Throughout the years weed has been used for the treatment of a variety of conditions. In fact, its use dates back as far as 2700 BC where marijuana began its medicinal journey being used to treat things such as gout and arthritis.
If we fast forward through the years, it’s amazing how far the weed industry has come – from the joint to the bong all the way up to the pot brownie, the marijuana journey has been amazing.
And now, in 2018, you can get your hands on marijuana in almost every form imaginable, including the one area where weed has really boomed over the last few years – the edibles industry! Yes, we have all heard of the humble brownie, muffin and even “special salsa,” but now you can get fine dining experiences, pizza, pasta, desserts, sweets, chocolate. . . you name it, and we bet you can find it!
But is there a right answer? Is the traditional method of smoking weed outdated now? Should we be looking at edibles as the future of marijuana consumption? In this article, we are going to explore the benefits and disadvantages of both smoking and consuming weed through edibles. How both can positively affect our health, which will give you the best high, and ultimately which triumphs overall as the most effective way to get high!
What is Smoking?
To really make this a fair fight, we must first pay attention to how this industry really began; smoking weed. The humble joint has been around for as long as we can remember, and there’s good reason for that! Smoking pot affects you quickly, and it’s short-lived – in most cases, this makes for a quick and easy pick me up.
But what is smoking? When cannabis is inhaled, the gases enter the bloodstream via the lungs. THC in cannabis will travel directly to the brain, bypassing nowhere and ensuring you are feeling those euphoric effects almost immediately. It is for this reason that we feel the effects of cannabis so fast when smoking, and why the effects tend to wear off within an hour or so.
Also, those who choose to stick with tradition and smoke weed have a treasure trove of tools to choose from: they can smoke a joint, which traditionally is just cannabis rolled in normal rolling paper with a filter); a blunt, which is cannabis rolled in tobacco paper (often without a filter); or a bong (also known as a water pipe), which is commonly used in “social” settings for everyone to share. The bottom line is, when it comes to smoking, there is something for everybody.
When discussing cannabis smoking, it is important to give at least a little bit of a nod to vaporizers. These have become one of the more popular ways to inhale cannabis, as they are deemed a healthier way to get high. This is because a vaporizer works by heating up cannabis to the temperature needed to be able to extract THC, CBD, and all that other good stuff!
The key difference between vaporizing and smoking is that vaporizing doesn’t exceed the temperature for activation, meaning that the other toxins that are considered potentially harmful are not released.
What is an Edible?
In short, an edible is a term used for a food product which has been infused with marijuana. Typically, people associate edibles with things such as brownies and muffins. However, you can pretty much put marijuana in everything and incorporate it into every meal if you wanted to!
Also, with legalization increasing rapidly across the U.S., there are even restaurants now that offer fine dining experiences with their menu being totally marijuana-infused! With cannabis becoming more and more mainstream, we are being treated to a wider range of consumption options!
No matter how you look at it, though, whether you are smoking cannabis or consuming it as an edible, you are guaranteed to get the high you’re after. However, both methods deliver different effects and it is important to understand how each can differ from the other.
When we consume marijuana rather than inhaling it, the process in which it metabolizes is different. The THC contained within an edible is metabolized by the liver, which converts it into 11-hydroxy-THC. This delivers a much more intense high than when we simply smoke it.
Sounds great, right? Well, it is – but a word of caution, while the lengthier journey of an edible’s THC content means a stronger high, it also means a longer waiting time before you get your desired effects — so be patient!
If you are looking for a fast high then smoking is the way to go! For those of you who choose to smoke weed at the end of a long day at work and simply want to come home and relax immediately, then there can be nothing better than lighting a joint and unwinding.
Also, those who use it for its fast-acting medicinal benefits such as pain relief will often prefer smoking cannabis over eating edibles. For some, the idea of waiting up to an hour or two to feel the benefits is no good, especially if you are in crippling pain or discomfort.
There are many reported advantages of consuming cannabis, with the most obvious one being that it is the healthier option. For many patients, smoking is an off-putting factor and can be the reason that they may not want to try, or stick with medical marijuana as a treatment. With edibles, though, the side-effects of smoking are all but eradicated, and what is left is all the benefits and none of the risk!
While there are healthier ways to inhale cannabis now (vaporizers), it still can come with a stigma attached that many non-smokers would consider when choosing their preferred method of treatment. What’s more is that with the medical marijuana industry becoming more and more widely accepted, many people are beginning to be more curious about the positive effects of the plant and the idea of trying cannabis via a tasty pizza or cake is much less daunting than it used to be!
And lastly, another endearing advantage of edibles is the fact that the high can last much longer! While you may have to wait a little longer to feel it, when that high does come it sticks around for much longer.
Reports have said that a high from an edible can last for up to 8 hours!!! For those who are using edibles to treat their medical conditions, this can be a fantastic prospect! Not only does it mean that symptoms can be kept at bay for longer, but there is also no need to continue dosing throughout the day!
Perhaps the most obvious disadvantage of smoking cannabis is the harmful side effects that come along with inhaling gases. Potentially harmful toxins from smoking cannabis put a lot of people off, and for those who smoke cannabis with nicotine (which many do!), there is also then the added danger of smoking tobacco. And of course, not only can smoking cannabis be harmful to you, but it can also affect those around you with second-hand smoke, which is another reason why vaporizers are becoming so popular today.
Another disadvantage of smoking cannabis is that while you will receive your hit of THC and other cannabinoids straight away, the effects are often short-lived. This means having to continuously dose throughout the day if you are using marijuana for medicinal purposes. This can be time-consuming, and costly!
Admittedly, the disadvantages of consuming edibles are slightly less than that of smoking cannabis. However, it is important to talk about the dosing of edibles before we continue; while the effects of smoking are short-lived, it allows us to easily work out how much our body needs in order to feel the desired high.
On the flip side, because cannabis edibles take so long to take effect, many less experienced users will assume that it has not worked, and they’ll proceed to take more and more. This can be a huge rookie mistake, and will guarantee to make for a long – and unpleasant – experience!
Edibles are much less easy to dose because of their long metabolizing process, so it is vital that if you are consuming cannabis, you do so with baby steps! Start with a small amount and wait it out, once the effects start to make an appearance you can then judge whether more is needed or not.
Which creates a better high?
Looking at the points that have been raised so far, it would be fair to say that the quality of the high depends on the user. If you are looking for a quick fix and have no desire to be stuck in a euphoric bubble for the entire day, perhaps smoking is much more appealing.
For those who are more health conscious and would prefer to consume marijuana without the added risks of smoke inhalation, edibles are likely to be your preferred choice.
Ultimately, the high will be the same for both smoking or consuming cannabis – it is the way the high works within our bodies that makes the difference. And of course, it is down to the user’s individual needs as to which they would say is the better high.
There are strong points for both methods, but as time goes on it is likely that more and more people will move over to edibles simply for their reduced health risks.
Which is best for which type of condition?
The effects of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids will be present whether you choose to smoke or consume cannabis as edibles. However, studies have been done into both methods and evidence has shown that some methods work particularly well with certain conditions.
Edibles, for example, have been shown to provide huge relief to sufferers of Crohn’s disease. This is largely due to the fact that when we consume cannabis, all those helpful cannabinoids go straight to our gastrointestinal tract to work their magic, and it is here that Crohn’s disease is present.
Studies have also been done into the benefits of smoking cannabis on Chron’s disease. A study published in 2013 that tested the effects of cannabis on 21 Chron’s sufferers showed that out of the group who had THC every day, a massive 45% reached complete remission of the disease!
Insomnia is another disorder which has been shown to respond better to smoking than eating edibles. This is believed to be due to the fact that smoking is so fast-acting. For those who really struggle to sleep this can be a quick and simple solution, without the risk of dosing incorrectly and causing an unpleasant psychoactive effect.
In terms of consuming cannabis, some studies have shown that those suffering with lung conditions are better off receiving a medicinal treatment via edibles. This, of course, has to do with the simple fact that smoking is so much harsher on the lungs.
All in all, it can be difficult to attribute a particular method of cannabis consumption to a specific condition, as both consuming and smoking cannabis will provide the body with the same cannabinoids. It comes down to using common sense when choosing the best method for you and your condition, as largely the side effects will be the same.
Final Thoughts on Edibles vs Smoking
When weighing up different points for both smoking and edibles, it is hard to make a final decision on which is better. Without being repetitive, it really does come down to the individual’s standpoint and what they are looking to get out of the experience.
Evidence for the health benefits of consuming cannabis as edibles is overwhelming, and at the same time, it is difficult to defend smoking as it is clearly the less healthy option of the two. However, with the introduction of the vape to the market, this is being tackled and makes smoking a more appealing option to many who may have avoided it before.
The bottom line is there is no clear winner here. However, the take-home message has to be that regardless of which your preferred method is, always be responsible when making your decision. Whether it be smoking a joint or consuming edibles, the golden rule remains the same: always be patient and always WAIT for the effects to take place before you consume more. Trust us, you don’t want to overdo it and be paying the price for hours on end!