Differences Between Eating and Smoking Weed

Weed works in many ways, but what are the differences between eating and smoking weed?

3D THC differences between eating and smoking weed

THC in 3D. 

Have you ever wondered "What are the differences between eating and smoking weed?" Everyone knows that weed gets you high. However, with the recent sweeping changes in marijuana laws in different parts of the country, more attention is being drawn to different ways of consuming weed. While things like cannabis tinctures and vaping have gotten a lot of play, another consumption method has also been getting more attention: edibles. Cannabis edibles are foods prepared with oils infused with THC extracted from cannabis. They will certainly get you high, but what are the differences between eating and smoking marijuana?

Understanding How THC Works

THC is the chemical in weed that produces that delightful effect many of us are so familiar with. THC can be absorbed into the body many different ways, and it takes effect as it enters the bloodstream and gets to the brain. In other words, the way that you consume THC affects the way that your body handles it, meaning you get different types of experiences from different means of consumption. This is important to note, as it will strongly influence the differences between eating and smoking marijuana. 

What Happens When You Smoke Marijuana

Smoking weed with a bong

A familiar sight to many Image:Heath Alselke

When you smoke marijuana, the THC, along with other chemicals like CBD and terpenes, are released in the form of smoke which you then inhale. In your lungs the THC is transferred to your bloodstream and carried throughout your body. As a result it reaches your brain much faster and so you notice it sooner. On the flip side of this, because of the limited capacity of your blood to absorb THC, and because it goes directly to your bloodstream, you don't get all of the THC in the smoke you inhale, and your body breaks down the THC faster. 

What Happens When You Eat Marijuana Edibles

Weed Edibles

Samples of Tasty Cannabis Snacks Image: Mark

When you consume marijuana edibles, your body absorbs the THC in your digestive system. This is a much slower process, but it is also much more efficient, as nearly all of the THC you consume is captured. Moreover, because of the way your body's digestive process works, it will take longer for your body to break down the weed you've eaten and has gone into your bloodstream that it does for weed that has been smoked or vaped. 

This results in a few different changes in how you experience the THC in marijuana compared to smoking.

Time

Is my edible working yet?

Is it working? Oh yeah, it's working. Image: geralt

One of the first things to note is the different ways that the THC enters your bloodstream, meaning it will take a different amount of time to reach your brain. When you smoke weed, the THC reaches your brain almost immediately, and so you're high faster. When you eat it, it has to be absorbed through your stomach with all the other food you've consumed, so it can take longer to work. However, the flip side of this is that the effects are more spread out and so will last longer than if you had smoked or vaped. 

This can be beneficial or a drawback depending on why you use marijuana. If you are looking to get pain relief for unpredictable but intense pain, the edibles probably aren't the best choice for you because they will take longer to work. On the other hand, if you are looking for chronic pain relief and management throughout the day then edibles, with their longer duration, may be the thing you are looking for. 

Power

Weed Edibles Can Be Fun

I'm definitely starting to feel it... Image: Jurassic Blueberries

Another one of the important differences between eating and smoking weed is the strength of the result. With smoking you generally experience a rush and then a gradual decline in your buzz. With edibles, the feeling, much like the noise the Grinch hears at the end of the story, starts out low, and continues to grow. As a result you may find that you are experiencing the effects of marijuana much more intensely when you eat it, even if it takes longer for that effect to manifest itself.

If you are looking for a light buzz throughout the day, then a controlled dose of edibles could be just the thing you're missing. However, if you are using cannabis to wind down after work and get ready for bed, then the longer duration doesn't help you, and the longer onset time may actively work against your goals.

Dose

dosing for weed edibles

Science and Marijuana go together like Peanut Butter and Marijuana Image: Public Domain

Yet another one of the important differences between eating and smoking marijuana is the way that you measure the dose. With smoking you can directly see how much marijuana you are using, gauge its relative quality, and determine how much you need from experience. When it comes to edibles, there is a wide range of possibilities. For a long time there was no way to know how much THC was in the edible you had, because they were made in homes and couldn't be tested. This resulted in a situation where sometimes an edible would be too weak, and other times it would be far too strong. This made dosing unpredictable and is a problem that still applies to many homemade weed treats. However, in states with legalization and regulatory standards, there has been a large effort to accurately measure and clearly label how much THC is in a particular edible so you can anticipate its effects. While there is still some variability in edibles because of your body's natural processes, especially when compared to smoking or vaping weed, this regulatory effort has increased the predictability you get with edibles, which helps alleviate one of the bigger issues people have had with them in the past. 

As you can see, there are a number of important differences between eating and smoking weed. It is important to think about the reason you are consuming cannabis in order to determine what the best consumption method is for you. You want to make sure to have a good time and only experience the effects of marijuana you are after. Being too high or not high enough is a situation that no one wants to find themselves in. Thankfully, keeping in mind the differences between eating and smoking weed will help prevent either one of those unfortunate situations so that you can get on with enjoying your life. 

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