Smoking vs Edibles - Which High Is Right For You?

To weed or not to weed: that is definitely not the question. The real question is should you inhale it or should you ingest it? Well, that depends on what kind of high you’re looking for. These are the two primary forms of cannabis consumption, which also means they provide two different highs. 

Inhalation refers to absorption through the lungs via smoking cannabis flower or via vaporizing THC oil. What is THC, you ask? Basically, it’s the stuff that gets you high. In scientific terms it is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the major psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. You can roll it up and smoke it, or pack a bowl and puff it. If you’re a true connoisseur, you could also ”dab” cannabis concentrate or live resin.  Ingestion refers to the oral consumption of cannabis-infused food products called edibles. These include chocolates, brownies, gummies, even beverages, and more. 

It’s important to understand the distinction between the two so you can get the most out of your cannabis and cultivate the perfect high for you. We’ll go over the onset time, duration of effects, and most importantly, the potency differences between inhaling and ingesting cannabis. If you’ve ever wondered why edibles seem to hit harder and last longer than smoking, then this is the perfect place to start.

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Inhalation Onset Time

When it comes to inhaling bud, the euphoric effects are almost instantaneous with the first hit. The reason it happens so quickly is that the smoke or vapor delivers THC to your lungs and is rapidly absorbed through your bloodstream, then directly into your brain. 

Depending on your state’s laws surrounding marijuana, you may opt for Delta 8 as opposed to the standard THC (Delta 9). It’s another psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp plants. It’s a milder form of THC that many actually prefer. One study’s participant dubbed it “Delta-9-THC's nicer younger sibling” as many report it is less likely to cause anxiety.

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Ingestion Onset Time - How Long For Edibles To Kick In?

Ingesting THC edibles is a very different story from inhaling THC. Edibles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to feel the full effect. The reason it takes longer for edibles to kick in is that your body must first digest it before the THC can get into your bloodstream and brain. This is why the effects felt from eating edibles lead to a more intense high. But we’ll get more into that later. 

Generally, you’ll feel the effects of a cannabis edible peak within 4 hours. Titrating the dose you take is key here, especially if you’re a first timer. Sure, edibles can make you feel like a space cadet floating in zero gravity. But if you’re not careful, they can also make you feel like you’re on an elevator going up, but there’s no down button. The effects of edibles are unique to each individual depending on age, metabolism, and tolerance level. Be sure to start small (generally with 2.5g) and wait a couple of hours to see how it affects you. Don’t be fooled by the delicious options available, edibles can pack a serious punch. 

How Long Does The High Last?

The effects from inhaling cannabis can be felt for 2 to 3 hours, peaking roughly 6 to 10 minutes in. The great thing about inhaling is that its quick onset makes it pretty easy to gauge when you’ve had enough or maybe need another hit to take flight again.

How long do edibles last? This is a great question, especially if you don’t want to get stuck on that elevator to “High” Town. The high from an edible can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours depending on age, metabolism, dosage, and tolerance level. Many prefer edibles as the long-lasting high can mean longer-lasting relief from pain and insomnia.

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Potency- Why Do Edibles Hit Harder than Smoking?

The most important difference in deciding which high is right for you is the potency. When you are inhaling cannabis smoke or vapor, the THC only has to go through your lungs before entering your bloodstream and brain. Once the THC hits the brain, it binds to the CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which produces the euphoria typically associated with getting high. This makes for a quick high in terms of onset as well as duration. Some may find the high to be fleeting, but if you prefer yours to last a couple of hours, then inhaling is a safe bet for you.  

If you recall earlier, we mentioned how edibles lead to a stronger, longer-lasting high, and here’s why. When ingested, THC is digested in the stomach and later broken down in the liver. It is then metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-THC) before it goes into your bloodstream. 

According to Cannabis Now, “Ultimately, your body will create 11-hydroxy-THC from inhaled delta-9, but over 10 times as much of the THC metabolite can be created when cannabis is ingested.” 

The thing about 11-Hydroxy-THC is that it’s more psychoactive than THC. Research has discovered it’s anywhere from 1.5 to 7 times stronger than THC. Not only is it more potent, it’s also more effective at crossing the blood/brain barrier to reach the CB1 receptors. If you’re looking for a more “glued to your couch” effect, then look no further than edibles.

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Final Thoughts

When deciding between smoking/vaping cannabis and eating edibles there’s much to consider. If you’re looking to get a predictable high that lasts for just a few hours then you’ll probably want to inhale your cannabis. This high is like going up the stairs. When you’ve reached your desired level, you can always stop. 

Alternatively, edibles are like taking a plane ride. Once you buckle in, you have to take the ride. If you’re not a first timer and prefer an odorless, smokeless method to get high, then bon appetit. Edibles are likely the right choice for you. Whether you’ll be enjoying some tasty edibles or inhaling your cannabis, be sure to check out Mellow Fellow’s all-natural, hemp derived selection for something that suits your needs. Which high do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

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1 comment

  • I lack the liver enzyme that breaks down edibles into their psychoactive compounds. This isn’t SUPER uncommon, so I wish this article mentioned something about that.

    Kalei on

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