Edibles vs. Smoking: What Are the Effects & Differences
Edibles vs. Smoking: What Are the Effects & Differences
While modern interest in marijuana-infused foods is at an all-time high (pun intended), it’s important to note that the incorporation of cannabis into food products has been prevalent across the world and all throughout history. From ancient Chinese Emperors to Moroccan nomadic tribes and Hindu yogis, the consumption of cannabis has been an integral component of religion, spirituality, and traditional dining.
Historical consumption of cannabis was typically in tea or other beverages. It wasn’t until the 1950’s when the modern incarnation of the marijuana-infused edibles era began to take off.
When Alice B. Toklas, partner of famed bibliophile Gertrude Stein, published a cookbook with the now infamous recipe called “Haschich Fudge,” a cannabis-infused confection that not only popularized the notion of cooking with cannabis but propelled Toklas’ book into the annals of historical literature. To highlight the importance of Toklas’ work is Amazon’s quote describing her book as “one of America’s great works of recollection, culinary and otherwise.”
Still in print to this day, “The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook” remains a contributing factor to the growing popularity of marijuana edibles, as well as inspiring legions of cooks in mainstream America to devise increasingly clever ways to incorporate cannabis into different food products.
While the immense popularity of edibles continues to make up a profound part of the cannabis market, it continues to be rivaled by the far more prevalent and familiar form of smoking marijuana.
In these contemporary times, there still remains quite a bit of confusion about the distinct effects and differences between ingesting versus inhaling, or if you prefer, snacking versus smoking. Exacerbating the issue is that people feel uncomfortable asking their friends and peers about the differences and effect of each, out of fear of looking like an uncool “newbie.”
If you would like to know more about the various differences between psychoactive edibles and the more familiar form of inhalation via smoking and their related effects, benefits, and drawbacks, read on below to become a pro in the know.
All About Edibles
Eating marijuana-infused edibles can produce a comparatively elevated high that lasts longer than smoking. Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, “Smoked or vaporized cannabis bypasses the liver and doesn’t create the same effect,” as eaten cannabis which is liver metabolized and passes the blood-brain barrier more rapidly and has more of a psychedelic effect
The majority of edibles contain a robust amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. When ingested, cannabis begins metabolization through the liver, ultimately converting to 11-hydroxy-THC and providing the substantially stronger and more intense high that many users crave.
Important to note is that a vast majority of edibles contain robust amounts of THC, which can produce desirable effects such as euphoria and relaxation but is also capable of inducing fatigue, anxiety, and a voracious appetite.
Numerous receptors in the brain responsible for pleasure, cognition, memory, the perception of time, and coordination are attached to by THC, creating an incomparably psychoactive experience.
The food items that can be infused with marijuana is early endless. From Bacon, pizza, muffins, brownies, tea, hummus, and even guacamole, foods incorporating marijuana opens up an entirely new world to both connoisseurs of marijuana and aspiring cooks.
Due to the metabolization process involved with eating edibles, the high is slow, requiring anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours to result in an intense high that lasts for several hours.
All About Smoking
The tried and true traditional form of getting high is smoking marijuana and with good reason. Smoking cannabis imbues the body with THC at an impressively rapid rate along with an increased concentration.
When users smoke marijuana, as much as sixty percent of THC can enter the blood plasma, occurring in an expeditious peak concentration occurring in as little as five minutes. For many users, the effects of smoked marijuana can be felt within mere seconds, as it “very quickly crosses the blood-brain barrier.”
In contrast, cannabis that is eaten reaches the blood plasma much later (up to two hours) and at a vastly reduced rate (ten to twenty percent).
The scientific reasoning behind this relies on the absorbing and secreting actions within the body, both of which operate differently in terms of smoking and eating cannabis.
The Bottom Line Differences and Effects of Edibles Versus Smoking
Edibles are capable of producing significantly stronger highs that are long-lasting and more intense in comparison to cannabis that is vaporized or smoked. The high can take as long as two hours to kick in due to the metabolization of THC to 11-hydroxy-THC in the liver.
Additionally, edibles are vastly more effective at crossing the blood-brain barrier and imparting effects on various brain receptors for a high that is more psychedelic feeling.
Smoking cannabis can get users high in a matter of minutes, with many people able to feel effects within mere seconds; this is due to the way THC is absorbed. Vastly different than the way THC is absorbed by the liver when ingesting edibles, smoking cannabis results in THC undergoing a completely different metabolic process that bypasses the stomach and liver and instead traveling straight to the brain.
The end result is rapid, near-instantaneous effects (from either smoking or vaporizing) that diminish much quicker than the high created by their edible counterparts.
The use of marijuana is extremely prevalent across the world. In the United States, the market for marijuana is exploding, with a vast array of related products, publications, new strains, and creative edibles coming into existence on a continuous basis.
Whether you favor ingesting edibles for the long and intense high they produce or are a loyal smoker appreciative of the quick results and shorter-term high they impart, the multifaceted differences apparent between the two lie mostly within their particular form of metabolization, the degree in which they cross the blood-brain barrier and ultimately, the type of high you crave that will provide an optimal experience for you time after time.