Do you know the difference in effects? Smoking vs. Eating Cannabis


If you walk into a dispensary today you will be met by an overwhelming variety of cannabis products. You’ll find options to inhale like flower, extracts and concentrates, as well as edible cannabis products like candies, cookies, drinks and butters, to name a few. So where do you start?

First, it’s important to understand the differences between inhaling and ingesting cannabis. The two methods of cannabis consumption offer varied pros and cons which should be considered before using. And although research has identified consistent differences between the side effects of inhalation and ingestion of cannabis, it should be noted that cannabis impacts every person differently.

So before you eat your first edible or take your first dab, learn why and how inhaling and ingesting impact the body differently.

The way THC is absorbed and metabolized

When smoking or vaporizing cannabis, the inhalation processes passes THC directly to the brain. Through this process, as much as 50-60 percent of the THC cannabinoids are absorbed into our bloodstream.

When eating cannabis-infused products the THC must pass through the digestive system and be metabolized by the liver before entering the bloodstream. The metabolization of THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) in the liver converts THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, a metabolite that can be passed through the blood-brain barrier. This distinctively different process of cannabinoid absorption leads to distinctly different effects to the brain as well.

Onset and duration of side effects

Smoking or vaporizing marijuana leads to almost immediate side effects, usually taking only minutes to be felt. The high achieved from the inhalation process also tapers off quickly, lasting less than two hours in most instances. Conversely, depending on the dosage, eating cannabis-infused products can take hours to be felt. And the length of the typically much more intense high varies greatly and depends on how quickly a person’s body completely metabolizes the edible. In most cases, this process take six to ten hours.

Dosage control and impacts

Since every person is different, blanket dosages will have varied results depending on the person and circumstances (much like alcohol). The onset of inhalation is almost immediate, meaning it is easy for a person to monitor intake. This gives smokers/vaporizers the ability to gauge effects and dose themselves accordingly.

The ingestion process, on the other hand, often takes up to two hours to be felt, meaning real-time dosing is not an option. Since edible cannabis needs time to be metabolized, dosages can have different impacts due to dehydration or eating on an empty stomach. In these circumstances, the speed of onset and intensity of high can be altered.

When eating edibles for the first time or before you know your limits, it is always suggested to start with a low milligram intake and test the results. Most dispensary suggest starting with 10 MG.

CultureKate Dedibles, eating, smoking