Cannabis Inhalation vs Edibles - what's the difference?

Jeremy Bouvet
Cannabis Inhalation vs Edibles - what's the difference?

Cannabis consumption has gained significant attention in recent years, thanks to the increasing legalization and acceptance of its use within Canada. While smoking or inhaling cannabis has been the traditional method of consumption, cannabis edibles have gained popularity for their discreteness and longer-lasting effects. However, it's important to understand how your body processes cannabis differently depending on the method of ingestion. 

So - what’s the difference?

Inhalation provides a fast-acting and easily controllable experience, allowing users to gauge the effects and adjust their consumption accordingly. When you inhale cannabis, whether through smoking or vaporization, the active compounds in the plant, known as cannabinoids, enter your lungs and quickly pass into the bloodstream. This rapid absorption results in a near-immediate onset of effects, typically within minutes. The primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), interacts with receptors in your brain, producing the euphoric sensation commonly associated with cannabis use. 

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On the other hand with edibles, this involves a different metabolic process which makes the high much more potent.

When you eat an edible, it must pass through your digestive system before the cannabinoids can be absorbed into your bloodstream. The edible is broken down by stomach acids and then metabolized by the liver, where THC is converted into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent form of THC. This conversion process is what makes edibles more potent and longer-lasting compared to inhalation.

Due to the digestive process, the onset of effects from edibles is considerably slower than inhalation, typically taking anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. This delay often leads inexperienced users to consume more, thinking the initial dose was insufficient. However, this can result in an overwhelming and uncomfortable experience once the effects kick in. It's crucial to exercise patience and allow the edible to take effect fully before considering additional consumption.

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Once the effects of an edible do set in, they tend to be more intense and longer-lasting compared to inhalation. Edibles can provide a prolonged high, often lasting several hours, making them a preferred choice for individuals seeking sustained relief from symptoms such as chronic pain or insomnia. However, it's important to note that the duration and intensity of the high can vary depending on factors such as dosage, individual tolerance, and metabolism.

The differences in metabolism between inhalation and ingestion also affect how cannabis affects your body.

When you inhale cannabis, the cannabinoids bypass the liver, resulting in minimal interaction with other medications or substances being metabolized. However, with edibles, the liver's involvement can lead to potential interactions with certain medications, especially those processed by the same liver enzymes. It's advisable to consult a healthcare professional if you are taking any medications to ensure there are no potential adverse interactions.

The variability in how edibles are metabolized can make it challenging to predict the precise effects and onset time. Factors such as individual metabolism, body weight, and the presence of food in the stomach can all influence how an edible is processed. It's essential to start with a low dose, be patient, and allow sufficient time for the edible to take effect before considering additional consumption.

Understanding how your body processes cannabis edibles versus inhalation is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Inhalation provides rapid onset and easy dosage control, while edibles offer longer-lasting effects and discreet consumption. However, the delayed onset and variability of edibles require caution and patience. Whether you choose inhalation or edibles, always start with a low dose and listen to your body. And if you have any concerns or questions, consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your individual circumstances.

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