Candy, bacon, muffins and more – how we love the marijuana store! Let’s face it, with recreational pot’s increasing legalization, one thing is certain: those who like edibles aren’t going to go hungry. These days, cannabis is in everything, even foods like broccoli and kale. But, while edibles might have the capacity to turn your supper into a weed dinner (or, winner, if you prefer), they aren’t for everyone. The reason? Compared to smoking, they cause a very different high.
The Absorption of THC
The main reason why the effects of marijuana depend on your ingestion route is because of the way THC is absorbed. When you eat an edible, THC goes into the stomach before it’s metabolized by the liver. The liver then converts it to 11-hydroxy-THC. This is an active metabolite particularly gifted at crossing the blood brain barrier.
The end result is a longer lasting, more psychedelic high.
THC that is inhaled takes a much different route. It doesn’t pass through the stomach or make its way down to the liver. Instead, it goes right to its target audience: your brain.
The Difference in How You Feel
Inhaled marijuana introduces a higher amount of THC (and other cannabinoids) into your bloodstream: about fifty to sixty percent versus 10 to 20 percent for an edible. This is why you get high much faster from a joint than a pot brownie or an infused-sucker. Roll or vaporize and you’ll feel the effects nearly immediately. They tend to peak after about ten minutes and quickly dissipate over the next hour or so. Most people experience what they describe as a head-focused high whenever weed is inhaled. Edibles don’t kick in nearly as fast as their gaseous counterpart. Their tendency to show up late to the party has created some issues for first time users: they eat a marijuana cookie, nothing happens, so then they eat the entire pan. The end result is a much more powerful rush than intended.
Thus, the rule of thumb for edibles is simple: be patient – your high’s on its way.
Generally, an edible kicks in within an hour, but it might be a half hour or as long as two hours. It depends on your individual metabolism. The effects tend to last a good portion of the day - as many as six hours - much longer than smoking, and the high isn’t focused on the head but typically influences the entire body. Some people swear that ingesting an edible leaves them more giddy and euphoric, while inhaling leaves them more cerebral and relaxed. Some find that this isn’t necessarily true. Only you know for sure in what ways each route differs.
How Much THC an Edible Contains
The amount of THC in any homemade product is extremely hard to determine: some pot cookies are so potent they leave you Trips Ahoy! Others are so weak that you find yourself Chips Annoyed. Even some professional markets find it difficult to evaluate dosage - measuring herbal medicine is much more complicated than measuring pharmaceuticals. Yet, the problem that most commonly arises with edibles isn’t the amount of THC they contain, but knowing how much to actually consume. When you smoke, you can dose as needed: the effects hit quickly enough that you have the option to take another toke if you want something extra or pass the bong if you’re feeling no pain. You’re also better able to plan your smoking around your commitments: if you have a meeting in three hours, a joint at noon isn’t likely to leave you laughing hysterically at the CEO’s lame joke (even though that’d probably get you a promotion).
With inhaling, you know when you’ll be completely clear-headed again: you can manipulate your high, customizing the cannabis to your liking.
Edibles, because the effects are so delayed (and lingering), don’t really offer this luxury. This isn’t to say they’re total wildcards, but they’re less controllable. Still, there are guidelines. In many legal markets, the standard edible dose is 10 milligrams of THC – this results in moderate effects in most people. Some edibles come in much higher amounts, such as 100 milligrams, but these aren’t meant to be taken all at once. Not even on a double dare. Doing so isn’t going to make you spontaneously combust, but it’ll set the table for a night you either won’t remember or one you’ll wish you couldn’t.
Are Edibles Healthier than Smoking?
Anyone who has smoked from a pipe knows that marijuana can toy with your lungs: it makes you cough, it makes your throat hurt, it makes your voice grow so deep you temporarily sound like Bea Arthur. And, while smoking marijuana isn’t linked to lung cancer the way smoking tobacco is, irritating your lungs probably isn’t the best idea in the world. Maybe don’t irritate any of your organs, if you can help it. Couple this with the fact that edibles aren’t merely limited to sugary sweets and fattening foods any longer - there’s infused salad, granola, vegetables, and hummus, for example – and ingesting rather than inhaling may be a healthier option for you. However, many of the benefits of the different marijuana strains are in relation to inhaling, not ingesting. Whether these benefits are as ample (or specific) when eaten isn’t entirely known. The knowledge surrounding inhaled cannabis is just much further ahead of our edible education. Of course, you can always vaporize too. Vaporizing is a great alternative to frank smoking. It produces a mist that contains the active cannabinoids of cannabis, but without the unhealthy by-products.
To Eat or to Smoke: That is the Question
Eating pot or smoking it both offer different advantages.
Oral ingestion offers a longer trip and, for many people, a more powerful experience.
If you’ve got some time to kill and want to kick back and really relax, an edible might be the better choice. It’s a good option for a get-together with friends: you’ll laugh so hard you’ll snort. And then you’ll laugh again…at all the ridiculous snorting. Smoking, on the other hand, allows you to control your high and often stay focused (at least comparatively). It’s ideal for people who want to chill for an hour or two, but not remain so stoned that they don’t get anything productive done. In short, smoking is a good option for the weed user on-the-move. Someday, that’ll be in a commercial.