To inhale or not to inhale, that is the question. What’s the difference? It still makes its way into the body- meeting the intended goal, be it relaxation, pain relief, or just a simple high, right? Well, technically, yes. However, several factors play key roles in the differences between the two. Let’s discuss these two methods regarding our canna friend. There are multiple ways of consuming marijuana, including smoking (joints/blunts/bongs); using it as an ingredient in cooked food (edible cannabis); using an electronic vaporizer (vaping); creams, lotions, and oils (topicals); alcoholic solution administered sublingually (tinctures). For the sake of sticking to the topic, we will examine the first two.
Now, where do we usually begin to break things down? Yes, the beginning! So, let’s get the basics out of the way…
Inhale: When something is drawn into the lungs through the nose or mouth by using the diaphragm. Air, smoke, vapor.
Ingest: This generally refers to taking something in by way of oral consumption. Intended to swallow and digest (Edible cannabis). Food, beverage, medication, etc.
So, what happens when you take a toke? The smoke carries the THC into the lungs which lead to the bloodstream and then travels to the brain. We all know what happens after that. Within a few minutes, the results can begin to take effect. Usually, within thirty minutes the full high has reached its peak. From there you can be good for hours. In some instances, you can still feel the after effects the following day. Naturally, this would depend on the usual factors like a person’s tolerance of the substance, how often they normally consume, weight, full or empty stomach, etc.
But how the hell can that happen so puff puff fast? It’s all about the lungs. The lungs are a naturally spongy and porous organ that allows air, smoke, and vapor to absorb much quicker, allowing it to fast track to the bloodstream…where the magic happens. If you think about it, is not all that technical and makes perfect sense. How else would oxygen get to our brain so fast to keep us alive? Lightbulb! Easy enough of an explanation, right? What’s so different about ingesting cannabis?
Ingesting travels a somewhat different route taking a little more time to get to its destination. Edible cannabis first makes a few pit-stops before making it to your brain. When eaten, THC must first pass through the stomach and liver to metabolize before it reaches the bloodstream and then ultimately the brain. When the agents of the liver are combined with the ingested THC, the potency becomes a little stronger causing a more intense high compared to its inhaled counterpart, even if the same amount has been consumed.
However, because of this detour, it takes a little longer for the high to hit. This can be anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. But when it does hit, it can last between six to eight hours. Because of this, oftentimes, people tend to eat more than they would if they were to smoke or vape. There’s uncertainty about how high they will become because the THC is still in the process of metabolizing. One may feel as if it is not taking effect and continue to consume more. By the time the whole internal process has been completed, the high has already sent you reeling.
It is for this reason, smoking is presumed to be the best method for pain management, as bypassing the stomach is a critical process in acquiring immediate results.
Most people associate edibles with candy and pastries which for the health conscious, the calorie intake may be a concern. However, there is a world of other ways to ingest by way of healthier delectables- using infusible ingredients. Hello High is an excellent resource on learning how to prepare all sorts of infused cuisine outside of the mundane gummy worm and chocolate brownie.
When smoking you can better monitor and manage your high and know how much you are taking in. It makes it easier to know when to say when. It’s all a matter of preference. For every person who favors smoking, I can show you the one who prefers edibles.
Accessing dosage is important, especially with edibles. When self-dosing it’s suggested to always start small and gradually work upward. 5mg of THC is generally a decent place to start. After that, wait some time, and feel how it takes effect, maybe an hour or so before moving on.
Fortunately, one of the many awesome things about marijuana is that it’s practically impossible to overdose. So even if you do eat that entire bag of gummies, you’re never in danger of fatally or even seriously harming yourself. This makes it imperviously fun to experiment on what works best for you and the best route to getting to your desired end result.