Eating vs Smoking Cannabis

What happens to THC when you eat vs. smoke weed affects how you’ll feel and for how long

Eating cannabis is a very different experience than inhaling cannabis. When smoking/inhaling, the THC is absorbed into your bloodstream, you’ll start feeling the effects seconds to minutes after inhaling because it is absorbed into the bloodstream immediately. Effects are different for each individual, they can peak at 30 minutes and last as long as 6 hours after use.

Smoking involves burning the cannabis flower through a joint, pipe, or bong and breathing in the smoke, whereas vaping is breathing in vapors from concentrated high THC content cannabis oil that is heated to a precise temperature.

Eating cannabis-infused foods and drinks can take from 90 minutes to 2 hours to start feeling the effects because it takes longer to be absorbed into your body as the THC is digested and processed through the stomach and the liver. The psychoactive effects of THC will feel more potent and last longer. “Start low, go slow, less is more” is the mantra for edibles.

An edible high can feel three times stronger than a smoking high because the liver converts THC into a stronger form which adds to the intensity and longevity of the high. The effects of an edible can peak around 4 hours, and taper off several hours later. Start low, go slow. You can always eat more cookies.

New to edibles? Remember these 4 things:

  • Start with 5 mg or less. If you don’t know the exact dose, less is better because you can always have more. 
  • Edibles take up to 90 minutes to 2 hours after eating to feel the effects. Eat a small dose portion and wait at least 2 hours before eating more.
  • Edibles will feel much stronger than smoking THC because of how it’s metabolized; a little goes a long way. 
  • The effect of edibles will last much longer. You may feel the effects for 4-6 hours after you’ve eaten it. 
  • Here’s 8 ways to sober up from being too high, via Leafly.

Originally published and shared with permission from Fruit + Flower Co. 
Christina Wong is a cannabis food, drink and travel writer, creator, and baked baker in Los Angeles, California. She’s founder & CEO of Fruit + Flower Co. and the host of Fruit + Flower Unfurled, a newsletter and podcast for culinary cannabis enthusiasts. Additionally, she’s co-host of Mogu Magu, an AAPI culture, food, and cannabis collective; and partner & culinary editor of The Clever Root, a food lover’s guide to modern cannabis. Her work has been featured in Thrillist, High Times, Cherry Bombe, CannaCurious, and Kitchen Toke magazines.

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