Cannabis Science, medical marijuana

Edibles vs Smoking – What’s the Difference?

Previously published in July 2019. Updated March 2020.

Some people prefer smoking cannabis – others enjoy edibles. There is no right or wrong method – just personal preference and the experience each gives you.*

Generally speaking, when smoking flower you will feel high quicker and this will peak within 30-60 minutes. The feeling gradually wears off in around two to four hours. Edibles will take longer to feel the effects; however, the high usually lasts four to six hours.

Other differences lie in the parts of the body in which THC is metabolized. When you ingest edibles a larger portion of Delta-9-THC reaches the liver first and converts to 11-hydroxy-THC.

Smoking causes THC to enter your bloodstream after passing through the alveoli in the lungs. Blood is mostly water – since THC is oil-soluble it doesn’t break down well. This means, it doesn’t really get metabolized in the gastrointestinal tract.

When you ingest cannabis, saliva breaks the THC down and once it reaches the stomach and liver it becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. It binds with another compound that makes it more water-soluble which allows it to make it to the brain faster, as well as throughout the rest of the body.

The bottom line is that though edibles take longer to feel the effects – but the effects last longer and are often more varied throughout the body.

Though 10mg is usually a recommended edible dose for most people this can vary. Some need more, some less. Beginners should start at 2.5 to 5mg and see how they feel. Side effects from too much THC include anxiety, increased heart rate and more. If you do feel like you’ve taken too much – taking some CBD can help offset this … as can drinking lots of water and closing your eyes.

The therapeutic benefits of THC are bountiful – just go slowly and be prepared to find the correct dose and method that works best for you!

Read more here:

The differences between flower and edibles

Edibles: How to ingest and dose properly 

*There are other methods of delivery – including tinctures applied under the tongue (which are the fastest method). We will only be discussing flower and edibles.

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