When looking to enjoy some cannabis, you have a few crucial decisions to make. One of the first things to consider is whether you want to eat cannabis edibles or smoke a flower. If you are unsure which of these methods work best for your needs, then consider the following differences between cannabis edibles and flowers.
Metabolism of THC
One of the essential differences between cannabis flowers and edibles is how your body metabolizes the THC. As a reminder, THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and this is one of the major cannabinoids that occur in marijuana and the one responsible for the high.
Both edibles and flowers will have THC, but your body metabolizes it differently based on how you consume it. When you eat an edible, you will notice reasonably slow effects as the THC has to go through your digestive system before it can reach the bloodstream. While the THC is in the digestive system, your liver will also convert THC to 11-hydroxy-THC, leading to a more intense high.
By contrast, inhaling THC, such as when you smoke a cannabis flower, is much quicker. The THC travels through your lungs and into your bloodstream, where it heads to the brain. The effects of THC happen within minutes.
In other words, the way that THC has metabolized means that you will notice the effects of flowers more quickly than those of edibles. Flowers take just a few minutes for the results to set in, while edibles can take 30 minutes to two hours.
Duration of Effects
Although THC takes effect more quickly when you inhale it compared to ingesting it, it wears off faster. When you smoke cannabis, the effects of the THC will start to wear off within a half-hour to an hour. By contrast, you will likely feel the effects of edibles for at least several hours.
Intensity of the High
As mentioned, the way that your liver metabolizes THC in edibles leads to a more intense high. Some people describe the high as being more physical or more of a body high.
It is also worth noting that some people experience a greater high with edibles by accident. If someone is new to edibles, they may not realize that the effects take longer to begin and consume more, leading to accidental overindulgence.
Another factor that can impact the intensity of the high associated with cannabis edibles versus flowers is the potency. Edibles tend to be much more potent than the flowers, only due to the process of creating them. It is common to make edibles using cannabis concentrate, which has a higher potency. Additionally, research shows that extracting cannabinoids to make that type of concentrate can increase the percentage of active cannabinoids by as much as 40 to 80 percent.
Because edibles tend to be much more potent than flowers, most people suggest a smaller dose of edibles than flowers. Some recommend that the first time you try an edible, you start with 2.5 mg of THC or less.
Knowing the Dose
Whether you choose to inhale a cannabis flower or ingest a cannabis edible, dosing can be a challenge. The amount of THC you consume from a flower will depend on the size of your puffs and the strain’s potency.
With edibles, there is not only uncertainty about how much THC is in the product but also how much you will consume. If you ingest THC, you will only get about 10 to 20 percent of the product’s cannabis. By contrast, smoking will give you between 50 and 60 percent.
Edibles can have unpredictable dosages, and there are not many regulations regarding standardized packaging for them. Consuming homemade edibles makes the dose even more uncertain.
That being said, it is also nearly impossible to know precisely how much THC you will get when smoking cannabis due to it being affected by your inhalation patterns and other factors. If you need to know that you are consuming a specific dose, then it would be wisest to opt for an individually-packaged edible with clear labeling. Or, you can smoke cannabis and start with a small amount.
Ease of Adjusting Your Dose
Also related to dosing, it is much easier to adjust your dose when smoking cannabis instead of ingesting it. This comes down to the fact that you will start feeling the effects of inhaling cannabis almost immediately while ingesting it can take hours to feel.
As such, you can always take another puff of your cannabis flower if you are not noticing the effects that you want. You only have to wait a few minutes to see if this is the right course of action.
By contrast, there is no quick way to increase your edible dose since the effects take hours to begin with. If you have waited two or three hours and still do not notice enough effects, then you could have some more of your edible. Not only do you have to wait a few hours before increasing your dose, but you would also have to wait a few hours for it to kick in.
This difficulty with adjusting the dose of edibles makes it more common for people to accidentally ingest more THC in edibles than they planned compared to with flowers.
Some people choose to consume cannabis edibles instead of smoking due to concerns about lung damage or other potential long-term effects. While edibles are healthier from the standpoint of your lungs, they are not necessarily healthy.
Edibles can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want. You can easily find sugar-filled candies that are edibles. In this case, you will be consuming sugar, or you may choose an edible with chemical flavorings. To make up for this, however, you can make edibles as healthy as you want, since you can create your own.
Because of how the body processes cannabis in edibles and flowers, edibles will take longer for you to feel the effects, but they will also last longer. You may even notice a more intense high with edibles.