When it comes to consuming cannabis, edibles have a reputation all their own.
Whether it’s a homemade brownie or gummies from the dispensary, marijuana edibles produce effects known to be more intense and longer lasting than inhaled cannabis.
But smoking weed is one of the most common ways to get high. Let’s just say that smoking weed and eating it are both popular consumption options amongst stoners across the globe.
If you’ve ever wondered why edibles hit harder and last longer compared to smoking, you’re in luck. The following guide delves into all the differences between smoking weed and eating edibles.
Key Takeaways: Edibles VS Smoking
- Marijuana edibles are absorbed differently by the body than smoked marijuana. They must move through the digestive tract before being processed by the liver. In the liver, THC metabolizes into a more potent form of THC known as 11 hydroxy THC.
- This much more powerful form of THC is what causes edibles to produce a more intense high compared to smoked weed.
- The effects of edibles last longer than the effects of smoked weed. But, Smoking cannabis can be cheaper than buying edibles.
- Marijuana edibles put less stress on the lungs and body than smoking or vaping marijuana.
Edibles Are Absorbed Differently To Smoking
Sure, smoking weed and consuming edibles will both get you high. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
Both the intensity and duration of your high will greatly differ depending on how you’re consuming cannabis.
These differences can be attributed to how cannabinoids are absorbed by the body when using different consumption methods.
Depending whether you’re smoking or vaping cannabis or consuming edibles, your body metabolizes the delta-9-THC molecules differently.
When you smoke or vape cannabis, delta-9 THC enters the body through the lungs.
The active cannabis compounds are absorbed by the lungs when cannabis smoke passes through the bronchi. From there, the cannabis compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream and enter the endocannabinoid system through the blood-brain barrier.
This process takes place in seconds. As a result, you’ll feel the psychoactive effects of the delta-9 THC within minutes.
When you eat edible marijuana, THC is processed into the bloodstream through the digestive tract and then the liver.
The active cannabis compounds first go through the digestive system. They’re broken down in the stomach and sent through the intestine to be processed by the liver. That’s why it takes so much longer to feel the effects of an edible. They must travel through the entire digestive tract before you begin feeling the results.
You’ve probably heard the effects of edibles are much stronger than smoking weed. Well, there’s a reason for this.
When delta 9 THC is broken down by the liver, it metabolizes into a new compound called 11 hydroxy THC. This cannabis metabolite is the reason why edibles produce a more intense high, which research has discovered to be much more potent than delta-9 THC.
The difference in absorption also impacts how long edibles last. Edible effects can typically last 6-9 hours, while the effects of smoking weed generally last 1-3 hours. This is another reason why it takes longer to recover from edibles if you have a high dose.
Edibles Are Potent
Edible cannabis hits harder and lasts longer, compared with smoking weed.
After you eat cannabis edibles, your body takes time to digest the active compounds contained in cannabis. The rate of absorption depends on a number of factors, including how much food you already have in your stomach, your body mass and how fast your metabolism is.
The cannabis active compounds from the cannabis plant are absorbed through the walls of your intestine. They then travel through the digestive tract to the liver, where they are metabolized.
When the delta-9 THC concentration in the cannabis is broken down through the liver, it morphs into 11 hydroxy THC When delta-9 THC metabolizes into 11 hydroxy THC, its binding affinity for the CB1 receptor increases.
This higher binding affinity contributes to the lengthy lasting power of edibles. As your liver metabolizes the original active compounds, it produces more 11-hydroxy. Since THC binds easier to this receptor after it has been metabolized, it’s able to produce more potent effects.
After the active compounds are metabolized by the liver, the new metabolite 11-OH-THC enters the bloodstream. From there, it travels to the brain and attaches to fatty tissues throughout the body. That’s when the edible “kicks in” and you start to feel strong psychoactive and therapeutic effects.
THC ratios also look a lot different in cannabis edibles. For a tangible example, 5 mg of THC in a joint does not induce the same intensity when it’s metabolized into HXY-11 THC after eating an edible. Remember, this metabolite is found to be much more potent than delta-9 THC.
There’s a reason it’s advised to “start low and go slow” when it comes to consuming cannabis edibles. They’re strong. And extremely potent.
By starting low and going slow, you’ll find the best edible dose for your needs without experiencing the adverse effects that can occur when consuming higher doses of edibles.
Keep this in mind for a more pleasurable edible experience. For a safe and comfortable cannabis experience, we recommend starting with a micro dose of 1-2.5 mg of THC.
Because edible effects don’t peak until about 2-3 hours in, it is wise to wait at least that long before increasing your dose. If you don’t feel the effects in an hour, give it at least another hour or more before consuming more. Then increase with 1-2 mg doses and gauge how you feel after another couple hours.
If you are confident in your marijuana use tolerance, 2.5-5 mg is a reasonable starting point for consuming cannabis in its edible form.
We can’t stress how important it is to be aware of overdoing it. The dark side of edibles is an extremely intense experience. Not only can it spike your anxiety and paranoia levels, but eating too high of a dose can lead to nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
With that being said, the perfect edible experience is hard to beat. Because the effects are so much more potent than they are when you smoke, edibles can more effectively ease both body and mind, sending you into a pleasantly potent euphoric bliss that lasts for hours.
Inhaled THC Lasts Less
Compared with cannabis edibles, inhaled cannabis produces a less potent high with a shorter duration.
While the effects of edibles can last anywhere from 6-9 hours, smoking cannabis induces effects that last a much shorter period.
Generally, consumers feel the effects of smoking for only 1-3 hours after consuming cannabis flower.
This difference in duration has a simple scientific explanation. Basically, the half life of delta-9 THC is shorter when it is not metabolized into 11 hydroxy THC. This means you’re going to experience a much longer lasting high.
When cannabis is vaped or smoked, the body processes its active compounds through the lungs rather than the digestive tract. As a result, it’s never metabolized into HXY-11 THC, as it would be after eating an edible.
Are Edibles Healthier Than Smoking Bud?
Eating an edible affects the body much differently than smoking. This difference in effects extends to the various health risks associated with cannabis consumption.
While smoking weed is pleasurable, it is linked to pulmonary stress. According to a 2016 study, cannabis smoke is similar in toxicity to tobacco smoke. This toxicity is linked to lung inflammation and bronchitis in humans, as both types of smoke contain a variety of toxins and known carcinogens.
This same study posits that, in comparison with smoking cannabis, eating edibles to consume cannabis “does not seem to affect pulmonary function or to increase cancer risk.”
This conclusion is backed by a study performed on rodents in 2019. This study concluded that edible cannabis puts relatively low stress on bodily systems in comparison to other methods of consumption, such as smoking and vaping.
Nevertheless, the 2016 study discusses other challenges associated with cannabis consumption. Whether you are smoking cannabis or eating it, any way to consume cannabis can cause harmful effects on brain development, psychiatric health and heart health.
Therefore, while no method of consumption is completely without risk, edible cannabis requires less exposure to dangerous toxins and carcinogens compared with smoking weed.
Edibles VS Smoking Pros and Cons
Whether you’re gulping down an edible or sparking up a blunt, consuming cannabis in any form induces psychoactive effects and therapeutic benefits.
No method of consumption is perfect. Edibles and smoking both have their pros and cons.
- When you eat edibles, you’ll experience longer lasting effects compared to smoked cannabis.
- Ingesting edibles produces more intense effects with a smaller dose.
- Eating edibles does not expose lungs to toxins.
- Edibles don’t produce any odor.
- Edibles come in a variety of forms, from gummies to chocolate bars and everything in between.
- Ingesting edibles takes longer for the effects to kick in.
- Cannabis edibles can be difficult to dose with unpredictable effects, particularly with homemade cannabis-infused butter.
- The unique flavor and aroma profile from each strain are lost.
- You will feel the effects of smoking weed almost immediately.
- You can better taste and smell the unique terpene profiles of various strains.
- Dosing is easier, facilitating a more predictable experience.
- Unique strain effects are more obvious when smoking vs eating edibles.
- Combustion of cannabis exposes your lungs to toxins and other dangerous chemicals within the smoke.
- Effects from smoking cannabis last for a shorter duration.
- The whole process produces more odor, from the cannabis flower itself to the smoke produced.
The Edible High VS Smoking High
When you eat an edible, THC is absorbed into the body much differently than when you smoke weed. As a result, the high from eating an edible can be much more intense and way longer lasting compared to the easy high of smoking a joint.
The delay in effects and difference in dosage can be a pleasurable experience if executed correctly. If not, it can lead to undesirable effects.
It is pretty much a stoner’s right of passage. You don’t feel the effects of an edible after 30-45 minutes, so you pop another dose and end up out of your mind for the rest of the night.
My own edible experience led to giggling until my abs were sore and the complete inability to sit still. As a blunt girl through-and-though, it is safe to say I was uneducated about edible potency and unprepared for the intense night that followed.
With that being said, I’ll leave you with some parting wisdom: listen to the experts when they say “start low and go slow.”