There are some major differences between ingesting and inhaling cannabis, but don't worry - to help you better understand these two consumption methods we've listed the main differences between eating and smoking cannabis. Remember, no matter the consumption method, every person will experience the effects of cannabis differently.
Also, when we say “eating cannabis” we really mean eating cannabis-infused foods and drinks, because simply eating raw cannabis flowers will not instill the effects we're talking about here. In fact, it won't do much more than give you a stomach ache, because the cannabinoids (chemical compounds unique to cannabis) have to be heated through a process called decarboxylation for us to feel their effects.
1. How the Body Absorbs Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, the inhalation process delivers THC directly to the brain, which allows us to feel the effects rather quickly and absorb 50-60% of the cannabinoids into our bloodstream. Eating cannabis-infused products, however, means the cannabinoids have to pass through our digestive system before entering our blood plasma, and we're only able to absorb 10-20% of the compounds. When we ingest cannabis-infused products, THC also passes through the liver, where it metabolizes into 11-hydroxy-THC before re-entering the bloodstream.
2. Onset Time
It only takes 10-20 minutes to feel the effects of inhaling smoke from cannabis while it can take anywhere from 30-120 minutes to feel the effects of eating cannabis.
3. Intensity of Effects
The effects of eating marijuana-infused products are more intense than smoking the herb because digested THC converts to 11-hydroxy-THC, a metabolite that easily crosses the blood-brain barrier easily and is much more potent than THC before metabolizes.
4. Duration of Experience
A big difference between eating and smoking cannabis is experience's duration, with effects of inhaling marijuana smoke lasting 1-4 hours and effects of eating cannabis products lasting 4-10 hours. However, the duration of each experience depends largely on one's tolerance, the dose, and the strain of cannabis.
5. Difficulty to Dose
It's harder to accurately determine the THC content of edibles without regular lab testing. This is a result of a combination of factors, including the delayed onset of effects and variances between untested batches.