much.