If you read our previous article about the different methods of consuming cannabis, you’re probably aware that there are endless ways to ingest this powerful plant. This means that the experience is more customizable than ever, but it also means that we are spoiled by choice. One common choice that cannabis enthusiasts make is between inhaling or eating their cannabis. Despite being the same plant, these methods of consumption offer very different effects. There are pros and cons to each method, and ultimately, it comes down to which experience you would prefer.
If you have experience with both eating and smoking cannabis, you may have pondered why edibles seem to be so much stronger. You may also wonder why the effects of edibles take so long to kick in, while, by smoking your cannabis, they can be felt immediately.
This has to do with the way the body absorbs cannabinoids. When you inhale cannabis, whether you’re vaping or smoking, it has a much more direct pathway to the brain. This is why the impact is felt quickly, and then dissipates quickly. When you eat THC, on the other hand, it has to travel through the stomach and then the liver, where it is converted to 11-hydroxy-THC. This results in a stronger and longer lasting high because this metabolite is very efficient at crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Duration and Potency
When you inhale cannabis, you feel the effects almost instantly. You may feel relaxed, euphoric, creative, or even energetic. Then, these effects wear off within the next hour. Because it onsets quickly, it’s much easier to gauge dosing with smoking or vaping — you can take a hit, see how you feel, take another, and so on until you reach your desired level.
Edibles, on the other hand, require far more patience. The best strategy for edibles is to start with a lower dose and to wait before taking more. It can take as long as two hours for an edible to kick in, and after it does, you can feel high for hours. Typical effects of edibles include a strong body high, and the head high can be almost psychedelic in high doses. This is why it is best to start small — it’s very easy to take a higher dose than is comfortable.
Though edibles produce a stronger effect, they actually deliver a smaller concentration of cannabinoids to the bloodstream when compared to inhalation. When ingested, cannabis only introduces 10 to 20% THC to the bloodstream, as opposed to inhaled cannabis, which introduces 50 to 60%.
Again, dosing for edibles can be a challenge. As a general rule of thumb, 10 mg are considered to be the standard serving size in dispensaries. For example, you may find a cannabis-infused chocolate bar that contains 100 mg of THC that is divided into 10 pieces.
While this can be a helpful tool for reducing the chances of overindulging, not all bodies work the same way. Other factors will affect your high, including whether or not you’ve eaten, your body weight, and how often you consume cannabis.
While you can’t overdose on cannabis, eating too high a dose of an edible can be an unpleasant and even frightening experience. Being conservative in how much you consume can make a big difference in how enjoyable your night is.
Which is Healthier?
Many people take issue with smoking cannabis. Concerns about toxic and carcinogenic byproducts of combustion have led many consumers to opt for vaping as a healthier alternative. Those who are not interested in vaping but worry about smoking may benefit most from ingesting edibles.
Though edibles are generally healthier than smoking, which edible you choose will certainly make a difference in how healthy it is. While there is nothing wrong with eating a brownie, cookie, or gummy candy, they don’t offer much in the way of nutritional value. If you have chosen edibles as your daily cannabis consumption method of choice, you might look into a healthier alternative to the traditional baked good route. Fortunately, with the advent of cannabutter, you have a cornucopia of options for ingesting your cannabis, whether you want to add it to guacamole, create a cannabis salad dressing, or baste a turkey with it for Thanksgiving.
Both inhaling and ingesting cannabis offer enjoyable experiences in the right context, and educating yourself on their effects is key. Regardless of your method of consumption, make sure to enjoy responsibility and with these factors in mind.