Study Shows What You Eat Changes the Effects of Cannabis

Cannabis and food go together better than many other things in life. 

Most cannabis consumers and patients will be quick to point out that cannabis stimulates appetite and that consuming cannabis prior to eating often makes meals and snacks more enjoyable.

Less attention is paid to eating food prior to cannabis consumption, and what impact, if any, it can have on the cannabis consumption experience and the effects of cannabis on the consumer/patient.

A new study out of Canada explored the idea and what they found could have a major impact on consumer and patient consumption habits and strategies.

Fatty Foods and Cannabis Consumption

Do you eat food prior to consuming cannabis? What you eat prior to consuming cannabis could determine how long it takes for the effects of the cannabis to set in, as well as how strong the effects are, according to the results of a study that was conducted by Canadian researchers.

The study specifically looked at clinical trial data involving 28 subjects that had either fasted or consumed a meal which was high in fat prior to administering oral doses of THC (capsules), and what subjects reported regarding the onset of effects and strength of effects.

What the researchers found was that consuming a high-fat meal prior to the oral THC dosing seemed to delay the onset of effects, and enhanced the overall effects of the cannabis.

“Altogether, these findings suggest that the presence of a high-fat meal before administering an oral dose of THC increases the levels of both THC and 11-OH-THC, but the rate at which this occurs is slower,” the researchers stated in their findings.

Why This Research is Important

From a medical cannabis patient standpoint, this research is very insightful because patients often need the effects from cannabis to begin as soon as possible, and are much more likely to consume cannabis via administering oral doses. Patients often need the effects to be strong too.

By knowing what types of meals to consume, or avoid, prior to administering cannabis dosages, patients can develop better wellness regimens for their situation. For some patients, waiting for effects while knowing that the eventual effects will be stronger, is desirable. For others, the opposite may be true.

That is also the case for recreational cannabis consumers. The main principle applies to both cannabis consuming groups – knowing what to expect regarding the effects of cannabis is important. It helps people decide when to consume cannabis, how to consume it, and how much to consume.

More research is definitely needed regarding this topic. Many answers remain. 

If someone consumes cannabis prior to eating a meal that is high in fat, what impact does that have on effects? What are the differences between oral THC and smoked THC in regards to food intake?

Are there other types of foods that impact the effects of cannabis, and if so, to what degree? Can certain foods help mitigate issues when someone has consumed too much cannabis and is experiencing undesirable effects? 

These questions, and many more, could be answered by additional research, which is hopefully already in the works.


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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