7 Differences Between Smoking and Eating Cannabis

July 28, 2020

Now that so many states have legalized either medical or recreational marijuana, more Americans now have access to this amazing plant in all of its varieties. While smoking it either rolled into a joint or packed into a bowl or a bong are still popular, edibles are now available in most dispensaries. Whether you prefer gummy candies, luxurious chocolate, or cannabis-infused coffee, there’s likely an edible out there for you.

If you’re completely new to cannabis, you should know that the way you ingest your marijuana can affect how you feel and how long the effects last. Depending on your own individual needs, you may prefer one or the other, or both!

Before you rush out to buy a package of pot-infused brownies, you should know these differences between smoking, using vaporizers, and eating cannabis. Here are some of the primary differences.

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1. Edibles are Stronger

When tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is ingested as an infused edible, the liver processes it. This process converts it to 11-hydroxy-THC, an active metabolite that is more effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier. This can cause a more intense high. When smoked or vaporized, the THC passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, creating a faster high.

2. Edibles Take More Time

As mentioned above, THC when smoked or vaporized passes almost immediately into the bloodstream and thus into the brain. Edibles must make their way through the digestion process before they take effect. While this results in a more intense high, the wait can be long, tempting people to eat more. It’s best to wait at least an hour or two after eating an edible to feel the effects before consuming more.

3. Edibles Last Longer

Because of the same reasons that edibles take longer to feel the effects, the effects of an edible also last longer. The effects of marijuana that is smoked or vaporized tend to diminish after 30 to 60 minutes. The effects of edibles can last for hours.

4. Edibles are More Difficult to Dose

Edibles often come in packages announcing how many milligrams of THC are in the entire package. Some may tell the consumer how many milligrams are in each serving. However, because edibles take a bit longer to take effect, some people may inadvertently consume too much believing that they are not feeling any effects. Smoking or vaporizing makes it easy to determine when you’ve had enough. With edibles, it can be a bit trickier.

5. Edibles are Discrete

Smoking marijuana leaves an odor that is a dead giveaway to anyone familiar with its particular smell. Vaporizing marijuana reduces this odor somewhat, but not always completely. With edibles, it is easy to be discrete. After all, no one will be able to tell that the coffee you’re drinking is cannabis infused. They also cannot tell that your brownie, cookie, or lollipop is a marijuana edible.

6. Edibles are healthy

For those using cannabis medicinally or for improving their health have obvious concerns about smoking. After all, smoking causes carbonization, which can lead to carcinogens being inhaled. Vaporizing eliminates these harmful carcinogens, but some people would not be best served by inhaling anything foreign into their lungs. For these people, edibles can be a perfect way to ingest marijuana. For those concerned that all cannabis edibles are brownies or cookies, fear not. Cannabis edibles come in a variety of healthy treats from granola to quinoa salad.

7. Edibles Can Be Misleading

In most dispensaries, the amount of THC or CBD must be plainly marked on the packaging. However, without independent lab testing of edibles, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much THC or CBD are in a serving of any particular edible. This can lead to claims that an edible contains much more or much less THC than it actually does.

Choose the Method That Works Best for You

Deciding how to ingest your cannabis is ultimately a personal choice. For the person who needs immediate relief for anxiety or pain, smoking or vaporizing cannabis can provide near immediate effects. However, for those who need stronger, longer lasting effects, an edible might be the best thing for them. For many people, combining the two works well.

When you need something that has immediate effects, vaporization may be the best choice, since it delivers more cannabinoids than smoking. However, if you can wait for the cannabinoids to kick in and need effects to last a few hours, eating an edible may be your best bet. Take care not to overdo it on the edibles; it is best to start with a smaller dose and wait for it to take effect before eating another serving.

About the Author

Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with a healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.