Historically, smoking has been the most common method of consuming cannabis, allowing for the rapid delivery of THC into the bloodstream, crossing the blood-brain barrier relatively quickly. When smoked, THC enters the lungs and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to more immediate and intense effects compared to consuming it through edibles.
The faster absorption into the bloodstream and the shorter duration of the effects associated with smoking make the subjective experience of marijuana more immediate. The effects tend to peak more rapidly and generally last for a shorter period. For instance, after smoking a joint you will feel the effects in the next 10 minutes and they can last for around two to four hours, compared to edibles where the high last much longer.
Let’s not forget that smoking pretty much anything can have negative consequences for respiratory health. While the specific mechanisms and risks differ from those associated with tobacco smoking, several studies have reported links between smoking marijuana and airway inflammation, barotrauma, and obstructive pulmonary issues.
Cannabis and its active compound are frequently mixed with a variety of foods in order to make edibles. These edibles usually come in the form of candy, brownies, cookies, or gummies, although the sky is the limit. Some people can create unique culinary delights from cannabis-infused butter (cannabutter), such as steaks, pasta, soups, and cakes.
When a person consumes an edible, THC is absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive tract. Unlike smoking, the absorption process is slower, and the THC undergoes initial metabolism in the liver before entering general circulation. As a result, the effects of edibles typically have a more gradual onset, taking as long as 30 to 60 minutes to kick in. However, once the effects kick in, they last far longer compared to smoking. The effects of an edible can last up to 12 hours depending on the dose.
Similarly to edibles, there are THC-infused drinks such as tea, coffee, and smoothies. The effects will also have a gradual onset similar to solid edibles. The most important thing about edibles is if you are not feeling them, give them more time. Consuming more edibles may result in an intensified experience that may be overwhelming for some.
What Are the Differences?
The method of cannabis consumption significantly affects how the body metabolizes it, and consequently, the experience it produces. As we already mentioned, inhaling cannabis allows for direct absorption through the lung tissue and into the bloodstream. On the other hand, consuming cannabis edibles involves the digestion, absorption, and processing of cannabis in the stomach, intestines, and liver. These variations in the body’s processing of cannabis contribute to different experiences when using these two methods. Here are some of the key differences:
- Starts working almost instantly,
- Effects last from 2-4 hours.
- It’s easier to dose,
- Starts working faster,
- Lasts shorter,
- Can be combined with edibles to extend the effects.
- Risk of lung damage.
- Starts working after 1-2 hours,
- Effects last from 6-12 hours.
- The effects are long-lasting,
- It’s discreet,
- No health hazard risks,
- Can be combined with a joint or a blunt for a quicker onset.
- It’s easy to overdo it and get overwhelmed,
- The effects are more intoxicating,
- The long-lasting effects can’t be reversed,
- Can potentially interact with other medications.
Can You Mix Edibles With Smoking Cannabis?
Without a doubt. It is possible to simultaneously take a few puffs while consuming an edible cannabis product. This approach allows you to avoid the prolonged wait of over an hour for the edible to take effect. By the time the edible kicks in, the effects of the cannabis you smoked will be diminishing.
For people who are impatient, this will lower the risk of overconsumption of edibles which can result in a being high far longer than you intended to. However, try not to get to baked before the edibles kick in as it may be overwhelming at the beginning.
How To Dose Edibles?
To prevent unwanted effects such as greening out (overdosing on cannabis), it’s outermost important to calculate your dosage. Calculating the exact dosage when you make your own edibles can sometimes be hard. For instance, if you made a big batch of brownies and you didn’t mix it well, there is a chance that some pieces will be more potent than others. When buying edibles, this risk is almost nonexistent. Here is a basic guideline for dosing edibles:
- Microdose – Up to 2.5 mg of THC
- Standard dose – 5 mg of THC
- High dose – 10 mg of THC
- Superman dose – 20+ mg of THC
While the active compound is the same in both methods of consumption there are significant differences between smoking cannabis and taking an edible. Smoking cannabis can be hazardous to your lung and is less discreet compared to edibles. On the other hand, edibles offer a convenient and inconspicuous method of cannabis consumption that eliminates the potential harm to your lungs associated with smoking. However, always keep in mind that edibles tend to kick in slower, therefore they pose a risk of overconsumption that can potentially lead to a negative experience. For some people, these long-lasting effects are a plus, while for others it just may be too overwhelming. Stay safe and stay lifted!