Smoking cannabis dates back decades and even centuries, from ancient rituals to the peace and love at Woodstock in 1969 to Cheech and Chong movies, smoking weed has been by far the most common method of enjoying marijuana.  Ingesting cannabis in edibles, however, has come a long way since the days of “pot brownies” and edibles are now just as popular as smoking.

What are Marijuana Edibles?

You can find edible products of cannabis in many forms such as gummies, chocolates, pastries, cookies, beverages, syrups, butter for making anything you like and of course, brownies. Edibles typically contain both THC and CBD.  Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical component in cannabis that produces the high that users seek, while cannabidiol (CBD) produces many other calming effects with no psychoactivity which is beneficial in treating depression, anxiety and even seizures.

Difference in Smoking Pot Versus Eating Edibles 

Many people that enjoy cannabis like the way that smoking makes them feel, providing instant relaxation, a calming effect or a creative high.  For cannabis connoisseurs that want to cut back on smoking but still enjoy the effects of cannabis, edibles are a popular option. If you are wondering what the difference is between smoking cannabis and ingesting it with edibles, there are several distinct differences beginning with the way that the body breaks down the chemicals with ingesting vs. inhaling.smoking cannabis

Significant differences between smoking cannabis and eating edibles include:

1) The Way THC Gets Absorbed by the Body 

Inhaling – When inhaling marijuana by smoking a joint, pipe or vaping, THC enters your lungs to pass directly into your bloodstream. The metabolic process is quite different than when ingesting edibles and has an immediate effect on the brain.

Ingesting – When eating cannabis edibles, the THC first travels to your stomach and through your liver before entering your bloodstream. THC is metabolized by the liver, which converts the chemical into 11-hydroxy-THC which is an active metabolite that effectively crosses the blood-brain barrier.

2)  Effects and Duration 

Inhaling – Smoking allows you to feel the effects of the cannabis almost immediately, with the full effects peaking within 30 minutes and can last up to 6 hours after use.  Some residual effects can last up to 24 hours.

Ingesting – Eating edibles can produce effects anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting with full effects peaking within 4 hours.  Effects can last up to 12 hours after use and residual effects can last up to 24 hours.  Users of edibles report a more intense “body buzz” than when smoking, although large doses can cause an almost psychedelic head buzz.  The rule of thumb with edibles is to start small and be patient. Do not double up doses within 30 minutes because you haven’t felt the peak high yet, that can be dangerous for some users with a lower tolerance.

3)  It Can be Difficult to Dose Edibles 

Inhaling – When smoking, it is pretty easy to gauge whether you feel the high you want to and easy to smoke more or stop for a while.  This is not the case with edibles.

Ingesting – It can be difficult if not impossible to gauge the amount of THC in homemade edibles, although when purchased from a dispensary the labels should be clear on the concentration of THC and CBD, as well as the strain of marijuana whether an indica, sativa or blend.  The standard dose of edibles is typically 10 mg per gummy or piece of edible cannabis, although some edibles come as one big piece that might be 100 mg.  This should be approached with caution and always split up to not ingest that much at once. Dosing responsibly and patiently is more enjoyable than realizing you feel like you’re in a coma and do not enjoy or even remember the evening or event as much as you wanted to.  Start with a Low dose and give it an hour or two to feel the effects.

4) Edibles Can Be a Healthier Alternative to Smoking 

Inhaling – Any smoke that enters the lungs is harmful whether from tobacco, smoking marijuana or burning wood.  Carcinogens and toxins are released from the material combustion and marijuana smoke has been shown to contain many of the same carcinogens, toxins and irritants in tobacco smoke.

Edibles – Because edibles do not enter through the lungs, they do not pose the same risks to the health of your lungs that smoking causes.  Edibles do, however, have their own safety warnings that should be followed to not ingest too much at once and learn your proper dose.Eating Cannabis

One difference commonly observed when smoking marijuana compared to smoking nicotine is that people tend to hold the smoke in their lungs like the old Cheech and Chong movies, this is really not necessary as the smoke hits your bloodstream and your brain rather quickly and at that point you are only damaging your lungs by holding in the smoke longer.  Smoking with a thin paper pre-roll that has a filter can also be a healthier way to smoke, if you prefer not to go the edible route.  There are also options for healthier vaping, which can be accomplished several different ways. 

5) Edibles Come in Many Forms with Healthy Options

Many people that are concerned about their lung health have converted to edibles as a way to enjoy the effects of cannabis without impacting their lungs. Edibles do not have to be the stereotypical pot brownie, there are many forms of healthy edibles available.  You can find protein packed granola bars, quinoa salad, healthy drinks or any variety of cannabis infused superfoods.  Again, use caution when dosing and do not ingest too much in a short period of time without giving yourself a chance to feel the full effects of edibles.  If you find yourself dosing a little too much, drink a soda with sugar, this will help relieve the effects of the THC.

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