Differences Between Eating and Smoking Cannabis

We’ve compiled this list to help you decide which method of consumption is the right match for you. 


If you’ve ever wondered what differences there are between inhaling cannabis versus eating it, we’ve compiled this list to help you decide which method of consumption is the right match for you.

Number one: The effects of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are experienced at different rates depending on how they’re metabolized. When you the cannabinoids immediately enter the bloodstream and travel to your brain, taking anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes for the high to be felt, and peaking anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes. After this, effects rapidly dissipate. When ingesting cannabis, it goes through the process of digestion and metabolizes through the liver – taking between a half hour and two hours for the effects to kick in with a high that can last for several hours.

This brings us to the second difference: edibles typically create longer and stronger effects. When we eat our cannabis, it must travel through our digestive track and through the liver where it’s then converted into metabolites that cross the blood-brain barrier easier. This usually results in a stronger, longer-lasting high. Inhaling cannabis uses a different metabolic process that can bring about a faster high, but it also- wears off quicker.

The third difference is that eating cannabis is healthier. When we smoke or even vape cannabis, we expose our mouth, trachea, bronchial tubes, and lungs to harsh temperatures that could burn them, along with carcinogens that lead to possible health problems in the future. But when we eat cannabis, we relinquish all the negative effects of putting hot smoke or vapor in our lungs.

Number four: Finding the proper dose to take is more difficult with edibles. Unfortunately, the time it takes to digest causes many novices to miscalculate the proper amount to eat. It’s important to remain patient and wait up to two hours after eating a dose of cannabis before evaluating the effects – you have to give your body time to metabolize the cannabinoids, and this amount of time varies based on whether you’ve eaten it on a full or empty stomach. In the general legalized market, 10 milligrams of THC or CBD is considered a standard dose that creates a mild high. On the other hand, it’s easier to find the right dose when inhaling cannabis, because we can evaluate our high after ten minutes and decide whether to smoke or vape a little more.

The fifth difference between edible cannabis products and smokable flowers and concentrates, is that there’s often discrepancies in the advertised potency of edibles. It’s harder to pinpoint how much THC or other cannabinoids are present in food, the calculation being found in the same manner as vitamins or  calories. It’s based off the mean average found from various samples, some samples containing less and  some more. This could mean a difference in the high we experience if our bodies are sensitive to cannabinoids. As the cannabis market grows, so will potency testing protocols – just be aware that edible  potency percentages might be off by a percentile or two.

And finally, the sixth noteworthy difference is that smoking or vaping cannabis offers a vast selection of experiences for you to choose from. You’ll see that strains are popularized by their effects – like Durban Poison, which is a sativa that makes us feel energized or focused. Afghan Kush is an indica that makes us calm or sleepy. When we consume an edible, we don’t have the option of choosing a sativa or indica. Edibles are made with concentrates, and those concentrates are usually made from the excess trimmings and leaves of the buds being sold. Every now and then you’ll see an edible advertising it’s made with either sativa plants or indica – but most don’t share this information on their package.

Now that you’re more familiar with the differences between ingesting and inhaling cannabis, you can make an educated decision as to what you think is best for your lifestyle and needs.