THC Pills 101: The Absolute Guide

THC pills

Understanding THC pills is a bit challenging, mostly because several different medications fall under this umbrella term.

Whole-plant THC pills, isolated THC pills, synthetic THC pills – you get my point. To add to the confusion, THC pills are frequently called THC capsules or softgels.

Potential users may also wonder whether THC pills work the same as edibles, or even if they should be consumed instead of other alternative cannabis administration methods. This, of course, greatly depends on the medical condition that should be treated.

I’ll break down this complex subject matter into a dozen stand-alone subsections. That way you’ll more easily get the complete picture of what THC pills are.

Here we go.

What are THC pills?

There are three main types of THC pills:

  • Whole-plant THC pills
  • Isolated THC pills
  • Synthetic THC pills

Whole-plant THC pills contain many other compounds from cannabis, not just THC. They are the closest thing to a real cannabis plant, only in the form of a pill.

One of the main reasons why cannabis is beneficial for so many conditions and disorders is because each strain of cannabis has over a hundred cannabinoids embedded in its structure.

Cannabinoids have a synergical cooperative effect, which means they have a much more powerful impact when they are working together.

Even though THC is definitely the most abundant cannabinoid in all cannabis varieties, other less prevalent compounds such as CBD, CBG, CBN and many many others contribute to the overall medicinal effect of cannabis.

This cooperative impact of cannabinoids on our health is called the “entourage effect”, and that’s why whole-plant THC pills are much better for you than isolated THC pills, and especially synthetic THC pills.

Isolated THC pills contain only one cannabinoid, which is, of course, the THC. For the creation of these medications the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound is separated from the rest of the plant, which results in a generally weaker therapeutic impact.

It’s important to understand that isolated THC pills definitely possess therapeutic properties, but unlike whole-plant THC pills, they lack the “assistance” of minor cannabinoids, which contribute to the healing processes.

Synthetic THC pills also contain only one cannabinoid, but unlike isolated THC pills, their only constituent is a “tweaked” form of THC.

Synthetic THC is lab-made, and even though it is structurally very similar to real THC, it is not the same.

The biggest difference between synthetic and real THC lies in their potency. In addition, these chemical “remixes” of THC are made illegally, and used for the creation of extremely dangerous synthetic weed.

Pharmaceutical synthetic THC is, of course, much better regulated and safer than the illegal “tweaked” THC molecules from synthetic weed, but if you can choose between natural and artificial THC, you should always go for the real thing.

Will THC pills get you high?

They most certainly will.

What greatly differentiates THC pills (besides the whole-plant formulations, isolated THC and synthetic THC division) is the amount of THC in each pill/capsule/softgel.

THC pills are frequently prescribed to people who suffer from serious medical conditions, and because of that some of them contain very large quantities of THC (much more than an average joint).

For instance, some pills contain 2.5 mg, some 5 mg, and some 10 mg of THC.

This determines the intensity of the high, and THC pills with lower THC levels will have a much less intense psychoactive effect.

Are THC pills like edibles?

THC pills are very similar to edibles, primarily because they are absorbed through the stomach.

Just like with edibles (usually when making cannabutter), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in THC pills has to go through the process of decarboxylation in order to become active.

In a nutshell, decarboxylation is a process that transforms THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid found in raw cannabis which cannot fully bind to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system), into regular THC, by heating it using a precise temperature.

When we swallow a pill with THC (the full name of THC is -trans-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol), THC molecules get dissolved. After they reach the liver, they are metabolized into 11-Hydroxy-THC (full name 11-Hydroxy-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol).

11-Hydroxy-THC is a more potent variation of the THC molecule, and the effects that it produces are much longer lasting than with regular THC – usually somewhere between 6 to 8 hours.

How Long Does It Take for THC Pills to Kick In

THC pills (pretty much the same as edibles), take anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes to start working.

The onset of cerebral effects depends on whether you take the pill on an empty or full stomach, and, of course, it’s much quicker if you don’t eat anything prior to taking the pill.

For most people it takes about 1 hour to get moderately high on an empty stomach, and about 90 minutes for the full effect of the THC pill.

On a full stomach, it takes an additional 30 minutes (on average), so an hour and a half to get moderately high, and around two hours for the full effect.

Interestingly, some people won’t experience anything for the first couple of times. That’s because their bodies don’t have an adequate amount of endocannabinoid receptors which are essential to feel the high.

The number of these receptors increases when we consume cannabinoids. Therefore, for some users it takes several sessions for their bodies to adapt and create additional receptors, which can then be influenced by THC and other cannabinoids.

How to take THC pills?

It’s a bit difficult to talk about this particular subtopic in a generalized way, but there are some basic guidelines that can be universally applied.

The first tip is to know your dose. As previously mentioned, THC pills usually contain either 2.5 mg, 5 mg, or 10 mg of THC in each pill.

A user needs to determine (by trial and error) the perfect quantity, and it’s definitely best to start with lower doses first, and slowly work your way up.

Other aspects to consider include the onset-time, and the duration of effects.

For instance, if you’re using THC pills for pain, you need to determine how much time it takes for the pill to kick in, and precisely how long it lasts.

If you feel the full effect an hour after taking the pill, and the effect lasts for, let’s say, 6 hours, you need to:

  •  take a new THC pill 5 hours after the full effect of the first pill had happened

By doing this, you will experience a continuous effect that will last throughout the day, but figuring out the exact dosage and the time in-between pills is totally up to you.

How long do THC pills last?

If you bought your THC pills from a reputable manufacturer, always check the “best by” date on the packaging.

Following a couple of guidelines ensures that the quality of the product will remain top-notch:

  • Avoid heat. Keep the THC pills in a place where there are no nearby heat sources.
  • Avoid light. Sunlight speeds up the degradation of THC, so store the pills in a dark cabinet/drawer/fridge.
  • Avoid oxygen. Keeping your THC pills in an air-tight container will additionally maintain the quality of your product.

Where are THC pills legal?

Pills that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are legal across Canada for both medical and recreational purposes.

In the US, THC pills are available in the states where recreational use is allowed (for adults), but also in the states where only medical cannabis is approved.

Where can I get THC pills?

THC pills can be purchased either from licensed producers (only in Canada), or in dispensaries (in both Canada and the US).

Ensuring the quality of the product is essential, so always make sure you’re getting your THC pills from a reputable and well-trusted producer.

All Canadian licensed producers (also known as LP’s) go through rigorous testing which completely ensures the quality of their product.

If you’re buying THC pills from a dispensary, you can always ask your local budtender for advice, and, of course, perform your due diligence online (by checking out their website, read comments on their products, and so forth).

How much do THC pills cost?

The price of a THC pill packaging depends on the potency (the amount of THC in each pill), and on how many pills are in the pack.

For instance, a package of 60 pills (2.5 mg of THC in each pill), costs around 28 USD (38 CAD).

On the other hand, a package of 60 pills (10 mg of THC in each pill) is slightly more expensive, around 33 USD (45 CAD).

The prices can vary from region to region, and this is just an approximation.

Can THC pills be detected?

Yes, they can be detected in a heartbeat.

Every type of THC pill (as the name suggests) contains considerable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol.

If your employer requires regular cannabis checkups, you need to know that the THC pills will certainly be detected after a test.

The exception to this rule are synthetic THC pills, which contain dronabinol, the artificial cannabinoid which is very similar to tetrahydrocannabinol.

How long do THC pills stay in your system?

How long THC stays in the system depends on a number of factors (including body fat percentage and urine THC metabolite levels), and the detection of THC also greatly depends on the exact type of test.

THC testing is a really complex topic, so if you’re concerned about getting busted, I suggest you read our in-depth article on how long weed stays in our system.

What do THC pills look like?

Whether they are homemade or purchased from a trusted producer, THC pills always contain some type of oil (usually coconut, vegetable or olive oil).

The oil is used to “carry” the finely grinded decarboxylated cannabis, and it also speeds up the absorption of THC.

We’ll discuss this additionally in the next chapter of the article, but it’s important to mention here that a lot of pictures on the web show THC pills like capsules filled with actual weed buds.

These images are merely artistic renditions of THC pills, and are 100% false.

How to make THC pills?

Making THC pills isn’t too difficult, but it definitely isn’t easy. Creating your pills from scratch gives you the opportunity to use your favorite buds (or concentrates), which is something you just can’t get with purchased THC pills.

The most complicated part is figuring out the math so each pill has the desired levels of THC, so this is what we’ll focus on first.

Each capsule (that you’re going to fill with THC-infused oil) can take 0.5 mL (milliliter).

For instance, you want each pill to contain 10 mg of THC, and the cannabis that you’re going to use is 20% THC.

One gram is 1000 mg, and if the weed has 20% THC, that cannabis has 200 mg of THC in one gram.

This means that you can make 20 pills (10 mg of THC each) with that one gram of weed.

Here is another example.

You want to make 15 mg THC pills, and you have some buds that have 15% THC.

One gram is 1000 mg, and if the weed has 15% THC, that cannabis has 150 mg of THC in one gram.

This means that you can make 10 pills (15 mg of THC each) with that one gram of weed.

This can also be used for concentrates like BHO, rosin, shatter and wax. The only important thing is to know how much THC is in them, so you can easily calculate how much concentrate you need.

Now that we’re done with the math, we can move on to the actual making of THC pills.

You’ll be needing:

  • Cannabis (or concentrate)
  • Medium chain triglyceride (MCT) coconut oil (best option)
  • Scale (with milligram measurements)
  • Measuring cup (with milligram measurements)
  • Measuring spoon (with milligram measurements)
  • 10 cc syringe (or a dripper)
  • Cellulose (or gelatin) capsules
  • Stove
  • Oven
  • Oven mitts


Preheat the oven to 250°F, and once it reaches the temperature, place your weed (in an aluminum-covered bowl) for 25 to 30 minutes.

The heat will decarboxylate the cannabis, and you’re ready for the next step. Once your weed has cooled off, finely grind it into a powder.

If you’re using concentrates for THC pills, they require more time to decarb (around 1 hour), with a slightly lower temperature (240°F).

Place your concentrate on the center of a parchment paper, and make sure to leave some room around because it will slightly spread from melting (or you can use a glass cup). After decarbing, leave it to cool at room temperature.


Since you’re making 20 pills, and each of them can hold 0.5 ml of liquid, this means you’ll be needing 10 ml of coconut oil, in which you’ll infuse the decarbed weed.

Using the lowest possible heat on your stove, combine your weed with the coconut oil and stir.

It’s best to use a slow burner (also known as the crock-pot).

The mixture should be kept on low heat for 3 to 6 hours (so the weed can be completely infused with the oil).

If you’re using concentrates, it takes much shorter than that (you can stop when you see that the concentrate completely dissolved in the oil).

Once you’re finished with this step, leave the infusion to cool off at room temperature, and later on collect the oil with a syringe (or a dripper), and fill up your capsules.

I would also advise you to watch some video tutorials on this topic, since it’s pretty complicated.

Where to store THC pills?

The best way to preserve the quality of your THC pills is to store them in the fridge, and, of course, avoid exposing them to any heat, light and oxygen (keep the pills in an airtight bottle/container).

Can you smoke THC pills?

Since the weed in THC pills is already decarboxylated (the decarbing also happens when we smoke/vape weed), smoking THC pills would be an overkill.

THC pills are also oil-based, so smoking them is pretty much impossible.


Because of their prolonged effects, THC pills are excellent for people with conditions that require continuous relief, such as insomnia, chronic pain, arthritis, depression, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and many more.

They are also a much healthier way to consume cannabis (compared to smoking).

If there’s anything you’re confused about, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out.

About the author
Marco Medic

A passionate cannabis enthusiast, Marco mainly writes about the latest research on cannabis use in health.

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