Considering the differences between smoking and eating cannabis.


Experienced users will know the difference between smoking/vaping and ingesting cannabis. Preferences may vary, but here’s the general idea: eating weed will produce a much stronger and more intense high. Smoking, on the other hand, gives you a more predictable and manageable hit. Why is that?

If this is a question that’s been on your mind, this article should provide you with an answer.

How Can You Consume Cannabis?

Dabbing and vaping aside, the primary go-to methods of cannabis consumption in this day and age are still smoking and eating edibles. If you prefer the former, you can either go with the traditional spliff or blunt, or use a pipe or bong variation of your choice.

Edibles, on the other hand, have come a long way from brownies and space cakes. You can now consume them in the form of tasty gummies that will send you back in time to your 12-year-old self on Halloween night. Cannabis can also be infused into coffee, wine, even ice cream.

Eating vs Smoking Weed: Consider the Differences

As previously mentioned, the high you’ll experience from eating cannabis will differ from the one you’ll feel if you choose to smoke it. Let’s delve deeper into that.

  • Absorption

EATING WEED
Right here is one glaring difference. If you’ve taken edibles, you’ll know that it takes a while before you feel any effects. But once they kick in, they will make their presence felt. That’s because upon ingesting cannabis, the liver begins to metabolise the THC, turning it into a metabolite called 11-hydroxy-THC. This is way more potent and has a longer half-life, making it much more intense overall.
SMOKING WEED
When you smoke cannabis, on the other hand, the THC travels to your brain almost instantly via the alveoli in the lungs. This is why you feel high within minutes after smoking.
  • Onset

SMOKING WEED
We already alluded to this, but the difference in onset between smoking and eating cannabis can greatly influence the experience overall. With smoking, you can better gauge how much THC you’re consuming given the instant effects you'll feel upon that first toke. Thus, you’ll know when to stop and take a break, giving you more control over the situation.
EATING WEED
That isn’t the case with edibles, which will only kick in after waiting an hour or so. And because of that illusion of “not feeling anything” during the first half-hour or more, you may feel inclined to eat more. This is a big no-no, especially if you’re just starting out on your cannabis journey.
  • Duration

SMOKING WEED
Here’s one thing to keep in mind when smoking the devil’s lettuce: instant hit, shorter flight. After that first toke, expect to feel relaxed, euphoric, or glued to your couch for about an hour or two before effects start to subside. If you still want to feel buzzed, a few more hits will send you back to that previous dimension you were in.
EATING WEED
Edibles, on the other hand, are a different story. Once it hits, expect to be afloat for the next four to eight hours. Even a veteran all-star smoker like Snoop Dogg avoids eating his weed because according to him, edibles "ain’t got no off button”.
  • Potency

EATING WEED
Eating cannabis will give you a much stronger high compared to smoking. The reason behind this lies in the manner in which THC is processed by the body.
We previously mentioned how THC metabolises into 11-hydroxy-THC if it enters the body through the stomach and liver. This metabolite has a much higher affinity for CB1 receptors in the brain, making the hit a lot stronger.
But, if we’re talking about potency, another major factor to consider is tolerance. Some people may be perfectly fine after eating an entire pot brownie, while others will feel like they’re closer to tripping than just being high after eating half a square.
SMOKING WEED

Smoked cannabis produces different effects than edibles. Cannabis flowers contain THC in the form of THCA. Exposure to heat transforms this molecule into THC through a process called decarboxylation. The newly formed cannabinoid then passes through the lungs into the bloodstream, and into the brain where it binds to CB1 receptors.

Unlike edibles, smoked cannabis "hits" much faster. This gives users much more control over the experience. They have the choice of taking things one toke at a time until they hit their sweet spot. Although users can opt for a mellow experience, large dabs, moon rocks, and concentrates offer intense experiences that rival edibles.

How to Dose: Edibles vs Smoking

Given the differences in onset, potency, absorption, and duration of the high, dosing methods will also vary when it comes to smoking and ingesting cannabis. Here’s how to do it:

  • Edibles

Because of the potency and potential to take too much, experts recommend taking edibles in 10mg servings or less. So, if you’re about to consume a 100mg THC-infused chocolate bar, it’ll be best to cut it up into ten equal parts.

Key factors like body weight and whether or not you have food in your stomach may also affect the outcome of the experience. Taking edibles on an empty stomach, for example, may enhance the potency of the high you’ll experience.

When it comes to taking more, you should always wait at least an hour after consuming your last dose before having another bite. So, give it a while for the first 10mg to take effect before having a second piece of that chocolate bar.

  • Smoking

Since you have more control when smoking cannabis, people usually play it by ear when it comes to dosing. But if you want to be precise with the amount, you must first know how much THC (in a percentage) is present in your strain of choice. You can either do your own research or ask your budtender for that information.

Now, for the numbers. A simple formula is to multiply how much herb you’ll use (in milligrams) with the THC percentage of your strain (in a decimal). The end result will give you the amount of THC you’ll consume.

So, if we use a joint weighing 500mg with our very own White Widow Automatic (which contains 14% THC), that gives you a total of 70mg of THC.

Let’s look at these numbers in terms of a person’s tolerance. A beginner will likely be overwhelmed by consuming 10mg of THC through a joint. An experienced smoker of Seth Rogen levels, on the other hand, likely won’t be affected until they hit the 80mg mark.

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What to Do if You Smoke or Eat Too Much Weed

It happens to the best of us: sometimes we dose too much, and get too high. With smoking, any uncomfortable feelings will usually subside in a matter of minutes, as opposed to the hours it can take with edibles. As such, it’s often enough for the smoker to simply put down their joint, hydrate, and eat some food before regaining a clear head.

With edibles, although we’d advise the same measures of having something to eat or drink and maybe getting some fresh air, you may have to ride out the discomfort for an hour or two. Luckily, you cannot lethally overdose on weed, so you can rest assured that things will be back to normal in no time.

Smoking vs Edibles: Which Is Healthier?

You may have heard this question thrown around before. Here’s our honest answer.

  • Smoking

It all depends on your definition of “healthy”. If we’re talking about respiratory health, smoking is obviously more detrimental. Filling your lungs with any sort of smoke may yield carcinogenic consequences.

And while cannabis does have anticarcinogenic properties itself, many people prefer to use either a dab rig or vaporizer to minimise inhalation of toxins. This line of thinking assumes that less smoke means less damage to the lungs, and fewer chances of breaking into that uncomfortable, throaty cough.

  • Edibles

If we’re talking about nutrition, eating space cakes and gummies isn’t exactly the way to a well-balanced diet. All they give you are added sugar levels, which, if left unchecked, may lead to bigger problems in the future.

But these days, you can infuse cannabis into less sinful treats like guacamole, or into olive oil for salad dressings. If you’re creative enough, you can very well come up with your own cannabis delicacy for people to enjoy.

Is It Better to Smoke or Eat Cannabis?

Smoking cannabis for a person with lung problems is as detrimental as eating it if you’re dealing with weight issues or diabetes. But if you’re taking everything in moderation, then you have nothing to worry about.

Ultimately, it will all depend on preference. People who don’t enjoy filling their chests with smoke or vapor will choose to ingest it, while those who are watching their calories will have a spliff or pipe in their hand. Different strokes for different folks.

Bottom line; take your herb in a way that brings a smile to your heart. Just don’t forget to sit back, clear your mind, and enjoy the ride.

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